New outdoor kitchen

We have a new kitchen at the farm! It is an outdoor kitchen space connected to the barn. 

We have one other kitchen in the main house, and with 8-10 people using it every day, it was always so messy. We also never had enough fridge space for all of our food! So for awhile we have been planning to build an outdoor kitchen near the barn.

The first step was finding a good spot for the kitchen. We talked about a few different places, but one of the only areas with a high enough ceiling was this storage area next to the water catchment tank. In May, a few of our WWOOFers cleared out the area and then in June moved a shed that was sitting in front of it to the other side of the barn.

I wish I had some good "before" pictures, but the only one I could find was of this ATV. The area where we put the kitchen is just behind the ATV in the picture where that bags set is propped against the wall. 

Once we had a spot picked out and cleared out, the next step was flooring. We didn't want to do a gravel floor because I thought it might get gross when food fell on the gravel. Also, our dogs will literally eat rocks if they have food stuck to them. 

We thought about doing brick flooring or a concrete slab, but the cheapest and easiest option was to make a design out of slate pieces that we already had. We raked the whole area to be as level as possible and then laid the slate in a pattern that looked nice. Then we filled the cracks with sand and dirt to hold the rocks in place.

It ended up looking really great, and has been holding up well for the last couple weeks that we have been using the kitchen. 

Long-term, we would really like to have the cracks filled with dirt or moss. We tried "transplanting"  moss into the cracks, but it didn't seem to take. You can kinda see the green moss remnants in the cracks in the picture above. 

After we got the floor laid, the next step was to design the counter tops. I knew I wanted the kitchen to be durable for a lot of people using it every day, however I didn't want to spend a lot of money on nice countertops (well, or any part of this kitchen...haha). The space, although covered, is outside and a lot of the kitchen will need to be replaced due to wear and tear as time goes on anyway. 

I decided on 3/4" plywood countertops built around the existing support beams in the barn. For the supports on the two ends, I used 4"x4"s secured inside cinder blocks filled with sand. This mini "post and pier" system is how we built the shelving for our greenhouses over a year ago and those are still holding up great so I thought it would work well here too.  

We used a table saw to cut the plywood counters and then a construction grade wood glue to attach the counters to the apron supports. Before the counters were glued down, the WWOOFers stained them using some extra wood stain we had around. Then our handyman, Chuck, glazed the counters using a thick apoxy glaze of some sort. He said it is the kind you use on boats. Overall, I think the counters look and feel great, but it remains to be seen how well they will hold up. 

While Chuck and I were working on the counters, Melanie and Katie were working on putting together other elements of the kitchen. Melanie assembled this cabinet for the pantry. Originally I had planned to build a pantry out of an old refrigerator by taking the door off and attaching some kind of screen door in its place. We thought that would be the best way to keep out mice (and our dogs and cats). I put up an ad on Craigslist and Freecycle looking for an old/broken refrigerator, but when no one responded, we just bought this cabinet instead from Lowes. So far, it has been working great. 

Katie assembled the sink. I bought a laundry room sink with a cabinet - it was hundreds of dollars cheaper than a standard kitchen sink - but it needed to be assembled. Katie put together the cabinet, but Chuck did the plumbing. 

At some point during the couple weeks we worked on this project I got a call from a woman who had seen my post on freecycle looking for a broken refrigerator saying that she had one and if we came to pick it up we could take it that day. Even though we already had the cabinet built, I thought we could repurpose that cabinet or maybe return it if the refrigerator pantry worked out. Well, when we picked it up, we found out from her that the refrigerator wasn't broken, in fact it worked great! The only issue with it was that it would get an abnormal amount of condensation on the outside that would pool on the floor in her house. Because our kitchen is outside, any leaking water just soaks into the ground, so this refrigerator could be used just as a refrigerator! We have another refrigerator that we currently use to store produce that we were going to repurpose for this kitchen, but we didn't have to repurpose it when we got this one - such a nice surprise! 

As you can see in the above picture, between getting the fridge and installing the counters, we painted the wood in the kitchen a light green paint that we had left over from something else. We also installed shelving - both a wood shelf that we rescued from the dump and painted and brick and board shelves. 

                                                               This is the back of the jeep filled with our awesome dump-store finds. 

Once the kitchen was all built, all that was left was to fill it with dishes, appliances and food! Mark (one of our summer WWOOFers) and I went to the dump store (a thrift store that is at the dump - not nearly as gross as it sounds) and bought all of the dishes, silverware, glassware and utensils that you see below for only $23! An unbelievable deal if you ask me :)

We had doubles of most of our appliances from when Doug and I lived separately so those things just moved from storage to the new kitchen. I did have to buy some new things though - like a mixing bowl set, pots and pans and knives. Overall, it wasn't too much and the whole kitchen was surprisingly inexpensive. 

Our WWOOFers have had a great time decorating the new kitchen and they are all really happy with it. It is great for them to be able to grab a snack without having to walk all the way down to the house or to refill their coffees while working in the barn. 

It is exciting to have a project fully finished in such a short period of time - we started it in Mid- june and had it completely done by July. I know I owe you loyal blog readers an update on a bunch of other projects and hopefully I will be able to post about those soon. Here are the statuses of those:

1) the barn bathroom - it is done and has been done for a couple months! We are just putting on finishing touches like the trim - I will get a post up about that soon!  

2) the brewery  - on hold indefinitely because we are not sure how we want to proceed with the space;

3) the deck - also ALMOST done - we want to build a pergola and are waiting on some lava rock slabs to come in to finish the counters;

4) the outdoor wwoofer "living room" - this is not even really a "building project" but it is a fun space the wwoofers have carved out and it probably deserves a blog post. I need to get them to clean it up first though! 

I think that's it! I am hoping to improve my blogging schedule and give updates on all of those things and more in the coming weeks.