My kitchen is original to our 1972 house. It is like walking into a time warp…When I first saw it I thought the same thing you see all those people say on “House Hunters” or shows like that…I thought “oh, that ugly old kitchen needs to be updated”.
I’ve lived in this house now for 14 years…guess what…the kitchen still hasn’t been updated. So did it actually “need” to be updated? or did it just “look” like it needed to be updated? Meaning, was is physically worn out? Or were the colors and style of the décor just not ‘the latest trend’?
Well, it turns out, the kitchen didn’t ‘need’ updating. The counters still work for food prep, the oven works, the stove works, those old dark cabinets are extremely sturdy and hold a lot of dishes and cooking equipment. Basically, everything works, and although the layout could be improved to take better advantage of the space, the current arrangement works fine…actually it works really well.
So as time went by, and I hadn’t done any updating, I began appreciating the kitchen I had. When something actually breaks, we fix it, or replace it…like the dishwasher and fridge when they broke down (replaced with an energy star models…and some appliances definitely should be replaced with newer more efficient ones even if they aren’t completely broken, like refrigerators, they are huge energy hogs…I’ll write another post about that sometime).
After getting started with our Sprawlstainable blog, and becoming more appreciative of the aesthetic of sustainability, I began to see my old kitchen as a symbol of anti-consumerism. As a designer by trade, I have the kitchen ‘redesign’ all worked out in AutoCAD…I’ve had it laid out and designed for years. Would it look awesome? Yes, I’m sure it would.
Right now I appreciate the kitchen I have. I appreciate the energy and materials that went into my kitchen. I wonder sometimes, when people discuss things like counter tops and I hear them say that such and such material is great because it lasts ‘forever’. I think, so do they thing that it will stay “in style” forever? because I’m sure it won’t. It really bugs me to see very durable materials taken out of a home just to be replaced with something that looks more ‘modern’.
My countertops are Formica from 1972. They are great, even if they are harvest gold. They are easy to clean and hard to stain. They are 43 yeas old and don’t have any stains…they are a little uneven, and the trim in one place is coming off a bit, but, all in all, I would have to say that these countertops were made VERY well. I wonder if laminate counter tops are made anywhere near that good anymore? I really hate when I do have to replace something that lasted 43 years and the replacement doesn’t even last 5.
We live in such a throw away society, everything from paper plates to cabinets, to people. Keeping what you have and taking care of it is a value many people have lost. I for one think that caring for and appreciating what you have is part of the ‘conscious and simple’ life. It is respectful to future generations and past generations.
So back to my ugly kitchen. Well, I don’t think it is so ugly any more…I think it is quite beautiful, and very reflective of my inner values, even if it doesn’t reflect my design style.