The Big Move

I’m about to show you how amazingly ugly our kitchen is.  Brace yourselves.

When we moved to Cleveland almost 2 years ago, it was a whirlwind.  We had about 5 weeks from my job offer for Mark to find a job (which he did quickly because he is brilliant at what he does), find a place to live and sell our Toledo house.  We were heartbroken over leaving our awesome 1912 bungalow in the best neighborhood ever, but it was on to bigger and better things.

DSCF0042Oh Stratford house, we miss you!

We looked to the inner-ring eastern suburbs because we like old houses and it was close to both our offices.  Plus we had friends here whom we had been close with when they lived in Toledo.  The prospect of carrying 2 mortgages was scary and we knew our budget that would allow us to do so would limit our buying options.  But we looked to purchase over rent just to see what we could find.  3 all-day visits later and we thought we found our house.  It was astonishingly like our old house and close to our friends, schools, grocery stores and the library.  The same day we decided to bid someone else also bid and, knowing our limited budget, we knew we would lose a bidding war.

So my thoughts kept circling back to a house our realtor showed me on a whim – it was just a few houses down from the dream house and way, way underpriced for the neighborhood.  The house was in severe need of cosmetic updating and Mark had only seen the dozens of photos I had snapped during my walk through.  Apparently the previous owners lived here for 35+ years and I think the last time they updated anything was during the Carter Administration. Inspections showed that although ancient, the mechanicals were in good shape so we took the plunge.  The thought was that we would hopefully sell the Toledo house within 6 months (hoping only to break even, given the market slide at the time) and then get an equity loan and update this house.  So before we moved in we removed all the nasty carpet and wallpaper with the hopes that within a few months we could afford to have professionals come refinish the unfinished but nice wood floors.  We also planned to have the plaster re-done on the first floor and have the whole interior professionally painted.

P1030350Looks pretty cute from the outside, right?

Then the market started to tank.  We sold our Toledo house after 5 months but took a 5-figure hit to do so.  Paying off that debt took about a year, which meant no updates to this house.  Now, another year later and really the only update we’ve made was to install a dishwasher in the kitchen (when we bought the house it had a portable dishwasher, the kind you have to roll over to the sink, hook up to the faucet and plug in.  After a few months it started to leak all over the place).

Anyway, I’m not someone who can’t/won’t do a bit of work in the name of updating a house.  We painted most of our old house and did several other small projects.  However the scope of what this house needs (new plaster, sand and re-finish floors, woodwork stripped and repainted, etc) is best left to professionals. Trying to tackle projects with a kid is drastically different then without one.  Plus, if I stay up to midnight or so painting one night, I’m wrecked for a week – I need my sleep.  So this house has sat basically untouched for almost 2 years.

The worst offender has always been the heinous kitchen.  It’s something we looked past because of it’s size (our Toledo kitchen was tiny).  It’s done in 1981-era country and it hurts your eyes just to look at it.  2 counters are faux woodgrain and the other has an atomic pattern on it.  Besides the aforementioned portable dishwasher it also has crappy (original?) cabinets painted country-blue with wallpaper in the insets.  Plus one wall is covered in faux brick wall paper.  It’s U.G.L.Y.  But it functions and there are other things on the list to be done before we sink tens of thousands of dollars into a complete remodel.

But, there was one thing I couldn’t take anymore.  The refrigerator wasn’t in the kitchen.  It was in the adjacent back entry/mudroom (but it’s really to small to call a mudroom, it’s more of a mud cubby).  This has always drove me crazy.  And it doesn’t make any sense.  Here – I’ll show you pictures so you can laugh at my ugly kitchen:

P1030328Behold the lovely blue cabinets and faux brick wall.  Note the portable dishwasher next to the stove.  We got rid of that about a year ago and since then M’s art easel has occupied that spot. The green box on the wall is an electric knife – klassy.

P1030330The assault of country-blue continues into the back mud cubby.  The back door is just to the left outside of the frame. This area is only about 3-feet wide and in addition to the refrigerator also houses the basement door and the smallest half-bath you’ve ever seen.  This area tends to get overrun with too many coats and shoes, not to mention that there are FOUR doors opening into this space. It’s an architectural wonder.

So, Friday night I mentioned to Mark that maybe we could fit the fridge in the space that the old dishwasher used to occupy thus opening up some real space in the mud cubby for coat and boot storage.  I wasn’t prepared for him to tackle the project Saturday morning but that’s what he did.  It involved removing one door, both fridge doors, an amazing amount of found dirt and grime behind the fridge and help from a neighbor to install a new outlet.  But by mid-afternoon it was in it’s new location.  It’s not ideal set up, and we had to really squeeze everything together so we could still open the dishwasher.  But it works and it’s so nice to actually have the refrigerator IN the kitchen.  What a novel idea.

P1060911Three appliances all in a tidy row.  Kitchen designers are falling off their chairs right now, but it works…and it will need to work for another few years (or until we win the lottery).  Maybe I should just take that damn knife down already.

P1060912The new mudroom area.  I need to find a bench with storage baskets that fits in this nook and will put coat hooks just under the cabinets.  This makes the entire entry feel so much bigger.  And believe it or not, Mark scrubbed that wall with bleach; that’s just how disgusting it was behind the fridge.

It’s small, but it’s one of the few things we can do to make things more livable until we have the money to really tackle the other projects (a new boiler has been added to that project list but we can’t do that until we have the entire electrical system updated – old houses = money pit).

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5 thoughts on “The Big Move

  1. Amy Wuest says:

    As a Ktchen Designer I am falling off my chair over that blue…You should try to win a kitchen. I just Designed a $30,000 makeover Kitchen a couple in Temperance won from Merillat. Merillat also had another contest for a $25,000 makeover that a couple in West Bloomfield Michigan won. Check out their website and Facebook page, that is where they have been posting the contests.

  2. Wait wait wait—you moved your refrigerator INTO your kitchen?? You are DESIGN MAVERICKS!!

    Our kitchen cabinets are all DARK PINE. I painted the doors white. I’m not sure it was an improvement. (We’re waiting on our lottery payments, too!)

  3. Not that your Toledo house wasn’t adorable…but your Cleveland house is so cute!

    Found you by way of Twitter…or another Cleveland mom blogger…or something like that.

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

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