The New Kitchen

My old kitchen was fine. It worked. Mostly. At a very surface level, it looked pretty good. But if you took a closer look, you’d see that the cabinets were the originals – with a moderately fresh coat of paint – but they were starting to fall of the hinges, literally. Our appliances started failing and were being replaced one by one (making a home warranty worthwile for the first time EVER.) Then the counter top (black granite tile) started falling apart. We’d put it off as long as possible. Something had to be done.

We hired a designer. She helped us make a plan that used the space more efficiently; make it more modern; make it more ‘us’. She recommended contractors and cabinet makers to make sure we stayed within budget. We selected and purchased appliances and fixtures. We selected cabinet materials and design and paid a deposit. We hired a contractor. The ball was rolling and we were very excited to finally be going through this process.

Then I had a seizure and brain surgery. We found out that I’d have to do 6 weeks of chemo and radiation.

The question was do we continue with the project or do we postpone it? Everyone said we should postpone. It would be too much. It would be too noisy. There would be strangers in my house every day while I was feeling terrible. There were some very good reasons for not doing a kitchen remodel while I was going through intense chemo and radiation.

But, I argued that it would be a distraction. I argued that the appliances were about to arrive and fill up my garage. I argued that when I finished chemo-rad, I’d have a new kitchen. No one wanted to argue back, I guess.  So, we moved ahead.

Our designer had to do more than we had originally planned. She took over project management and some other activities. She was great and kept things on track whenever they started to veer off. She helped with the overwhelming tile, flooring, counter decisions.  She was patient, kind, and supportive. I couldn’t have asked for better. The contractors planned for 5 weeks – which is crazy fast – it took 6 because of an issue that was out of their control.

It was dirty. I had strangers in the house every day. It WAS loud. The noise was unbearable at times. It was hard to nap when I really needed to nap. I was asked to make decisions that seemed really overwhelming in my condition – ‘do you want this here or here?’

We set up a decent temporary kitchen in the living room – functional, but definitely temporary. We had to wash dishes in a teeny bathroom sink – and by ‘we’, I mean my mom and my husband. We had a toaster, a microwave, and a single butane burner. We used paper plates and bowls. Our friends and family had been bringing food when I was in the hospital and immediately after to help lighten the burden. They continued to bring meals 2-3x a week through the remodel. It was hugely helpful and my family ate well.

It would have been dreadful were it not for my designer (see above) and my mom – who packed up the old kitchen, helped set up the temp kitchen, cooked, washed dishes, and mediated some of the minor crises that cropped up. Never once did she complain and tell me I was nuts for allowing this chaos to happen while I was slightly incapacitated and hypersensitive to noise and overactivity.

I ended my treatment with a new kitchen. A beautiful, functional space with new appliances – all of them work. It felt like a new beginning.

Would I do it all over again? Probably. Would I recommend anyone else do it? Probably not.

3 thoughts on “The New Kitchen

  1. Man, if you guys can do it under those circumstances — we certainly should be able to!! Bravo to you and the Wilder clan. Loving this blog, this window into your inner world.

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