A sketchbook for The Roving Home (.com)

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Interiors: The One-Hundred Dollar Makeover

Today’s Friday Interiors Feature: a glimpse of my own abode. 

Yes, I realize this kitchen could look even better had I invested in new finishes and appliances (not to mention new cabinets and floor), but I wanted to see how much style I could squeeze out of a fistfull of dollars. 

And that’s pretty much it. We repainted the walls, painted the lower cabinets black and changed the drawer pulls to stainless steel single pulls, put up shelves, hung amazing screenprinted napkins as cafe curtains, piled all-white diner dishware on the shelves, placed a vintage school clock over the stove, and called it a day. 

I saw photos of Thomas O’Brien’s country house and realized I managed an extremely downmarket (I skipped the marble backsplash and the subway tile) version of his kitchen, which thrilled my aspirational little heart.  But I must admit somewhat reluctantly that economizing is not the point here - the point is to attempt to create beauty no matter how severe your limitations.  I tend to live in a Someday State of Mind.  I will re-do my kitchen, I tell myself, when I can buy a hand-hammered steel hood and travel to Carrara to pick out a sheet of that very nice marble they are digging out of the ground there.  I live in a make-believe house-decorating world, creating a narrative about the artisan I will someday commission to build a table for me out of a single slab of old growth hardwood and the monogrammed linens I will place on my bed or even the commercial-grade baking pan I will buy so that every cookie I make will be crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside. 

So in taking on this project, in spending my minimal dollars for maximum impact, I made strides in moving out of the world of the Someday and into the Now.  This is not the kitchen I would have pasted into my scrapbook as The One, but it is the kitchen I would have actually married, if you follow my metaphor.   Sometimes what feels like settling is, in reality, growing up.  Taking a step forward into understanding that life is not given to handing you the ideal, whether this involves your health, your friendships, your family, or yes, your kitchen.  And if you wait around for the ideal to manifest itself, you might grow old in an ugly kitchen.

So hobble forward!  Do the best you can in the present even if it pales in comparison to what you imagine is in your future!  Tear out those upper cabinets, rip off that wallpaper, pull up that carpet and, most of all, throw out those crummy sheet pans responsible for so many burnt cookies.  By taking half-measures you’re at least doing something.

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