The Birth of a New Kitchen

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Katie Workman in Gutted Kitchen

When kind people hear you are doing any kind of renovation, they rush to commiserate. “It always takes so much longer than they said it would,” “The dust gets everywhere,” “Add 50% to whatever they estimated it would cost,” “Are you actually living there during the construction? Oh, that sucks.”

All of the above is kind of true (though I am not sure exactly where we will land in terms of time and price; say a little prayer for me). But here’s the thing: we are redoing our kitchen! After 19 years, it’s actually happening.

katie in gutted kitchen

I have been cooking on a very inexpensive stove in a very inexpensive Ikea kitchen for 19 years. And here’s the truth:  I’ve loved it, every laminated particle board moment of it. 19 years, every day, every recipe, and it’s been GREAT. Do I get titillated by the notion of a big gorgeous, sexy kitchen with state of the art everything? Do I have suburban kitchen lust? Well, yes I do, of course I do. I’m very human, for the love of god. But have I loved my small, cheap, self-designed, prefab kitchen with its economical appliances and formica countertop? Yes, I have!

But after 19 years, things start to erode. Formica peels, doors come off their hinges, drawers refuse to open, and then once jimmied open, refuse to close, and running boards pop out revealing dark, mysterious openings under the cabinets that I won’t let my dog explore.

So we’re taking the plunge. And once that sledge hammer hit the first cabinet there was no going back. I did have a weird little lump in my throat when they took away my faithful 19 year old GE oven. My buddy. My pal. My comrade in arms.

kitchen gutted

Meanwhile, I am being a kitchen hobo, cooking hither and yon, wherever I can find heat and an unattended skillet. It’s normal to walk around with a raw chicken in your backpack, right?

So yes, we’re living in the back half of our apartment, and yes, it’s filthy (I did not know dust could get inside a box of crackers. It can.), and yes, I have made a salad on a cutting board on my child’s bed, and yes, it already looks like it’s going to take longer than we thought, and probably there will be that moment where we say something like, “Wait, you mean the cabinet hinges weren’t included in the estimate?” But at the end of this will be a brand new kitchen, a blank canvas for 19 plus more years of recipe testing, and family meals, and parties, and stovetop popcorn for movies.

And the kicker — all new appliances from GE. More to come on that later, but suffice it to say, I’M EXCITED. I wonder if my new appliances know what kind of family they’ve been adopted by? I hope they like to keep busy.

So, for the next 4 (5…6?) weeks, there will continue to be an anomalous amount of take out passing through our home, and a certain amount of dinners consisting of cereal and a piece of cheese. But oh, won’t it make the first home cooked roast beef and apple streusel pie from the new kitchen taste even more delicious.

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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