Friday, August 19, 2016

Kitchen Renovation Part 1 - The Before.

This was the introduction to our new kitchen: the Realtor's photo, neatly labeled. Looks decent enough. Lots of cupboards, wood floors, ceiling fan - dunno how folks survive without a ceiling fan in the kitchen - at least, in Texas!

Now, before I continue, allow me to show you a little sketch I made...
The living area of the house is one large rectangle, with a wall in the middle to separate "food" from "entertainment" or whatever you want to call the living room. That's it. A wall. There's absolutely no planning or design involved. The kitchen is a u-shape with a peninsula island and the fridge and microwave unit are on the opposite wall (big black thing in the sketch is the fridge.)

I discovered that a 'peninsula' island is different from a standard kitchen island in that it has one side attached to a wall, allowing open access to only three sides, where an island has access on all four sides. You learn something new every day!

Now that you have a line drawing visual, here are a couple photos to show you what it looked like in real life...

Here's that wall... photo from the front door.


Directly behind the wall is the fridge and microwave shelving unit


See how HUGE that fridge is? The space between the corner of the fridge and the corner of the counter is so small, I couldn't walk through the space carrying a full load of groceries. Aaaaand... of course I can't find a photo of the gap. Grrrrr....

And here's the kitchen as it was empty, just when I moved in.


Not too bad, really, is it? Seems to have lots of light and lots of space.

Would you do me a favor and scroll back up to the top photo, the Realtor's one? I'll wait.

See how dark the room looks? The kitchen is east facing, so first thing in the morning, the sun streams in and everything is bright and beautiful. By mid-morning, when the sun is climbing the sky and the rays are slanting inwards, things look a lot dimmer. After lunch, when the sun is on the opposite side of the house, it is quite gloomy. Refer realtor's photo, above. You can see through the window that it is still daylight, but he has the light on and it still appears dark. The cupboards flanking the window blocked a lot of light and that peninsula hanging cupboard closed the room in like a giant sunshade.

The lack of light bothered me from the outset, but there were several things that began to irritate me as time went on. That darned hanging peninsula. It is actually very low. If anyone was on the other side, like a friend chatting to me as I prepared us a snack or a cup of coffee, for example, they had to stoop down to see under it. Or I would smack my head on the edge as I reached across the counter. That was the worst, because I did it over and over and over and over again! I'm sure I have a permanent dent in the top of my head from doing it so often. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Then the tiles on the backsplash. Fugly brown. What you'd find in a baby diaper.


Excuse all the stuff on the counter, I forgot to take a close up photo of the tiles and this one was the best one I could find.

That hood is what they call a "recirculating" hood. It sucks the air up through a filter and blows it back out the front. What happened was that each time I got distracted and Himself discovered a charred mess on the stove, the hood would recirculate the air into his offended nostrils. Which would just make him even angrier as he called me from the back where I was happy with something shiny, or from outside where I was preoccupied with a furry or fluffy butt.

Speaking of which - look!


Aren't they just the cutest fluffy butts? I love how the one on the back left has her beak full of munchies! They're all enjoying a home made protein treat.

Oh yes, the burned pots. So the recirculating hood was a very bad idea. That had to change - pronto!

The storage issue was also not as good as you'd think. Firstly, all the corner cupboards were built as long-cupboards-that-stretch-into-a-corner, with the crossover cupboard blocking access. Which meant, for the most part, the corners were utterly inaccessible unless I was willing to grovel on the floor and disappear halfway into it for the base cupboards, or perform a similar magician's trick standing on the counters. The corner in the furthest section, which you can actually see in the photo above of the fugly tiles, wasn't even usable. It didn't have any shelves. It is large enough that I could crawl into there entirely and pretend I wasn't home. If I didn't mind the spiders, scorpions, or whatever else was enjoying the dark and deserted space. Which I do. I mind very much indeed! Shiver... 

Also, there was no pantry space, no dedicated food area to store groceries. The only cupboard that was remotely suitable was one of those with the magical corners where food could get lost forever. And we had no entrance console for bags and keys and stuff.

Lastly, the wallpaper.


Large swathes of wall covered in pretty floral wallpaper. Pretty.. but very twee. So not what we had envisioned in our forever home.

When Himself's payout came through we debated for a couple of weeks on what to do with it and decided eventually to not do a single large upgrade like the master bedroom and bathroom, but to do a series of small home improvements instead that would add up to the larger amount. Gutters and a rainwater catchment system; a water purification system so that we would have drinking water and no longer have to buy bottles; a carport; and the kitchen. As labor is free (Himself and I don't charge for our services) and we would be reusing most of the existing kitchen, it would not be an expensive job. Time consuming, yes, but not expensive.

And so it begins...

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