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Group 554
House & Homestead

Out with the Old, In with the New

The kitchen is the command center of our home, much like in many farm or ranch houses and probably most houses in general. It is the site where everyday activities take place that hold this business and household together. Bill-paying, laundry-folding, reading, budgeting, drinking (usually preceded by a grueling budgeting session) and writing out ear tags are just some of the activities that go on in our kitchen. From time to time, you might even see me cooking and serving food here. And around our place, home improvements are pretty low on the priority list.

When I was in a good mood, I would suggest our original 1961 kitchen was endearing in its functionality and cupboard space, not to mention its décor. The countertop laminate was held on with thumb tacks in several spots. I had removed the backsplash in some areas where I thought I would investigate and improve the wall beneath. Upon revealing some unpleasant things, it seemed best to abandon that project and pretend as though it was perfectly fine, despite the minor wreck I left behind. The lazy Susan, which lived up to its slack name, fell down every once in a while, regularly needing a lift. And the faux bronze plastic medallion drawer pulls were well aged. Enough said.

Since 2010, I’ve sort of been planning to get new cabinets. Leafing through glossy brochures, I determined I wanted something that was clean, white, classic and…. economical. It’s a kitchen after all, not a barn or a stock trailer. I visualized cabinets that stretched all the way to the ceiling, instead of the ones I had, which stopped short and concealed a dusty space full of unidentifiable ‘treasures.’ I pictured level countertops that were free of crevices holding bits of food from meals long gone. This imaginary kitchen even featured one of those newfangled automatic dish-washing machines, as well as a pantry that was located on the same floor as the kitchen.

It finally happened. A bit of unscheduled destruction, coupled with a major cabinet sale and a need for windows all but forced me into sort-of-planned-but-not-really-expecting-it-to-actually-happen kitchen renovations. It was tough to tell who was more surprised, me or the hardware store kitchen designer, when I rolled in and placed a deposit on my cabinets. According to the manufacturer’s booklet, they promised to “craft dream kitchens that fit every lifestyle,” even mine.

I didn’t want to think about how many cow-calf pairs I could have purchased for the price of this little project.

At the height of the renovation disorder, I was perking coffee on the bathroom counter, roasting beef in the living room, and using more paper plates than my tree-hugging heart appreciated. Strangely enough, I often found myself wishing my slow cooker could somehow cook faster. Fortunately, we didn’t starve, and the occasional neighbor, friend or feed sales rep that popped in and experienced the chaos first hand were understanding and very gracious.

The process, still ongoing, has been messy, and definitely gotten a little western at times. There was a fair bit of yelling on my part (mostly directed at my offspring), and a modest amount of nagging, but that is already a regular fixture in our everyday lives so it didn’t throw us off balance too much.

If all goes well, when my new and improved kitchen is completed I’ll have a lovely, functional space that, as promised, is tailor-made for my lifestyle. I just haven’t figured out what that is yet.