A cracked handle leads to a new kitchen

This is the invoice from our 1994 kitchen redo. The total was under $10,000 and included everything except flooring.
This is the invoice from our 1994 kitchen redo. The total was under $10,000 and included everything except flooring.

The first time we renovated our kitchen was in the mid 90s.

We were busy. My husband and I both had demanding jobs. The kids were young. The dog needed to be walked and the cat, like everybody else, had to be fed. She also preferred a clean litterbox.

So we turned the project over to one of those kitchen places. Recently we found the 20-year-old invoice. Everything, from appliances to cabinet knobs, came from that one business.

We set up a campsite in our dining room for a week or so. The kids thought it was great fun, and the animals helped with cleanup.

A new vinyl floor went in first. Then the kitchen people came, removed the old stuff, installed the new and left.

We were done, and the total bill was just under $10,000. Amazing.

This time around is very different.

We’re ripping out a wall and all the soffit above the cabinets. We’ve already sold the kitchen table to make room for an island.

The current kitchen is small, 11 feet by 14 feet. It’s a problem when family and friends gather on holidays. You know, once or twice a year.

Removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room will give us that much-heralded “open concept.”

Demo starts next week.

This time we’re buying from more businesses than I care to count. I also don’t like to think about the cost, but it will certainly exceed 10 grand.

The choices available for every aspect of a kitchen have proliferated.

Take the cabinets. Do you want them painted or stained? Do you like soft-closing drawers and plywood construction? Do you want pullout shelves for your spices or heavy-duty lift hardware for your stand mixer?

Then think about countertops. In the 90s, we installed white laminate and don’t recall being told of alternatives. This time we have found ourselves swinging from quartz to granite to solid surface and back to quartz.  And there’s still laminate.

Flooring poses another array of choices, all with pros and cons.  I had been living in blissful ignorance. Now I’d have to call myself a confused expert, one tied in knots.

One day I was in a store and settled on a fridge. Feeling productive, I moved on to gas ranges and spotted one with a reasonable price. Poised to purchase, I casually asked the salesman, “That’s a slide-in, right?”

Lord, no.

I didn’t really know what “slide-in” meant. I had heard the term and figured it was something we needed since the range must go between cabinets.

This one was definitely not a slide-in. It was “freestanding.” There’s a big difference, especially in cost. I have no idea why slide-ins cost two to three times more.

It was another lesson learned.

We began planning our project last Thanksgiving, when a nephew grabbed the already-cracked handle to our microwave oven and made it worse. I placed the first call to a kitchen designer the following week.

More than six months later, we’re ready to start construction.

Could I have simply replaced the microwave? Some questions should not be asked.





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