So, there are a number of reasons I haven't been posting much, but the one big, overwhelming reason is that I just don't cook that much any more. It's summer. It's hot. I get grumpy and lazy. I've been hiding in my air-conditioned bedroom, eating cherries, cereal and ice cream, letting the kitchen itself bake under the beating sun. You see, my kitchen is a later add-on to a Civil-War-era building, and it isn't particularly insulated from the elements. In the winter, it's cold, in the summer, sweltering. So even cooking that's really just chopping - the gazpachos and salads and sorbets that make up the backbone of summer food - is rather unpleasant. Who wants to stand in a sweatbox and chop vegetables? I order pizza, eat it at my computer. Swear quietly. Remember that summer will eventually end, and there will be a day - good God Almighty, there will! - when I can braise again!
So of course, I figured it was time to paint the kitchen. I wasn't using it, after all.
The smart person might point out that painting a kitchen is a far, far sweatier job that making gazpacho in it. This is true. But my kitchen-resentment had reached a boil, so to speak. For my kitchen was not only hot. It was ugly.
"Ugly, you say?"
Yes. Truly, deeply ugly. Behold.
Now the heart of the hideousness is clearly the walls. Whatever possessed a whole generation of landlords to cover endless walls in plastic, brown, faux-wood-panelling? I can live with the always-dirty-looking-even-after-I-just-washed-it linoleum. I can live with the Office-Space-drop-ceiling-of-despair. I can even live with the rust-crusted stove that tips forward so much sauce pools in the front of pans (NOT SHOWN for the protection of your innocent eyes). But the panelling was making me crazy - a sort of Grossman's Discount Buildling Supplies version of the Yellow Wallpaper.
So I painted, heat and all. Generally, I'm not a big fan of the "slather everything in white paint and be done with it" approach to decorating, but given the limitations of my rental, this was the best option. I painted those brown walls white. I also used white paint on two bookcases and a cd rack that I had left neglected because the whole faux-wood-panelling thing left me too despairing to bother with trying to make anything else in the room nice. I painted the distressed blue cabinet (which had worked in an earlier apartment, but not here), the girliest of pinks. Why? Because I'm a girl who lives alone and I can, damnit! I threw out most of the stuff under the "sideboard" (really a desk I scavenged from the sidewalk and topped with a great piece of granite my old roommate got for me from some friend who worked at a quarry) and took off the tablecloth that had been hiding the mess. I took down some of the excess from the walls. I hung white shelves to match the white walls. I hit Target, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and AJ Wrights (nothing but the best 'round here) in a desperate search for affordable, decent looking curtains. I gave up and bought some calico for $3/yard and made the world's simplest cafe curtains. And here it is, my new kitchen, the $120 remodel, a fine example of nana-chic:
The current fad for kitchens is some weird boardroom/factory/Tuscan villa cross. Lots of expensive masters-of-the-universe materials like granite and cherry, combined with brushed steel appliances of a size and quality intended for 24-hour-a-day production lines, and everything "softened" by the application of a bit of yellow wash on the walls and a few cans of olive oil. The design magazines are full of these places, and they bore me to tears. The message they send is one of power and money - I can afford the same equipment I see in the restaurant kitchens featured on the Food Network, I can afford to put tropical woods in places that will daily get splattered with tomato sauce. Blah, blah, blah. In contrast, the message of the white-painted kitchens of our grandmothers was both more modest and more impressive: I can keep this shit CLEAN.
Ever since I painted the table white, I've been wiping paw prints. I had no idea the cats spent so much time on the kitchen table in my absence. Now I have the dirty, dirty evidence. I'm worried about anyone coming into the apartment without notice: Hiu, nice to see you, come right in, just give me a moment to wipe down the kitchen table, because you. Have. No. Idea.
It could send a girl running to a table made of wood from destroyed rain forests.
But overall, I really, really like my white kitchen. It's pleasant and bright and cheery. It says: want a cuppa? It says: there are cookies if you want one. It says: dig in. And I like that.
Unfortunately, I wasn't done. There was another problem with the kitchen, something besides aesthetics that was driving me back to the pizza shop. And that was the pantry and, ahem, its resident moths.