Before…

Slowmomma, long one of my favorite bloggers who has been absent like me, recently put up a lovely post about how our stories matter. Even the boring ones.

So many stories I’d like to share here are literally not my stories to tell. But, I can talk about our remodel – long in the works, now officially begun.

When we bought this house, we knew we’d have to redo most of the living area. In fact, most of the house it’s safe to say, is butt-ugly and broken down. However, it was a good size for the area and we could afford it. So, we bought it. Five years now, we’ve lived in it. It’s seriously first world problems central to complain about an ugly and broken down house but I have to say living in it kind of depressed me in a very minor sort of way. First of all, I didn’t like hosting playdates or having people over, not because I thought anyone would judge me, but because it’s just not fun hosting people in a house that in one particular case actually stabbed someone. More on that later…

So let’s break down the problems:

Brokedown Non-Palace

It’s important to remind myself, because I am always going to read posts like this and feel like a dumbass for embarking on this remodel, that our kitchen is literally not functional. Why? Let me count the ways.

Plumbing

We have no hot water in our sink, and we have no water pressure. Oh, don’t be dramatic! I hear you saying in my head. Nope – we literally have no hot water that can come from our kitchen sink, and very little water pressure. Exhibit A.

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That is the most water pressure we get. For real. Which means we do all our dishes, including our pots and pans, in the dishwasher. So, why no hot water and water pressure? Old broken down pumbing. We have had many reputable plumbers come out to give us the same sad opinion (which was also in the home disclosure packet) – all our pipes need to be replaced. Why is complicated, but it basically comes down to this. Don’t buy a 50+ year old home with galvanized pipes, y’all.

So, we’re looking at ripping up all of our downstairs and replacing all the pipes, already an intrusive, expensive endeavor. But what else is wrong?

Broken Appliances from the Early 60s

The appliances are original to the home. There are many, many problems with that.

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1) Only two of the burners on the cooktop actually work. The others won’t actually heat up. So cooking Thanksgiving dinner is not really possible.

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2) The oven door won’t shut. Enough said. These appliances are so old, that no one even has the parts to fix them according to several electricians.

3) It takes roughly twice as long to bake things as the recipe calls for. Probably because of the oven door that won’t shut. 😉 However, the oven goes from raw to burned super fast. So if I am baking, I basically have to monitor the baking really closely. When I made these cinnamon rolls for family over the holidays, I spent about three hours staring at the oven to make sure they didn’t burn.

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The scene of the crime

The Tiles of Death

These heinous tiles are also dangerous. A friend leaned up against the bar one time and the tile crumbled, broke and stabbed him in the chest, drawing blood. For real, people! The ugly tile hates us as much as we hate it.

Questionable Design Choices

Let’s move on to the weird design choices that were made when the home was built. Yes, I am calling them weird. I am judging.

Weird Kitchen Cabinets

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Hey – I know! Let’s block the flow of the open floor layout by putting some random cupboards up, making the kitchen extremely awkward.

Dirty Looking Linoleum

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Here is the lovely original linoleum floor, which is impossible to clean and always looks dirty. IT COVERS THE ENTIRE LIVING AREA FLOOR, which means someone honestly thought that a family would enjoy it that much.

White Carpet

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At some point, an owner thought the linoleum was an odd choice for the entire living area floor (word), so they decided to put down off-white carpet that shows every single possible stain, including in the DINING AREA (uh, what?). Worse, it’s a Berber carpet, so you can’t use those cheap carpet cleaning machines you can rent at Safeway. I had them professionally cleaned a few times, and someone breathed on them the next day and they turned grey. HATE THOSE CARPETS THEY ARE THE CARPETS OF SATAN.

Fireplaces! Fireplaces! Fireplaces!

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Apparently massive ugly brick fireplaces with huge and deadly hearths were the height of fashion in 1962. Not only did multiple people trip and fall over those hearths, when my son was 2 he fell on the corner of one and got the scar in the middle of his forehead. I consider this incident my worst FAIL as a mother. But he likes the scar because he thinks it makes him like Harry Potter. And well, being like Harry Potter is definitely a good thing. So, I guess I can forgive the fireplace hearth.

So yeah. It’s time to make this a working, functional safe space. A non-heinous one would be a bonus too.

This is the point, dear readers, where I ask you if you have any advice. Either for living through a remodel (Oh yes, we are living here while we do it because we are crazy. And cheap.) or any appliances you love – looking for recommendations on convection ovens, refridgerators, cooktops, dishwashers.

And if you are curious what design aesthetic we’re going for (champagne taste on a beer budget basically) here’s our Pinterest Remodel board.

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17 Comments

Filed under Design

17 responses to “Before…

  1. Oh no!! We built a new house last year and lived in the tiniest shack ever whilst it was happening, the kitchen killed me and we didn’t even have a dining area. So, I feel your pain. We used the fisher paykel range which is a NZ company but it is second tier I suppose to the SMEG, Miele etc. So far can’t fault it and they have introduced an architectural range where whatever item you buy matches up and is integrated. I still went gas cook top over induction and we also bought a steam oven which I love. we used an undermount exhaust fan. However with dishwasher you can not go past for pure brilliance the Asko range. Amazing. AMAZING 🙂

    In terms of cabinetry Ikea do nice cabinets in that style you like but you can’t go past a qualified cabinet maker. That way you get the kitchen styled to your needs and not made to fit existing specifications. I am sure if you looked around there would be loads and most would be very competitive on price.

    • This is so helpful – thank you! Living without a kitchen is challenging, you are so right. I haven’t heard of most of the appliances you mention except Miele which I would love but is probably out of our price range. I’m going to look to see if they are available in the States 🙂

      As for cabinetry, we shopped around a ton and I think we’re going custom because our dimensions are really weird. I love the IKEA cabinets though, so we’ll see!

      • Asko is a swedish brand, smeg is italian. I figured you would have much more domestic choice! Siemens (german) do a great range. My in laws have miele and they love the look but in hindsight say perhaps it wasnt worth the cash! My hubby is a builder so i say custom all the way 😝

  2. I LOVE REMODELS!!! Because I don’t have to live through it I assume, I can’t wait to see what you do!!

  3. I’m a believer in the deep need to make our environments better. If only it weren’t so expensive some times. I would say spend the most on the quality of your appliances and then for the aesthetics go for improving the light in the room (windows, skylights? lots of white). Light is the key.

    And good luck!

    • Thanks!! Yes – light is the big priority. It’s tough given the low roofline, but we are working on a solution. That’s helpful advise about the appliances. We definitely don’t want broken appliances again. 😉

  4. I gotta ask- I don’t mean to be impertinent – so when you bought the place, why did you not ask them to replace the oven or stove or replace it yourself? Anyway, this post kind of made me give a sad sigh, cause I’d love to own a home instead of renting one. Of course,I have doubts if we could survive a remodel so wishing you strength in the coming weeks…months?

    • Not impertinent at all! The cooktop and oven door both broke about 3 years ago, so they were technically functional when we bought the place. We didn’t replace them at the time because we wanted a gas cooktop which required bringing in a gas line – expensive plus we didn’t know where the cooktop would end up – we hated the layout. Plus we knew this remodel would eventually happen and so we “made do.” I’m not sure that was the right choice in retrospect, but oh well!

  5. Oh my, I haven’t seen a built-in wall oven like that in years. Very 60s! I sympathize, because our kitchen needs an overhaul as well — or at the very least a good refresh, which is probably what we’ll go with, because the thought of ripping everything out (the cost, the mess…!) makes me feel ill. Our stove & fridge are 25 years old & still working pretty well (knock wood…!) — they are both GE. The dishwasher is about 10 years old and is a Kenmore. It was supposedly a quieter running model — but not quiet enough, lol. My washer & dryer in the basement are Kenmore as well. Good luck!!

  6. I audibly squeed when I saw this post in my Reader 🙂

    I can certainly see why things things would be super annoying. But i have to say that I experience such happiness and warmth the afternoon I spent in your house that I am fond of it all.

    (different living there, though)

    • That was probably my favorite ever hostess experience at the house – although the chicken was undercooked (raw or burned!) and I had to keep reheating it for fear of salmonella! Next time – food thoroughly cooked 🙂

  7. I can’t wait to follow your progress! I love design stuff! I laughed at the line, “a non heinous one would be a bonus too.” Like, right? Haha.

  8. nonsequiturchica

    Oh boy I know your pain. When we moved to Chicago the only way we could afford our area was to buy a house that had not been renovated in 45 years. So that meant new plumbing, new electrical work throughout, new appliances, new HVAC, etc etc. It has been very expensive and we are still paying for some of it but it has been so worth it! I finally feel like it is home (except for our upstairs and only full bathroom- the one room that we have yet to renovate due to lack of funds). \

    Living without a kitchen sucks- I’m not going to sugarcoat it. We were without a kitchen for an entire month as when we moved into our house we had no working appliances and had to wait for our countertops to come in before the new appliances could be installed. We also didn’t have a working fridge or microwave so every meal was out for us. It sucked and it was expensive. I have friends that put their fridge in their dining room and used a cooking store/BBQ grill to cook most of their meals to save money. It can be done.

    • I can’t tell you how reassuring this comment is! You did it and you survived!! And more importantly, you are happy with the results 🙂 We have a basement room with a fridge, microwave, toaster oven and a hotplate. It’s…not the best, but it makes the kids’ breakfast OK. Otherwise, we’re eating at Darcy’s parents a lot, and eating out.

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