I wasn’t particularly impressed by our remodeled home when we fully moved back in last month after living for 15 months in our garage.
The new kitchen and family room were beautiful in the way that photos in home magazines are beautiful, but they lacked soul.
I couldn’t see myself actually cooking in the upgraded kitchen or chilling out in front of our stylish gas fireplace. The whole thing felt more like an upscale vacation rental, not a real place for me to live my life.
My god, Cheryl, what have we done?
But I said nothing and Cheryl said nothing, although she had the same thoughts of estrangement.
We’d invested too much time and money in this project to admit for even a moment that maybe we’d overshot and built an addition for fancier people than ourselves.
In the old kitchen, we’d limped along with a stove with one working burner and a defunct oven, corroded cabinetry doors, leaky sink plumbing and dented Formica counters.
The new kitchen with its shiny appliances, floor-to-ceiling, beautifully detailed cabinetry, instant-on hot water device and quartzite-topped island — who could even relate?
My spirits sank further when our old furniture — specifically, my wonderfully comfy couch and my two favorite, oversized upholstered chairs — was deemed to clash with Cheryl’s new color scheme.
This supposed fact was pointed out by Cheryl’s sons the moment they first walked into the room. Thanks for the assessment, guys.
So much seemed wrong, yet one thing was cool. Having made the addition a no-shoes zone, I got to slide around in my socks on the sleek hardwood floor. Look at me! Olympic skater!
Acting on what could not be spoken, Cheryl immediately went to work to domesticate our lovely, but clinically cold domicile. Right off, she threw gray sheets over the couch and chairs, ending the assault on her children’s eyeballs while she researched slipcovers.
From thrift shops, she acquired small items to fill in furnishing gaps. She sourced pillows from far and wide. We’re going to have seasonal pillows, she said.
Repulsed by sections of dead wall, Cheryl mounted a metal strip over our computer so we could display our favorite magnets and objects of current fascination. In the dining zone, she put up a metal board and covered it with a mosaic of keepsakes, many of which once graced our old fridge (while new fridges are sheathed in metal, they have somehow lost their magnet-friendly qualities).
In the kitchen, pockets of clutter began to appear, as did area rugs and decorative panels of stained glass. In little ways, the kitchen was becoming softer, friendlier.
By early February, our reconstructed rooms had begun to feel a lot like home. I no longer felt like an interloper. I no longer wanted to return to our cozy quarters above the garage.
And I was delighted by an aspect of the reformulated house that hadn’t been anticipated. We now had views.
The old living room, with its sloping shed-like roof and small windows, had better views than living next to an air shaft, certainly, but not views worthy of our creekside location.
From the new living room with its larger, higher windows, I now had full creek vistas, including tree tops swaying in the breeze. Looking south, I could now observe open sky in all its permutations, from pure blue to clouds shimmering pink in the setting sun.
I’d always lamented that the windows restricted sky awareness. Now I felt relocated almost to a mountain top.
To sum up. Cheryl loves her new kitchen. We no longer feel like strangers in our own home. I’ve become a sky-watcher. And when not much else is going on, I slide around in my socks.