One thing that really stood out when I gave up my business to stay in my home was how badly organised my kitchen was, so I set about making it a more efficient and pleasant working area. I thought if I was going to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, baking, cooking, preserving food and providing hospitality, I wanted that space to be comfortable and easy to work in. Soon after, I moved my saucepans out of the deep drawers under the stove and put them in a cupboard near the cutlery drawer. The space they had occupied was packed with plates, bowls and serving dishes that were easy to reach for when the meals were cooked. It made my work easier, immediately.
In the top row of cupboards we had glasses, jugs, tea and coffee cups, so under it, on the kitchen bench, I made a tea and coffee making station. Under the cup cupboard, on a tea tray, I placed loose tea, organic tea bags, instant coffee, sugar and honey, and a little pottery jug to hold tea balls, a tea strainer and tea spoons. Next to the tray the electric kettle sits. And it's right next to the sink. We don't have milk in our tea so we can make tea at that little station without moving an inch. It's all within arms reach.
When I started preserving food and making cordial and ginger beer, I needed to recycle bottles and jars. I cleaned out another cupboard and put my recycled supplies and preserving jars in there. A year later I added another cupboard because my collection grew.
If you're working in a kitchen that doesn't feel right, I encourage you to change it. Move things around to suit the way you work. Many of us don't work in a modern way, and most modern kitchens don't have spaces for preserving pans, bottle and jar collections, very large bowls, pots for cheese making or collections of homemade dishcloths, draining cloths and food covers; we have to make spaces that accommodate our equipment and utensils.
Think about how you work and the tasks you carry out every day, then make changes that would make your work easier. If you do a lot of baking, see if you can find a way to gather your commonly used baking supplies and bowls in one spot, close to your pantry and where you do your baking. If you want to make compost, make it easier to do by having a covered receptacle that you can fill during the day, is covered to keep flies out and smells in, and that you can take to the compost bin or worm farm once a day. Find a little basket to collect the eggs and vegetables from the garden each day. All these small changes will support the work you do.
Keep a little basket full of dishcloths so you can grab one when you need it in a hurry, store your plastic and aluminium rolls and baking paper close to where you use them. I have them in a drawer under my main work bench. I've also moved the Coolgardie safe, which holds our bread, next to the toaster. It's much easier.
You might have to make adjustments to your kitchen as your children grow. You'll need to keep things away from them when they're toddlers, but make them more accessible as they grow older and you expect them to set the table, empty the dishwasher, dry the dishes or help you serve the evening meal.
I think most of us wish we had the opportunity to design our kitchens to reflect the way we work in them. Many of us need a large pantry to accommodate the ingredients for our from scratch cooking and bread making, but what we commonly have is not enough cupboard space. You can't change the cupboards but you can certainly move the contents of them. I encourage you to think about your work and how you do it, then move ingredients and equipment to where you'll most commonly use them, create work stations, gather similar things together and generally organise your spaces to suit yourself. Hopefully the time you put into that will pay off by creating a kitchen you enjoy working in and supports the work you do every day.