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June 17, 2010

If You Can’t Stand the Tile, Stay Out of the Kitchen

I hate my kitchen. Really. And. Truly. It’s the only thing about my house that I genuinely despise.

I live in Silicon Valley, where the price per square foot is ridiculously off the chart in comparison with the rest of the country, so even a small dwelling bears a price tag that would indicate that you must be rich and famous elsewhere.

Like wizened billionaires, my kitchen is unattractive and ugly. It’s small and narrow; two people have to choreographtheir moves to stay out of each other’s way. You can’t open the unusually small oven door if you are getting something out of the refrigerator (fortunately, I don’t have this conflict often). Functionally, it does what it’s supposed to. There’s a fridge (actually two since there are six of us), a double oven, and a range top that’s exactly like the one in Graceland. Yep, I can cook like the King. How long has that guy been dead, anyway?

We’ve lived in our house 15 years and survived one remodeling project. At the time, we had one teenager, two 5-year-olds, and a 4-year-old. It wasn’t a drastic tear-it-down-to-the-studs remodel, so we continued to live in our house, which is sort of like running a race in a sack.

That was about a decade ago, and by the time we were just about to get around to the kitchen, the remodeling funds ran out. Which was OK because we were so sick of the remodeling process (which always takes longer and is more expensive than originally planned), we just wanted to be done and have our house back again.

So the gleaming orange tile with its dark grout mocks me every time I come into the narrow path between the counter spaces. It says, “Ha ha, someone got me cheap in the 70s, and I’ve outlasted them. I will outlast you too. Nothing rhymes with orange, and damned little coordinates with it.” So, I have done my best to obscure as much counter space as possible with various kitchen paraphernalia and piles of junk. Clutter comes naturally to me, and in this case, it is a mixed blessing because of the tradeoff of rare working space versus hiding the ugliness.

I have made the best attempt possible to turn that negative aspect into a positive one, pretending that the orange was intentional, and finding accents such as a matching throw rug, chili pepper switchplates, and even had chili ristras hand painted on a wall. I tried. I still hate that ugly, ugly tile.

A couple of years ago, I harnessed my passion for travel into a career and went from being a technical editor (good with words) to being a travel agent (awesome with planning and way more fun). As a result, my family is always going to some great destination, enjoying quality time together, and spending whatever money could be used to get rid of that tile that glows like a burning ember in my annoyance. It waits for my return, and silently has the last laugh because it knows it will be intact for awhile more.

I know that eventually, we’ll put the house up for sale and probably remodel the kitchen to attract buyers. I have to wonder about that idea, fearing I’ll fall in love with my kitchen just as I’m about to find someplace else to live. Maybe I'll find something cheap..and trendy for the time it's installed.

This is an original post to 50-Something Moms Blog.