Tuesday, April 20, 2010


This week marks the official beginning of our “Extreme Makeover” kitchen edition. Joanne and I are beyond the point of no return on this one. Yesterday we were still in the early excitement phase of the project. You know the phase. It’s the Home Depot, window shopping, dreaming of the finished product while buying some of the lower cost items so we don’t get in too far over our heads, phase. Accompanied by “The Princess” Lily, we made our way through the flooring and tile aisles one last time, picking up a few last minute color samples. It was like the preflight check in a NASA shuttle launch as the excitement builds. Only a few hours later we were in the midst of the project, complete with a sledge hammer and the, wife encouraged, stylish eye protective wear.
I’ll have to admit to liking the sledgehammer part… it’s a guy thing. The secret is to be effective with it, but not too effective as that can have a great impact on the finished product….which, curiously enough, seems to be a woman thing. Anyway…. I used all of the grace and finesse that I have perfected over the years, and before we knew it we had accumulated a nice pile of 50 year old, toxic, oil based paint covered, plywood and nails that had at one time, before the days of Home Depot and Lowes, been some woman’s dream kitchen. Let me just say that this particular kitchen was built in the day when it was assumed that it was being built to last. This wasn’t any old, subdivision based, built for speed, kind of kitchen. There is no, unscrewing cabinet units from the wall and popping up the new ones from IKEA, standard kitchen operation. This place was built to withstand an earthquake, and already has since we’ve been here without any government mandated retrofitting.
As with any home project, soon after the first swing of the sledgehammer, one encounters an “a-ha” moment. These moments are usually accompanied by the loud whooshing of your dream vision as it rushes right out of your head and quickly fades into a dream like memory. I dread those, so I took small swings and for the moment, the “a-ha” is only a murmur. I would imagine that it’s like being at DEFCON 3 on our national security level. Things are relatively quiet, but pessimism looms on the horizon like a mid western Summer storm.
In my experience, what keeps it all together and moving forward is the initial vision. Joanne and I continue to talk through it and verbalize it to each other and keep it fresh so we can see the freshly painted walls and new floors. I continue to imagine the culinary delights prepared by the bakeress on the newly finished counter tops and I push through till it, somehow, becomes reality.
I find it’s the same with most renovations, whether construction based or relational in nature. Issues that can seem like impassable quicksand can and have been repaired by a relentless focus on the initial vision that encouraged you into the process or relationship in the first place. As with any home renovation, it will most likely take a bigger investment than you had anticipated in the early days. It may take more time, more energy, and more finances than you had emotionally budgeted for, but the initial vision is always possible. It just may take a few more visits to The Home Depot.

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