Our Dream (and Nightmare) Kitchen

Give me a hammer, please. I am ready to knock down a wall.

Since the day we moved into our 1961 house (about 4-and-a-half years ago) Ian and I have let visions of modern kitchens dance in our heads. The dated, ill-configured kitchen is what drove the previous homeowners to greener pastures, and we, too, have just about hit the end of our rope with details like: drawers that won’t open and close; ugly, fake “butcher block” counters; knobs that won’t stay on cabinet doors; a wall that shouldn’t be there; a fridge door that is constantly blocking the main entrance to the room; and don’t get me started on the do-it-yourself caulking disaster around the sink that looks like my kids’ bathroom after Daisy gets unruly with the toothpaste.

It is time to get this done. Hopefully in about a year, if our plan stays on track and fate is kind, we will be swinging the hammer and giving the kitchen the most extreme makeover that our tight budget will allow. But as easy as it was for me to decide to marry my husband, it hasn’t been so easy marrying our kitchen visions.

Ian is the kitchen guy of our family. On one of our first dates about 14 years ago, he brought a huge bag of groceries and spices to my apartment and began to cook an incredible meal. When I asked what I could do to help, he said the magic words: “Just pour yourself a glass of wine and sit and talk to me.” (He had me at “wine…”) Still, as much as he loves to “create” in the kitchen, I have learned his approach to kitchen design is all substance, no style.

Here’s how one of our recent “what should we do with this kitchen?” conversations went:

Me: I think maybe Mission-style cabinets would look good…should they be white though, or dark wood? And maybe we should get a few doors with glass inserts. Or some artisan-style touches to fit with the era of the house?

Him: How about we start with cabinets that don’t have handles that fall off? That’s what I really want.

Me: I saw these beautiful bamboo floors today…

Him: And we have three kids and a big dog who will scratch the hell out of anything we put down. Tile might be a little safer.

Me: I really want a big island with bar stools. It’s important to make sure I have somewhere awesome to sit and sip my wine while you cook.

Him: Okay, but I want a huge stove built into the top of it. With a big grill. And a BIG vent.

Me: What if the kids lean on it and burn their hands?

Him: They’ll learn fast, won’t they?

Me: Ooh, look at this magazine kitchen…I love how white and clean and shiny it all looks, and the pretty glass knobs.

Him: Um, and exactly how long do you think it would look like that in our house?

Me: How about some open shelves on either side of the stove? Those look amazing.

Him: It would be a great way to show off our collection of chipped, mismatched plates, sippy cups and ugly coffee mugs. Or we could buy new dishes. Which is fine with me.

Me: I’d love to put in some cool pendant lights. A little colorful tile around the stove as an accent…something with a little bit of stone and a little bit of glass…

Ian: I want counter space. Tons of it. And did I mention a huge stove with a grill?

Me: I’m thinking streamlined, retro-modern, with a splash of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Ian: I’m thinking BUSINESS. Industrial. Indestructible.

With this much yin and yang involved, whoever we rope into helping us with this project had better brace themselves for one heck of an interesting ride.

(I would love to hear your home improvement couple survival tips and stories, so bring them on!)

Similar Articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


From our Sponsors