Yet Another Journal

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» Monday, March 11, 2002
Adventures in Cabinetry

Well, not really. I can construct one hell of a paperback bookcase, given the wood already cut, but that’s about it. James’ talents fall into computers and detail work on small plastic aircraft. Woodworkers we ain’t, even if we had Room by Room’s Matt Fox’s neat scrollsaws.

However, we’ve been bound and determined to do something about our kitchen.

There’s so much we can’t do at the moment because...well, simply because the thought is overwhelming. The house was built in the early 80s, which ought to give you a clue about how it looks: leftover “earthtones” from the 70s. Ugh. The only good thing that came out of “earthtones” was the neat “Coppertone” finish they used to have on stoves and refrigerators. I’m sure our kitchen looked chic in 1980. Now it just looks dreadful. The cabinets are a nice cinnamon brown, but are stained--they probably can be restored with liberal applications of Murphy’s oil soap. All the hardware needs replacing, though. The floor is dark brown. Worse, the room is wallpapered in an ugly brown-and-olive green print of teapots and plants on what used to be off-white or beige or some such ugly color. The paper looked like it was never properly edged and is curling up (it’s especially bad when it’s damp). We’d strip it off, but--guess what, that won’t be easy! Not only isn’t it strippable paper, but the dimwits who built the house didn’t prime under the paper before putting it up, so the paper is directly on the drywall. Dimwitted and cheap, I see.

It is a fairly large kitchen, at least, compared to what I grew up with. And last September at the Yellow Daisy Festival we bought a gorgeous solid wood table and chair set from a woodcrafter in Alabama that has been a real plus.

But lately our biggest problem has been storage. James loves to cook and over the years we have accumulated many cooking gadgets. Some need to get culled, but more we use. And there is not enough cupboard space. In the house I grew up in, the cupboards went all the way up to the ceiling. Ours have a stupid “soffit” or whatever that flat board is across the top of the cabinets. You’re supposed to put a wall border or something decorative up there. As far as I’m concerned it’s wasted space.

We also like to stock up on groceries when there are sales or coupons. The cupboard next to the stove (and half of the one on the other side) is usually crammed full. To take care of the packaged foods, we had a small bookcase serving as a pantry. Most of the time it was overflowing and big boxes of things like James' Ritz crackers had to be stored on the kitchen table.

A year or so ago, we saw a wonderful cabinet at Costco, not quite six feet high, 15 inches deep, and at least 30 inches across, white laminate (“MDF,” the favorite building material of one of our media DIY heroes, “Handy Andy” on Changing Rooms), divided into an upper and lower sections with three shelves in each and a drawer in the lower half, with double doors on each level. We fell in love but didn’t have the $99 to buy. By the time we were in the market, Costco no longer stocked them.

However, they recently reappeared again at Sam’s, so yesterday we bought one, and, while the “nice fellow” was upstairs (see previous report) pounding and drilling and scraping up in our master bath, we were downstairs assembling the cabinet. It was fairly easy; James loves the camlock gadgets that make fastening the shelves together so simple. The doors are a bit tilted out of square, but the whole effect is very nice and neat and bright (the kitchen is in the back of the house and gets sunlight only in the early hours of the morning; it’s usually very dark). I plan to decorate it with apple "Wallies" (wallpaper appiques) as the kitchen theme will eventually be--oh, someday!--apples and cows against a mint-green wall color.

Then we had the fun of deciding what type of food would go on each shelf and filling it up. There’s a shelf for the “Ronis,” Pasta and Rice-a. A shelf for cake mixes, muffins, breadmixes, and other baking stuff. One shelf solely for the plastic dog food containers we rinsed out and now use for bulk pasta, noodles, and TVP. Etc. The cupboard fit everything we had in the bookcase, plus stuff from the three-shelf wire rack, and a few things from on top of the microwave.

Now that we have one, we want another! I was planning to get a china cabinet from Kmart (another product of MDF), but one of these cabinets will be larger and will fit things we can’t get in any of the built-in cupboards now, like large platters. It will also do a lot to ease storage problems in other areas of the kitchen. If we work it right, we could even do something “radical” like keeping tea and cocoa and instant soup near the Hot Shot where it would be--gasp!--convenient! What a concept!