At first glance, the kitchen bears up under scrutiny. The design certainly makes the best use of the space, leaving us plenty of room in the adjoining dining area to seat guests for meals—and that’s important, because one of the best things about a summer house is the guests.
I kept the appliances small and functional, going with a cooktop instead of an oven, as we do most our cooking on the outdoor grill. I do use the cooktop a lot at breakfast time or for making sauces and marinades. There’s seldom reason to turn on an oven, but when I need one the microwave above the fridge has a convection bake setting that works just fine—and doesn’t heat up the kitchen.
There’s a combo washer/dryer that sees a lot of use, what with all the bedding and wet beach towels, a large and deep farmhouse sink that I love, and an 18″ dishwasher that we rarely turn on. The corner cabinet has a capacious lazy susan that covers all our pantry needs.
And this little island—hacked from a 17″ IKEA drawer cabinet and two shelf cabinets—provides the perfect resting place for any platter on it’s way out the door to the BBQ grill. Very often I’ll set up a chop station here for volunteer kitchen helpers.
But that’s really where the charm all ends. Come in now for a closer look and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Because we rarely use the dishwasher, the area to the right of the sink, where the dishes are set to drain has borne the brunt of the water damage.
Leave dishes drying for any length of time, even just an hour or two of chat at the table, and you’ve got mildew stains.
There are additional mildew stains to the left of the sink, where presumably steam from the washer/dryer creates a damp spot.
To the far right of the L-shaped counter is where we tend to make the morning coffee, fix afternoon drinks, and open wine bottles—and it has the stains to prove it.
There you can see a hodgepodge of black streaks, caused by the little feet on our electric water kettle, the outlines of bottles, plus numerous red wine stains and droplet marks.
When not in use as a prep station, the little island to the left of the fridge is another place where everyone tends to open fresh wine bottles—or leave empties.
The surface is pocked with rings and blotches.
For a few years after they were installed, I oiled these countertops religiously with mineral oil. When that didn’t work I tried tung oil and scuffing. Finally I tried sanding the entire surface. All to no avail. I’ve just about had it with them.
Over the next few weekends, I’m going to give these wood countertops one last chance. I’ll treat the mildew stains with oxygen bleach or peroxide, sand the surface until it’s stain-free, then stain and varnish the wood using a marine varnish to protect it. And if after all of that, it still doesn’t work, it’s time for a replacement. I struggle to think what material will be more suitable for this casual country cottage kitchen. Soapstone? Slate? If you have an opinion, please comment and share.