Guys, my kitchen is gone.
In its place, bits of plaster, layers of missing drywall and cords hanging out from everywhere. I made my coffee this morning using water from the hose heated in the microwave.
(But look what we found when we chiseled off the tile backsplash! Barbie flesh-coloured plaster covered with phone numbers! I want to call them all. Especially the one that says “drywaller”.)
People have been asking how my renovations are going – and is my kitchen finished yet? – since I mentioned it back in March. And now it’s mid July and how it’s going is slow, and I imagine all those (very kind, thoughtful, well-meaning) people who are asking how my new kitchen is have never actually undergone a kitchen reno themselves. After kicking it down the road for a month or three, I had the bright idea when I left for Italy in June to leave Mike with instructions to tear out the majority of the kitchen (leaving the oven, fridge and sink intact), rationalizing that if the kitchen was torn out, we’d have to replace it. Right? Sort of the throw-your-hat-over-the-fence train of thought.
That’s what grown-ups do, right?
The thing is, my kitchen wasn’t really that bad, in a pieced-together ramshackle kind of way. But the oven, an old GE electric that was old and well-used before we moved in 8 years ago and has helped me write a few cookbooks and hundreds (thousands?) of stories and posts and projects since, is getting ready to go. I need an upgrade. I need something bigger. Which means I need a hood fan (I knew I wanted a gas stovetop, at least), which means tearing out the overhead cabinets and cutting into the countertops, which being narrower than standard and not an optimal material (they used to be in the U of C science lab) could stand to be replaced too. And those lower cabinets – it’s so hard to get things out from the back on the lower shelves! So really, it was a domino effect in all directions.
It was time.
The problem is, I hear nothing but horror stories when it comes to the subject of renovations. No one says, “we did a full kitchen reno and it went so smoothly! It was done in half the time we expected, and under budget!” When I mention our little project people reply with shudders over the time they spent a year kitchenless, or tore out a wall to find a $25k repair job lurking underneath. My sister’s small bathroom reno took a good 6 months, during which time she and her kids took turns bathing here and at the gym. With a 106 year old house, I was under no illusions that the process would be without its obstructions. So far, a new oven has necessitated decisions about not only the cupboards and countertops, but the wiring, the plumbing, the sink, the ceiling and the floor. And whether we just want to scrap it all and move.
And so it begins. I’ll be posting updates more often here, starting with the stove – as much as anything as an outlet to keep myself from curling up in the fetal position under the bed until it all goes away. To use a summer adage – sink or swim, right?