Saturday, July 5, 2008

Then & Now - Kitchen Redux

We're only halfway through 2008, but - for us - we seem to be through the crazy half (knock on wood). It's amazing to think about how much can change in six short months.

In January, Eric and I looked at my ever-expanding belly and at the sorry state of our "kitchen" (a term that could only be used if a kitchen is anything that includes a stove, a sink and a fridge) and pulled out the kitchen designs that we had been tinkering with off and on over the past year. When we bought the house in the fall of 2006, we knew we'd have to remodel the kitchen. We were excited about it. We started visiting design stores and kitchen appliance stores. We downloaded some software from IKEA that allows you to put in the measurements of your room and tinker with layouts. Our initial designs included every possible configuration -- moving the bedrooms to the back of the house and the kitchen towards the front, adding a stairwell, or popping the house out another few feet (doesn't that just sound so easy?). But, with a baby coming in six months, we knew we didn't have time for anything so extreme, so we decided to keep it simple: move three walls, three doors, two windows, and add a skylight. The clock was ticking.

We spent all of January and part of February finalizing our plans, measuring and remeasuring the space (every centimeter mattered), coming up with a budget and a plan, and by mid-February we were ready to dig in. On February 17th the walls came down, and the clock really started ticking. We had just under 4 months to make sure that we had those walls back up (and working plumbing, electrical and essential kitchen appliances in place). It was a tall order (given that we have full time jobs), but we felt confident that we could pull it off. Two months later, Kailey was born on April 17th, two months early. I know I've chronicled the whole thing here -- but just writing it like that makes it seem so insane.

And yet, we pulled off the kitchen - and we did it with our relationship in tact, in the midst of the stress of our jobs and prep for a new baby, and then - in the final month of the project - while dealing with the extraordinary stress of the NICU.

I know I've posted shots of the kitchen in its completed state -- but the before and after shots are great and really capture how much we did in the first half of this year. I wanted to get these up - because the magnitude of the change from before to after is so extreme... you need to see it side by side.

This is what the kitchen was like when we bought the house. The big wedgewood stove** took up most of the "room". Room is a generous term -- it was really a hallway that snaked around into our bedroom. A hallway filled with randomly placed kitchen items -- a stove, a sink, a wall cabinet, and a "pantry". It was a mess. Observe:

And this is the same view today. The door to the bedroom stands where the stove once was, creating an actual kitchen, rather than a hallway filled with kitchen-items.

And this is the other view from the kitchen. In this before picture, I am standing next to the bedroom door in what was formerly a little pantry area (containing the only cupboard in our old kitchen). You can see the kitchen wasn't thought out very well (or at all). The fridge blocked the sink, making it nearly impossible to use.

The new layout is much, much improved -- with room for actual cabinets, a dishwasher, and a fully accessible sink!

Here's to a calmer more carefree second half of the year!

** I wish I had pictures of us getting that stove out of our house. It weighs a ton and we live on a hill -- 35 steps to our front door. And it's not a staircase, more of a windy climb on uneven steps. Not exactly the best setup for moving large pieces of furniture. We tried to sell the stove initially -- believing that it had some value because it was a bit of an antique. But, we got no takers. Then we tried to give it away to anyone that would come haul it out of our house. We had a lot of people respond to that ad, but everyone that came by took one look at the stairs winding their way up to the house and decided a free wedgewood stove just wasn't worth it. So, we had to get it out ourselves - and, as usual, when I say "ourselves" I really mean Eric. He got that thing down to the curb singlehandedly. Let's just say it involved a lot of rock climbing gear and had me cowering in the bedroom waiting for a big crash (that never came).

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