Family Life / The Social Network


This is a true story.

In my teen-aged years, Boz Scaggs was singing the ‘sad truth, the dirty “Lowdown”‘ of what I realize now, but didn’t exactly comprehend then: “running with the Jones just ain’t where it’s at.”

Huh. I’ve had a “Jones for this, a Jones for that” over and over and over again. New coat. New shoes. New couch, new car, new backyard grill, new hair-do, new book, new, new, new — KITCHEN! Yes, that’s the ticket! And why? Well, the acceptable answer looks like this:

Our original stove and refrigerator had been standing, if not on their last legs, on precariously rickety legs — and we’d already worn out a dishwasher AND a microwave — round 2 of those kitchen essentials showing some fatigue. The paint? Past tired and headed toward exhaustion. Some wear and tear all over the place, really — kids who become teenagers and dogs who make the humans’ house their home and a set of parents overseeing the family madness and contributing a few dings to the woodwork along the way — you know, life plays out in our kitchens. Sometimes they just need an overhaul. Really.

Oh, that’s such a good answer to why I’d be ‘jonesing’ after a new kitchen. But the real reason?


It’s shameful, really. I had a perfectly fine kitchen. See?

A Perfectly Fine Kitchen

A Perfectly Fine Kitchen

And then, well. A run-in with Mr Jones, who I think is in charge of the HGTV network.

Watching any broadcast of any sort on that cursed channel leads a gal to believe that laminate from the ’90s is too gauche to be tolerated — NO ONE will buy a house with a kitchen filled w/ outdated appliances, much less one with laminate countertops! And those honey oak cabinets? Dated, dated dated. Seriously — they were no longer going over well with me either, and I’d been the original decorator!

So, we decided. Let’s re-do the kitchen.

First, we shopped appliances.

Things started happening...

Things started happening…

Before the remodel became reality, I’d imagined that new appliances, if and when they ever came, would be stainless steel. (Doesn’t everyone who’s anyone on HGTV pick stainless steel?!?!??)

In with the new before the old is completely gone!

In with the new before the old is completely gone!

But, I didn’t.  And since the laminate from yesteryear looks a little tired, let me introduce you to my friend Granite. I believe her full name is Granite Jones.

Ahhhhh... so shiny!

Ahhhhh… so shiny!

I have to say, replacing countertops is a marvelous, nerve-wracking sort of thing. There may or may not have been a rather significant chipping of one slab, which may or may not have been fixed IN MY KITCHEN!!!!! (Cue the hyperventilating!) This install (which we did NOT do ourselves) made me twitch. I finally stopped the other day…

And then, the cabinets. The budget (YES, I had one, and NO I did not exceed it) covered a facelift rather than a replacement. They are made of wood, for pete’s sake. They have maintained the general functionality of kitchen cabinets. They just looked rather, you know — old. Thus, their faces were lifted. And if I do say so myself (and I do!), the cabinets are gorgeous. I have this friend. He’s a painter. Just look at his magic:

A work in progress!

A work in progress!

Transforming the Island

Transforming the Island

And the old wall color definitely had seen better days:

Good-bye Red & Gold!

Good-bye Red & Gold

Another thing. When we had our house built in the last century (ha!), we were convinced that a kitchen ‘desk’ would be oh! so useful and wonderful. Wrong. The desk space never — not once! — included a chair. I never sat there to pay a bill, take a phone call, or write a paper (I did get an MA after all…). So, in the great kitchen remodel, we decided the desk had to go. But what could take its place? I wanted to make a sort of bar area. But a bar was most decidedly not in the budget. What was in the budget was minding its own business in our basement for the past 12 years: A Hoosier cabinet that came to us from the kids’ paternal great-grandmother. It nearly looks like it was made for the space. Woohoo!! Original enamel top, and, you guessed it — a facelift. It’s perfect.

July — the month of the great #kitchenremodel — was a busy one. Independence celebrations, kids moving to new jobs and new adventures far from home, and my first time as project manager on a scale that gave me a few palpitations. Money was involved. And step #1 of the famed 12 — you know, “Hi, I’m Becky — I have a Jones for HGTV. And #kitchenremodels”. Egad.

We didn’t need to fix the kitchen. We chose to. I succumbed to the ‘Jones.’ There. I said it. So, while I’m at it, let’s review: new appliances, new countertops, face-lifted cabinets (with face-lifted hardware, by the way), a re-purposed antique, fresh paint on the walls, and, ta-da! glass subway-tile backsplash which we found at a ridiculous sale price and which was installed by dear friends (who also helped me think through this project). During that final phase, I made dinner, ran to the hardware store when we ran out of grout, and essentially tried to look busy while doing nothing.

Here’s the end result:

Oh, yes.  New lights too.

Oh, yes. New lights too.

So pretty, isn't it?

So pretty, isn’t it?

I think Jack likes the camera

I think Jack likes the camera

The finishing touch!

The finishing touch!

Afternoon light

Afternoon light

Side View

Side View

Love IT!

Love IT!

These photos look better on my phone — a testament to my general technological ineptitude — and the kitchen looks far better than any photo taken with a phone and uploaded to a blog can bear witness to.

Here’s the ‘lowdown’: like Boz crooned almost 30 years ago, ‘running with the Joneses ain’t where it’s at,’ and man, that is the truth. It’s easy to be sucked into the vortex of ‘buy, buy, buy’ — ‘stuff, stuff, stuff!’  So, I’m trying to watch a little less HGTV these days. Read a few old books. Let my hair grow. I do have a new coat for the winter winds which will likely blow with ferocity before too long. And, by golly. I do have a new kitchen. I didn’t need it. I appreciate it for what it is (an HGTV inspired home update), and what it ought to be: a place for our family and friends to gather — to enjoy the makeover to be sure. But, as Great-grandma Lola used to say, to “make over” each other, as the old adage goes. To share a meal, a glass of wine, a laugh. To tell the latest chapter of our stories — in the kitchen, where the best things always happen.


One thought on “Makeovers

  1. Pingback: …Watch HGTV | Friends Don't Let Friends...

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