Kitchen Storage: Old Ways Work Well Today

Plantation House on Kauai   

Plantation House on Kauai


Recently, we visited one of our favorite old haunts on the island of Kauai, the Grove House, established by George Wilcox, one of the first sugar plantations in Hawaii. I am always amazed at the generous proportions of the home and how seamlessly the additions to the home were incorporated.

The ceilings are tall and the verandas are generous, allowing the doors and windows to be open to the trade winds while the interiors are cool and dry, protected from the frequent rains that keep the island so lush and green.

Many of the necessities of farm life in the mid-1860’s were incorporated into the home, and are still in use today. The kitchen, while modest by today’s standards, is efficient and serviceable. They still use the old wood burning stove, which keeps the kitchen quite warm, even in the summers! The kitchen has a composting bin, which is air-cooled to the outside, which keeps unpleasant odors from accumulating. It is handy to remove the waste to the outside compost pile. While composting is making a comeback today, having outside access might be a good thing, but probably less practical in today’s kitchen.

Dishtowels air dry under the sink while hanging on dowels that slide out for easy access. This is a convenience that continues today in many forms, proving that some old ideas are well worth preserving.

I have always loved the pots and pan storage ideas employed at Grove Farm, not that they are unique to this home, as many homes of the era made good use of the space. The practical storage of platters and cutting boards, separated by thin vertical panels makes perfect sense no matter what century you are living.

Several years ago, when we replaced our builder wall oven, for an under-the-counter oven, wide enough for just about anything, we had to deal with the old oven cavity. It was no problem for me with handy hubby willing to take on the task. I had been wanting to get cookie sheets, platters and other awkward sized cooking pieces out of dark, hidden cabinets and up where I could reach them easily. The solution was to add the vertical dividers to separate cutting boards, platters and cookie sheets.  

Above the newly acquired storage, I had more space, and handy hubby added a horizontal shelf, high enough to allow for storage underneath for more frequently used items. On the added shelf, I store all the long boxes for parchment paper, aluminum foil and plastic wrap. These are easy enough for the vertically challenged to reach, as long as you don’t push them too far back when returning them to the shelf; however I do keep a collapsable step stool between the cabinet and refrigerator just for retrieval purposes. On the uppermost shelf, which not not many can reach, I keep the lesser used kitchen items.

To make the best use of your space, you must first determine how you want your space to serve you, then break down what can be added or deleted to serve your purpose. Having a handy hubby around, admittedly is one of my most prized gifts; but you will find lots of folks willing to take on the task for a reasonable fee. I think finding the space is the most challenging problem; but if you have a space that isn’t working well, think about how it can better serve you and go from there.