Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On Habit (And AT {kind of a rant}) *plus, bricky-kitchen warning*

(I meant to post this a while ago but it got lost in the ether - the picture is also from a period when I had just cleaned and rearranged the whole kitchen. Needless to say it doesn't look like that right now)

I still get emails from Apartment Therapy. I was an enthusiastic participant in the website when I first found it a couple of years ago, but my enthusiasm waned as I sent in pictures of stuff I wanted advice on and got snotty responses ("get rid of the rug" was my favorite. Let it be known, the question in question had nothing to do with the rug). But the community and helpful people were addicting so I kept going back. I participated in at least two Cures and one Color contest and have learned quite a bit. One of the bigger things I learned was that I would rather share my projects with a select audience (a.k.a. you lovely readers who care enough to click on my blog) instead of tossing them to the lions commenters at AT, even though I have gotten good advice there in the past.

But like I said, I still get emails from them. Not AT, technically, but The Kitchn, the affiliated cooking blog. I still hate the spelling, but enjoy the (much less negative) commenters (although don't get them started on ground turkey, apparently it is the hot dog of the poultry world and no respectable cook goes near it. F you all, foodie snobs. You don't know where my ground poultry comes from). Anyways, my point is, they're starting the Kitchen Cure and looking for participants. And I realized, my kitchen doesn't need Curing. Maybe a quick mop and scrub, but not a Cure. This is big, people.
I am happy with my ridiculous "retro" kitchen, as far as I can be (I will say, whoever thinks a 3-D backsplash is a good idea anywhere, especially behind a stovetop, STOP NOW. Unless you want to spend your weekends cleaning it with a toothbrush). Yes, it was designed for people who don't cook, yes it is nearly impossible to clean, yes the wacky dropped ceilings mean I can't put much of anything in the upper cabinets. Yes it is the first thing you see when you walk in the door so party guests immediately settle Right Where I Am Working unless they prefer Right In Front Of The Oven When I Need To Get In There Right Now So Pick Up Your Drink And Get Out Of The Way.

But I can make Thanksgiving dinner for 30 when it comes down to it, and I can tell you it will be TASTY. I love having my electric kettle next to Matt's wacky double-decker bus shaped tea tin and my grandmother's rad old flour and sugar canisters next to the huge cutting board my dad made me that totally needs oiling right now (be right back). This is MY kitchen. Someday I will gut it and it will not be retro any more. But all my things will still be there, and then there will just be no more little undercurrent of Hate when I talk about it with people (esp. those who call it cute, retro or classic Avocado 70's, as these are inevitably people who don't cook).


drwende said...

I'm not allowed to call it "cute"? It looks rather nice, in its 70s way, though you're right that it has a horrible work triangle that would drive any serious cook nuts.

We could play a game of Predict What the ATers Would Say. I'm figuring they'd have you painting the cabinets white and removing some of the cabinet doors. Neither of these strikes me as genuinely good ideas.

guiltypartner said...

damnit! no brick in the kitchen! no brick in the kitchen! i will slip on *something* (again) and crack my head on it (again).

NEVER invite me over.

and you should warn people of pics like that before you go blogging again. maybe a bricky-kitchen alert you have to accept into.

scb said...

I love the bricks! They make me feel all warm and nostalgia-y as I remember our first Cure when we saw a lot of that kitchen! (And I loathe the word "cute", so you won't hear it from my lips, nor read it from my fingers. It's okay to apply to a kitty or a puppy or a guy on the beach, but nothing else. SCB has spoken.)

Anne (in Reno) said...

Wende, I have been trying to figure out forever how to improve the work triangle but have concluded that I just hate it. And I've considered the AT options of white/no doors and realized that if I really wanted to do something other than gut it, I would refinish the doors and put on new hardware (NOT paint the doors bright colors, which is another very AT option).

gp, the brick is not just in the kitchen. You would die. The entryway/living/dining/kitchen area are all open to one another with this massive brick pillar in the middle. It has both the fireplace and the oven in it. Some architect was smoking some bad s#*!, is all I can say. I'll put up a bricky-kitchen tag in the future.

And SCB, I absolutely respect your love of brick but I really wish I had a wide-angle lens and could properly express how it dominates this entire half of the house. It is just too big and dark and dominating. I have barely-suppressed fantasies about renovating it based on some remodel pictures I saw in Sunset magazine where somebody plastered over their heinous brick fireplace in a nice pale gray. It was lovely. Sigh. I'll stop now.

Mella DP said...

Gah, tile countertops are 9th Circle of Hell to keep clean. I can see how that would be a dreadfully annoying room.

It reminds me *a lot* of my parents' kitchen when they first moved in - it probably dates from the same era. Replacing the cabinet hardware with something in a contemporary style and finish made a huge difference - much more than I expected. (Shortly thereafter they also replaced the OSHA Safety Yellow formica countertops, which certainly didn't hurt.)

guiltypartner said...

it sounds like a head-wound death-trap. yes, my center of gravity is lower than average, but that doesn't mean my feet are any more coordinated.
a pox on your brickwork!

lauralynne said...

I like your kitchen, actually. A lot. I suppose it isn't ever going to appear on some design centerfold, but it's a hell of a lot more functional that my kitchen. I hear you on the 3D backsplash though. And I agree with Mella as far as cleaning the tile counters is concerned. I'm too messy to ever have them looking good.

I'm always amused on HGTV when people are looking for homes and they're so disappointed by formica or white appliances or linoleum. I mean, these aren't necessarily beautiful things but they aren't hard to change and they are functional. So it's livable until you can afford to change it. But my HGTV rant can wait for another day.

Anyway, not to echo Wende too much, but I think painting the cabinets white and switching out the hardware would look great. And I wouldn't take off the top doors but I might replace them with doors that have a glass front. Could you paint the brick? I know some folks are really opposed to that, but I like white masonry, so I guess that's automatically where my mind went...

6p00e0098f015f8833 said...

What you need is a brightly colored rug. Or, perhaps moving the curtains up to the ceiling to give the illusion of height. Ha! I just recently got back to going on AT regularly...and MUCH MUCH less than the glory days of yore. Of course, my breaking point was actually a Maxwell comment, so...different but equal.

I feel like sometimes, people are too intent on remodeling. I like your kitchen too...the quirks just make it special!

6p00e0098f015f8833 said...

Argh...I don't know what's wrong with my typepad keeps displaying me as some weird set of numbers. That last one was christine in DC!

Anne (in Reno) said...

Mella, I keep getting told to replace the hinges/handles with nice modern hardware but there are a lot of them and I have yet to find anything that I think will work with them that I could keep and use in a future kitchen (ah dreams) so I haven't gone there yet... also the tile countertop is an absolute disaster because it has NO grout. There used to be white grout and all that is left is little specks. So I am thinking another fix would be to regrout with something nice and neutral to make the tile a bit less grotty and uncleanable.

gp, if you ever make it out here we'll just have to take you out instead, clearly you're not safe in my home ;) I am starting to want the whole story on the brick issues though...

lauralynne, I don't mind my kitchen nearly as much as I used to. When I moved in we were fixing and replacing at a high rate of speed so most of the rest of the house is highly functional and relatively tidy now. This is just so poorly laid out and uncleanable that it makes me crazy. I know there is a lot worse out there and I have lots of space (which is a good start). It just means I'm inclined not to spend a ton of time or money replacing/revamping what's in here as there is so much deeply ingrained poor design/layout and the quality is such that it is not worth saving (I swear). Someday we will do a permanent fix and until then I'm not super worried about it.

Christine, I sometimes feel like I am too intent on remodeling instead of working with what I've got. And I have considered a bright rug (would get grody SO fast) and some nice perky patterned curtains to give it some zip. But I have lived with this kitchen for several years now and I feel like if we can save up to fix it up, then we deserve a fixed up kitchen (for the massive amounts of time I spend in it) and it will add a huge amount of value to the house in the long run. Although I really want to know what Maxwell's comment was that drove you away from AT!

And you guys may have convinced me, let the hardware shopping begin!

But I swear, retro avocado appliances DO NOT look "cute" when surrounded by uncleanable, clashing olive-colored tile. When that cooktop finally dies, the new one will NOT be avocado green, let me tell you.

drwende said...

Ah -- in the photo, it is not clear that the avocado clashes with the olive.

I was totally kidding about painting cabinets! I agree with Anne on waiting to rip it out, as the aesthetic problems are far overshadowed by the functional ones. Regrouting would be the one exception if any long period of time is expected to pass before full rehab.

My theory on grout is that it should be the color of the local dirt... which, by nothing better than coincidence, is the case with my floors, and it seems uniform enough that I believe it's on purpose.

Mella DP said...

No grout?! Goodness, that would be bad. I would grout - cleaning it would still be pure evil, but at least it would be possible.

LOJO said...

I would grout too. Something darker that wouldn't show the dirt.
I am doing the cure this time around, but not posting to AT. a good number of those posters there are evil. You know if you looked at their dingy dinky nasty apartments they don't follow their own advice, so why should I bother reading it?

6p00e0098f015f8833 said...

Christine here...just in case I get weird numbers again!

I was kidding about the rug/curtains...mocking AT posters!

The Maxwell thing was that in a post about the cure, he said my pictures were bad. I just thought it was unnecessary--just don't post them, for heaven's sake!