I love shifting my stuff around. Like a goldfish in a bowl, I move around the furniture in my home way more often than most people who aren't living in mobile homes. Bedrooms are flipped around every four or five months, my living room has seen at least 40 layouts in seven years, and my mind is constantly thinking about how I can move things around even more.
I live in a rental home in the back of a parking lot next to a little strip mall in a small suburban town in Connecticut. The homes in my town vary in size and price, but it has its fair share of multi-million dollar homes featured in monthly magazine spreads. My home is a little crooked duplex with drafty windows, walls that crumble a little when I pound nails in them, and a backyard made of brush and limbs that have fallen over the decades. It's one of the least expensive places I could possibly live in this town and I've lived here for about eight years. My landlord is a decent man who has managed to retain his decency even in the darkest of times. The house is lopsided, the cellar visible through the cracks in the floor, but we like it here.
Though my home isn't like many in the surrounding area, I've made an effort to make it better from the moment I moved in. Most recently, I did two room "renovations" that have served to shift my mood and so much more of my thinking. In fact, I'm sitting in front of my computer right now because I'm in a special place. This special place isn't physical (yet), but a mental state that has come because I've had a good shift.
What is a good shift? A good shift is one that clears the blockage. It's like a kale smoothie for your mind, body, and soul. Having a good shift opens up your flow. It unclogs the way you feel when what is around you has been picked up, moved around, and seen differently.
I Took A Big Shift In The Kitchen
I've always enjoyed cooking. I'm the mother of a 20-year-old woman and even today, I made her a meal that I plated as if she were a toddler. I cook for her often, but recently, I realized how I had started disliking cooking at all. I hated being in my kitchen. It was an eyesore to look at. It was a shock to be in. I don't blame anyone else for this condition except for myself, though.
Rewind five years ago and my first decision to upgrade the stove in my kitchen from the rental one that was in the place to a stainless-steel oven with a convection feature. Yay, me! Then, that lead to the fridge that had to match. I told myself that it was worth it and since I was going to stay here for a long time that a new fridge that matched my stove would work and would be worth the price. However, this didn't fit with my nasty floors nor the plain white walls. In the end, I painted the walls two horrible colors and the cabinets an even worse one. My friend Ed put in a new laminate floor that looks like wood (the only good part of that mess). Cat (my daughter) absolutely hated it and I tried to convince myself that it was great. But, every morning when I walked into the burnt orange wall of my kitchen and opened the blurple cabinets, I cringed on the inside.
So, in a fit of coffee pods I picked up from Walmart and the determination to make a massive change, I woke up on a mission: change my kitchen.
The Goal: Take my kitchen from this post-apocalyptic nightmare I created to a fun and airy kitchen that I wanted to be in.
The problems: I didn't have a lot of money to spend, I'm my only handyman, and I had only 72 hours to get it done. The time thing wasn't so much a reality, but in my mind, I like to pretend I'm on a home show and I'm the designer with a limited window to get the task done.
How did I do it?
When it comes to organizing, I'm a viking. I take everything out of the space I need to organize and put it in the middle of the room or in other spaces. I make it so uncomfortable for myself and everyone else in my home to exist until I sort it all out. With my kitchen, I decided that something had to change and this is how I started. I pulled everything out of the cabinets and took it into the living room. After having some things in the cabinet for quite some time, it was a bit of a chore to get the initial cleaning done. Once I had a blank slate of what was in my kitchen, I went through what I took out to decide if I loved it, needed it, used it, or if it was just old.
From this new place of knowing what was going to be in my kitchen, I decided to make the biggest change of all and that was to commit to removing the cabinet doors. This decision was what set me off to Home Depot for paint.
A normal person would have a color in mind before they went to the store to buy paint, but I'm not going to call myself normal for this or any other purpose. Cat had suggested we do a green and had shared a few photos of Dakota Johnson's kitchen. Since I had tortured her with the orange and blurbple color scheme for the past six years, I did have green in mind when I stared at the paint squares. After two minutes, I settled on a quart of paint for the cabinets, went searching for Contact paper for the shelves, new cabinet knobs, and was in and out within 30 minutes.
Back at The Ranch
Once home, I said a little prayer that the paint that was said to be Paint and Primer in one would actually live up to its name and cover the orange.
Well, it did! For the walls, I went with a clean and crisp white (BEHR Marquee. After years of the gray walls with the massive orange one, I needed to see bright and natural all around me. From the first stroke of paint, I felt confident. I also knew that this was going to be a long night.
I'm one of those people who starts a project and can't stop until it's to a point where I'm sort of satisfied. Or, when my body can no longer move properly. For this project that I started on the Sunday before the new year, I opted to go until my legs were dragging and I was moaning to myself in pain. I was also making a shitty amount of noise and was really grateful I don't have neighbors at the moment (Cat wasn't thrilled and told me so the next morning with bags under her eyes.)
Finishing up the painting of the walls around 1:30 and my cup of coffee sort of kicking in, I moved onto the cabinets. With the doors removed and stored beneath the stairs, I figured painting the trim would be easy work. Of course, I was wrong. I prepped them by wiping them down with a wet cloth and then going over them again with a bit of alcohol because they were way greasy and gross.
Once I painted the trim, I also painted the undersides of all of the shelves.
After all of the trim dried, I measured the backs of the shelves for the Contact Paper. It was totally unnecessary to have it there, but something about having a little bit of bright pattern felt right. I did the paper after the trim because it was a lot easier to cover up my messy paint work. Sleeping at this point would have made sense. So, I did right after I painted the fronts of the lower cabinets.
Made it to bed at around 4:21. Oh, the thug life.
The Next Day
I woke up with a sore body, but so much happiness in my heart. I grabbed a cup of coffee and finished the cabinet fronts for the bottom. The best part was putting everything back together from the living room. I knew that all I wanted was to retain a sense or order at all times. Since it visually couldn't get messy or I'd freak, I decided to move the majority of my pantry items to baskets under my island cart. I don't know why it never dawned on me to use it this way, but it's ideal. The baskets hold my canned goods and mixes. I can see what I have and what I don't have so much easier than cabinets that can get overrun with old food.
In the afternoon, the sticky paper for the counters came from Amazon. It's a butcher block print that isn't the real thing by a long shot, but it took me about an hour to properly lay it down on my counters. It's visually so much more appealing and was necessary with the new color.
Cat Loved It
Since my daughter hated the original color, her opinion on the transformation was the most important opinion to me. When she woke up the next morning and saw it, she smiled. In fact, she even cooked two meals in it in one day. Though it's going to be a struggle at times on getting the dishes organized the way I like them, it's getting there. This big shift in my kitchen was such a necessary movement. I fell happy when I walk in every morning for my cup of coffee. Cooking is so much easier and even my plants are loving life in their new space. The bright white soaks up light and bounces it all around the room. I'm even thinking of doing my own cooking show.
Though I don't have that million dollar home just yet, I'm happy to make my home into a little spot of beauty for the two of us.