Before and After

I just walked in the door from a lightening-fast stealth mission to the coffee shop around the corner and the bakery across the street for a fortifying large coffee and a couple of almond biscotti. I was worried I’d get locked out while I was gone (more on that later) despite my clever use of cardboard in the lock on the front door, but I’m up the stairs and in again. We’re in our new apartment but I haven’t been able to unpack anything like a coffee maker in the kitchen yet. Or walk on the floor without having to wash my feet off.

We started moving our things over from the furnished apartment Tuesday night to be ready for our truck and movers to arrive early Wednesday morning. When we signed the lease for this place, the kitchen looked like this:

I loved the tin ceiling and the tall window and especially the built-in cupboard. It reminded me of my Granny’s house. I envisioned my cookbooks and my sky-blue Kitchenaid mixer on the shelves, maybe my apple-green soup pot and some  big glass jars of beans. I was told the kitchen was going to be renovated to look like the one downstairs, where a wall of counter-tops and shelves were added on the opposite wall and the floor was a black and white checkerboard. We asked if we could talk to the owner about getting a slightly bigger fridge since we noticed that the kitchen downstairs had a flash water heater which gave a little  more room between the counter and the stove by the window. So imagine my surprise when I walked in Tuesday evening to find this:

I feel like there was a cupcake in the kitchen and someone came in and swapped it out for a big steamy cow pie. It’s even worse up close, just bad, bad work. There was no sink and no countertop or backsplash when we got the keys Tuesday. The workers came in Wednesday and sawed and tiled in the kitchen while our furniture was being moved in, did a very cursory sweep- up of the dust, and left. All of the work in the kitchen is the shoddiest and sloppiest I have ever seen, the tiles trickling downhill behind the fridge, uneven cuts, paint and grout everywhere. The cupboard was ripped apart and had unsanded, unfinished plywood sloppily shoved in and haphazardly smeared with a eye-watering oil- based stain. I’m not sure what to do about it yet, so I’ve been concentrating on getting the floors in the rest of the apartment clean of the paint and grout the workers left behind and making the living room and bedroom  habitable. I’m not sure how to handle this. We’ll see what the owner says when Scott gets home, which brings me back around to the stealth visit to the closest purveyor of caffeinated deliciousness from which I can make a round trip in 5 minutes or less.

When Scott left for a short over night trip at 5 AM the morning after we moved in, he accidentally grabbed my apartment keys and took both sets with him. So, in order to go out I have to leave my door unlocked and risk one of the neighbors closing the common street door before I get back, locking me out of the building. I sneaked out for coffee yesterday morning, but last night, after spending all day scrubbing the floors (my knees are killing me today) and shifting boxes around, I wanted nothing more than a shower and a glass of wine. Hot shower- done. Clean clothes and socks- done and done. Now for the wine and a corkscrew……hmmmm. I have about 35 boxes labelled “k-ware/glass” or “k-ware/china” with thousands of heavily paper-wrapped small lumpy objects inside. Possibly millions.Trying to find that particular needle in this haystack is an exercise in futility.

I grabbed the bottle, ran downstairs, propped the door open, and went across the street to a BYOB pizza place and told them I had just moved in, can’t find a corkscrew, would they kindly open it for me? Perhaps they saw the desperate look in my eye, or maybe they are just nice folks, but they said “Sure!” and opened it and I was able to slip back into the building before anyone came out and shut the door. Now for a glass. I realize that you technically don’t NEED a glass, and I probably had a water bottle or something around that I could have drunk from, but I just wanted to sit down and drink from a proper wine glass and feel like a civilized person. So, with a fanatical gleam in my eyes, I girded my loins, got out my step-ladder and my utility knife and spent the better part of an hour rummaging through the aforementioned multitudes of boxes (what in the world can THAT shape be? did these lumps have baby lumps while they were in storage?!?) where  I ran across my coffee cup, some kitchen towels, a random handful of flatware, a million weird shaped lumps, and (cue choirs of angels and a spotlight from the heavens) a box of wineglasses!!!

It’s the little things really- the spots of paint all over the floor, the set of keys that leave one housebound, the corner cupboard that was loved and lost- that can push my endurance. And it’s the little things, like a wineglass and a clean pair of socks, that can remind me that I’m still me, even though I’m way over here in New Jersey in this utterly challenging period in my life with no idea what to do about that stinkin’ kitchen.


6 thoughts on “Before and After

  1. I’m so sorry! That cupboard went from quaint to ghastly!! I have confidence in your ability to make it not only functional and livable but beautiful as well. Maybe you need some Anthropologie kitchen pretties to lighten the somber tone?

  2. We’re faced with having to renovate our kitchen completely, can’t afford to pay anyone to do it well, really don’t want junk, so I’m trying to figure out how I can do it myself. I’ve built some furniture and a couple of cabinets and I figure if I avoid really hard problems (hanging cabinets directly from the ceiling) I can’t do a worse job than seems to be standard these days just because I give a rat’s behind how it looks. I’ve seen so many houses built in the last 10-15 years that are “finished” like that.

    The complete lack of pride in one’s work is just unforgivable, really.

    Anyway, I’m sorry for the bait-and-switch… enjoy the coffee shop, at least!!

    • David, I hope it wasn’t a disaster of some kind that is forcing this renovation. I have, however, see some pretty great budget DIY kitchen jobs done by friends who were motivated by the same rat’s behinds that you are. I’d love to hear how it goes!

  3. You could finally have wine,good! And your kitchen!!!!!!!! That is very “cool”,like a kitchen on an interior decoration magazine!!!! Seems very comfortable! I love it! Hope everything goes well for you guys! Please say hi to your Scott. If you have time and we have time to visit each of us, let’s meet and have some good Japanese dishes and good coffee someday,NE :>
    Hope both of you are happy !

    • Naoko, the nice kitchen is gone and the brown thing is there now, so I agree that the kitchen in the picture was nice and comfortable and am disappointed that it isn’t there anymore. We would love to have some good Japanese food with you sometime though!

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