We always knew it would come to this. After 25 years of living in the same San Francisco Victorian and slowly redoing it room by room, we knew we’d eventually reach the point where we were back at the start, redoing the first room we redid. That would be the kitchen, which was barely functional when we moved in lo these many years ago.
We’d been in the place a month when we took sledge-hammers to the walls, gutted it and redid it. Not that we ended up with a dream kitchen. We were cash-strapped newlyweds, so we had one decorating mantra: “As Cheap As Possible.” Yes, our kitchen has long been the showroom for Home Depot’s cheapest assortment of everything circa 1985. Didn’t matter that it was a Victorian; Mexican tile was cheaper, so that’s what went on the floors. I would have liked white painted cabinets, but faux oak pressboard was on sale and the budget didn’t extend to paint. When we got a joblot of left-over tile, we thought we’d won the lottery. And Andy installed it all. The result: a somewhat functional kitchen, in theory, which was always, in reality, non-functional because of our enthusiastic, but uninformed do-it-yourself ethic. We know better now. And we have professional help in the form of our carpenter friend Dino, who will act as General Contractor. Andy is still Chief Architect, so I leave it to you, as the progress of our remodel unfolds on these electronic pages, if we’ve learned much of anything in the intervening decades.
So on The Eve of Destruction, I’ll go through what lessons we have taken to heart:
Be careful with tile. It seemed like a good (cheap) idea at the time. In reality, that grout got crusted with food and grunge immediately and was impossible to clean. There is a reason granite is popular.
A center island with a faucet? Nice in theory. For us, it never really worked out well. Maybe because our kitchen is so small, the island caused us to scoot around the kitchen sideways and notice whenever we put on a few pounds.
The false beams? They were sourced from a scrap lumber yard and are not really structural.
The refrigerator is the real lesson learned. We bought a huge, deep one back in the day — because it was cheap and on sale. It only served to facilitate our “Condiment Alzheimers”. Either we truly have no short-term memory of condiment purchases or we live in fear that we will run out of salad dressing, cornichons, grated parmesan, jam and mustard. That’s why we have three containers of each at any one time lurking in the deep recesses of our refrigerator. Yes, we are hoarding condiments for the Apocalypse.
You think I’m kidding about our Condiment Alzheimers? This is the refrigerator door AFTER a clean-out:
Here’s what I’ll be most glad to see the back of: those damned Mexican tiles. We couldn’t afford the sealant so they immediately sucked in all the dirt that we and pets tracked into the kitchen. It went downhill after that.
So let the Sledgehammering begin! And to all my friends and neighbors, I’m calling in all my dinner favors in the next months.
Parting shot: I know mixing a kitchen remodel with one of the great protest songs of the Sixties is going from the ridiculous to the sublime, but, for no other reason than I think Barry McGuire should get more airplay, here’s The Eve of Destruction.