The Kitchen Project, Part I

In 2004 my husband and I embarked upon the five year long kitchen renovation. Standing here on the other side, I feel two things: being in our kitchen is a pleasure, and, what were we thinking?! This project took our youth, our money and our joie de vivre. We now have a beautiful kitchen and a strong liking for gin.

Sometimes I wonder if putting so much energy and resources into our kitchen was the right thing to do. When I think about where we might be if we had put that time and cash into our careers, it makes me a little regretful. But the other day I was looking through pictures of the kitchen before the demolition and I realized that we really didn’t have a choice. It was gross. It wasn’t just ugly, it wasn’t functional. The cabinets were cheap and unsalvagable. There was virtually no storage and the dishwasher and stove didn’t work. It was either buy the apartment and demo the kitchen, or don’t buy the apartment.

At the time we bought, it was impossible to find an apartment in our Chicago neighborhood that hadn’t been rehabbed. As we looked with our realtor, and we didn’t look long, we discovered that during this time of the construction boom, many horrible choices were made by owners looking for a quick profit. A spacecous one bedroom with a formal dining room is chopped up so that it can be advertised as a two bedroom. Closets are stuck in ridiculous places and kitchens are layed out with no regard for storage or ease of use. I couldn’t imagine living someplace where I felt greed was the primary motivation for its design choices.

We quickly realized that we wanted to buy a dump. An un-rehabed, charming-details-intact, stray dog of a home. We knew this was going to entail putting money into fixing things up ourselves, but if we could get a good deal on a place it would be worth it. And that’s what we did. One day I was going for a walk along my favorite street and saw a ‘for sale’ sign; a few months later I was tossing old crumbling plaster into a huge garbage bag.

I will be breaking this story up into parts since it’s actually many smaller stories. In my next kitchen post, I’ll have more of the before pictures.

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