If you follow me on any social media channel (Uh, why aren’t you? I’m super fun.) then you’ve seen we are in the middle of a couple renovation projects around our humble bunker. (Some say bungalow. I say bunker, as the curb appeal is far closer to bomb shelter than cute surf shack.)
We got new kitchen cabinets and appliances and completely gutted and restored our previously “sorta” finished basement. The basement was a huge job, handled by teams of professionals with very little input from us except for the initial design and the punch list of all that wasn’t complete.
The kitchen has been much more hands on. We have a fantastic contractor doing the install, which is beastly, as you might imagine in a 1930-something bunker. So, he gets most of the credit for the hardest work, but the initial design and final paint, clean-up, backsplash and general decor details are on us (mostly, me and the lovely Suzanne from Home Depot).
I’m currently waiting on inspectors from the town to come and tell me (for a mere $80 and $1500 respectively) that the professionals in charge did their jobs according to code in both kitchen and basement so now I can have the special sticker that allows me to plug in my microwave and turn on the overhead light that was moved 7 inches from its original location.
The town involvement in this process is a whole different post for another, more ranty day, wherein I complain about small town New Jersey and the crazy-ass local political power game, and how it nearly cripples regular people trying to improve anything. Seriously, I’ve done nothing but fall in love with this place over the last seven years, until the last 11 months when I’ve never wanted to move away more.
But, I digress.
The reason I’m writing about this renovation at all is not to offer quick tips, a pinboard or listicles on top ways to restore your bungalow. I’m not even going to write about the headaches of renovation, because, quite honestly, it’s all gone as well as can be expected. The kids are desperately missing their basement play space and I am desperately missing their video game controllers and Pokemon cards not being all over my living room. I sure won’t miss the multiple leaks we had in the basement during this process and we all need to diet after living on toaster-over chicken nuggets and take out for 6 weeks, but all things considered, we’ve rolled with it all quite well and we consider ourselves ridiculously lucky that we got to do it at all. So, you’d think that would leave me writing about how great renovating is and sharing how I’m enjoying my new space. But, no. Instead, I’m writing about a new level of my personal crazy wherein I learn I’m not good at having new stuff.
My mom used to say she never wanted nice things in her house because the kids would just wreck them. I swore I wouldn’t be that way. I have set up structures and rules in my house to avoid it being overly disgusting with children. This means that the small people generally take good care of our common living spaces and my somewhat nice things haven’t been too badly beaten by sticky fingers, dirty feet or cups of milk and goldfish crackers. So while my fixer-upper of a house is a little run down, I have never hesitated to furnish and decorate it well and have thoroughly enjoyed the improvements we have done.
Until now. What I’m finding is that I’m wildly uncomfortable in my kitchen. This place I dreamed of, designed to suit my tastes and needs and stayed within my budget, has felt not like the finish line of a multi-year journey, but instead like a strange place where I’m not sure I’m welcome. It’s all just so fancy and new and unfamiliar that I’m having a hard time settling in. What if my knife slips and I scratch the counter? What if I spill on the shiny new stovetop or drip on the gorgeous hard wood floors?
See, I cook and bake with wild abandon. My process looks a lot like a painter who may or may not have finished a few bottles of wine before picking up a brush. The counters are riddled with herbs and spices. The floor covered in flour and the cooktop rife with boiled over blobs. The Husband swears I use every dish in the house. I rarely argue.
I’m afraid this new kitchen doesn’t deserve my amateur chef’s chaos. It’s just pretty, and nothing about my cooking or baking is ever pretty. Even now, when I once would be typing this blog by the light of the huge kitchen window, I find myself instead perched at our dining room table because I’m afraid of my laptop on the new island.
I think it’s clear: it’s not the children that are the problem, I can’t have nice things.
Of course, the reality is that I’m not a millionaire, a spoiled brat, or stupid, so I will not be reverting back to my old run-down, mostly-broken, kitchen anytime soon. So, I must get used to the new and good. Let’s be clear, I’m not complaining. This is not a problem. But, I’ve always been honest with you people in the past about my whacked out neuroses and this one is the latest so I felt compared to share it too.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to NOT painting the wainscoting or securing the pressed-tin backplash. Because, you see, I have to cook for my family and I am much more at home in my kitchen when I can see drywall and rough wood.
I Large find there is a strange comfort in unfinished walls behind shiny new countertops.
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