Maribeth finished her kitchen renovation in such record time that I wondered: Did it stress her out? I can’t make decisions that quickly. Tips to get the job done fast — and happily? She replied:

Hi, Pam, Anguish?

Not at all.  Ha Ha.  Oh, the sleepless nights with paint swatches dancing through my head…

Seriously, I did anguish a lot over all of this.  I only had a few hours to go through the house and take as many photos and measurements as I could because I would not see it again for 4 months; a full month after the contractors were to start the renovation.  So all of the design decisions had to be made based on just what I could remember from that single encounter. I kept a huge file of inspiration pictures on my computer (many from retro renovation).  I probably changed the overall kitchen scheme about 4 times.  I started very Brady with burnt orange countertops (they don’t make ’em anymore), then went towards orange lower cabinets and a groovy laminate for the backsplash.  But with each design, there was always something that would not quite fit.  If I went with one color on the cabinets then the wall color didn’t work, or if I choose a certain tile pattern then the floor would clash.  That is how you know you’re on the wrong track and when you realize that you are, you have to allow yourself to scrap the whole idea and start in a new direction and not try to force it to work.  There is a certain Zen moment that happens when the idea just works.  When everything just fits together nicely.  Luckily, I had about three months to wait for that to happen or I would be sitting here with orange cabinets right now.  Not that there’s anything wrong with orange cabinets.

I always like to put all the colors and fabrics that I have selected together on a board, look at it in every possible light, then carry it around with me and drive my friends nuts asking them which of 15 shades of beige works best with Java brown and eggshell white.  (It helps to have patient friends with good taste, too.)

What about you, Readers? Do you anguish over making these decisions? How are you able to bring it all together to move forward?

  1. Gretchen S. says:

    I am still loving Maribeth’s awesome job! Great eye!

    From inception to finish (and we’re still not quite done) our master bed/bath too almost one year, ten months. It’s in a part of the house that we simply were able to close the door, fortunately. We wanted it done correctly, so timing wasn’t an issue.

    For us, the anguish didn’t come from material choices; the problem-solving when we ran into snags was maddening. Well, we do still have one material issue: we still don’t have shades (I’m dragging my feet on that one)!

  2. sablemable says:

    LOL, yes I DO anguish over color schemes and decor! One thing I remember as a child seeing the interiors of MCM homes, that every room had a different color scheme and not “tied” into a specific color. Hope that makes sense, LOL.
    So I’m choosing to keep everything neutral and use the colors of the bathroom fixtures and wall tile to accent with throughout the house.

  3. Deb says:

    Sablemable, that’s so funny…now I have visions of my aunt’s all-purple (!) living room (everything except the piano, as I recall) and my grandparents’ last home, which, when purchased, had brown shag in the main rooms and hallway with bedrooms that coordinated with their individual carpet colors: blue shag, pink shag, brown shag, and green shag!

  4. Alice says:

    Oh yes. and paralysis of analysis goes right in hand with the stress! For us, it’s a complete 180 degrees from our decorating tastes in our previous home. We wouldn’t have chosen to explore MCM except that this new home seemed to say “don’t you dare take away my features” when we bought it! Your site has been so instrumental in our education and in our exploration!

  5. midmodms says:

    Oh yes. I still don’t know what flooring I want to use. Or what to do about the back splash. It’s probably a good thing I won’t have the money to remodel any time soon. Unless I just keep coming up with more choices to agonize over.

    This Site is both a blessing and a curse, by the way. It gives me lots of ideas, but I keep seeing things I hadn’t thought of that have to be added to the list.

  6. Kathie says:

    Not having money to do my reno is helping me! I have at least a few years to plan, replan, sketch, resketch 🙂 I believe if we buy what we love – what we’re passionate about – then it all comes together. For example, I want a powder room on my first floor. I envisioned a white pill-box toilet – have you seen them they are SO cool! And a white, oval sink dropped into an old dresser modified to be a vanity. Then lo-and-behold this past weekend a wonderful Craigslister posts a 1-piece, pale yellow American Standard toilet from ’62 with a matching sink all for $50! I snatched them up so gone is $800 pill box toilet & white sink – I’m IN LOVE with the pale yellow. So my lack of funds, combined with time, has enabled the reno gods to bring me not only what I’m passionate about, but also what I love!

  7. gavin hastings says:

    In my mind’s eye- I am the world’s greatest decorator: right up there with Dorothy Draper, Sister Parrish and even the likes of Robert Adams. The frustrations come from the “ticking Time Bomb called Life”, lack of funding, deceptive paint that says GRAY on the can-but is actually GREEN, and too many “make do” left turns on the road to Living Room Nirvana. I really don’t want to die in the near future…have family and friends gather in my home…and think: “He really missed the mark a bit, but he had aspirations….”

    Maybe I should apply for a government grant, since I am creating a touchstone for generations….

  8. sablemable says:

    Good find, Kathie! My bathroom fixtures are yellow Kohler and the tile is a medium shade of mint green. All original, BTW.

  9. Kathie says:

    Sablemable do you have a picture you can share? I’ve not had good luck finding color combinations, which include the pale yellow as fixtures. I saw one yellow bath on here but would like more – of course 🙂

  10. angie says:

    Um, does anybody remember “sculptured” carpet? You know, the vein-y
    stuff that was in everybody’s home in the 60s/70s if it wasn’t shag?
    Well! Here’s my story:
    when my mom passed away in ’03 I decided to move back into her house
    (my house growing up in the mid-70s) & the first thing I decided HAD to go
    was her beige/gold scupltured carpet! Soooo yesterday!
    So here we are all these years later, and thanks to you, Pam,& this fabulous
    community, I have a new appreciation of these things (my house was built in
    1960). So, anyway, I’m all aboard the retro bandwagon now, and just the other day
    I was looking around my house for things to improve upon & you know what would
    be just perfect? You guessed it! Sculptured carpet! Preferably in a Beige or
    Gold! I call it Tammy Wynette gold.
    Here’s the Kicker: My husband is a carpet contactor/installer & the look he gave
    me is unprintable!


  11. millowski says:

    Hey, I’m new here. I’m not sure where exactly to post this question–this thread about “stress” seems apt.
    My husband and I live in a 1932 house with Craftsman-style wood throughout, and the kitchen seems to have been last done in the 1940’s: gingerbread over the sink window, galley-style layout, white flat-front cabinets.
    We had a roof leak and my Formica countertop was ruined, and water got into the wall. Long story short, I have made some vague decisions and some definite ones, and the definite is about historical integrity and “vibe” of the kitchen remaining intact.

    I had my first meeting with a contractor today and it was discouraging: it seemed that the (reasonable) requests I was making for quotes on specific tasks were being circumnavigated. We live in Northern Connecticut and I realize that “keepin’ it vintage” is sort of a niche market.
    On a number of before and after images from local kitchen people, the before looks like our kitchen now, which is beloved but damaged, and the after looks like a soulless “cooking-space of the oughts.”

    Are there specific places I could look, or keywords to note in listings that would let me find someone who’s more on my page? I feel stressed that I’m just going to run around in circles denying an interest in granite until my walls rot out.

    Any suggestions, no matter how obvious or simple, are much appreciated.

    As well, I plan on doing much of the work myself, but…

    Thanks, guys!
    And Pam, I love this site. There are many, many beautiful modern homes in Western Mass–I was just in an Estate Sale in Springfield last weekend with a pink steel kitchen with that rosy-aluminum look chrome trim–amazing.

Leave a Reply

Commenting: Information

All comments are moderated, generally within 24 hours. By using this website you are agreeing to the site's >> Terms of Service, << which include commenting policies, and our >> Privacy Notice. << Before participating, read them in full.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.