It's Kitchen Month on Curbly! So Kelly, Melanie, and I will be doing a series of kitchen tours. We'll walk you through our kitchens, point out what we love and what we don't, and show how they got to be the way they are.
When we bought our house almost ten years ago, the kitchen was a Frankenstein monster. Every cabinet had been hand-crafted by the previous owner, god bless him and his malfunctioning measuring sticks. No two pieces of wood were square, nothing was level, and the materials were mismatched like a patchwork quilt.
The floors were linoleum with a pattern so convoluted and time-stained that it instantly camoflouged anything it touched. A quarter could rest calmly for weeks in the middle of the kitchen floor, invisible to the naked eye, until someone came along and slipped on it.
The stovetop was Mad Max-ian. Two of the knobless burners didn't work, but they weren't always the same two. Coming into the house to the tangy scent of natural gas was so common it wasn't even worth mentioning. When you did manage to get a burner going, you could congratulate yourself by picking up a treasured Tolstoy volume, since you'd need something to kill time until the water boiled. When lacking hefty books, a nap worked too.
The refrigerator was crammed up against an entryway, so you couldn't open the door all the way. That meant items could only be added to or removed from the far crisper drawer by means of vegetable limbo. Music optional.
The dish washer was a figment of my imagination. There wasn't room for one, so I made it up, like an imaginary friend.
The undersized oven was wall-mounted next to the sink. Actually it wasn't that small, you could fit almost anything you wanted in, provided you were prepared to cook it with the oven door half open. When you turned the oven on it did nothing at all for ten minutes. Then it would produce a tiny explosion; big enough to make you grab the phone and start fingering 9-1-1, but small enough to keep you from actually dialing.
After you got something cooked in the clown-car oven, there was nowhere to put your hot baking pan, because the two square feet of laminate countertop space would melt on contact. Over the years the laminate had become porous, so liquids that hit it would soak in and stain. Although, conveniently, you could pretty easily peel up the stained spots to reveal the pristine plywood underneath.
The ceiling was covered in perforated foam acoustic tiles. Those tiles, when sufficiently dampened by leaking second-floor bathroom water, became tawny and bubbling, like an infected wound. One day a gaping hole appeared, about the size of a watermelon, and we lived with that for about fours years, employing all kinds of funny tricks to keep guests from looking up while in the kitchen.
Finally, we decided we'd had enough. Sure, there are worse problems in the world than a crappy kitchen, but that didn't mean we didn't deserve something better. And with a brand-new baby (this was about three years ago), we knew we wanted to re-focus our family life around good, home-cooked food and a sane, functioning place to prepare it.
Tomorrow; the never-ending DIY kitchen renovation, and we how gave Frankenstein a much-needed makeover.