Like many homeowners, my wife and I have been contemplating a kitchen remodel for some time now. The endeavor has not been a point of contention but it comes up from time to time with varying levels of excitement. I am usually of the perspective that if something can be repurposed, be made the old new (or the new old), such an action will quench the money-sucking lust fueled by the constant barrage of home and garden propaganda.  

This programming corrodes our resistance and the pain points flare up when one finds themselves again struggling to find a proper fitting place to store the latest culinary contraption. Advertising craftily sows and fertilizes the seeds of discontent by desire signaling. As such, we purchase devices that we may or may not use, but regardless must find a home within our homes, if only to hide them from our semi-guilty consciences.  

One consequence of the accumulation of things and the growing ability to purchase more (I believe they discordantly title this affluence), is the battle for space. This common form of inadvertent materialism is not readily self-diagnosed and so the remedy is, therefore, more room rather than less stuff.  

Not coincidentally, you would not be alone in feeling that the size of recent innovations seems to be directly aimed at creating further discomfort with the spatial design of kitchens of yesteryear. Yet, in the age-old prophetic words of The Rolling Stones, which Richards and Jagger clearly wrote after arguing about their own kitchen conundrums,  

“You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find that you get what you need.” 

While adoption of orphans or stray pets is an expression of unconditional love that demonstrates the best of humanity, the spirit that drives the accumulation of [kitchen] things is of a different origin. This ethos clouds our better judgment. Storage volume is an issue relevant to the quantity of newly acquired items awaiting accommodations in your family kitchen quarters.  

Yet, this making of room does not expand our capacity for love. Rather it shrinks our perspective of dimensions. Moving one set of like-use utensils into another undersized cavern to make space for this new purchase stirs the sands and winds, which make for a new round of stormy discussions about the inadequacies of our sculleries.  

Storage wars, therefore, are self-perpetuated. These battles among household members and the ensuing psychological and financial casualties could easily be otherwise remedied. We humans need contraceptives to prevent the emission of desire for contraptions to fertilize in our psyche.  

I recently came across a kitchen organization design that started picking at the back of my brain. The back of the brain is where our cerebellum, among other assignments, controls balance. This of course is in relationship to the body, but is apt to our discussion of life principles. I saw a picture of frying pans stacked vertically in a cupboard using metal railing and plasticized widgets.  

The organization of our pots and pans has been a point of frustration dating back to the formation of our family. It has not been a battle, rather some discordant chatter that intel picks up from time to time indicating that there could be heightened risks of conflict. 

I did not have the materials to recreate the system observed and I did not want to purchase something preassembled. I emptied the cabinet so that I could measure and ponder the space. This led to cleaning the remnants of our life, which were hiding in this otherwise undisturbed environment.  

I mused, I may have cracked a beer, and ruminated some more. I adjusted the shelf, made some measurements, calculated the space needed for the frying pans, and began accounting for the thickness of the material I would use for dividers. I brooded over whether the partitions should be squared off or if I should take the extra time to round them out.  

Then I had the bright idea of a pull-out shelf that would bring the pans to me. Maybe there was another beer. This simple plan was getting more complicated until it struck me: We already have some pull-out shelving just a cabinet over from the chamber occupying my best mental efforts.  

I excitedly scrambled to remove the various items from these two cabinets. It turns out the frying pans, the pots and their dang lids fit near perfectly in these two spaces.  

Our kitchen was remodeled by a well-intentioned prior homeowner. To date, I’ve been able to remedy many of the functional discrepancies, such as shaving down the sink cabinet to bring our farmhouse sink to level with our solid surface countertops. But at least weekly, some of the shortfalls in quality instigate conversations about our future plans. 

Thankfully my wife and I are [mostly] on the same page with regard to pragmatism, as we both understand in the current market an overhaul of our kitchen will not net a return that offsets the expense. I couldn’t wait to share my revelation with my wife and family. The re-org idea had been chirping in my ear for several days, and slaying the dragon of kitchen dissatisfaction in this simple way was all the more rewarding.  

Our old kitchen had a new flair by discovering something that had always been there. For all their shortcomings, the prior owner and amateur remodel team got a few things right. And so, as we celebrate the dawn of a new year, perhaps this year isn’t as much about chasing what is new –manufacturing, remodeling, or accumulating – but discovering what is already there and putting the pieces together just a bit more concisely.The old new.