When I was a kid, I cleared out my closet of all clothes, toys, shoes, etc. In fact, rather than use my closet for its purpose, I lined the floor with blankets, rigged a flashlight to hang down from the bar, and dragged a huge box of my dad’s old comic books from the 70s into the corner. I would go in, shut the door, turn on the flashlight, and spend hours reading comic books squirreled away safely in my closet.
The memory of that cozy space inspired me to turn seldom used closets in the house into reading nooks, complete with curtains that can be drawn should the reader feel the need for a little more enclosure. Still, the few carved out cubbies are necessary because of one truth about this house:
Quill Cottage is too dang big.
To be clear, our home is a Cape Cod, with quaint dormer windows jutting out above a full length covered porch. It’s beautiful, and has so much potential to be the cozy hideaway I’ve craved since I was young. Unfortunately, it’s too big to really be a cottage. Sometimes I feel like the open space is a gaping maw that’s going to swallow me whole.
What’s worse is that the space in the house is very poorly used, not just by us, but in its layout. The kitchen is a lesson in “how to waste space” and could be studied by architecture majors as what NOT to design. Still, overhauling a kitchen is a massive project that we’ve just never been in a place to wisely take on.
With the outdoor spring work done, we turned our attention to creating a kitchen that was not only more useful to a homestead, but more worthy of the name Quill Cottage. We needed vertical space we could actually use (and reach) and we needed a designated place for food prep that would allow more than one person in the kitchen without causing a traffic jam. For the last ten years, we’ve put stuff where it fit, and where it was within reach for the shortest among us, and that meant a lot of chaos as we tried to navigate around while cooking. The anticipated chaos made it too easy to just dial up DoorDash rather than make our own meals.
Last week, we bit the bullet and took out our first cabinet to get an idea what the wall situation was behind them. We’ve learned not to assume anything involving drywall here, so the exploration mission was necessary. Once we realized it was all good, we took all of the upper cabinets out and installed shelves, as well as a place to hang the cast iron and knives. We have one section for plates/cups/bowls, one section for mixing bowls and various ingredients, and another section purely for food prep and cooking.
So, the person cooking has one half of the kitchen, and the person cleaning or people getting food have the other half. It’s not only a better use of space, it’s completely gorgeous, too!
Until this kitchen reno, I’ve said “Quill Cottage” with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. Now that we’ve made these changes, I finally feel like our house is becoming the cozy cottage I’ve always wanted. As for the big open space in the rest of the house, my new plan is to shove a plant in it. I’m sure a good design will come to me eventually, but in the meantime, I’m not giving up my dream of turning this house into a place I want to curl up in with a box of vintage comic books.
Kyle made the Quill Cottage video this week, so it’s up on his channel. Go check it out to see what we’ve been up to!