Fox Around the House

Don't cook? Try these ideas for what to do with your kitchen

 (Manuel Buznego)

Are kitchens destined to end up on the list of endangered rooms?

With Americans opting to dine out-- and order in-- more and more, kitchens may be getting used less for prepping food. Still, interior designers like Bea Pila aren’t concerned about losing the kitchen portion of their business. “In fact, I’m currently designing a $100,000 kitchen for a client who doesn’t even cook,” says the owner of B. Pila Design in Miami.

So what does a kitchen look like if it’s not used for cooking? Or what can it look like?

Here are a few things to do in your kitchen if you don’t need the space for food storage or prep.

1. Alternative Appliances

By swapping out a toaster and Kitchen-Aid for an espresso machine and a wine cooler you can easily transform your kitchen into a beverage station. Add comfortable seating and low lighting and you have a well-stocked lounge. The kitchen is a default gathering spot, so even if you don’t use it for cooking, that doesn’t mean it can’t be company-friendly. It can also be used as a command center.

“My plan in our current kitchen is to install an oversized, wall-mounted tablet,” says Donna Garlough, Style Director at Wayfair and Joss & Main. “We'll use it to display a family calendar of all our work and school events, childcare schedule, doctors' appointments, etc. It'll also control our Nest system, the sound system and a home security system.”

2. Anything but the Kitchen Sink

“Kitchen sinks are great for spot washing delicates and shampooing your hair,” says designer Edgar Marroquin of ABQ Home Staging. If you fancy turning your kitchen into a pseudo-greenhouse, kitchen sinks also make perfect watering and potting stations. L.A. based designer, Mark Cutler, can also see the kitchen making a great home for your indoor pets: “Use it for your reptile house or aquarium. Both are notorious for the amount of work needed to keep them clean, so having running water nearby is perfect. It’s also handy to have a fridge for storing fresh pet food.”

For clients who are serious wine drinkers, designer Nancy Dalton, owner of Baywolf Dalton, Inc., suggests utilizing the compost bin section as an ice cooler for chilling bottles of bubbly. For clients who are crafters or painters, Dalton incorporates sophisticated storage systems of multi-layered grids and self-healing cutting mats so the sink area can be used for drip drying and precision cutting. 

3. Unplug the Oven

In New York City, it’s not uncommon to open someone’s oven and find piles of clothes, books, cleaning supplies or shoes staring back at you. With their racks, built-in insulation and easy-to-open doors, ovens are convenient places to keep items you frequently access but don’t want laying around as eyesores. New York City-based designer Sasha Bikoff believes the kitchen makes a great extension of the closet (for example: line drawers with velvet for displaying jewelry) and she recommends storing your sweaters or bulkier items in the oven if you’re short on closet space. Just remember to unplug the oven before stashing your flammables.

4. Dishwasher Duty

If you’re not cooking, you probably don’t have many dishes to wash so why not use your dishwasher as extra storage space? Dishwashers are handy for storing smaller items like handbags, hats and jewelry. Like the oven, it’s probably best to make sure it’s unplugged before it’s used as a closet. Granted, you may want to keep it plugged in if you plan on utilizing it as a sanitizer. Dishwashers are great for sanitizing shoes, plastic toys and hair combs and accessories. See here for a curated list of 20 things to wash in the dishwasher.

5. Cabinets Be Gone

When Monica Mangin, host of Lowes’ The Weekender, was transforming a homeowner’s kitchen into her dream photography studio, she immediately got rid of the cabinets. In their place, she installed cubes where the photographer could display her work. Even if you’re not a professional artist, clearing up this wall space is like creating a blank canvas, giving you room to show off your work-- or, if you’re an avid collector, your latest finds. If books are your thing, replace the cabinets with shelves and you have an instant library with great lighting.

6. Keep Your Fridge

It’s hard to live without a fridge. Even hotels have mini fridges. It may have been a dozen years since you last bought a dozen eggs, but fridges are nice to have on hand for storing takeout leftovers and cold beverages. If you choose to store extra clothing in your fridge, use the tall space next to the fridge to store your ironing board so you have an easy setup for steaming and pressing. Interested in dabbling in creating flower arrangements? Use your fridge to store fresh bulbs.  

7. Countertop Desks

Because of the task lighting commonly found in kitchens and the abundance of accessible outlets within reach, countertops make great work spaces for everything from drawing to sewing and crafting. If you have a home office, consider your kitchen island your desk which can easily convert into a standup desk when you remove the stools. Dalton often includes built-in USB charging stations in countertops for clients who work from home. She also knows how to install TV screens and monitors that rise up out of the counter so clients can have their high tech and hide it too. 

Katie Jackson is a travel writer. When she's not working, she's chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus.