Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kitchen Remodel, Before

My kitchen is 95% packed up for demolition scheduled to begin tomorrow morning. For the record, here's the before shot. I know there are many people out there who would find this kitchen looks superficially great, and think I'm crazy to invest time, money and sanity in such a project. Hear me out.

It's not so obvious from a short distance that these are cheap, builder-grade vinyl-coated MDF cabinets. They turned from their once pristine white to a nasty nicotine yellow after only five years. I had them painted back to white, which helped for a few more years. Then the paint started wearing off, so there are yellow rings around the most heavily used knobs.

The vinyl coating has also now started to peel in places. It's a matter of time until I catch an edge and strip the whole front off.

At least one drawer has needed some heavy duty nailing to keep it together and a few hinges are wobbly at best, with screws that are trying to hold in disintegrating particle board aided by wood filler. We debated repainting, then refacing, then decided to just start over.

There's also some lovely white formica countertop. After ten years, it started to stain if someone just looked at it. Everyday scrubbing with power cleanser was required to keep the rings at bay, and even then there are marks that won't come out with bleach or any other wicked concoction this chemist has applied.

Appliances are what finally pushed me over the edge. The builders love GE, but I'm not a fan. I crave a cooktop that can boil water for pasta in less than 20 minutes or actually sear a steak. I demand an oven big enough to hold a full-size cookie sheet or two pies on a single shelf. I deserve a second oven for holiday cooking. I need a hood that actually vents to the outside world rather than just distributing smells and grease to all parts of the house. Getting the appliances I want required changing the cabinets, which just reinforced the notion to replace them.

Beyond that, there are more minor aesthetic and functional issues. First up, the great bug coffin in the sky, that sterotypical marker of 90s spec homes -- the fluorescent light box, nicely off center over the teeny, tiny island.

Second, the waste-of-space less-than-half-shelves in all the lower cabs, where you can't reach anything on the upper shelf without going into full prayer mode, making essentially one big shelf on the floor, perfect for pygmies.

Third, the novel dual-sided island with shelving on the floor again, and one third-shelf open to both sides to allow always losing the item of choice off the back, no matter from which side you attack.

Then there's the crown molding that stands on the top of the cabinets, obscuring any decorative items you might want to place up there on the unfinished, rough, impossible-to-clean tops. Even if you did put something up there, you'd probably forget that the corner is just empty space and lose said item into an unrecoverable entropy hole.

Perhaps if you weren't born under Libra, the fact that the green inset tiles are not centered behind the cooktop won't bother you. Well, really, they are centered with respect to the black burners, just not with respect to the entire cooktop, the hood, and the cabinets -- obviously a difference of opinion between me and the unknown tile setter.

I could continue.

There ARE a few things I love about this kitchen. It's white, which is a huge part of why I bought this house thirteen years ago. White kitchens are an anomaly in Texas suburbia, where worship of oak in the nineties and now cherry is the rule. The bump out window, though placed a bit low for my extreme height, is my favorite window in the house, where I can watch the bird feeders and grow happy orchids and African violets. I also adore my handblown light fixture from Wimberley Glass and my Miele dishwasher, so they get to stay. As the only other fixture in the room that I selected, the updated 18" floor tile will remain, as long as the new tiles I rounded up for the repairs match well enough. Everything else, including the step-in corner pantry with the ever cluttered floor preventing such a step, disappears...