The last six-plus months have found me knee-deep in city home renovations, working on projects that have been twenty years in the making. We built our primary residence two decades ago, and it has elegantly housed a zillion humans and our furry companions. In that time, I cooked and served perhaps a zillion meals, and our appliances and center kitchen island became tired and weary and needed a refresh.
Building our home was intense. We picked out every last detail, down to the light switches. I remember not having any extra cash, and now that feeling is entirely back, it’s funny how things come full circle. I’ve hit the pause button on buying new clothes, and that’s extraordinary for me, as I’m around new clothes all the time. It’s been a good exercise, making me reacquainted with the pieces in my closet and reinforcing the idea of buying well. Interiors and wardrobes are serious business, and I’ve been logged out of my wardrobe building while concentrating on the home.
I started the whole endeavor when our range started misbehaving and was kicked into high gear when the refrigerator only cooled to 58 degrees. The Sub-Zero tech had a laundry list of must-do’s, and the Viking repairman, on speed dial back in the day, had been retired. I passed the Sub-Zero onto the tech; he and his wife and four sons were thrilled and sold the Viking on FaceBook Marketplace to a home chef who last bought a 60″ range from a church in Olcott, NY, manufactured in 1951. They did not go to landfill.
The floors were sanded. We initially thought we would only do the kitchen proper and the primary bath, and then realized that we were deeply in this, and why not the entire house, budget be damned. All of the floors were sanded and refinished, and they look sensational.
Our original perimeter kitchen cabinets are staying. Even after years of wear and tear, they are exceptional, and after this dust settles, I may go out on a limb and have them repainted. They are like the wardrobe mainstays: invest heavily and invest once. The kitchen island was the refresh needed. I wanted to reuse our original stainless sink (it has memories! I’ve bathed grandchildren in there!), yet our contractor, once on site, said he would not install an old sink on a new island. The kitchen sink has been the heartbeat of this entire project, holding up the process and causing me sleepless nights and anxiety. You might wonder how a kitchen sink can so move me, yet in my lifetime thus far, I’ve probably been at that kitchen sink more hours than perhaps anywhere else, except maybe getting needed shut-eye.
The sink arrived damaged. I wanted to use it, but my husband refused. I feel like my face is now damaged, with lines and etchings that won’t ever go away, so I thought, why not also the sink? And by damage, I should explain, showing signs of love and repetitive use. I drove to the plumbing outfit with that sink in the back of my car, begging and pleading for a timely replacement, and that was a hard no-go. It had to be reproduced in Europe and then sent over here, and would not be promised until late November, which means late December, which means no sink for Thanksgiving or even Christmas, so that was a thank you, but no, even though I know in my bones that good things take time, this couldn’t wait that long.
I ordered a new, more expensive, different sink. I paid extra to have it express-shipped; again, budget be damned, how do I get in this pickle? The sink is now installed. I’m waiting to have the countertop templated. We are almost at the finish line. I’ve started to look at dresses again, yet we’re not out of the woods yet.
Building and renovating are huge and timely investments, and both have taken chunks of my life; I wouldn’t have it any other way. Building and renovating have taken huge chunks out of my husband financially, and I am forever grateful. I’ve been out of the loop a bit as my focus has been on this project, and I don’t want to get it wrong. I remind myself that when we were building our house twenty years ago, we did nothing else but concentrate on kids and home plans, and here we are again, focusing on our aging house and our now adult children—a new sweater I can do over, but a stone countertop, not.
My takeaway for you, if you are here and following, is to give yourself grace and time with the things that matter and make a difference to you. No one else is paying attention. It’s ultimately up to us to land where we dream.
Currently renovating, and every day dress.