Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Renovation flashbacks

Last week I wrote about how we recently lodged plans for a major renovation with the Council. I also wrote that I was crazy to want to renovate again given I was only just over the kitchen renovation we undertook three years ago.

Well, after the kitchen experience I wrote a piece that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald (posted below).Reading it a few years later brings it all back to me. What am I doing?!

When life goes to hell in a misplaced colander, Essential (SMH) 19 June 2008
‘The kitchen is where the heart is, after all’ a wise friend emailed me today and as soon as I read her words it all made sense. My heart has gone out in the skip, along with the cream chipboard cupboards, ugly blue/grey laminate bench top, the dishwasher that hasn’t worked all year and the ancient, tiny upright oven with the door that wouldn’t close properly, a broken light and deeply stained cook top.

In its place have arrived the brand new glossy white, no handle cabinets, the large stainless steel upright cooker and the integrated dishwasher. But my heart is yet to return for it’s still not a kitchen. A kitchen carcass does not a kitchen make, it seems. For now, we remain in limbo while we wait for the stone bench top to be fitted. Only then can the plumber and electrician return to fit all our appliances before the tiler and painter make the finishing touches.

I had no idea I would feel so glum during our first foray into renovating our first family home. After all, I was a renovation veteran thanks to a mother who insisted on renovating every home we lived in (there were seven) including one major undertaking of adding a bedroom and bathroom during my HSC year. This is a woman who, aged almost 60, is currently rebuilding a warehouse apartment from scratch.

I had expected my husband would be more unsettled by the chaos than I was. After all, he had never known another bedroom, let alone house, until he moved out of home at the age of 21. It appears I was wrong. He saunters home happily on the weekend having collected ingredients to grace the only cooking surface available to us for the week – the barbecue. He is still cheerful as he rolls up his sleeves to wash dishes in the laundry tub, leaving them to dry, neatly arranged on top of the washing machine. In fact, the only time he has been snappy during this whole process was when he could not find the corkscrew and I refused to help search through the dozen or so boxes that hold the contents of our old kitchen and are piled precariously in the dining room.

Even the children appear unfazed about having the heart ripped out of their home. My two-year-old has not noticed that his change table now houses the toaster and kettle, while my four-year-old has found the empty kitchen drawers the most useful spot for hiding her jewellery from her brother. The extra floor space means they have a new play area for their cars, trains and doll’s pram. They do not see the bare walls, rendered but not yet sanded or painted, or the white dust that seems to magically reappear on the floor every time I sweep or mop.

And rationally, at least, I know I should not notice either. I should just be excited about the future, about how much more we will be able to enjoy our home once the work is completed. We have saved up long enough to do this. After all, what are two or three (or four, five or six) weeks of discomfort when the end result will be a brand new kitchen we will certainly enjoy for at least the next five years?

And, it’s not like we haven’t renovated before. My husband and I remodelled a bathroom in the first apartment we owned soon after getting married. I have no memories of the stress, only of the excitement of choosing tiles, sinks and towel rails. It seemed such an adventure then; such a grown up task to be undertaking. But that was before children, before I was working from home — in a tiny space shared with the laundry and make-shift kitchen — before I had to prepare five small meals a day.

Perhaps I am only just beginning to learn that I really do like order, that I feel a sense of calm when everything and everyone is in its rightful place, that my heart does actually lie in my (to be) cosy kitchen with my family all around me and not a builder in sight.

A close friend, who has already weathered a kitchen renovation and more this year, tells me I will be fine; that they did well with the barbecue, camp stove and takeaway. The alarm bells should have rung loudly. I have never been one for camping.


Claire said...

That's hilarious - how quickly we forget (mind you, if we didn't we'd never have had more than one child...). We'll be here for some escape whenever it's needed - and the kitchen was definitely worth it after all that! Something to hold onto over the next few months!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to know where the Island with the stainless steel shelves is from?

Thanks, Christine

Germaine Leece said...

Hi Christine

The island bench is from Ikea! it's called Stenstorp and you can see the dimensions etc on the ikea website. We oiled the timber top to protect it and have been really happy with the result.


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