Over the past six years I have replaced all of my kitchen appliances, refinished the heart pine floors, changed out the light fixtures, door knobs, faucet, cabinet pulls, exhaust fan, ceiling fan, door to the deck and man of the house. Next up: kitchen cabinet refresh.
Since even after 23 years I like the layout of my kitchen, I nixed the idea of ripping everything out and starting over. I thought about just having new wood doors custom made, but that was out of my budget. My Ikea cabinets are still structurally sound, if yellowed with age.
At first I thought I would do the painting myself — to save money. I researched Ikea mentions to see if anyone else had done this, and decided that the project was viable because my cabinet and drawer fronts are solid MDF, not foil or laminate covered. Benjmain Moore makes a water based paint called Advance specifically for cabinets that has gotten rave reviews, and I’ve done a lot of painting over the years, (but no spraying).
On a whim I looked on Angie’s List to see if I could find a shop that specialized in this kind of thing, and low and behold Allusions, Inc. was offering a special. I figured, what the heck, at least I can get an estimate! After Bonnie, the owner, came to the house and confirmed that this was a reasonable solution for my dingy, yellowed cabinets and the poorly painted Crate and Barrel china cabinets in the eating area, I pulled the trigger.
Chaos came to my kitchen on Thursday as a pair of cabinet refinishers disassembled all of my cupboards, and asked me to relocate the contents of sixteen drawers. I had been told that only the drawer fronts would be removed, so I wasn’t prepared and had a bit of a panic.
This is what things looked like after things were disassembled:
What is it about having junk drawers that is inherited? I so clearly remember vowing to myself that I would never, ever, have those “hold it all, stuff things in there to be dealt with later” drawers that were in my childhood home. I have to face the fact that I have at least three of them. And how many times have I culled the herd of Tupperware, throwing away orphaned lids and BPH laden containers only to again have a full bin of them ready for Goodwill? Do they just multiply in the drawers while I sleep?
This is the “after.” I spent all day yesterday sifting through random and haphazardly erected skyscrapers of dishes and everything else that had been unceremoniously dumped in a giant pile on my kitchen table or in boxes on the floor.
This whole process has caused a bit of self reflection. I do love to cook, but how (and more importantly WHY) do I have so many spices? I try to recycle them every year, checking expiration dates and doing the sniff test to see if they have the ability to flavor anything with a taste other than musty kitchen cabinet.
And the sprinkles, cupcake papers, cookie cutters, birthday candles — do I really still need all of this? Isn’t that from a previous life, or do I really think I will be that neighborhood lady who is always arriving at the doorstep with beautiful Martha Stewart inspired home baked cookies complete with piped, monogramed icing and the appropriate seasonal sugar crystals? Really?
And what about the two drawers full of pet medicines, clippers, toys, combs, leashes, etc.etc.etc.? It’s hard to throw those things away, especially because one is not supposed to put medicines in the trash, and throwing away old rabies tags from long deceased pooches feels a little bit like sacrilege. Did I mention how carefully I moved the pretty wooden box with my dearly departed dog Sydney’s ashes in it so as not to accidentally drop it/him necessitating clandestinely vacuuming him up as happened to Ben Stiller and grandma’s urn in Meet the Parents?
Meanwhile, the remaining pets couldn’t wait to jump into the newly created playground of doorless cabinets!
I feel as if my entire life in retirement is about decluttering. Room by room, drawer by drawer, file cabinet by file cabinet, and yes, even book by book I am questioning the detritus of my life. Handling each object brings back memories, some pleasant, some not so. Husbands, children, bosses, siblings, friends all speak to me as I weigh the utility, the sentimental value or the sheer size and weight of all of thesethings and the memories they generate. “Pick me,” each object says, like puppies greeting potential owners. “I’m downsizing and my house is already broken,” I reply.
I am so not a hoarder, and yet I have acquired a great deal of baggage in my years on this planet. I’m ready to let a great deal of it go. I don’t want to be burdened, tied down, needing to dust and reorganize my grievances or unfulfilled desires. “Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free,” says the Shaker hymn. I’m going to try to apply this to my kitchen drawers, yes, but also to my aspirations, be they for the larger society, my immediate family, my yoga practice or my mindset. Perhaps a new coat of paint, a tidying up, and getting rid of half of my “stuff” is enough. We’ll see. I’ll let you know!