The Kitchen

Take my word for it, it’s very easy to take your sweet time renovating a house when you don’t have to live in the space that you’re renovating and you can just go upstairs when you’re done for the day and forget about the massive chaos underneath you.

This house has been like Frankenstein’s monster for a long time, sort of cobbled together with no real direction of what it could be. It’s an upper and lower apartment and for many years I rented out the downstairs portion, but there came a time when having my own space (as in a whole house and not a whole apartment) became more important than having rent income rolling in. Luke moved in and thus the great remodeling of 2013 began. We stupidly thought it would be not a huge job, renovating the downstairs. We decided not to turn it into a technical one-family home but wanted to keep the apartments separate — having a separation of  Luke’s office from the dogs was important due to his allergies (although now after living here two years combined with my superior vacuuming skills he’s hardly allergic to the dogs anymore. That also might have something to do with the hospital grade air purifier we have, but I’m SUPER good at vacuuming now.) It would be nice to have a “sometimes but not always dog free” zone for things like dinner parties, fragile stuff, and leaving something out on a counter without wondering if someone will eat it. I love the dogs, life would be boring without them, but when you have dogs that are so large they can get things off the top of the fridge it makes normal people things hard. It also makes it tricky to have people over who don’t LOVE dogs and don’t mind a 130 pound Great Dane plopping down on their lap when they sit on the couch.

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It’s time to finally tackle the kitchen downstairs. For the last two and a half years it’s served as a storage space for all the construction materials, paint cans, extra tile, drywall, shop vacs (why do we have THREE? It’s a mystery) that go along with this sort of thing. With our wedding quickly coming up I realized we really had to get on this because way back in September when we got engaged and picked an August date I told my brother and his kids that they could stay here while they’re in town for the wedding. Aside from that though, I just want it done.

I have no idea what we’re going to do with the upstairs kitchen yet. I have a feeling it might turn into a giant pantry or something like that to house the tons of kitchen stuff that I have that I don’t use every day. The way the house is set up it’s going to make it difficult to sort of integrate it with the rest of the house since knocking down a wall or two isn’t an option (yet) so an appliance storage space would be a pretty decent option..

Over the last week I’ve been taking off the cabinets, cleaning them, sanding them, priming them. Originally all along the plan was to do a two-tone kitchen with white upper cabinets and grey lower cabinets, but I came across a photo of a kitchen with blue lower cabinets and it looked so great I decided that was what we needed to do. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea or a bad idea yet — the photo that I saw had giant windows with amazing natural light as well as a soaring ceiling, of which I have neither. If it turns out to be a mistake hopefully we only have to live with it for a year or two when we do a proper remodel — but I can tell that anything will be better than what is down there now.

It wouldn’t be a remodel without a few wrenches thrown in the mix, naturally. We had been out looking at floors (goodbye, horrible peel ‘n stick tile that looks like it was done in the dark. Why are there so many gaps between tiles?) and countertops as these are two things that really need to be changed out. The whole kitchen is very “landlord’s special” and the yellowish brown laminate countertops are more evident of that than anything else. And the horrible lighting. And the ugly cabinet hardware. Like imagine if you were a landlord and maybe hated your tenants — this is probably the kitchen you would give them. I’m not sure when it was last remodeled, maybe early ’80’s?  It’s awful, really. After looking at countertops we had been thinking of what to do and weighing our options, but the curveball thrown was our Great Dane Kemper being rushed suddenly to the emergency vet and racking up a whole kitchen remodel’s worth of vet bills. I can’t say I really care because I’m just so happy that our dog is alive. I’d live in a house that is 100% walled with brown paneling and wall to wall carpet with foam drop ceilings if it meant saving my dog’s life. Luckily, our kitchen situation is not THAT drastic and it’s just a matter of getting very creative with budget and where we can save money. Obviously number one is doing it ourselves.

I thought that I took a ton of ‘before’ photos but so far I’ve only come across these two of the kitchen. The quality is horrible but part of how bad they look is because the kitchen really IS that bad. They bring up so many unanswered questions. Why is there no backsplash other than just painted drywall? Who thought that scalloping above kitchen sinks was a good idea? Is that dishwasher from the ’70’s? Can I polish this turd?

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One thing that I really hate that I will have to learn to live with is the ceiling. There’s that soffit with the lights in it in front of the cabinets, and the rest of the ceiling is about twelve inches higher than that, but still about eight inches lower than the rest of the house. It just makes an already small space feel so much smaller. If I had my way I would rip down the whole drywall ceiling, fix the “real” ceiling underneath it (which I’d be scared to see why they covered it in the first place) and then take down the cabinetry and just raise them up, but that is way too big of a job to take on at the moment so that’s in my “future kitchen plans” list.

So for the time being the plan is paint cabinets, do something to the countertop “for now” that doesn’t involve $75 a square foot granite, maybe a new floor if we can swing it. To the right of the photo is a door and blank wall with nothing else on it except an outlet — who knows what eventually will go there.  It’s a little relief that we’re only doing things to last a little bit because hopefully that will give me a chance to really decide how I want things to be in here for the long haul.

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