Last August, my husband and I decided to redo our kitchen. Nothing major, just some new paint, Formica on the countertops, and replacing our existing sink with an old farmhouse sink that used to be in our laundry room. Little did we know it would be anything but minor. We should have known. A 116-year-old house is bound to have its issues.
We knew from my grandmother-in-law that the kitchen had been wallpapered and then painted over, so I made plans to rent a wallpaper steamer.
Once I got it home, my husband and I filled it with water and flipped the switch. Nothing. Fifteen minutes on the phone and the sales representative decided it must be broken and told me to bring it back. When I got back to the store, the manager tried to get it work, which of course, it didn’t. On the way home, I swung by another do it yourself store and rented another machine.
In the time it took me to drive to Middletown and back, my husband had gotten impatient and attempted to scrape the paint laden wallpaper only to discover it was not one layer, but two layers of paint and wallpaper separating us from the horsehair plaster we so desperately wanted to see.
Luckily, the second steamer worked, but it did little good soaking through layers of wallpaper, then paint, then wallpaper, then paint again!
So again, off I went to town to buy some wallpaper scorers. As I pulled back into the driveway of my home, I overheard a torrent of swear words I dare not repeat. Ever. As I walked into the house, I realized the small 13-inch television we had on the counter is on the table while its cord is clear across the room.
As my husband was scraping, he bumped the TV table and, as it fell, he grabbed for the cord and it popped right out of the back of the television. So, for a third time, I headed into town.
Although by this time, I was thankful to be missing the flurry of foul language as my husband cursed his ancestors and those who owned our house before us.
When I got home, I rejoined my husband and continued scraping. At one point, we were so tired that I cried quietly while I scraped thinking about the movie The Money Pit and my husband muttered under his breath about there never being another piece of wallpaper to come through this house. After about seven hours of steaming, scoring and scraping, we finally stripped the whole room of wallpaper and picked up the re-glued bits off the floor.
Exhausted, our fingers worn raw, and with bits of wallpaper still stuck all over us, we retreated for the night determined that although the wallpaper had won the battle, we were determined to win the kitchen war of Formica placing and sink moving that awaited us in the days ahead.
We got up early the next morning and after a quick run to pick up some plywood, and with renewed gusto, we continued our kitchen transformation project.
My husband ripped out part of the counter that contained our existing sink and with the help of a friend, put the “new” sink in place. (Oddly enough, our “new sink is original to house while our “old” sink was put in back in the 1950’s.) Once the Formica was measured and cut out (which is one of the world’s worst smells by the way), my husband and I glued it down and said a little prayer. We spent the next two days painting the walls and the cabinet doors a color that we thought was autumn-y and New England-y.
Once it was all finished, we sat back and admired our hard work knowing that we had not only done the job ourselves and could proudly show it off to family and friends, but that we had created a great story to tell people when they saw it.
It made us realize that if we can make it through this; we can make it through just about anything! We also swore off all home improvement projects for the foreseeable future.
Although, our bathroom is starting to look like it could use a little work.