Kitchen Shelf and Workbench

MFH Home Tour: Kitchen

By Erin Huffstetler | 10/06/2016 | 25 Comments

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Come take a tour of my kitchen. It’s hands-down the most colorful and unique space in my home.

We started renovating our kitchen five years ago and it still isn’t done, but I’m going to show it to you anyway. If you’re a regular around here, you’ve probably heard me talk about when our neighbor’s tree fell on our house back in 2011. That’s what set this renovation in motion. To make a long story short, we suddenly found the kitchen and every other room in our house under construction, and we were forced to move out of our house for 17 months while the work was being done. It was a sad time for us, but we tried to make the best of it.

We restored the kitchen ceiling to its original height; we ordered a new stove; we had the walls replastered. We did lots of things to make the kitchen nicer, but in the end, we decided to leave some things undone to save money and get us back in our house sooner. To this day we still don’t have kitchen cabinets or a kitchen floor. And that’s okay with us. This wasn’t a planned renovation, so we didn’t have a bunch of money saved up to cover the cost, and we didn’t feel cabinets and flooring were important enough to take on more debt. We still don’t. Until we’ve paid off the renovation costs in full, we’re going to stick with what we’ve got.

And you know what? What we have is actually pretty nice.

Kitchen Floor

So, what does a kitchen without a floor look like? It looks something like this. After living with an unfinished sub-floor for a couple years, we got the idea to stain it. And it works. We plan to put cork tile down eventually, but for now this does the job.

Normally, I show you an overall view of the room before I take you on the tour, but I’m going to save that for the end this time. We have a lot of unique stuff in our kitchen, and I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises.

Let’s start with the right side of the kitchen, shall we?

Sink and Dishwasher

Our dishwasher was a lucky yard sale find. It’s super quiet, and we only paid $75 for it. It replaced a (much noisier) $30 dishwasher that we bought at a Habitat store and used for years.

My Dishwasher Detergent Tab Recipe

The marble countertop over top of the dishwasher was a scrap that we bought from a stone shop.

And that farm sink that you see next to it? I LOVE that sink.

Sink Closeup

It has one deep basin, instead of two shallow basins; and it has a long-necked faucet that I can actually get my stock pots under. It’s a work horse.

We used to have a normal, stainless steel sink, but then we bought this …


And we needed a sink with a smaller footprint to make it fit. It’s an antique workbench that we found at the World’s Longest yard sale six or seven years ago. We didn’t have any way to haul it home, so we convinced the dealers to deliver it. They drove several hours out of their way to bring it to us.

Before they got here, we ripped out cabinets to make room for it. We thought we’d carved out enough space, but when they brought it in, we discovered we’d miss-measured. Oops! It’s a good thing 30-inch sinks exist. That’s all I can say.

This workbench functions really well for us. It’s a great height, and it offers tons of storage.

Underneath Workbench

We store most of our small appliances on the shelf underneath, which makes them easy to grab.

Workbench Drawers

And it has three HUGE drawers for storing kitchen gadgets.

I think we paid around $1,000 for it, which is a lot less than we would have paid for cabinets and a countertop.

Vintage Bread Box

This vintage double-decker bread box nestled underneath the workbench was a lucky curb find. It houses my collection of vintage tea towels.


And this wooden box on the back of the workbench holds spices for some recipes that I’m currently developing. The rest of my open spices live in the pantry. All my unopened spices live in our stockpile.


My KitchenAid mixer was an anniversary present a couple years back. It’s a beast, and gets used often. My husband saved a ton by buying a refurbished model. We’ve never had a bit of trouble out of it.

The Wusthof knives sitting next to my mixer were lasts year’s anniversary present. It’s a $220 set, but my husband found a new-in-the-box set at a flea market for $50. Such a deal. This is my first really nice set of knives, and they’re a joy to use.

Stainless Steel Restaurant Rolling Rack

Remember the two restaurant stainless steel rolling racks that we bought from a scrap metal place a couple weeks back? We put one of them to work in the kitchen.

It fits the space perfectly, and holds everything we needed it to.

One thing I’ve learned while living without kitchen cabinets is that open storage really works for us. It’s nice to have everything within reach.

I don’t think it would work if you didn’t cook a lot. Things would get dusty. But we’re constantly cooking, so everything gets used (and washed) regularly.

Fiesta Dishes

This rack holds all of our dishes. We use Fiesta for our everyday dishes. I have a definite soft spot for 50s kitchenware. Vintage Pyrex, refrigerator boxes – I just can’t get enough.

Mixing Bowls

This rack also holds all of my mixing bowls. I have a mix of new and old. I lucked into a big stack of antique stoneware bowls earlier this year. They were just sitting at a yard sale waiting for me.

Kitchen Shelves

Also on this rack: our baking pans, storage containers, drinking glasses, silverware, liquid measuring cups, food wraps, water bottles, a few appliances and our microwave. I was really thrilled there was room for the microwave. It had been taking up space on the workbench.

That’s a lot of storage for $75, don’t you think?

Glasses Rack

We store our drinking glasses in a restaurant dishwasher rack. It’s brilliant because you don’t have to worry about whether things are still wet when they come out of the dishwasher. This rack allows them to air dry.


We keep two trashcans in the kitchen: one for trash and one for recyclables. Both were free. We live near a college, and the kids always throw out their trashcans when they move out. I don’t think I’ll ever need to buy a trash can.

Well, that pretty much covers the right side of the kitchen. Let’s move on to the left side.

Pantry Door

We used to have an ugly hollow core door on our pantry. When we were renovating I set out to find something better. I unearthed this door at a salvage place, and couldn’t snatch it up fast enough.

Closeup of Pantry Door

It’s actually part of a set. I stripped it; gave it a fresh coat of paint; and we replaced the window screen, too. I love the way it turned out.

Inside of Pantry

When you open the door, the light turns on. When you close it, the light turns off. This saves us from having to turn off lights behind kids. It has the same refrigerator door-style switch that we installed in our master closet.

Our pantry is pretty small, so we only store opened foods in it. Everything else is stored in our basement stockpile.

Big Chill Fridge

Did you spot our fridge in the last picture? If not, here it is. It looks like an vintage fridge, but it’s actually a new fridge that’s dressed up to look that way. There’s a company called Big Chill that makes them, and they’ll paint your fridge whatever color you want. We chose Jadeite green. Very 50s. We’ve had it for about seven years now, and we love it.

Side of Fridge

I keep my vegetable blanching and roasting times charts on the side of the fridge, so I can refer to them whenever I need to. A lot of vegetables come through our kitchen during the growing season, so it’s nice to keep these handy. Both are available as free printables.

Print Vegetable Blanching Times Chart

Print Vegetable Roasting Times Chart

Vintage Westinghouse Stove

Here’s our stove. Unlike our fridge, it’s the real deal. It’s a 1957 Westinghouse that we had restored and painted to match the fridge. It’s 36-inches wide; most modern stoves are 30-inches wide. I love having the extra oven space.

1957 Westinghouse Stove

And since it pre-dates the age of computerized stoves, it’s really easy (and cheap) to work on. The thermostat went out a couple years back, and replacing it was a cinch.

Stainless Steel Cart

This stainless steel cart fits the space between the fridge and stove perfectly. It gives us a spot for our toaster oven …

Enameled Cast Iron

and our collection of enameled cast iron pots and pans. All of these have come from thrift stores and yard sales. We’ve never paid more than $7 for any of them.

Kitchenaid Gadgets

We keep our most-used cooking utensils and gadgets on the wall by the stove. This makes it easy to grab what you need while you’re working. As you can see, I collect red KitchenAid. It’s amazing how many pieces I’ve found at thrift stores and yard sales over the year.

Kitchen Shelf

The shelf under our utensil rack holds some of our most-used mixes, a crock full of wooden spoons, another full of metal utensils and our hot beverage supplies …


including my husband’s Keurig (I don’t drink coffee). Someone put it on the curb because it wasn’t working well. It just needed to be cleaned. After running vinegar through it, it was as good as new.

Kitchen Lights

Here are the light fixtures that I picked out for the kitchen. They’re from Schoolhouse Electric, and they were made using vintage molds. There are four of them.

Sherwin Williams Tea Chest

And here’s the color that I picked for the walls. It’s Tea Chest by Sherwin Williams.

Well, that pretty much wraps up the tour. Let me show you some overall pictures of the space to give you an idea of how it all comes together.

Left Side of Kitchen

Here’s the left side of the kitchen …

Right Side of Kitchen

and here’s the right side of the kitchen.

After adding that stainless steel rolling rack, I’m not really sure the kitchen needs cabinets. I told my husband that I thought we should live with this new set up for a while, and if we’re still happy with it, we should think about installing our cork floor. It’s been sitting in boxes in the basement for the past couple years because we were waiting to install base cabinets first.

I’d still like to come up with a spot for all of my homemade mixes. Maybe we just need to build cabinets or shelves over the workbench. Either way, our kitchen seems to be moving closer to done.

My oldest daughter’s room will be the next stop on the home tour. Until then, you can catch up on any parts of the tour that you’ve missed here.

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  1. Love it! I’m just wondering where you kept all those dishes before you found the industrial rack! The retro style is awesome- I wish I had an ounce of your creativity!!

    • We had a black plastic shelf there before we found the stainless steel rack. It was just something we had brought up from the basement. Very glad to see it gone. This is much more attractive and it holds a lot more stuff. Getting the microwave off the workbench has been awesome.

      • Yes, I do really like the open shelving. Dust is horrible in our house so this setup would not work for me. I love that you are able to see all of your fantastic finds and theyre not hidden in a cabinet! Such a functional kitchen setup!

  2. Love it! Thanks for sharing. This looks very functional (I am a function over form gal myself). I can hardly wait to see it finished. That restaurant shelving unit – awesome…that workbench – AWESOME! Will it move into the garage when you get to that part of the reno?

  3. It looks great!! We did the remodel of our kitchen while living in the house and we only had the subfloor but it wasn’t nice plywood like yours but diagonal slats across the floor and you could see straight to the basement. Friends came to visit and were afraid to walk across it. I told them it was sturdy. I had a stove from 1950 and we had to pull it out from the wall periodically to put the new drywall in so it was frequently in the middle of the room. Hope you get your new cork floors in but I like the strained subfloor!! Pretty and functional 🙂

  4. Very charming kitchen, Erin!

    I love all of your vintage finds and particularly your stove. You are so right that simpler, non-computerized appliances are easier to repair.

    What I love most is that your kitchen isn’t one of the “perfect” kitchens that are so common in blogland.

  5. Erin, I have been enjoying the tour of your beautiful frugal home. Love the appliances and fixtures in your kitchen. So much character! I think your cork floor will look great with everything else.

  6. Love the pantry,farm sink, cool dishes and especially that awesome fridge-how COOL is that! I do NOT like MY stainless steel fridge- not a good thing with a big family bc everyone’s fingerprints manage to get on the door just five minutes after you clean it!

    • LOL-oh good it posted in a bigger font but just to let you know as soon as I was complaining that I could NOT see, a poor vision AD pops up-hilarious! LOL-I am easily amused!;)

        • Oh good- thank you! Just wanted to also mention, I don’t know if you have Asian kitchen/bath and granite/quartz counter stores in your area? I spent about 1000. on my quartz countertops and it looks much m ore countertop area than you have in your pictures so you would probably pay less-mine is a beautiful sandy looking one like a beach with mirrored flecks so it looks like a beach with glass/starry look. And my cabinets were much cheaper-the whole kitchen I did for 1/4(including tear out and install and cabinets/countertops/backsplash) of what Lowe’s,Home Depot and others charged-and they did it in one day vs few weeks! I wish I did it long ago! Same cabinet makes as the ones in the big box stores too. So try to look for Asian kitchen/bath stores. I LOVE my kitchen and have many compliments!

  7. Love that fridge and that huge oven …..awesome!
    Seems like you’ve got a very functional, sturdy kitchen.
    I really love your creative ideas.
    There’s only one thing and that is the kitchen seems a bit dark.
    Perhaps it’s the photo lighting.

  8. Wow! I have so much admiration for your decision to make do with what you had to work with and what an AMAZING job you have done. It isn’t at all a compromise in style and function. Your kitchen is full of personality and beauty. I love it!

  9. Hi!
    Do you have a suggestion for keeping a porcelain sink white? I have had my farm sink about 3 years now and it looks dingy. I bought the cleaning product from the manufacturer and it did nothing. Any suggestions would be great! Thanks for all you do!

    • That’s a bummer that your sink has been so hard to keep clean. I haven’t had that experience with ours. I save the mesh produce bags that we get from the grocery store, and that’s usually what we use to clean ours. It gives you some scrubbing power, without being abrasive. That might be worth a shot — especially since it’s free.

  10. Funny…I was just looking @ your website and wanted to look @ your kitchen pics to see if you had a microwave ( I know some people don’t…though few) because mine just went out this morning and if you didn’t, I was going to try to get creative to live without one (you are my go to creative “do without” goddess;) and I see that you do AND what I find interesting is that you TOO store your silverware in a tray on top of it as I do too as there is no drawer (3 bread drawers?:) wide enough to fit it.

  11. I love the kitchen! I went for 15 years without kitchen cabinets when we were first married (hubs built our house himself) I used a variety of things over the years for shelves to include discarded entertainment stands! He eventually found oak cabinets that were being discarded from a local air force base as they tore down the older housing units. I had so many cabinets I couldn’t imagine how I would ever fill them. As mentioned before that home burned. Our new home is very modern and has cabinets already. It is different to have a home in the same spot as the last one and have it be so “new” but I will get used to it! I love every aspect of your kitchen right down to the stained plywood floor, brings back wonderful memories! Keep up the wonderful work you do!

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