My custom kitchen isn’t a modern kitchen. It resembles a modern kitchen, but that’s as far as I would go with the word “modern”. It was built inside the house using very few pre-manufactured parts.
The kitchen was the last part of the house to be completed when we were building our house. We (I and my wife) had plenty of time to think about kitchen design ideas and how our kitchen would finally look.
We didn’t have to worry about cheap cupboards or cheap cabinetry. Everything was going to be made from scratch. I don’t think prefabricated kitchen items like that are even available locally. I consider that a good thing. The house we sold in Arizona had cabinets and cupboards made of laminated pressed wood. Crap wood, I like to call it. The bottoms of each were made of fiberboard, which I quickly found out about when the bottom of the cabinet below the sink collapsed after getting wet.
Wood Cupboards and Cabinets
We had choices. We could have obtained prefabricated stainless steel kitchen cabinets, or cabinets made from aluminum, but they would have required special-ordering. After thinking about rampant corrosion of metal products in the Philippines, we decided against it.
The home my parents bought in the early 1960s, where I grew up, has steel cupboards and cabinets. Other than refacing them with thin plywood in the 1980s, nothing else has been done to them. They lived in the desert of Arizona and corrosion isn’t an issue. If I hadn’t been aware of their cabinetry, I wouldn’t have even considered metal of any kind.
Our cabinets and cupboards are made of solid wood, with only the hinges being made of aluminum. We have both cabinets and cupboards on both sides of the kitchen, lengthwise and even one above the kitchen sink area. Our kitchen is shaped like a rectangular “U”.
Tiled and Granite Counters
Our main kitchen counter is shaped like an “L”. The frame is made of wood, as are the cabinets below it, but the top consists of cement covered in ceramic tile. It’s very easy to clean, although I need to find some grout paint so that the darkening grout color can be made to match the tiles.
We have a bar-type counter at the end of the kitchen, the top of which is made of solid granite. The lower portion is made of both cement and wood. The drawers under one side are solid wood. We don’t have any bar stools to line the outer side of the “bar”, but it isn’t a priority right now.
The Dirty Kitchen
We are in the process of building a “dirty kitchen” on the opposite side of the wall outside the kitchen. In the Philippines, outdoor kitchens are called dirty kitchens by everyone. Other than the fact that people tend to cook the stinky foods in them, I have no idea why they’re called dirty kitchens. They’re really no dirtier than indoor kitchens.
There will actually be two outer rooms when it’s all finished. A little over half will be the dirty kitchen, while the other room will be our laundry room.
We have appliance made for the US as well as the Asian countries. This means that some of the appliances require 110 volts while the others require 220 volts. I haven’t found any “autovolt” appliances that work with any voltage from 100 to 220 yet.
Most of the outlets in our home have two outlets side by side, one for 110 volts and the other for the 220. The kitchen is no different. We have two electrical lines fed to the house for that very reason.
Without the proper voltages, we wouldn’t be able to make use of some of the handy kitchen gadgets we’ve become accustomed to. I’m talking about things like our rice cooker, toaster, microwave oven, electric can opener/knife sharpener, water dispenser, tea brewer, electric stove and refrigerator. The rice cooker, tea brewer and can opener were purchased in the US, so they all use 110 volts.
We don’t have a dishwasher, nor do ever intend on getting one. Like the old joke goes, my wife is the dishwasher and I’ll leave it at that.
Everything Including the Kitchen Sink
Our kitchen sink is a piece of garbage. I didn’t pick it, but it looked nice when it was new. It’s chrome-plated something and not stainless steel. The handles of the faucet are already corroded. I will eventually replace the whole ball of wax with a stainless-steel setup, but again it’s not a priority right now.
I haven’t mentioned the ceiling, floor or walls. The ceiling a type of fiberboard embedded with cement and I don’t know what it’s called. It’s definitely not any kind of drywall. In fact, the only drywall existing in our house is the partition between the dining room and the living room — it’s a five-foot wall. I wish I could take decent pictures when the lighting is right because the lower part of my house looks airy and open, even though there are four separate rooms.
We have just a bit of a problem. Because of how our kitchen is designed, there isn’t any room for the refrigerator or the water dispenser. Both of those items are actually in the dining room. We could make the refrigerator fit by moving a cupboard and matching cabinet on the side with the electric stove, but we’ll have to think about it. Refrigerators come in all shapes and sizes and don’t last forever. What happens if we get a wider refrigerator? Again, it might not fit without further adjustments. I think it’s fine where it’s at right now, but the wife disagrees. The water dispenser is portable, so it can be moved anywhere and will probably be moved several times before it has to be replaced.
The walls are the same as the rest of the house, made of cement and painted in an off-white color that already needs to be repainted. The floor is cement covered by ceramic tile, as it is throughout the house. The tile on the kitchen counter matches the tile on the floor.
Our house is designed to withstand an earthquake high on the Richter scale. The kitchen itself would probably be the last room in the house to collapse if the house ever did collapse from an earthquake.
[Originally published in December, 2008]