Todd and I bought our first home in July 2009. It’s a Cape Cod built in 1946, with all the charm and (as we found out after signing the papers) chaos of a 70 year old building. We adore our little birdhouse, as I call it, like it’s a member of the family. A tempestuous member, but one of us, nonetheless.
Our first round involved a face lift – paint that matched, knobs that weren’t plastic, and storage that made the space shift from feeling like a butler’s pantry to an actual (if miniscule) kitchen. Seriously. I can’t find anything as small as this kitchen with four doors and full-size, functional appliances anywhere. Not even on Apartment Therapy or at Ikea.
That remodel was so much fun. We were new, excited homeowners, and the changes were simple enough to instantly wake up the space without too much stress or major investment.
Flush with that success, we tackled slightly more complicated projects, with the intention to come back and more deeply personalize our kitchen’s appearance, and increase it’s utility. However, like the dishes that pile up relentlessly and without noticing that it’s happening, Todd and I stopped working together as much.
By the time we finally revisited the kitchen reno, with intentions to add a dishwasher and knock out a wall, we could not cooperate to complete much more than pull down old tile to put up a beadboard backsplash, and replace a stainless steel drop-in sink with a white acrylic one. Todd and I were frustrated with the house, with choices we had made, and with our communication. The sunny yellow color we tried to force on the room didn’t fix anything. Though it made this space almost my dream kitchen, we were still trying to make it something that it wasn’t.
Todd and I weren’t feeling or working like a team, and it makes me sad to think of the time together that we missed out on. That’s a story for another day, though, and the part that’s important today is that the mini-kitchen reno that almost broke us was our wake-up call. By the time the Spring rolled around in 2011, we had sorted ourselves out, and were ready to tackle bigger, better things.
In the Middle:
And this was just in the nick of time. One week – seven days – after Todd and his dad installed our first dishwasher, custom cabinets, and farmhouse sink, we found out that my mystery illness had ten fingers, ten toes, and a very cute nose. Yes, my little negative pregnancy test was actually born on November 29, 2011.
But not before one more kitchen update! See, somewhere along becoming a mother, I learned that the only way to thrive is to truly trust my ever-growing gut. And one morning, when I woke up, I made a choice that was not merely pregnancy hormones, as was generally perceived at the time. It was right for this little house. You see, two years ago (WOW! When did that happen?) I decided that the cabinets needed to be blue. Like, dark blue. Not girly turquoise, not neutral Robin’s Egg bland. Something between Williamsburg and Navy blue.
Almost nobody was painting cabinets blue at that time. It was still just glossy white, or sometimes black. Even then, it was still a pretty niche look.
Sometimes we have to be flexible, and still get professional help. Somewhere in all of the mishigas, we asked a local contractor to come in and cut a hole in the wall. We had originally planned to know the wall down, and then realized that would mean new floors and ceilings. Thats not why we live in an older home. So, we decided to cut a box in the wall as a pass through and breakfast bar. What the contractor advised was to make it an archway, and it’s now one of my favorite things about the area. It lets natural light into the “landlocked” kitchen, allows easy conversation with dining room, and didn’t force a structural change to the house.
Along with trusting our instinct, we’ve also learned to go slow, and feel out the right was as we go. If we can’t do something together, it’s not right for us. Which isn’t to say we have to do everything together – this pegboard is a great example of that. Todd put it up for me as my Valentine’s Day gift this year. He did the work, but it was something we both wanted.
Most of all, I love our kitchen because it is where we gather, when things are good and when they are not. It is where our friends and family break bread with us, but it is also where they break a sweat with us. Our kitchen reflects (to me) the beautiful jumble of undeserved blessings that I am so grateful is our life. What changes have you made since moving in to your home? Do they help you document the eras of your life, like the rings in a tree?