Twenty years ago my kitchen was first renovated. It was a big job and involved sacrificing a bedroom and pantry to create a bright, open room that flowed from kitchen to dining room to deck. In addition to increased natural light, the remodel expanded my counter work area and storage space inspiring many dinner parties and family meals.
I was thrilled with the results, despite some of the choices we were forced to make because of the realities dictated by our low budget. The cabinets looked great, but weren’t of particularly high quality. The countertop material was a laminate – easy on the wallet and fairly durable, but definitely not upscale. None of that mattered at the time. This was a kitchen made for a family with young children and, as such, it served its purpose.
The home which once housed 5, now has a mere 1.5 residents. My days of grocery shopping and cooking for a family are mostly behind me now and I’m trying to modify my habits to reflect the current composition of my household. It isn’t easy to do, but I’m certain I’ll get there eventually.
Over the winter, a friend posted on Facebook that he had a garageful of basically new kitchen cabinets that he wanted to get rid of. Thinking that I could use them for my tenant’s kitchen, I rented a truck and brought them home to store in my basement until spring.
As I looked more closely at the kitchen where I intended to have them installed, however, I realized they probably weren’t go to work. It’s an odd space and the cabinets were standard sizes. I considered my options and concluded that the cabinet should work upstairs in my current kitchen. In an instant, free cabinets morphed into a mortgage refinance and two kitchen remodels. Fun!
Wanting the cabinets out of my basement, I opted to take on the upstairs first. Although this space had been thoroughly renovated 20 years ago, my contractor had some ideas which had never before been considered. He uncovered my brick chimney and it will be an architectural detail instead of an oversized obstacle. The peninsula which provided counter seating is gone now and the improved flow between kitchen and dining areas is a revelation. The butcher block top that formerly was the peninsula counter is being repurposed to top a wheeled island that I imagine as my baking station as well as potential bar seating. I couldn’t be more excited.
While the work is being done upstairs, my mind is also thinking about what my next, next kitchen will be. In recent years, my house has begun to feel unnecessarily large. A three bedroom, two bath house on two floors is a lot of house for me and I imagine that I might one day want to live downstairs in the much smaller unit. Not anytime soon, but eventually.
So, I’m planning that kitchen as if it were my own. It’s going to be quite a project as the appliances shift locations, the walk-in pantry gets eliminated, cabinets and counters get installed…but I really think it’s going to be great. The upstairs kitchen will be oak and copper and white subways tiles. For downstairs, I’m thinking dark painted cabinets in green or blue, simple white counters and a light reflecting backsplash in tin or stainless steel.
When I ordered the new refrigerator for upstairs (freezer drawer on bottom, counter depth, <13 cubic feet storage), I ordered the identical one for downstairs. I’m considering adding a small dishwasher and I definitely want cabinets that mimic furniture with glass doors and plenty of drawers for storage. The downstairs kitchen will be quite different in appearance from my soon to be new upstairs kitchen, but I hope it’ll emanate the same simple message that I want guests in my home to always feel – welcome.
For months, my head has been full of what my kitchen(s) will ultimately look like. Last week, though, there was a mental shift. My middle son offered to come over and make tacos for dinner. He had no concept of the state of my current “kitchen,” and expected to cook (I shopped in advance from his provided list) for four. Following an afternoon of volleyball, the guest list nearly doubled and instead he prepared delicious pork tacos for seven, pretty much solo. I wasn’t much use after that pitcher of margaritas, truth be told. His easy grace moving around the chaos of a space which is now unfamiliar to him, made my heart sing. Proud mom moment for sure.
I’m feeling super appreciative for both what goes into making a kitchen and what is actually made in that kitchen.