My money or my life?

Since I’m doing this whole “live happily in whatever I happen to feel” thing, I’ve been able to confront some sources of stress directly, which fits well with “the year of not losing my shit.”

I have Baby Lust.

Definition: I can imagine my own child and the idea makes me happy.  My first reaction to the idea isn’t immediate denial.  I’m ready to say things like, “when we have a baby,” “before we get pregnant” and “let’s talk about when we think we should have kids” without wanting to puke.


This doesn’t, however, mean I want us to get pregnant now.  Sure, my hormones and biological clock sometimes want to take my husband up on his offer to “try right now” (is that a man thing?), but accepting who I am means we need to make my practical side comfortable so I don’t later lose my shit.  I freaked out about never being able to afford remodeling the kitchen because we’d first have to replace the roof, which has to follow adding on a bathroom, which we can’t do until we fix the foundation, all of which means MORE FREAKING MONEY – ARGH.

Why do we have to remodel the kitchen to have a baby?

Because I know us, and I know me, and I know him.  We can’t handle more than one cause of stress at a time.  I can’t handle having a half-finished house while trying to entertain visitors and live a semi-clean existence; visitors are non-negotiable when you’re having your first child and your family lives across the country.  He can’t work on more than one project at a time and finish any of them.

The kitchen remodel has become a symbol of our readiness, then, because we will have tackled yet another house project (proving we’ve learned how to work together… mostly) costing beau coup bucks (meaning we can save money) that is the culmination of all of the big house changes we have left (make basement habitable so we can move there while refinishing the hardwood floors on the main floor including ripping out and replacing the kitchen floor, a project that can only be completed after we’ve replaced the ceiling, and dealt with the cabinetry).

We made a budget that has us having the money to do all of the above by the end of the year (score!) while beefing up our emergency fund, paying for my Lasix surgery and giving Joey some fun money to blow (since I bought my lovely and totally unnecessary D90).

And now I have a good reason to get my proposed plans together for the basement, main-floor hardwood floors and kitchen!

Before (and, ahem, current):

Guiding principles:

Upper cabinets are the devil. (I’m five feet tall.  Upper cabinets are unusable, embarrassingly out of reach, and cause things to topple onto my head.)

Keep everything that’s made better than we could buy. The cabinet structure is solid wood, and… okay, maybe that’s all we’d keep.

Spend money for indestructible and kid-/ pet-/ slobby Marisa- friendly materials. Slate floors, stainless steel counters with built-in drainboards, and dark lower cabinets are all good choices.

Happy beats elegant. We’re drawn to light, bright, pop-y spaces.

(source unknown but obviously super-awesome)

Storage, storage, storage. I want the empty wall to have built-in storage.


This color scheme and feeling, pretty please!  It’s modern, bright, and blue.  Of course, I don’t want wood counters or blue lower cabinets, never mind the overly-country-ness of the cabinets themselves and the inappropriateness of white floors with two messy people and seven animals, but I love the idea.

(Aquavitae Design)

I want a stainless steel counter with built-in sink and drainboard exactly like this.  And no upper cabinets. (Did I mention how much I detest upper-level cabinets?)

(source unknown)

Okay, maybe I do like blue cabinets in practice even though the idea weirds me out.  I love, love, love this kitchen.  Did you notice the peek-a-boo windows?  Fabulous.  Replace the black counters with stainless and I’m in heaven.

(From Northwest Home, apparently)

I’d like the opposite (currently blank) wall to be like the picture below, though I’m not sure it fits with the two pictures above.  What I like: open shelving, an extra work surface, the sleek lines, and contrast of the dark walls and light cabinets.  I’d use chalkboard paint instead of flat black, though.

(from Apartment Therapy)

Like this:

(also from Apartment Therapy)

Basically, this layout with a different color scheme but the same level of drama.  And nothing overhead.  (HA, I know.)

Now I need to figure out the layout.  The old stove is too wide (it’s an old, inefficient behemoth) and the refrigerator opening is too narrow.  We could switch them, move the cabinets, trim the cabinets on one side and add a few on the other, or redo the layout altogether.  For reasons of cheapness (hi, have we met?) I’m leaning toward leaving the cabinets and layout as-is.  I think.

What do you think?  Anyone want to make recommendations and/ or suggest good (cheap!) software for playing with kitchen layouts?


12 thoughts on “My money or my life?

  1. Hi there lady friend – can I tell you how much I’m jumping up and down right now??? Can I? Does ikea have layout option software-ish stuff? Or I’m sure that there’s the google version of design software that you can use (see Morgan at The Brick House).

    However, since I’m newly unemployed, and with a summer at my beck and call (with a very bug-y backyard) consider my design services at your disposal. However, clearly I understand that part of the fun is that you can tinker with things yourself, but be sure to do a little research into the general organization of kitchens – ie: the different prep/cook/yadda yadda areas. Heck, maybe go and use Home Depots free layout design and then walk away and do your own thing. Then at least you can use their knowledge to get the ball rolling.

    As a matter of fact, I’m pushing to paint our rental kitchen cabinets black (glossy, not matte – for washabilities sake) and everything else white. with butchers block. yum. (*its a rental – cute and paint are all I can do…)

  2. Also – keep the cabinets, rearrange them and then paint. Yes, they’re solid wood, which is a great thing. Then get whatever you need built into them (shelves, additional drawers, etc)

    • @Liz, Yup, figured that’s what we’d do. I’m leaning toward leaving the cabinet structure in wood (sand down the awful FAKE WOOD thing they put ON TOP OF THE REAL WOOD) and add painted doors/ drawers. Get this: they did solid wood for the structure and plywood for the doors. Men.

      I don’t think I want to mess with the layout, frankly. It may not be ideal but it works, and moving things around will make it more complicated and costly. Someday I’ll diagram it and post it here.

  3. Believe it or not IKEA has a pretty good software for layouts. We used it when we were re-designing our kitchen earlier this year and it made meeting with vendors a lot easier. Plus, I’m an anxious perfectionist (Hi! Have we met?!) so it allowed me to change, move, manipulate at will until I was happy. Love your ideas for dark lower cabinets … I lust after gray. Good luck!

  4. Oh, I love, love, love open shelving….but I hate dusting and I hate grime which is the combination of kitchen grease and dust that is next to impossible to get off/out of things without some major elbow grease. Thought I would mention those things since you keep referring to yourself as messy.

  5. I love all the inspiration. I wish we had gotten a drainboard. Air drying and gettin water (and water marks) drive me insane! I really wanted shelves (hello! fellow shorty) but Micah asked me if I’d like it in 25 years and I wasnt sure I would. We went with drawers instead of lower cabinets and it made all the difference. There’s not very much I need in the upper cabinets.

  6. I second Catherine’s drawers as lower cabinets, they’re totally awesome for us vertically challenged folks (I’m 5’2, my mom is 5’3). My parents had them put in and they’re so much better than cabinets, you can utilize the whole space! If you google around, you’ll find places that can retrofit cabinets to have drawers instead of shelves in them, and then just keep bulky stuff (I’m thinking cereal and flour bins) in the top.

    I’ve never tried the Ikea software, but I’m a huge fan of graphing paper and scaled paper cut outs of everything, but I’m old school…..

    PS- I have baby lust too, and we’re not even getting married until October!

  7. Me too on the baby lust. Love the dark cabinets idea and also being short, I hate upper cabinets as well! We’re still figuring out the timing of house buying before we can figure out where we need to live/be with house renovations/etc in order to have a baby. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it…

  8. Oh how fun! I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that my kitchen won’t be done until after our kid(s) go to college. (yes the ones that aren’t born yet) So I’ll continue to live in what I call our ‘builder’s grade double wide quality’ kitchen. Boo. I hate it. But there’s just so much else on the list. Like built in cabinets, finishing the bonus room, a deck/porch, shed, bathrooms (that still have wallpaper on them!) etc etc. Oh yeah and I hear kids cost lots of money – we’ll find out soon.

    I’m the oppsite – at 5′ 7″ one of my requirements is raising the counter height at least an inch so my back doesn’t hurt so bad when I’m ‘cutting’. Or maybe we’ll just do this to the island we will one day have 🙂

    I love your inspiration photos. Love open shelving (but hubby won’t go for it). I can’t wait to follow along with the process!

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