H is for House Surgery


Disclaimer: Today I’m writing about what’s come to be called a “first-world problem.” I’m well aware that, in global terms, I’m very wealthy. I’m grateful to have a house to live in, plenty of food to eat, plenty of clothing to keep me warm, and access to clean water and medical care. I well know it’s pure luck that I was born into a middle-class family in the U.S., rather than a poverty-stricken family in a less-developed country. That said, today I’m writing about house renovation.

Our house was built in 1956, and the kitchen has not been remodeled since. No garbage disposal, no dishwasher, and a very basic electric stove. It was bright and sunny, but since we plan to stay in this house until we’re wheeled out, Hubs and I wanted a nicer kitchen. (I wish I could show you a “before” photo, but they didn’t turn out.)

After lots of research and three bids, we chose Fine Design Interior Remodeling out of Graham, WA, to do a total renovation of our kitchen. Their plumber, Randy, is also re-piping the whole house.

You know that scene from E.T. when the haz-mat team covers the protagonist’s home in plastic and wheels poor E.T. out on a stretcher? That’s what our downstairs looks like, in preparation for cutting away chunks of the ceiling and walls to reveal the old pipes. Most of the kitchen floor is now gone, so that the plumber can access the water and gas pipes there. All weekend, we’ll be walking on a precariously-balanced jigsaw puzzle. The water is currently turned off while the plumber does his thing. Ugh.

Day one of renovation. Notice the lovely linoleum.

Day one of renovation. Notice the lovely linoleum.

And here's day two. Notice the 1950s linoleum? Kind of cute.

And here’s day two. Notice the 1950s linoleum? Kind of cute.

And here's what it looks like today, day five.

And here’s what it looks like today, day five.

For the time being, our “kitchen” in the living room consists of an electric skillet, a slow cooker, and a tiny microwave. Of course, we also have a coffee maker and a toaster, and a grill in the back yard. I’ve cooked dinner at home three out of the first five days of this adventure. In fact, being a good home cook is so much a part of my identity that I’m already experiencing withdrawal jitters. And even though we’ve budgeted extra money for dining out during this period, my inner tightwad winces at the high cost of non-fast restaurant food.

But I feel so discombobulated! I can’t tell you how many times this week I’ve headed for the kitchen to fetch this or that, only to bump into reality—ain’t no more kitchen in there. The guys working here could not be nicer or more accommodating, under the circumstances. Still, it’s not pleasant feeling like an intruder in my own home as I tiptoe through the construction site toward the fridge. And even though I’m not doing any of the work here, I feel really pooped at the end of each day. That must be stress-related.

Good news: The water is back on! Randy the plumber showed us the old metal pipe from beneath the kitchen sink, which was as thickly-crusted with gunk as a heart-attack victim’s arteries. Any day now it would have sprung a leak and flooded us out. Whew!

Stay tuned for further remodeling adventures.

6 thoughts on “H is for House Surgery

  1. Glenda Funk

    House Surgery is on our list of pre-retirement plans, too. Even though my home was constructed in 1998, the finish on the cabinetry needs refinished, and the countertop shows wear. The footprint will remain the same as will the tile floor.

    I share your point of view about having abundance by the world’s standard of living, and our throw-away lifestyles bother me, but you definitely needed a kitchen renovation considering the age of your home. I can envision some gourmet meals you’ll whip up and can’t wait to see the new kitchen. Be sure to post lots of pics and indulge yourself with the finishes and updates you really want. Glenda from
    Evolving English Teacher

  2. Silvia Writes

    Apt title indeed – house surgery. Having something done on the house sure feels like going through a major overhaul. We’re going to start our kitchen remodeling in a couple of months, no major restructuring, just floor and cabinets, appliances, but I dread the process. Sure going to look nice when it’d done. Good luck to you going forward.

  3. lindamaycurry

    We replaced the original kitchen in our house (project home built for us in 1975) with a Tasmanian Oak Kitchen in 1992. It has been modified a few times since (new benchtops, sink and cupboards around fridge) but now I have the problem of whether to update again. It looks dated (not all white) but the wood is solid and it functions well. We did have a wall knocked out a couple of years ago which was the best thing we could have done. The kitchen is now so light and airy. It certainly is a first world problem. I look forward to seeing your finished kitchen in six weeks.


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