Many of you know my love-hate relationship with my kitchen. I love to cook. I love to have my family and friends gathered together in the kitchen, cooking and laughing and enjoying each other’s company. But my kitchen. You guys. It drives me CRAZY.
Everything in it is custom fit/made, so you can’t just change one thing without necessitating a total overhaul. Our fridge is way too small for a family of five, but we are limited to the custom spot that the previous owners designated for the fridge. My tile floor is freezing cold and the cabinets, oh…the cabinets. I shudder at just the thought. They are SO UGLY. They have this horrible yellow-orange hue that makes me crazy, crazy I tell you!
Last week I had just put the two little kids down for a nap and I went to the kitchen to get something and I don’t know how to describe it other than to say something just, uhh, snapped. I had a mental and emotional break and suddenly, I HAD TO GET RID OF THOSE UGLY CUPBOARD DOORS.
I looked at them. I realized they were attached with just a few screws. I thought, “I can handle that.” So I went to the garage where Mike keeps his screwdrivers, found one I thought would work, and went after it.
I took down all the doors on one section of my cabinets where we store our dishes and a few pantry items. It instantly made the kitchen feel lighter, fresher, and more modern. I was happy to be able to display our pretty dishes, many of which are hand made by my super talented sister in law who is a potter. And I felt proud to yet again be making our living space more fun and functional – not by buying something – but by finding creative solutions to the things that bother me.
I put snack food in ball jars or a few canisters I bought years ago at Ikea. I put our bread, tortillas, and chips in a basket to make it look a little neater. Plus, I love the mix of textures. I put the kids’ snacks in a cute little crate some clementines had come in, and I put their plastic plates and bowls next to the snacks. They get into them on their own as it is, so this just made it easier for little hands.
I cleared off all the non-kitchen items that had been on the counter below. I put my little bill/office caddy in a space with the rest of the office supplies. I moved my pretty cookbooks and stood them between a plant and one of my favorite bowls my SIL made. But genius really struck when, for the first time since we moved in five years ago – I MOVED THE BUTTER DISH NEXT TO THE TOASTER. Ladies and gentlemen, it really is the little things. Good grief that was satisfying. I’m so, so happy with the result.
I’m a big believer in living in your space well. I don’t want to make changes based off of the possibility that we might sell our house some day, and I certainly don’t want to hold off on making our space more livable just because we can only afford to do it on a budget. I’d rather do small things now that might need to be redone later, than to live in a space in a way that I absolutely hate and makes me miserable. You might not think this is practical, but I also believe that being overly practical is a real joy killer. Gimme the joy. Gimme the small makeovers that help me live in our space with as much fun and function as our budget can stand, and if we need to consider selling someday, we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
This mindset is similar to a design concept called “stopgap remodeling.” Apartment Therapy has a great list of stopgap projects for your kitchen and you can see that list here. There are some really great ideas/styles listed.
We still want to remodel our kitchen, and we are figuring out how to do that on our budget in a way that will work for our family. But taking off those ugly doors really lifted my spirits and reminded me that sometimes we just have to look at old things in new ways, rather than just go buy something new. It reminded me of how proud I felt when we turned my closet into Beatrice’s nursery. It is so satisfying to make do with what you’ve got. There is a sense of self sufficiency, along with a gentle reminder that it’s not the stuff that makes a home – it’s the people. It’s the living well. It’s the using the space in a way that best facilitates life. It’s not getting caught up in the buying and the getting, but in the growing and the loving.
“But you know, love grows best in little houses
With fewer walls to separate
Where you eat and sleep so close together
You can’t help but communicate
Oh, and if we had more room between us, think of all we’d miss
Love grows best, in houses just like this.”