Friday, March 16, 2012

Project Simplify: Kitchen Edition

During our house hunting days, our Realtor would send us batches of a dozen or so listings, I'd peruse the photos, check out the neighborhoods and weed out the non-contenders before submitting the potentials to David.

Certain photos would get a listing kicked out immediately. Wet basement. Busy street. No Yard. Only one house got nixed because of the ugliest kitchen I'd ever seen. Ours. Yup, I discarded the listing for the home we currently live in because the kitchen cabinets were painted a hideous crayola green, the counter-tops and back-splashes were dated, and the oven was undersized. Kitchen renovations start at around 20K and are a huge hassle. It just wasn't something I wanted to get into.

Fortunately, David re-combed through the listings and questioned why I'd dismissed this house. After I explained my reasons, he agreed it could be a deal breaker, but sometimes the colors in photos lie. Everything else about the house seemed good and the price was right. I did a drive by and fell in love with the neighborhood. The mountains, the hills, the charm of the giant trees and streams lacing the area. I really really hoped the reality was better than the photo.

It was the first home we looked at. The cabinets were a rather dark and unflattering shade of green, but not as bad as the photo I'd seen. The counter tops and back-splash weren't my cup of tea, but they were in great condition. The rest of the house seemed perfect. After seeing the other homes the area offered in our price range, it became clear that dismissing an entire home because of the color of the kitchen cabinets was more than a bit rash.

Obviously, we decided to make an offer on the house. I've never regretted our choice. We have the best neighbors anyone could ask for, an affordable mortgage and a house that meets 95% of our wants and 100% of our needs. Really, what are ugly cabinets and slightly too-small bathrooms compared to that?

And that, my friends, is the somewhat interesting history of our kitchen. Now, onto the cleaning!

I usually plan our days so that we have an activity in the morning OR in the afternoon. This "before" photo is the result of two back-to-back days of being in and out of the house all day. In short, we spent enough time at home to eat meals and make a mess, but not enough time to clean it up.


After pondering the mess for a few minutes, I decide my goal is to deep clean the counter tops and island (we're talking toothbrushes and appliance moving). I also want to wash the front of the cupboards, something that basically never happens, aside from an occasional spot clean. Obviously, to do these things, I'm going to need to wash a lot of dishes and make some choices about what does and does not deserve to live on the counter to begin with.

Close up of the crusty cabinet.

Two loads of dishes and some hand-washing later, I'm ready to begin clearing the counter tops. I start with the island. I wash the vegetable bowl, put kitchen items away, move other items to their homes in other rooms and take everything off while I give the counter a soak in some non-toxic homemade cleaner. My little helper already has his hands squishing around in it, delighted that mommy is spraying water. After a few minutes, Caleb and I scrub the counter top and I carefully consider each item I place back onto the island.

Island soaking

After. David surprised me with this beautiful bouquet when he came home from work today. The florist also sent him home with a helium balloon for Caleb. He is enchanted.

After cleaning the island, I decided the kitchen counter and cabinet deep clean will have to wait. Sometimes my chronic pain issues mean I can't do quite as much as I think I can and I'm learning to be ok with that.

At least the counters are much less cluttered!

Next up: The Master Bedroom. I've been chipping away at the clutter in our room for several months now in the typical "2 steps forward, 1.75 steps back" dance that comes with having a toddler in the house. I'm looking forward to seeing our entire room clean all at once for a change!


Ellen - SkoMomma said...

I enjoyed the story about how your kitchen almost wasn't yours! Good for you for looking past the flaws. We had a similar situation and it took me a year or two after we moved in, but I painted the cabinets and eventually replaced the countertops and I'm happy as a clam - and it was surprising affordable. Love that your husband brought you some flowers - that made for the perfect finishing touch. Nice job!

Sarah_Joy said...

Thanks! It's encouraging to hear that it can be done affordably. I mostly dread the idea of losing the use of my kitchen for several days! Maybe once we get past the having little little one's stage...and yes, those flowers came at a great time. He didn't even know I was doing all that cleaning! He'd just been working long hours that week and wanted to do something sweet for us. What a treasure he is!