A few weeks ago, I moved with my husband to our little bohemian cottage in the wood. With a new coat of paint & several trips to Ikea, Home Depot, and Bed, Bath & Beyond, we are now comfortably ensconced. However, the honeymoon is wearing off a bit. To start, we noticed the floor in our bathroom beginning to crack. This was a new crack, right in front la toilet. I called and asked my dad if this should be alarming and he said, “Don’t you remember when the toilet fell through the floor in our first house?” No. I didn’t. Also, there is one wall that isn’t exactly connected to the floor anymore and the floor itself can best be described as spongy. All of these charming discoveries, luckily, are fixable and all I have to do are let the heavy-booted workers in to replace the beam, the floorboards, the toilet, etc.
Not so easily remedied, however, is the kitchen. In a word: its gross. We learned that the tenant before us hadn’t actually been around for about a year, leaving the apartment available for a whole menagerie of… creatures. We’ve mostly eradicated the roaches and the ants, and the cat has been having a blast with mice not wise enough to find a new place to live. This though, is a condition that I’m quite used to, coming from an urban environment and the restaurants of NYC.
More alarming is the state of the kitchen hardware. The cabinets, the countertop, the sink, the fridge and the stove all were installed during a time when asbestos was the premier insulation and hot water heaters only heated the water at night. If we run out of hot water during the day (which requires two showers and a small load of dishes) we are out of luck on that front until the next day.
I found a receipt dating to 1994 inside the refrigerator when I cleaned it out of the black mold that had called the fridge home. The counter was regularly used by a former tenant whom had no cutting board and so the linoleum is scored all over the top and the lines have turned black over time. The lower cabinetry is all water damaged or mouse poop ridden, or, in one curious decision of an architect of time gone by, wedged behind the steps so you can’t actually open the door. Long ago someone filled the wasted space with old paint cans, slammed it most of the way shut and put in the steps to the landing.
I’m not telling you this stuff to gross you out or have a pity party for me. I’m actually interested in bonding with you out there with your own nightmare kitchens. Even in the apartment on Lincoln Place in Brooklyn where having a counter at all meant laying a cutting board across the sink, at least it was a clean cutting board.
This has made it hard to cook, as you might imagine. I’m not exactly thrilled about eating things prepared in this space, and an entire prep space is filled up with the stuff that would otherwise be neatly tucked away inside functional cabinetry. No sugar cookies this year, y’all!
On the bright side, tomorrow we will inherit a new stove from a kitchen that is being gutted in a nearby home and the architect on the project happens to be a board member here at the museum and is sensitive to our woes. So that’s step one. I’m hoping for a sledgehammer and a dumpster to be in my near future and then I’ll be able to add kitchen design & installation to my already varied resume.
Meanwhile, share your kitchen nightmares! Broken pipes? Sunken floors? Rotten refrigerators? Let’s compare notes and give me some money-saving tips if you’ve got ’em! My dad’s advice is to “take advantage of the winter and put a cooler outside.” Got anything better?