I subscribe to several home decorating magazines, partly because of the nature of my work, but mostly because I just love reading them. I’m constantly thinking about my home, and ways I can improve it.
In a recent publication, the editor’s letter seemed to sum up my entire home improvement philosophy: “It feels like I’m always thinking and planning for my next house, even while I’m living in my current residence,” the editor wrote. “I don’t even have any plans to move, but I can’t help thinking about my dream house.”
While I typically think and plan for my own existing abode, I, too, imagine how life will be in my dream house; that my current home is just a stop gap, or a step, to the next level.
I actually really like our house, a 1960’s split level, on a street with many other similarly styled homes. It has most everything we need: four bedrooms, a finished basement, central air, 2 ½ bathrooms, and a two-car garage. My only real complaint is the kitchen, which is too small for my family’s needs. “I’ll make sure there’s more counter space in our next house,” I promise myself. “My next kitchen will have a big walk in pantry,” I think. “Someday I’ll even have an island,” I say.
If you were to ask my husband, he’d tell you we’ll be here forever. He’s settled into this house like Archie Bunker into his arm chair. As far as he’s concerned, the kitchen’s just fine the way it is. “There’s plenty of kitchen counter space,” he always says, “just the right amount for me to eat at standing up.” And the walk in pantry? “If you’d cut down on our food inventory, we’d have plenty of cabinet space, and wouldn’t have any need for a pantry,” he contends.
As for the island, he just doesn’t get it. But he can’t stop me from dreaming, can he?
Bigger is better
Sometimes I think about adding on, and enlarging the kitchen and attached dining room. But when I carefully consider the required time, energy, mess and cost, not to mention the resistance I would encounter from my husband, I conclude that the disadvantages would outweigh the benefits.
Just the thought of living in our house during a major renovation makes me cringe, and I always admire those hearty souls who forge ahead with remodeling projects. I find it disruptive just having the house painted, or having new carpet installed. How could I possibly endure the chaos of a kitchen remodel?
Two summers ago, our next door neighbor embarked upon just such a project. Before the renovation commenced, she told me it would take approximately two to three months. “The contractor promised it will be finished by November, just in time for Thanksgiving!” she enthused. “I can’t wait to make dinner for our whole family.”
Well, nearly a year later, after many obstacles and delays, the project finally wound down, just in time for the homeowner to plan her July 4th cookout. Her kitchen renovation turned out great, but the headaches the project wrought were too many to count.
Some other friends also renovated their kitchen/dining room a few years ago. Their project lasted about six months, during which the family, with two adults, four children and two dogs, relocated to their basement wet bar, with its microwave, slow cooker and one tiny sink, for meals. “Oh, it wasn’t so bad,” the husband recounts. “We just ate out and got take out as often as possible, and made the best of the situation.”
The wife, however, remembers it quite differently. “What a nightmare!” she exclaims. “We got so tired of trudging downstairs for every breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner, and it was really inconvenient trying to cook and then clean up in the wet bar.”
Today, the family is thrilled with their new kitchen, but I don’t think they’ll be doing any more remodeling for a long time to come.
Currently, three families on our street are in the midst of remodeling. One family has just finished transforming a screened in porch into a four-season room, complete with central air and heat, recessed lights, beautiful, creamy white walls (I should know, I helped paint them!), tongue in groove paneling and laminate flooring. The room looks terrific, and now the family has a whole new space to clutter up.
Another neighbor is adding on a two car garage. They already had a garage, but decided to incorporate it into the adjacent family room, thus enlarging their play space. What I like most about this addition is that it blends seamlessly into the existing home, and looks as if it was always there. Nothing irks me more than seeing add-ons that look like, well, add-ons.
The third and final neighborhood renovation comprises the addition of an in-law suite, including master bedroom and bath, kitchen and living room. The owner had to have several large trees cut down first, and the workers are currently busy breaking ground for the foundation. I’m guessing there’s at least four to six months of work ahead, but it appears this addition won’t disrupt the owners’ day-to-day living to any great extent. It’s fascinating to watch the project progress from beginning to end, and I can’t wait to see how this one turns out.
While it’s fun to follow other people’s renovations, I’m really not prepared to live through one of our own. For the time being, I guess, I’ll make do with my kitchen. It’s really quite cozy and inviting, and we spend a good deal of time in there. Some day, when I’m older and wiser, I’ll realize that it really is just fine the way it is, and each time the notion of a kitchen renovation pops into my head, I’ll just ask my husband what he thinks.