Luckily, D was willing to tackle the challenge. We added shelves first (p.s. - had our first decent earthquake a few weeks ago and everything was fine! but I'm still planning on putting in bars or something). The next project was a wall of counter height cabinets that would provide us with storage space and also give us enough counter room for more than one person to be in the kitchen at once.
We couldn't buy cabinets because the space was narrower than a standard cabinet depth. Otherwise we would have farmed this out to Ikea for sure.
Here is the progress over the last couple months ...
I don't have a picture of the space empty because moving was a blur. But this is what that wall looked like right after we moved in. We temporarily stacked a shelving unit and a bench there.
D built a false wall to temporarily* cover up the built in ironing board cupboard (I know, I know. In theory, it's a charming feature. In reality, it hadn't been cleaned since 1935 and I wanted the cabinets more) and put in the base.
After building the cabinet boxes and squaring them up, he put them in place.
We painted everything the closest match to our kitchen white we could find, including the false wall.
And then we added the cabinet doors and D built the most beautiful walnut top for it, to match our floating credenza.
In the area above we hung the old chalkboard and the dessert frame from our wedding. It's the only wedding related decor we let ourselves keep and we're planning to repurpose it at some point (photo collage? another chalkboard?) but for now we hung it as is.
We built a tiny shelf with a space for a plant, inspired by this post. D added a groove along the shelf so we could safely stash the iPad there, since it always lives in the kitchen.
The minute the cabinets were finished our apartment felt a million times more functional. Having the extra counter space means both of us can cook at the same time and our kitchen stuff finally has a place to live. I'm over the moon.
*Whenever I share projects like this I get questions about installing stuff in a rental. All I can say is, no, we usually don't ask for permission first and no, we've never lost a security deposit. I take the risk on it because the additions make our apartment so much more livable. We're always careful to remove anything we've added and then patch and paint properly when we move out, although it certainly makes the moving process more intense. We're pretty considerate in general and I think the bar is pretty low - our landlords always seem relieved if there aren't gaping holes in the walls and broken windows. Your mileage may vary.