The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

Is It Really Worth Fighting For?

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From the very first time Nat and I set eyes on this home, we knew there would be renovations to be done. However, once we actually moved in, it became very apparent the renovations were going to be more extensive than first thought.

The main bathroom vanity was too short, the tub and sink were lopsided and smoke burns scattered around, along with a scratched and torn floor hidden by scatter rugs. A huge poplar tree looked as if it was about to crash down upon the roof. The back deck was barely hanging on by its own railing. The front walkway was hidden by foliage and soil. The garage door would open on good days. The driveway looked as if an 18-Wheeler had driven on it. The front and back yards were obviously hiding building materials left from the original build – the lumpy, bumpy parts were everywhere. Oh, and I musn’t forget about that bloody sump pump about to flow over its banks during a huge rain storm as Nat and I bailed bucket-upon-bucket of water at 2:30 AM.

This really doesn’t sound very appealing, but time after time some unexpected little thing kept cropping its head in need of repair. Naturally, every extra penny we hoped on using for planned renovations began to disappear on things around the house we hadn’t expected. The extra money we borrowed dissipated bit-by-bit over the last seven or so years. Alas, the pot has been drained and no money left for the only thing I hoped would get done – a new Kitchen. We do, however, have a lovely front walkway, back walkway, large-sized deck, new upstairs bathroom, new downstairs bathroom, new air-conditioner, new generator (well worth the money, and I don’t regret), new driveway with stone border, new garage door (again, really needed), etc.

I realize most of these items were required to prevent any future problems from occurring that would  be even more expensive to repair. One or two items, I will admit, could have been done further down the road, but at the time were agreed upon because at the time the money was there.

With each passing project I watched as our funds were drained and a new kitchen was now becoming virtually unaffordable – and still is. Every now and again I’d broach the subject with Nat and discussions would ensue regarding the whys and why nots. Nat (along with some other family members) couldn’t always see the reasoning behind any kitchen renovations. The kitchen (to them) seems to be alright. My argument – it’s not them that has to work in it, bake in it, clean it or even put up with its lack of storage.

I broached the subject one last time this year. Without hesitation arguments ensued, discussions were held, tears were shed and misunderstandings abounded. Nat knows any reno money is gone and is concerned, as he should be, about how we would pay for this huge project. He also has a huge misunderstanding of why I even want to tackle such a thing now. My answer – he’s had his turn so now it’s mine to get something done around this house that I’m going to enjoy. He should also realize that the kitchen was on our “priority List” when we first moved in. Somehow, during the years, it just kept being put on the back burner, hoping it would go away. He also doesn’t understand – if it ain’t broke,  why fix it – an old school attitude that I’ve never followed. Again, we bought this house to “make it ours’” and trust me, the kitchen is nowhere near what I would have planned on. The exterior of the house looks wonderful (Nat’s projects and renos), but the interior still needs new carpets in a couple rooms, a couple ceiling light fixtures, and other little small things that any man can easily ignore because he can’t see the whole picture – a complete look. Men never think about the little things that make a house a home – and Nat is no exception at times.

The arguments and debates went on for days. Sometimes I was afraid to bring up the subject. We tossed ideas back and forth and he explained what had to be done and questioned how we could redesign the kitchen in order to get rid of a certain corner and shelf that are a complete waste of space. Nat was fighting me (or so it seemed) on every front and, I never realized why, until he confessed what his little brain was thinking about. How we would finance this whole thing. Once all the options were explored and cooler minds prevailed, he finally suggested we call our contractor to pick his brains and come up with some ideas that would be feasible and relatively inexpensive. We would then take his ideas and measurements to Ikea and  Home Depot for plans and cost.

Simon certainly came up with an unexpected re-design that would increase cupboard space, countertop space and even add two extra cabinets and countertop on the north wall. I, naturally, was ecstatic and everything sounded kind of quick and easy to do. What were the odds – they wouldn’t be that quick, that easy or even that inexpensive. Possible problems, more shortfalls, and unforeseen scenarios kept cropping up. There were times I was beginning to doubt this whole thing would even go ahead. Worried about money, stress and frustration I was on the verge of throwing up my hands and saying “just forget about it!!”.  This, however, would really piss off dear hubby after all of the arguments and discussions and finally coming to terms with going ahead.

Finally, we took a day trip to Ikea to get their help and advice. Unexpectedly, the kitchen department was full of other people with the same ideas. The staff even admitted this was quite unusual for a Tuesday afternoon. We were shown a computer monitor, and as I had already tried out their kitchen planning program at home, logged in and were shown the basics of how to begin. It took more time than we expected, but we were able to come up with a half-decent design we really liked and after final consultation headed for home to let everything sink in. We would also head over to Home Depot for their help and expertise another day.

With more discussions, measurements and tweeks, we did, in fact, go to Home Depot and had a really nice experience going through the whole process of a similar design to what we had in mind. Not mentioning that we had already been to Ikea, we were absolutely shocked with the final cost – almost twice the price of Ikea – but, naturally, gorgeous with its added crown molding, specialty cabinets and other small accessories. Their price, however, did NOT include any handles, knobs, crown molding and countertop – the price just included the built-up cabinetry. Our jaws dropped (not in front of the sales rep, of course).

Now that our brains were totally fried on how much this little enterprise was going to be, we mulled over the pros and cons. We’ll call our contractor again to see what his estimate(s) would be for installation and take things from there as to which way to go. If we went with Ikea we’d have to build up all the cabinetry ourselves, along with storing them until installation can take place. Installation is quick and relatively easy, but until that time we’re going to have built-up cabinets hanging from the ceiling. We’ll have to clear out the entire kitchen in order to lay the new flooring (which we’ll also extend to the dining room). There will be box upon box upon box in the garage and wherever else there’s space. Nat thinks he’s sure he can assemble the cabinetry, but it’s going to take a lot of patience and good temperament which Nat doesn’t always have. I’m more than willing to help, but if you know our history that’s not always a “good” thing!!

The Home Depot way is more expensive, but everything is completely done and delivered. The cabinetry comes assembled but takes a bit more labour for installation. We’ll have a little extra leg work in picking out accessories, but that’s less labour intensive. Plus our contractor is proficient in cabinetry installation, and has never worked with Ikea’s program. More money, but so much less stress and effort on our part. That alone is worth some extra bucks!!

We’ll continue to mull things over, wait for our contractor’s further help, and hopefully one of these days a final plan will be put in place. For that alone, I can’t wait. My brain is doing a square dance in my head – partner left, partner right, dozy doh – and making decisions, especially right ones, has never been my forte´. Let’s pray, shall we!!!

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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