I’ve never watched the Survivor reality TV series — I’ve always felt that my life had enough reality in it! — but its slogan of “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” could describe how I feel about moving my living quarters in our basement. Yes, the time has come to empty the kitchen, dining room, and living room, and move those functions into our ‘lower level’. Incidentally, our basement already houses a laundry room and office, and is only partially and poorly finished. With all the extra furnishings, it can now best be described as ‘cozy’. (Ha! The joke’s on me — I’ve been describing my clients’ small rooms for years as ‘cozy’.)
In the spirit of positive thinking, here are the best things about moving one’s living and cooking quarters into an already cramped basement:
- We no longer fight over the ‘best’ chair for TV watching. Every seat in the ‘living’ area has a great (and close-up) view of the TV. Just don’t trip over one another getting to your favourite perch.
- The commute from home office to kitchen has never been faster. If I want to, I can just wheel my chair into the ‘kitchen’ and start dinner.
- My kitchen work triangle has shrunk to the point where I barely need to move my feet in order to reach everything I need to make a meal. Bonus: tucking in my elbows must be good exercise for some forgotten muscle, right!?
As for Survivor, I’ve never been a lover of camping. I tried it once in Grade 8, and swore it off right then and there. The closest I ever got to camping was a bunk in our family’s 25″ trailer. As it turns out, that may have been the best preparation for living in tight quarters. Figuring out how to squeeze my 7′ sofa, oversize wing chair, swivel chair, and large ottoman into my office space was child’s play after 20 years of creating floor plans for clients. The really tough part is going to be working in my temporary ‘kitchen’, which also doubles as my laundry room.
Here are the key components of the plan to survive a summer in a temporary kitchen:
There was no way to plug in my electric stove in the laundry room, nor space to put it, so we have downshifted from a stove with 4 burners and a warmer, to a single burner. A hotplate draws too much power to allow for more than one in my overworked laundry room, so we are limited to this single unit. One has to be very creative (and organized!) in order to plan meals around a single burner, unless you are still living on a diet of Kraft Dinner.
I’ve owned the pretty one on the left for years, and was never happy with the results of cooking in it. But necessity breeds invention, and I’m committed to giving the slow cooker another chance. Thank goodness they’ve become popular again — there are better features on the new ones, like the one on the right, above. I expected to have a delayed start feature, but rather than encourage the room temperature breeding of food poisoning bacteria, the new cookers have a timer that turns down the heat after the elapsed cooking time, and keeps food warm for a few hours. It’s not perfect, but it will have to do.
In order to survive my new relationship with slow cookers, I sourced 2 of the best slow-cooker recipe books that I could find. With Starbucks in hand, Colin and I leafed through dozens of these cook books at Indigo, deciding on tomes from Canadian Living and Best of Bridge. By far, the Best of Bridge book has the most usable recipes. I expect to be a slow cooker expert by the end of the summer, so feel free to pick my brain about my best (and worst) meals. Hopefully, we’ll come out of the experience with a few new favourites to add to our repertoire, although I doubt that we’ll go back to using them every day.
We had planned to install new laundry sinks, and rework our kitchen faucet for them, but a previous ‘handyman’ had welded the existing laundry faucet in place, preventing us from changing it, or the sinks, without a major plumber’s bill. So, we scrubbed up the old sinks, and are making do with new bins that fit in the sink to raise the dishes to a more reachable height.
My sanity saver in the temporary kitchen is the work of art, below. It’s my inspiration for putting up with my temporary kitchen for the summer. I think the push pins are a nice touch, don’t you?
Just in case you’re wondering where the rest of my stuff went, here’s a Before-and-After of my recently reorganized storage room in the garage:
Needless to say, I’m open to any and all dinner invitations this summer. Any takers? Please?