Not to mention that it takes up a lot of space in a small kitchen- and as you can see, we could really use the storage. Also, I love having an excuse for making hubs clear a space in the office for the dogs. Dogs in the kitchen= dog hair in the kitchen, and that's no good.
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to best utilize this space. The trouble with it is that the whole area is recessed about 15 1/2" from the rest of the kitchen. I toyed with the idea of building a small cabinet next the the refrigerator to allow the doors to open fully without hitting the edge of the base cabinets, and following this tutorial from Young House Love to build the refrigerator in, and then putting a lower cabinet in with drawers, and open shelves above on the right side. The problems with this was that, while I could probably build the small utility cabinet, I couldn't build the doors...and I couldn't find anyone who would make them to come close to matching what we had for less than $120 per door. We would have needed four doors, plus supplies to make the cabinet boxes, and the purchase price of a refrigerator cabinet and base cabinet with drawers at around $550 on it's own, and shelves above that. After all that, having it sit back so much further than the other cabinets would have left it in the shadows, and made it look terribly out of place.
Then I went on to thinking of pantry cabinets. These would be practical. Lots of storage, and I can use them to hide the funny recess. The only downside I could think of is the loss of counter top space, but really, when we get down to it, the only thing I used the counter space previously was to store more junk that we didn't have room for in any of our other cabinets already.
I spent a few days at cabinet shops, big box stores, and online pricing pantry cabinets and figuring out options. The cheapest that I could come up with locally was $2300, and that was for cabinets that would come close to matching, but wouldn't really match our existing ones, and were basic boxes with shelves inside. I know cabinets are expensive, but ouch! That was more than I wanted to spend...especially since they wouldn't be "perfect" and the entire kitchen project started out with the idea that I would "just" paint the cabinets. Then the idea came to me that I may be able to head over to the Amish community about an hour and a half away and have some cabinets made to match.
(Love seeing these signs when you get into Amish country)
I googled kitchen cabinets in Arthur, IL and found that there existed another one of my favorite types of stores. A warehouse. Oh em geeeeee! Cabinet Factories Outlet carries warehouse overstocks, cancelled orders, misordered product, and factory overruns at wholesale pricing. They have everything on hand, and assembled. You just pick out what you'd like, buy it, and take it home that day (or within 7 days). Does this sounds similar to another place I found on my current kitchen hunt?
Friday I went to scour the warehouse, and I found some pantry cabinets that will work! They weren't 100% what I was planning for, but I was able to get ALL of the cabinetry for the entire nook area (plus a pull out mixer stand for inside a base cabinet) at 28% of what the other quotes were ($630 with tax!). I came home and drew it out to scale, and I think it will look fine. The pantry cabs on the right are full pull outs with cookie sheet organizers in the top, and a 6 place wine storage block on top them, and the one on the left has drawers behind the lower door, and an open storage area up top. They are 24" deep, so I'll have to affix 3 inch blocks behind them to studs to be able to attach them to the walls, and leave them flush with the existing upper cabinets (which makes it a perfect depth to make it look like we have a cabinet depth refrigerator, even though we don't).
I'm so glad it's all coming together. Today the Hubs has been working on changing the wiring around to add more lights. Just to give you a little insight on the horror of renovation...this is what my kitchen looks like at this very moment.
Yikes. Check back soon to see how it's going!