The thoughts we carry in our minds can be a blessing or a curse. When we cage them, our lives are filled with disappointment and an overwhelming sense of what could be. The thoughts must be set free and this can only be done by making them real.
In October of 2002, I toured a condo with a realtor and knew that it would be the first home I would own. During that tour, I viewed an opening between the kitchen and the dining room and was immediately filled with a vision. I saw the possibility of letting even more light pass between the rooms with new cabinetry and glass doors. I saw an extended countertop that would invite guests to sidle up with a glass of wine while the chef prepared dinner. And I saw my first and most ambitious remodeling project.
Years passed, and although I built an impressive wood working shop in my garage, the kitchen remodel remained a dream locked within the confines of my mind. Then in the winter of 2006 while recovering from knee surgery, I set about the ambitious task of designing and building my first kitchen cabinets. The project took several months of dedicated effort, but I had finally completed the goal I set 4 years earlier. Well, almost. The new cabinetry was a significant personal accomplishment and improvement over the original wall cabinets, but it only represented a fraction of the complete kitchen remodeling project. I told myself that I needed some time to rest and then I would get back to building the rest of the cabinets. And in the meantime, I decided that I wanted to build a whole new bank of cabinets for one of the kitchen walls. Months passed and my saws sat idle in the garage. The day after Thanksgiving, I tore into the kitchen. Actually, I tore up the floor and set about installing a heated tile floor to replace the Pergo. It may not have been cabinetry, but it was at least some sort of progress.
More years passed. Whitewater kayaking took a prominent role in my life. I bought a motorcycle. I sold the motorcyle and bought a VW Thing. I sold the VW Thing and bought a VW campervan. I installed a Ford Focus engine in the VW van. I installed a turbo charger on the Ford Focus engine in the VW van. And I kayaked—a lot. So it’s not that I was sitting around doing nothing, but all the while, my kitchen remained as it had been in 2006. And worst of all, the thoughts—the dreams—pinballed through my mind every time I stepped foot within the kitchen. Finally, finally, in October of 2012, the notion of the kitchen remodel re-entered the forefront of my thoughts. I spent hours at Home Depot with the kitchen consultant and came away with a very large estimate. And that estimate was just for materials and they weren’t even high-end materials. The cost seemed prohibitive and I debated whether the money would be better invested in my current condo or in savings for a future house. But ultimately, it became about something much greater than a financial investment. It became about the thoughts—the goals—the dreams that I had set for myself a decade earlier. I knew that I had to do it. I had to be true to myself and set the thoughts free. I had to make the goal into reality.
So on October 10th, I set the wheels in motion by ordering the rest of the kitchen cabinets from Home Depot. I had learned just how difficult and time consuming it is to build quality cabinetry and also realized that the difference in cost for build-to-spec cabinets was not that much greater than doing it myself. I also sprung for new stainless steel appliances and the luxury ticket item—granite countertops. I attempted to schedule the project to minimize the disruption in my life, but alas, both the cabinet delivery and countertop installation were delayed beyond the initial estimates. So for 2 months, I’ve been living in a state of semi-chaos. I washed dishes in my bathtub for 6 weeks. I ate microwavable dinners and fast food on a daily basis with almost no fresh vegetables. I worked almost every weekend and weeknight on the project. And now I can honestly, proudly say that my kitchen remodeling project is complete! The thoughts have been freed from my mind and they now live in solid form within my condo as my new kitchen. And with that, the curse has been transformed into a blessing.
Below are a sampling of Before and After photos from the remodeling project. I hope you enjoy perusing them and that I can have you over for dinner!
Also, if you are curious, I’ve posted some photos of the project while it was under construction.