Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Heart of the Home

 To me, the kitchen has always been the heart of the home. It’s not that I cook all that much, or that I’m even very good at it, but that’s where we always seem to hang out. This holds true for any of the houses I have lived in as an adult. Maybe it’s just because my friends all like food?

It’s also where I tend to hang out when it’s just my immediate family at home. We’ll sit around the table and chat or paint or do homework. The girls also loved sitting at the breakfast bar in our old house. I think it made them feel big or tall or something. It’s the room that I feel I connect best with the girls, mostly because there are no distractions like TVs in the room.

Since we moved in November, we really haven’t had a functioning kitchen. The refrigerator has been in the basement. The cooktop didn’t work well and the dishwasher only cleaned the dishes if they were scrubbed first. We walked into this home deal knowing that we’d have to tear down and build all new. The cheap cabinets the bank installed weren’t even attached to the wall-we could play musical cabinets if we wanted! The countertop was nothing more than plywood covered in laminate. As soon as those suckers got wet, the laminate separated from the plywood and bubbled up all over.

There are also three wall cabinets, which I'm afraid to put too
much in. My luck, those suckers would smash to
the floor.
Because there's no real way to set up the kitchen, I haven't felt too motivated to do much else in the house. Oh, things are generally put away, but there is a haze of disorganization hanging over everything. Or maybe that's just construction dust. 

Between the move and the holidays, I really didn’t get a chance to talk with a kitchen designer (doesn’t that sound freakin’ fancy?) until a few days before Christmas. We talked to a couple of different designers and one came to the house to take measurements. Both EN and I liked one place and it really helped that several people recommended them highly.

The designer I worked with showed me several lines of cabinetry (do there really need to be so many?!) and I chose one that she called “semi customizable.” This meant that most of what we bought would come in standard sizes, but if we had oddly shaped angles or pieces, they’d be able to customize those for us. Given that our kitchen has 45 degree angles and a weird space for the oven, I knew we’d need some special help.

Fast forward a few weeks and I’ve chosen cabinets, hardware and counter tops. So as to not stress myself, I made only one decision per day. I joined Consumer Reports and was able to pick appliances without panicking too much. Before I knew it, everything I ordered started to come in.

Since EN has friends with experience building and installing cabinetry, we decided to not have the kitchen place do the installation and we’d give the job to our friends. Considering that the cabinetry would be “customized” to fit, we figured it would be a pretty easy install. Instead, the pieces and parts aren’t quite right… The section for the oven isn’t the right size and needs to be hacked to fit customized onsite. The drawer underneath the cooktop must also be hacked to be usable customized. I thought when she asked for the appliance model numbers, everything would work. The cabinet that the oven goes into has an opening that is 17” wide. Who on earth has an oven that small? The opening should also have been large enough to accommodate the attached microwave/convection oven. Instead, they need to customize these pieces. I guess that’s what she meant by “semi customized.”

I am very, very disappointed by this. Given that I spent a decent sum, my expectations were higher. Had I known we’d be doing our own customizing, I would have gone to a regular old hardware store and ordered some of their cabinets and countertops.

I go back and read through this post and I sound like a spoiled brat. I can assure you I am not! Everything that we have, EN and I have worked for. We live within our means and have a savings account. We have no credit card debt and we save for our retirements. We don’t take extravagant vacations every year, nor do we have fancy furniture or electronics in our house. In fact, our TVs are still BOX shaped, not nice and flat like everyone else’s. When we decide to tackle a project, we choose the best we can possibly afford and we have high expectations. It really bothers me when things don’t go like I expect them to.

The cabinets have been customized and installed. The countertops will be installed on Monday and the tile will go in next wekend. Then we can move in the appliances and all the kitchen stuff that has been stored in the basement since November.

We are closing in on the end of the project at this point. All of the elements I wanted in my “dream kitchen” are there and I’m very excited. This is the kitchen I’ve dreamed of for years, it’s almost complete and I can’t wait to use her.

New bases in place!

The cabinet that needed on-site "customization." They
did a fabulous job!

I've always wanted a desk in the kitchen!
I’ve discovered in the midst of this project that I really do enjoy cooking and baking and I miss it. I find myself daydreaming about what I could cook or bake first. How pathetic is that?

To make myself feel better about being so pathetic, I told the girls yesterday when I fed them cold cereal for dinner AGAIN, “Once we have a kitchen, I’m going to force tons of vegetables down your throats.”

Silly girls thought I was joking! 

Ice Princess


  1. Not sounding spoiled at ALL! Numero Uno, you paid. Two? It's your kitchen, and it should be the way you want it! Number three: Totally jealous of your kitchen desk. That's hot shit, girlfriend. :)

    1. Thanks, Sandra! The girls are already fighting over who gets to use it first. The right answer on that battle: the mama gets it first!