Saturday, December 29, 2018

Making Space

One of the best outcomes of the recent kitchen renovation was that it enabled us to get a clothes dryer, even though there was no room for a clothes dryer in our kitchen. None at all. Still, we managed to create some.

That is the enduring challenge of living in a tiny flat: creating space. We’ve become proficient at it, but by now we’ve pretty much conjured up all that is possible, so I was skeptical about generating a dryer-sized hole in a kitchen that obviously had no room for one. I was, however, keen to try.

This is the kitchen, with no space for a dryer.
We used to have a clothes dryer back in Pelham Court, and it was brilliant. There was more room there, so squeezing one in wasn’t very difficult. The difficult bit was the exhaust hose that we had to dangle out the window every time we turned it on. Eventually, however, they invented viable condenser dryers, and life got a lot more convenient.

Then we moved, and we haven’t had a dryer since.

The flat in the Forum, where we lived for about three years, had such a diminutive kitchen area that there wasn’t room for much at all. What it had was a tiny washer/dryer unit that was less than useless. It washed only a handful of clothes at a time, and its wash cycle ran for nearly two hours. To then dry the clothes in the same machine would mean spending the entire day getting three shirts and a pair of trousers done, so I used it only as a washing machine and strung the wet clothes up all around the flat. Sheet day was a joy, as I had to run a line down the hallway to hang them out to dry.

Moving to this flat, with its normal-sized washer, meant I could do the week’s laundry in two loads, and then string them up all over the flat.

This worked while I was the only one home during the day, but then my wife began her practice retirement and the paradigm shifted. It was still possible, but really inconvenient, to hang the clothes on racks, which are continually in the way with the two of us here, but sheets proved impossible to dry. There simply was no space large enough to hang them out. Our space-creating skills are fairly sharp, but they are not good enough to generate an empty room with the necessary dimensions to dry a set of sheets and a duvet cover. So, for the past nine months, we’ve been hauling our wet laundry to my mother-in-law’s house, like a couple of college kids, to use her dryer. It is not an ideal situation.

So when the destruction of our kitchen was proposed, my wife began shuffling cabinets and counters and drawers around in her mind—like a giant, imaginary Rubik's Cube—until the kitchen yielded up enough space to shoehorn in a dryer. It was an amazing victory of willpower over physics.

The plan called for removing the smallest of the kitchen cabinets and moving its contents to a larger cabinet that we had been using as a pantry. This not only gave us more space for the pots and pans, it also meant we could move the pantry, which was closer to knee-height than eye-height and therefore in a position we were both finding increasingly awkward. (None of us are getting any younger, and bending over to stare into the dim recesses of a cabinet to try to locate a tin of soup isn’t as easy as it used to be.) The pantry move involved me building a custom designed shelving unit to create even more space, a challenge I was eager to take on. I had, after all, created 25 feet of unobtrusive book-shelving in the hallway where there had been only 4, and produced 30 square feet of storage in the bathroom cupboard where they had been only 8, and pulled 97 and a half square feet of storage/shelving/work space out of thin air in The Office (its sort of like the loaves and fishes, only with pine boards and rawlplugs) so manufacturing enough space for a pantry would be child’s play.

As a bonus, I was able to justify spending some quality time in my shed (it’s really my mother-in-law’s shed, but I’ve kinda taken it over), emerging some time later with, if I say so myself, an attractive shelving unit that held all the stuff in our erstwhile pantry, plus a few bits more.

The new pantry, bigger, more visible, and with added space.
As a result of all this finagling, our kitchen has acquired a dryer-sized hole that is currently waiting for a dryer to be installed in it.

Now all we have to do is create enough space for the rubbish bin.

The Dryer-Sized hole.

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