I live in what real-estate agents call a rambler (irony or coincidence…do you see the size of this blog post?), though at just a smidge over 1000 square feet, it really looks more like a bungalow. It’s a good size for me and Jonas (though I still dream of a mud room…doesn’t that sound fabulous? A room where the mud goes?).
When I moved in here in 2000 (prime real-estate buying time in Redmond, if you ask me), this house was scary on the inside. Even now when I look at the pictures I took during the walk-through, I’m kind of surprised that I bought it. I remember thinking that it didn’t smell like cat urine and that was a good thing because a few of the other houses I looked at did and I didn’t get much past the entry-way. I also remember thinking, almost immediately after entering, “this is the one”. I think my agents counseling about “good bones” kind of sunk in. I was somehow able to overlook sea foam green carpet with cranberry inlays (oh yes, I am quite serious), original 1968 counter-tops with glitter and squigglies, three layers of linoleum, lots of wallpaper borders and other assorted weirdness (for some reason, I take the idea of a chair rail very literally and could not understand the need for a chair rail in the bathroom, though, if paired with wainscoting, it looks quite nice. Mine was paired with faux marble wallpaper). Little did I know exactly how much work was ahead of me. Fixer-upper makes it sound so pleasant. Wrap that in some swear words and you have my house in 2000.
The first several years of my residency, I did the high-impact, but relatively cheap projects. I painted everything at least once (it made everything feel cleaner). All wallpaper was removed, as was the princess bed in the guest bedroom. Lots of stuff was replaced: kitchen linoleum, laminate counter tops, closet doors, carpets. Every weekend was a project. Every weekend. My neighbors stated teasing me for never taking a break (and the fact that the waste management guys would always pick up my garbage regardless of what it was but they are pickier about the neighbors garbage). Well, there comes a time in the life of a fixer-upper where the low-budget projects just don’t cut it anymore; where your short attention span wanes long enough to allow you to actually accept your paint colors, where you don’t walk into every room and have your eyes immediately drawn to that one hideous thing that the previous owners did (granted I believe that most of it was done during the eighties and then someone stopped caring). It is at that point where all your newly acquired home improvement skills become less necessary (garbage disposal installation expertise is handy but how frequently will you use it?) and if you have to see Paige Davis on Trading Spaces one more time, you are going to jump through the TV because she’s all perky and loud and that is not how you are supposed to be when you are fixing stuff up. Somber and regretful of ever starting the project in the first place; that is how you are supposed to be. You are supposed to question what is wrong with you that you cannot accept the decorative mediocrity that everyone on just about every reality TV show depicting real people has come to accept. Come on, have you seen Supernanny? They let her hang a big paper chart on the wall!
Anyway, it is at this time as a homeowner that I have come to know a beloved term: refi. Yeah baby. Because the things that are left to do in this house are going to cost some money. So I have decided to get new kitchen cabinets. I’m a kitchen person and my 1968 cabinets aren’t cutting it anymore. Then there’s the cutting board that slides into the cabinet the existence of which kind of makes me want to throw up a little (I’m sorry, but it’s just kind of gross to think about using it…I’d like to set it on fire). I had toyed with the idea of pricing different cabinet suppliers/contractors but then finally revisited a concept that I have come to accept as a homeowner (at least sometimes): my time is valuable and sometimes it’s not worth it to seek out a deal. This is hard for me.
So I went to HomeDepot, made an appointment with a nice man who we will call Gerry, mostly because that is his name and anyone who helps me pick my new kitchen is a friend of mine. I’ve been staring at dream kitchen pictures for a few years now so it was easy, with Gerry’s help, to pick out some cabinets that I love (solid cherry with a chocolate glaze…yum!). Then Gerry jumped on the computer (gotta love CAD) and we did a prelim design of my kitchen. I’m pretty sure this is a marketing ploy because once I saw it, I could not say no. I have to have that kitchen. In the meantime, I’ve bought a new dishwasher and microwave (a space saver) and someone is coming over tomorrow to measure my kitchen. He’s going to measure the bathroom also because that room is next (there’s only one bathroom here and although I have done the best I can with what I have, it’s simply not good enough any more…people who come to visit expect to be able to close the bathroom door all the way…I’ve learned that much).
So anyway, all of this has fueled the most intense, obsessive nesting/purging ritual that this household has ever seen. It was only intensified by the entertaining I did last week which made me dig through cabinets for serving dishes. I’m going to have to take everything out of the kitchen anyway, why not use my excitement adrenaline to fuel a little fall cleaning. Once you start in one room (the kitchen) it trickles to other rooms (it even trickled up to the attic…that is some major trickling my friends). It’s hard to stop yourself. I’m rethinking my afternoon latte right now by the way…this might be my longest blog post ever. I’ve decided through this ritual that I have to admit some things to myself:
-Any throw pillows that make their way into a hefty bag for storage are never coming back out
-I will never make yogurt from scratch. It’s a pretty idea for people that live on dairy farms.
-The fact that I lugged Celadon pottery home from Asia does not mean that I need to keep it. I have zero Asian decor at this time. It’s time to let it go.
-Just because a relative has extra candlesticks, serving pieces, whatever, does not mean you should take them. Accepting champagne glasses does not mean that your lifestyle suddenly transforms into one that involves champagne sipping.
-I like the idea of tea but rarely drink it. On the rare occassions I do, a decorative tea pot and little cups are not involved.
-Holiday decorations go out of style just like everything else. You know you want the new halloween swag at Target anyway (they have Starbucks there now).
-If you have multiple versions of the same thing that you only use one at a time, you have simply over bought. Sheesh, get some professional help for that habit. How many dinner trays does one person need? Ditto with the drinking glasses. Chip and dip and crudité plates. What army are you planning on serving? Stop the insanity.
-Just because you bought a duvet set at full price at Pottery Barn does not mean it’s pretty. It’s not pretty.
-You do laundry once a week, so why so many towels? Are they magic towels?
-You don’t need a guest bedroom (with a bed) AND a sleeper sofa. Oh wait, that army, after you serve them, they are sleeping here too? That might also explain the ridiculous number of comforters you own. The sleeper sofa is on sale on Windows Live Expo…whee!
-The only thing worse than wasting money is wasting money and space
Oh, I have learned ever so much these last two weekends of furious purging and I feel amazing. Purging might feel even better than buying all this junk in the first place (we can talk later about what I was compensating for when I bought all this stuff…those years of PB&J may have done some damage after all…hah). And the tax deduction from taking it to Goodwill…sweet! And now I think that when I finally get my cabinets in, I can take some of my kitchen stuff out of the attic and actually store it on the kitchen (the smoothie maker and the food storage system are on probation though). Unfortunately, as of tomorrow when my dishwasher and microwave are delivered, I’ll be parking my car on the street.
Just for fun, I thought I’d post current pics of the kitchen so you can see the transformation, realizing that there’s no way you care about this as much as I do and that if you are reading this far into this blog post, you are just humoring me (or are looking for tips for your own upcoming home organizing projects). I actually have pictures of the kitchen when I bought the house and it is so much better now (amazingly) but it’s not the dream kitchen from my mind’s eye. Here’s the kitchen now…
That last one is for anyone else that sees the beauty in recipe notebooks organized by course (and potato chips that will be given away so I don’t have to open the cabinet to get my coffee syrup and and be reminded of how good some onion dip would taste at 7 AM…oh, don’t pretend you’ve never had onion dip at 7 AM).
The only thing that could make this kitchen look worse is if you actually caught a reflection of me in my pajamas taking the picture. I’ll post more when the cabinets get in.