That Last .2 Mile: The 12-Year Kitchen

The dorm-sized fridge that got us through seven months of kitchen remodeling

I overheard a snippet of dialogue on TV the other night, in which a woman mentions that a marathon is exactly 26.2 miles long. To which her companion jokingly replies, “Sure, anyone can run twenty-six miles—it’s that last two-tenths of a mile that will kill you.”  Ain’t it the truth.

It’s now been almost seven months since we started our kitchen project, and we’re just about done. But “just about” can be particularly painful when:

- The cabinets have been delivered, installed, and trimmed—but until the countertop arrives we can’t put anything in them (they’re covered inside and out with construction dust and need a top-to-bottom cleaning before we can start stocking the shelves).

- The appliances have all been delivered and slipped into place, but there’s nothing to plug them into yet (the electrician will be back after the backsplash is installed).

- Without the countertop in place, we can’t install the backsplash yet.

- The floor will get a final coat of polyurethane after we’re all done, but that will spatter the walls a bit, so I can’t do any final painting until then.

So this week is all about waiting. It couldn’t be helped, really; the countertop couldn’t be ordered until the base cabinets were in, and it takes a couple of weeks between measuring and installation. This Friday is counter day, but until then we pretty much just wait.

And so with our 28-cubic-foot refrigerator sitting a few feet away, we’re still living out of a dorm-sized fridge in our dining room. (For a family of four, that’s been quite a challenge!) With our beautiful double oven sitting idle, we’re still microwaving, barbecuing, ordering in, or eating out. And with that shiny new dishwasher in the next room, we’re still washing dishes and filling the coffee pot in the basement utility sink.

Microwave cart

The little fridge in the top photo had to get a family of four through seven months of our renovation project. A corner of the dining room became our microwave cooking center. Do you wonder why we're impatient to get this over with?

Keith spent the past two weeks installing several of the finishing touches—the laundry chute, the beadboard “mud wall,” the baseboard,  the storm door, and the basement handrail.  I’ve spent them priming and painting doors and trim, and putting samples of various yellow and peachy swatches on the walls for evaluation. It’s all productive, and it all had to be done. But mostly, it’s felt like waiting.

I expect next week to be a flurry of activity. Once that countertop goes in, we’ll be in our final sprint to the finish line. This week, though, we can only find satisfaction in the 26 miles behind us, and gather our breath for the final two-tenths.

Have you remodeled your kitchen?  If so, send us “before and after” images so that we can include them in our soon-to-launch Gallery of Kitchens.  You can upload your images here.

Next: Counter Attack

For more on kitchen planning, products and makeovers, check out these Bob Vila articles and videos:

2011 Trends in Eco-Friendly Kitchen and Bath Products

Planning Your Dream Kitchen

Kitchen Cabinets Design