DIY, Oh Why


This past summer, I decided my kitchen needed a major renovation. To be honest, I didn’t actually decide that as much as I was convinced a kitchen remodel was a must-do because…well, cable television. It starts with the home improvement programs, where you see so many ultra-modern kitchens with shiny new appliances, clutter-free countertops, and whimsical kitchen linens—and suddenly you’re noticing all the kitchens everywhere. I tried to avert my stare at the neighbor’s kitchen. I checked out every kitchen in commercials, even if the product was cat food. I should have noticed I was obsessing when I was Googling cupcake-shaped cookie jars after seeing one in the kitchen behind a correspondent on a cable news segment. Yes indeed, I need all that!

Let’s start with a new sink to replace the banged-up monstrosity currently in my kitchen. Decisions, decisions…should it be a double or a single? Should it be enameled cast iron or stainless steel? Stainless steel looks so modern and industrial, like a professional kitchen. But I can’t pass on the country charm of an enameled cast iron sink, can I?

Next up, I want a new oven. No, I want a double oven. And a new microwave. And maybe a toaster oven, or one of those air fryer things. Oh, and a blender! Mine gave up the ghost ages ago. Putting all that on the list!

I need new countertops. When we moved here, there was a noticeable ring of melted countertop—somebody placed and extremely hot pan there. Probably back in the 60’s. I keep it covered with an ugly permanently stained cutting board. Fixed it!

All those new amenities cannot share space with all those ragged kitchen cabinets. Let’s count…1, 2, 3…Wow. Twenty-one cabinet doors. How long has that cornbread batter been stuck on there? Yuck. Should I get new solid cabinet doors or some with glass windows so I can see that my dinnerware didn’t escape during the night?

Twenty-one cabinet doors, a new kitchen sink, shiny new appliances, and other “essentials” later, I tally it all up and NOPE. Can’t afford all that, even if I DIY most of it. Back to the proverbial drawing board.

I suppose if I clean the dried-on cornbread batter off the cabinet door, that would be an improvement. After scrubbing down all the cabinet doors, I was rather pleased with it all. Who knew so much dust could accumulate on the top of the doors?

Now I was excited to see what else I could “improve” with soap, water, and a little ingenuity.

There is nothing wrong with my oven. It’s just a plain ordinary oven, but it works just dandy. A thorough scrubbing made me appreciate it more. I did wonder if that hard black thing in the back of the oven was a French fry in a previous life, or an escaped fish stick from years ago. Jury is still out.

Why do I need an air fryer? Isn’t that basically what my oven does? Off the list. Ditto with a toaster oven. My microwave is fine. Microwaves never last that long in my experience. I’ll replace it when it dies.

I solved other problems without going into extreme debt. I bought a new blender. I purchased a new colorful cutting board to place over the damaged spot on the countertop and I like it—brightens up that little area.

Once I scrubbed and polished and rearranged everything to my satisfaction, I was left with one small problem: I still need a new sink. I can afford that. I can’t DIY a sink, but the cost, including installation isn’t that expensive. I might even have enough in the budget for one of those fancy faucets that has a pulldown sprayer built in.

Plumbers are scheduled for next week. Until then, I really need to stop surfing the home improvement channels. And that’s how I solve yet another problem.

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Elle & Company