Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Wright Kitchen Remodel --- Prep Stage

One of the things we really like about our new home in Belize is the open floor plan in the kitchen and living room. With cooking being such a passion, it’s great having the ability to work on a meal while still being able to chat with David, watch TV, or socialize with guests all in the same space.

However, there are a number of things we don’t like about the existing kitchen. For starters, there are too few cabinets, and the dark wood makes the entire room look sad and depressing. The Formica countertop is beat up and not pretty to look at. The backsplash tiles are, well, I don’t know how else to say it, but just downright ugly.

There also is almost no prep area. 

See that tiny space between the range and the dish rack where those muffins are cooling? That’s pretty much all the room there is for prepping and plating. With space being at a premium, I’ve learned how to maximize the area, but often commandeer the kitchen table to give myself more room. 

We knew when we bought the place that remodeling the kitchen would be high on our priority list. Our objective: to make the space functional, provide more storage and counter area, but make the whole room feel more open, brighter, and airy. We agreed that some sort of white cabinets and appliances would help us achieve that goal, along with having an island/bar area. While David got busy working on design layouts, we forged ahead and made some purchases in the last month to get things moving in the right direction. 

First, we bought a new refrigerator. The one that came with the house was about 10 cubic feet. And while it was okay, we were always struggling to find enough space in there, especially in the freezer area. There were times I felt like we had something out of a Playskool kitchen. Our new one is 16 cubic feet, which gives us much more room to freeze things and two nice size drawers in the fridge area to watch veggies wilt. Really, I do try to use up any vegetables we buy at the market as soon as possible. Honest! But because they aren’t treated with any preservatives, their shelf life is very limited. As a result, there always seem to be some poor carrot or pepper or some such thing that gets shuffled to the bottom of the bin and meets its demise. 

I must admit that I kinda’, sorta’ miss having an automatic icemaker, but here we haven’t seen any refrigerator/freezer models that come with this feature. Not that dealing with ice cube trays is a big deal, but considering how much ice we go through on any given day, it would be just lovely to have it made and sitting in a bin ready for scooping out. 

The other purchase we made was a new gas range. The Acros model that came with the house had some issues; namely a rusted bottom pan in the oven, as well as the stove grates. Like the Mabe brand that is popular down here, the Acros oven area has almost no insulation. As a result, as soon as you opened the oven door, the temperature dropped dramatically. It also raised the temperature in the kitchen area to an ungodly degree. I know, I know, if you if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. But really, when it's 90+ degrees to begin with, you will have no desire to raise the heat level if you can help it.

After checking out some stores downtown and one in Belize City, we stopped into the MVC Gongora Store, located about 10 minutes away on the road to Mexico. This place imports Frigidaire appliances from the U.S. What it may lack in aesthetic appeal (think a large cement garage), it makes up for with the best prices we found thus far. We ended up with this gas range model...

...and Fidel, the store’s manager, knocked $150 off the list price. He also had already installed the conversion kit, so it would work on butane versus natural gas.

Isn’t she a beauty? It has great insulation and all kinds of features, including:
  • Five burners

o    5,000 BTU simmer burner/9,500 BTU standard burner
o    9,500 BTU center burner
o    9,500 BTU standard burner
o    9,500 BTU/12,000 BTU/14,000 BTU burner, including Quick Boil feature
o    17,000 BTU Quick Boil burner

  • Electronic oven control with kitchen timer
  • Quick Bake Cooking System control
  • Self-cleaning oven
  • Three adjustable interior oven rack(s).
  • Effortless Oven Rack™ system
  • Full width oven door with window
  • Storage drawer

Since David installed it last week, I’ve been putting it through its paces. From simmering chicken stock or beans, baking muffins, to sauteing chicken breasts, creating sauces and cooking rice, it’s works like a real champ.

So with those two appliances out of the way, we move to the next steps in prepping our kitchen for a makeover. In upcoming posts, we'll share the details and diagrams of our new kitchen design, chat a bit about our decision to not make this a total DIY project, and let you know what work we will be doing in the weeks ahead.


  1. Happy to. We got the range for $1050 BZD or $535 USD. Just as a point of reference, we've seen the same range on various websites for at least $100 more, not including what it would cost to ship it here and whatever duty tax would be charged.