Sometimes you take a look at your life and realize how happy you are to be where you are and to be doing what you’re doing. That can happen when you have something come across your regular life that just is so right, it reminds you how great you’ve got it. It can also, of course, happen when you do something so far out of what you normally do, and it makes you realize how much better what you normally do really is.
For me, this kitchen renovation has been more of the latter than the former. I am very glad there are people like my contractor who are so good at looking at a space and knowing what needs to be done to that space to turn it into the space you’d like it to be. Not just that, but they’re able to make that happen.
I am not one of those people.
Everyone I’ve talked to about kitchen renovations has commiserated with me about how difficult they are, and I appreciate it. That said, there are multiple elements to this renovation that have made it more difficult than perhaps even a normal kitchen renovation.
- We’re renovating the oldest part of our house. Built in 1841, when we’re moving some of these walls around, we’re dealing with huge beams, not 2×4’s. More like 8x8s or 12x12s. The floor hasn’t known a straight day in its life, and the walls have only a passing relationship to level. When you’re trying to put normal, modern elements into a kitchen like that, it’s difficult to say the least.
- The kitchen is over the smallest part of the crawlspace in the basement. Probably about two feet of clearance, and you’re crawling over piles of brick, fieldstone, and dirt, with plenty of spiderwebs, spiders, and the remnants of decades of rodents. I don’t like cramped spaces. I’m not full blown claustrophobic, but I lean in that direction. Yesterday, while I was down in the bowels of my house and had just cut open my hand with a sawzall, I definitely wasn’t hoping to do renovation work for the rest of my life.
- Our contractor is awesome, but he’s just one guy. We don’t have a team of construction people showing up to git ‘r dun. Because a lot of the work on this project needs another set of hands, that other set of hands has been, typically, me. I’ve taken multiple “days off” to work on the kitchen. Except each day I “take off” just means I’m falling behind on actual work, which means once I’m done with construction (or in the middle of it), I have to jump on a Zoom call or answer emails, or work on grading papers.
- This is a big renovation. Totally replaced one wall. Tearing down two walls. Combining three different slightly different floor levels. Moving the fridge, sink, oven, and dishwasher. Moving baseboard heat (which we thankfully contracted out). Swapping out the floor and the ceiling. You name it.
And then, above all, is the fact that this has gone on for sooooo long. Between first thinking of the renovations three or four years ago to finally getting around to it, I am so ready for it to be done. Ready to stop the days of getting up and starting construction work first thing, and then continuing that work after my contractor has gone home, to try and get through this quicker. 12 hours a day of construction is enough to remind me that yes, I’d much rather be a librarian.
However, we now have a sink that has running water, even if it doesn’t always drain. We have an over where it belongs, and it works, even if it doesn’t have a range hood yet. We have a fridge that’s plugged in where it’s supposed to be, with a waterline attached to it that doesn’t leak, even if the fridge isn’t quite ready to be put in place. And we have a dishwasher next to the spot it’s going to go, with electrical and water already hooked up next to it.
The ceiling is mostly done. The drywall is . . . halfway finished? We only have one wall left to tear down. We are making progress, even if I’m too tired to recognize it.
I am so looking forward to going back to just being a librarian and author. Stick to my strengths.
But hey: at least I’ll have an awesome kitchen once I get there.
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