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. 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.

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