Monday, December 2, 2013

Kitchen mission: Demolition

Have I mentioned the kitchen problem?

It started in mid-September, when we innocently walked into our kitchen one day and felt a little bump. In front of the dishwasher. Under the vinyl flooring.

Such a little bump. Cute, really. Until there was a second one the next day. Then the first one got bigger. By the third day, we knew we were in trouble. We called our contractor friend and got the bad news: That's a leak, probably from under the dishwasher, but maybe from under the sink. They wouldn't know until they pulled everything off the wall. And since that would mean destroying the tile-and-grout counter and backsplash, we'd probably have to destroy the matching counter on the other side of the room, and that would lead to the cabinets and . . .

He seemed surprisingly cheerful. Happens all the time, apparently. I wasn't cheerful. Weeping was heard.

It's not that I loved my kitchen. It was a minimal, 1950s-era kitchen. Lots of tall cabinets, two nice windows. A broom closet I turned into a pantry. My collection of 1950s kitchen kitsch looked right at home, with cheery cherry-themed accents. My husband dressed it up with a really nifty red-and-gray paint theme.

But there were only two drawers in the whole dang room, the broom closet was too deep and narrow to be efficient, the floor plan left major "dead corners" in two cabinets, and because the cabinets were so low, I couldn't have a gas stove. The only refrigerator that would fit in the 1950s floor plan was a dreadful side-by-side with a freezer so narrow, you couldn't put a frozen pizza in it. No task lighting. Limited counter space.

Nope, I didn't love it. But replace it? How do you even begin?

Still, after getting the bad news from the contractor, my husband put his arm around me and said one of the nicest thing he's ever said to me: "You've done 20 years of food writing and two cookbooks in minimal kitchens. It's time you had something better. So let's do it. Let's gut the whole thing."

It wasn't the time I would have picked, and I certainly would have liked more time to think about it. But the little spot in front of the dishwasher was growing fast, into a big bump with a frighteningly bouncy feel to it. Bouncy is never a good thing in a floor.

For six weeks -- through a book tour and trips to New Orleans, New York, Nashville, Mississippi, New York and Memphis -- I've been in overdrive, meeting with an architect and cabinet designers, obsessively clicking through,  studying every Consumer Reports appliance review I could find, and looking at dollar amounts that are truly staggering.

Last week, in the middle of packing to take Thanksgiving dinner on the road, we also packed our kitchen and dining room. (I looked on the back of a china cabinet one morning and discovered my husband had sketched a word in chalk: "Heisenberg." I'll leave that there for Breaking Bad fans. He also laid down blue tape, like a crime scene, so I could see where the architect is moving the kitchen island.)

Last night, we set up a field kitchen in an empty bedroom and moved the dog's bowl to a bathroom.

And this morning . . . it began.


Frazer said...

So how long is it projected to take? Sally told me about your undertaking when she saw you last week. We've finally got a new stove but I'm still quaking at the prospect of not having a kitchen for months and months. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Frazer. We're told about five weeks. Just long enough to really mess up Christmas, but we should be done by early January.

pam said...

Good luck! Ours was a full demo as well (planned remodel) and it took about 3 months - 4 months. I hope you picked a good contractor...ours was all right but he was running something of a ponzi scheme. We did not get the bad end of it though, others did!

Kim said...

Dear god, I wish I'd been able to warn to. DO NOT RENOVATE! Sell your house & buy one with a kitchen you like. It's easier. We did a kitchen renovation that was supposed to take 4 weeks. It took 20 weeks. I hope yours goes well!!

Kim said...

That's warn you. Not to.

DMorrisPE said...

We're mostly through a complete redo of our kitchen/Family Room/Breakfast Nook. Because of a very limited budget, we have done the work ourselves and in manageable chunks, so we've never been completely without at least some part of the kitchen. Started with the floor (laminate in the Family Room, 12" tile for the kitchen/nook), rearranged and rehabbed the cabinets, then Silestone countertops, and new appliances coming one at a time. Running a gas line is up next so we can put in a gas range, and the final appliance is a new microwave. I'm wanting a pot rack over the island, but she's not too keen on that. Backsplash and under cabinet lights are done. It has taken about two years, but it's been fun and much less stressful than a full demo/rebuild.

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