Sunday, July 19, 2020

This post should make anyone feel better about their half-done renovation

Renovations are supposed to have a start date and end date, right? A before and after. A glorious reveal. 

This post will contain none of those. Instead, I will present you with during, during, during, and, to top it all off, some more during. Because that's how renovations go around here. 

The photo below right is probably the best my kitchen has ever looked in its most recent incarnation. Not saying there's anything wrong with it; there wasn't. I'd moved into my house, put a brand new Formica countertop on refinished 1960s-70s era maple cabinets, painted, and....well. Not much else. 

I was at that time a single parent trying to raise four boys and fix up a house that needed more attention (and of course money) than I could give it. So many things (kids, broken water heaters, yards, jobs) were desperate for my attention that something had to give. Kitchens being the center all things-- meals and homework and craft projects and bill paying and board games-- there's never a good time to have your kitchen all torn up. So I just didn't bother.

I had a list though. I'm good at making long, day-dreamy, expensive lists full of the things I'd like to do to a room. 

That was back in 2012. Eight whole years ago. It seems at the same time an eternity, and a few wild seconds. You'd think that in that span of time I'd have ticked off a majority of the boxes on that list. 


The kitchen pretty much has looked the same ever since I put the paintbrush down in the summer of 2012. 

In the summer of 2014 my sliding glass door cracked, at a time when money was tight. (I'm trying to remember a time when money wasn't tight.) It waited months, until the spring of 2015, before I was able to get a new one installed. Living with it even for a few months was really discouraging for me. I'd spent so much time and some hard earned cash to make it be basically okay looking and functional, and it seemed like a huge step backward. 

In this collage photo, on the left is the half of the broken sliding glass door. On the right, the newly installed one. 

I was supposed to have painted the trim and sliding door frame on the new install. That also hasn't happened yet. Five years. I suppose that gives you an idea how much I hate painting trim. 

One of the up sides, if you can call it that, of living a long time with a DIY list while you DDI (Don't Do It) is that you are usually pretty darn sure what isn't working in the space by the time you finally get around to crossing an item off the list. 

The big ticket item on that list for this room of our 1939 house was the windows. The window over the sink, and big one in the eat-in area were 70s-era casements. They were poorly installed and poor quality, which meant the kitchen was freezing in the winter, and roasting hot during the summer (the kitchen is on the northwest corner of the house). The crank mechanisms didn't work very well any more either, and screens were missing. Over the sink, one of the panes was replaced with plexiglass, which was clouded and scratched. 

Those 70s-era fabric curtains were wool, lined on the inside with a heavy felt backing. In the winter they kept out the drafts, in the summer, some of the heat. 

Over on the aesthetic side, the windows were ugly. They didn't match the windows in the rest of the house, which are white eight-over-eight or six-over-six double hung windows. And the dark brown trim seemed to trap the light right at the windows, never getting into the room. 

This year, finally, we used our tax return to fund window replacement. Tom decided that he didn't want to do the install, so we hired it done. This turned out to be a magnificent decision for the welfare of our sanity and our marriage (which are, as you might guess, unavoidably related to each other). 

These are Marvin fiberglass windows, with wood trim that still needs painting, but matches the trim in the rest of the house in design. The white color bounces tons more light into the room, and makes the space seem bigger. The sashes tilt in for cleaning. Everything about them is sleek and bright and smoothly gliding, basically everything our janky old windows were not. 

Over the sink the new window does an impressive job keeping the sun from heating up the kitchen in
the afternoon, even without a curtain or blind. And while I did not request it, the windowsill is deep enough to host ceramic chicken planters. I'm shocked that Marvin did not advertise this feature in their full-color brochure, but you can see I wasted no time in claiming some windowsill territory for my poultry (and houseplant) shenanigans. 

Eight years later, I'm not much closer to "after" or "reveal" with the kitchen, but these windows made such a huge difference that we feel a bit more energized about the possibilities. At any rate, we're going to bask in the joy of newness and accomplishment while we consider where we go next, which is: 

Paint. The new trim needs to be painted. While we're at that, we should paint the sliding glass door trim. It has also occurred to me during the last eight years that while I like the color green, the shade I chose for this room is too dark. After eight years it's looking pretty tired, and I admit I'm tired of it. 

Dishwasher. The dishwasher was old when I moved in, nine years ago. I think it's probably about 137 in human years, and has reached the unfortunate stage where it removes the food from the plates and puts it on the silverware. Basically, it's overdue for a meltdown, which, following Appliance Law, occurs during the least convenient moment (Thanksgiving, in a dishwasher's case). I see a Labor Day appliance sale in my future. 

Floor. I had ambitions about the floor when I moved in, in 2011. It was disgusting then. It has reached a nadir, but it's another big ticket item in a year full of them. It will probably have to wait. But will it be another five to eight years before a big change in our kitchen? 

Not if the dishwasher has anything to say about it. 

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