Renovation by committee

There’s this thing about having writer’s block: it blocks the ability to create with words, it doesn’t affect the Creative Drive. Which can be really frustrating. So, when I couldn’t get any words down on paper, I took a hard look at my home. Now, I’m pretty blind when it comes Interior Design. But even I could see my kitchen cabinets needed a new paint job. So, I decided to get a little help from my friends

Well, maybe the term “friends” is an overreach. Actually, like a lot of “enthusiastic but unsure” participants in the DIY movement, I belong to a social media group interested in home decorating and design. The other members are very nice people as a rule, and some have quite a bit of decorating knowledge. So, I asked them a simple question:

“This is a picture of my red kitchen that I want to repaint. The thing is, I’m not sure about the color. I don’t want to paint the cabinets white because white’s not practical for our kitchen and I can’t afford to change the floors, appliances or countertops. What about a nice gray?

Poor old, tired, red kitchen

I’ll say one thing for my fellow DIY buddies; they don’t hold back on their opinions! Within minutes a deluge of responses came down suggesting shade in the rainbow with some others thrown in as well. Sorry to say, a fair percentage insisted the cabinets should become polar white, and a few squabbles started up independent of me. For example:

Poster X: Paint them white.

Poster Y: She says she doesn’t want them white.

Poster X: But white kitchens are really on-trend!

Poster Z: Trend-schmend. White shows the dirt too quick.

Poster X: Well, she can clean, can’t she?

It was really odd watching other people argue over my kitchen. And of course, they didn’t stick to paint colors. Or the cabinets. Despite my statement, many people insisted I needed to rip up the floors, rip out the appliances, and install subway tile, pot-fillers and apron sinks. Those folks I could smile at and ignore.

But other direct comments hit harder: “Too dark”; “Too much clutter” “Dump the tchotchkes, then we can talk”. On and on they went, deriding my Grandmother’s commemorative plates, and dismissing my floor and lighting as “builder’s grade” (“They should have seen what the builder had here originally”). After a while I couldn’t take the criticism any longer. I took down the post.

But, once I got over my bruised ego and looked clearly at the comments (of course I saved the comments!) I looked at my kitchen with new eyes. For years, it’s been the spot where my household gets fed and the home of a magpie collection. The collection’s items might not have a function, or proper display space but it didn’t matter because no one else saw my kitchen. Well, now a lot of strangers had seen it and told me exactly what they thought. The ball was back in my court (along with the wall full of tchotchkes.)

Do you know what I found? The silver wine goblets I got in the 80’s were black with tarnish. It was hard to read my Grandmother’s plates through their built up dirt. There were broken figurines, cracked vases, and things I ‘d forgotten completely about. Visually, the Collection didn’t “tell a story”, it just a bunch of neglected fragments. (Kind of like my drawers of incomplete story fragments.)

So, I decided if I really wanted a ceiling-level display, I needed to care for the collection. So the dusty commemorative plates went into the dishwasher, which may have been a mistake. The cleansing rinsed away parts of the commemoratives along with the dirt! But that disaster started me editing.

Most of the cleaned collection came down to be redistributed and re-homed with friends who will love, cherish and use them. The broken items were trashed (and I apologized to my grandmother’s memory for washing her plates to death.) The surfaces were cleaned. And the lighting was changed.

The renovation begun

With the clutter gone, I could see what I wanted to do. I promised my DIY friends I’d choose a color and I’d update them with changes. And I make the same promise to you. Not just will I finish renovating my kitchen. I’ll finish the story of the renovation.

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