Before we began the work on our kitchen remodel people wished me an easy time. I thanked them, but truthfully I didn’t get what could be so complicated about building a kitchen. I really didn’t know what the big deal was. Basically, pre-kitchen construction, my impression was of the process that you go through a few simple lifestyle changes, and voila you have a kitchen at the end of the journey.
You make a few decisions, and you go about your life, and there’s a huge mess and that’s it.
Oh, yeah. You buy a lot of pizza and takeout in the interim, and you eat a lot of spaghetti made in the microwave, and cereal and milk for breakfast, lunch and even dinner sometimes. You have a hot plate and microwave and toaster oven and George Forman grill set up in your living room, and lots of paper dishes and you manage.
You get invited to your kind friends’ and relatives’ homes for Shabbos dinner sometimes too. And that’s a lot of fun.
It’s really not such a big deal, this kitchen remodeling business, thank you very much.
Oh – and while navigating the construction world, you ask and get a lot of solicited (and unsolicited) advice, you second guess yourself sometimes and you make firm decisions other times. You learn about faucets and sinks, and brand names and wood, and appliances and floor materials and paint colors and windows.
You start noticing other people’s kitchens and homes, when you were absolutely clueless until now. You make inane comments to your friends such as “I love the molding on your doors,” and “Those faucets are really elegant,”
then realize how odd that must sound. But it’s just a temporary construction stage.
You admire your friend’s shutters on her living room windows.
“Uh, I’ve had those shutters for the past 15 years,” she responds, deadpan.
You run your hands over people’s countertops and look up at their ceiling to notice the recessed lighting and you barely realize how obnoxious you are, because hey, this stuff is on your mind.
It’s great. It’s fun. You’re excited. It’s a piece of cake, come on. What’s the big deal, huh?
You discuss the pros and cons of wood floors versus tile floors with anyone who will listen, and you totally get it when the salesperson asks you if you want the “verde azure” or “sea green” countertop. You just know what they mean. And you’re not annoyed or even worried that you’re color blind, when the sea green that you saw online turns out to be beige in real, and verde azure that you spotted on the Houzz app turns out to be the farthest thing from green. So what if “verde” means green in Italian and Spanish? That is so besides the point.
Overall, it’s an experience. A journey. You’re a bit self-involved, but in the end, it will work out.
You complain here and there, kind of mock-complaining, and you hear your husband say, “Oh those are first world problems. May these be the worst problems you ever have in your entire life.” And you exclaim, “Amen,” and you mean it.
And at the end of it all, you will have a beautiful new kitchen. So it’s all going to be worth it.
It’s been your dream for the past 35 years of marriage and so you dive in and enjoy it.
And you’re happy.
Part of the time, life is like a flower garden; you’re kind of in la-la land, picking out floor material, cabinets, countertops, and making various decisions regarding the placement and layout of the sections of our new kitchen.
Will it be granite or quartz? Will it be dark or light?
Within the subject matter of Kitchen Construction 101, these are Very Important Matters. They are earth shattering decisions that are all part and parcel of the Grand Experience.
Once in awhile you make some changes when you have doubts. Someone random mentions that what you picked may be too dark.
And you don’t want to have a dark kitchen, do you? So, even though you don’t want to be the kind of person who cares about “those” kind of superficial matters, you tell yourself it’s just part of the pleasant stage of Kitchen Construction 101. While taking this course, you allow yourself to agonize just a tad about the style and texture of the tile and whether it should be mosaic or subway or glass or ceramic.
And so, you drive over to the tile store for the third or fourth time and you ask the lady who already knows your name by heart by now if you can switch the tile to a different color.
She tells you that switching is not allowed: Only adding. Later on, you can return for a 30% re-stocking fee, but for now, what’s ordered is ordered.
And you order another color, because you absolutely don’t want a dark kitchen.
And when the tile men come and install the brown tile with two hideous stripes of mint green, you tell yourself that it’s great. Because Random Person of Authority knows. Mr. Contractor likes the look too. It must be nice.
You wake up in the middle of the night. You go downstairs in the dark, and patter over in your bare feet to view the newly tiled kitchen walls. You turn on the lights take a look at the green and brown tile and all you can see is Carvel Ice Cream parlor in your dream kitchen. (no offense to Carvel).
Not fun. You do not want to see chocolate and pistachio ice cream stripes when you are cooking in your kitchen. Nope. That was not the plan.
The next day you tell the workers to tear out the green and replace with the brown. They say okay. You tell them assertively, “esta yo cocina..this is my kitchen. I have to live with it.”
They remove the green, and replace it with the brown. You take a deep breath because this is what you wanted to begin with.
And ding, ding ding. You realize how much you’ve learned about the process.
Now you get to take a step back and begin to relax. You no longer guesstimate. You just experience the experience. Because after all, as much as friends can warn about what’s to come in any experience, we really have to go through the journey ourselves and figure things out.
At the end of the day, it’s my kitchen, my experience, and my decisions about life that matter. Not the contractors, or decorators or any random person of authority.
As for when the kitchen will be done? Ummm….That will be in another two, no – three, or maybe four weeks… I think.