Monday, June 4, 2012
Ah! Saturday morning! Mr. Wonderful was called into the studio for finishing touches on a commercial so I had a whole day to work on the house without any distractions. I made myself an espresso, opened the kitchen doors to the springtime air and started taking pictures of the space because the time had come—to Redo. The. Kitchen.
We had bought the house fully aware that the kitchen would have to be redone because 1) It looked dated; 2) It didn’t have any appliances; and 3) It was painted blue. We both thought blue belonged in a bathroom, not a kitchen. In addition this blue was not an attractive blue but a ratty, two-tone, faded shade with blotches of green randomly appearing amid the blue as if the previous owners had run out of paint before finishing the job.
“Who would paint a kitchen this or any other blue?” Mr. Wonderful had said just that morning over breakfast.
“Colorblind people,” I said.
In addition the wooden cabinets were trimmed with a wavy flourish that softened their line in an old-fashioned, Hee-Haw, country kitchen kind of way, especially if “country” were spelled with a “k”. Further, the cupboards’ copper handles and hinges looked like those found in Betty Draper’s knotty pine kitchen in Mad Men, which only added to the dated, run-down, country feel of ours.
“You’re not ripping out the kitchen, are you?” our nosy neighbor said peering inside the open door from his side of the fence.
“We’re going to redo it, Harold.”
“Just so you know, the wooden cabinets are real.”
“They feel solid.”
“The wood paneling on the walls is real, too.”
“It feels solid.”
“My in-laws had them all custom-made specifically for the house.”
“The kitchen hasn’t been updated since 1953?”
“Except for the ugly blue paint. That was added later. Hey!” he said as if an electrical current had just struck him. “I think it’d be nice if you returned the kitchen to the way it used to be—sand down the paint to get to the plain brown wood.”
It wasn’t surprising that Harold had an opinion about our kitchen—after all the house used to belong to his in-laws and solid wood cabinets were appealing—but I wasn’t going to change it back to the way it was. I couldn’t tell him face-to-face there way no way I’d sand down five coats of paint to reveal wood paneling on the walls. Wood paneling was not my thing and luckily Mr. Wonderful agreed with me.
Instead I said, “Thanks for letting me know how it used to be, Harold,” and politely half closed the door to photograph behind it.
“Morning, neighbor!” a cheery feminine voice said while knocking on the half-closed door, which in turn bonked my head.
“Hi, Mary,” I said rubbing my crown as she bounded into our kitchen wearing her sneakers and looking around like a kid in a candy store.
“I really like your kitchen.”
“You’re the second neighbor who does,” I said.
“I like it because it reminds me of the summer cabin in the mountains that we went when I was a girl,” Mary said with a far way look in her eye. “It was old, musty and oh, so country.”
Old, musty, country kitchens were not my thing and luckily Mr. Wonderful agreed with me.
“I wouldn’t change a thing in your kitchen,” Mary said. “Except the terrible blue paint. I’d cover that immediately. Speaking of I have to pick up my daughter’s green paint at the store. Imagine, we’ll both be painting rooms at the same time!” She kissed my cheek and bounded outside as quickly as she’d arrived.
It’s not surprising that Mary had an opinion about our kitchen. After all she did the cooking in their home so she was entitled to an opinion about what worked and what didn’t in a kitchen. But I couldn’t tell her face-to-face that I didn’t want to keep the old, musty, country flair of this kitchen, as appealing as it may have been in her cabin.
“What’s all the noise?” Matt said shuffling into the kitchen at 11 AM. My cousin’s kid liked his sleep.
“The neighbors like our kitchen but not the blue,” I said turning on the hot water pot for his tea.
“’Cause this blue is ugly,” he said reaching for some bread and cheese still on the table.
“You don’t like blue either.”
“Blue’s cool but not in a kitchen,” he said with a yawn. “BT dubs, when are you gutting the whole kitchen for the redo? And do I need to find a new place to stay?”
It wasn’t surprising that Matt had an opinion about our kitchen, because he was a twenty-three year-old college graduate and twenty-three year-old college grads always had opinions, which they shared... liberally.
But why did I have to listen to everyone else’s opinion? It was my kitchen, shouldn’t they listen to my opinions about it?
For example how about my opinion that I agreed with Matt, Mary, Harold and Mr. Wonderful: this two-tone blue was ugly.
Or my opinion that I liked how the cabinets were made of solid wood. So why would I rip out the wooden cabinets just to replace them with new pressed-wood or plastic ones?
Or my opinion that a kitchen redo is not about gutting everything for a brand new, cookie-cutter kitchen that’ll look just like the neighbor’s. I liked our 1950s house and wanted to keep some elements from the 1950s in it. Otherwise—Hello?—I would have bought a brand new house.
Or my opinion that living in this house now meant retaining the best style of the mid 20th century paired with the latest, most efficient 21st century appliances.
Or my opinion that when I moved into this house, I held a theory that blue belonged in the bathroom not the kitchen. But then a funny thing had happened while we’d been living in this house, cooking in this kitchen and eating in this space. I fell in love with the reality of a blue kitchen.
Several hours later Mr. Wonderful returned home. I told him my new opinions about fixing up the kitchen and repainting it blue.
“Blue?! But 12 hours ago you hated the blue, too.”
“True,” I said but opinions can change when he left me alone on a Saturday morning without any distractions. Especially when he left me alone on a Saturday morning without any distractions.