Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Transformation Kit

The cardboard box contained every component needed to metamorphose our kitchen cabinets from blah caterpillar brown to bright monarch butterfly: deglosser and scrubbing pads, bond coat, optional decorative glaze and cheesecloth, polyurethane sealer, and instructions.

Looking at the kitchen with our realtor before purchase

Back in January, I tried Murphy’s Oil Soap and TSP on our kitchen cabinets, trying to remove the sticky residue from thirty years of cooking, handling, and lemon Pledging, trying to restore a bit of shine and pep in the tired odd-toned brown. I wasn’t successful.

We couldn’t afford new kitchen cabinets, so I gravitated to the brochures and display at Home Depot: Cabinet Transformations. It was a new product last winter and Tammy, a wonder at the paint counter, had demoed the product, liked the results, and recommended it.

It was easy to narrow down thirty-two color choices to one.

I discarded wood-tones like gingerbread, russet, and autumn, whites and pastels, and muted colors like meadow, cottage blue, and bay leaf. I’d been perusing my new subscription to Atomic Ranch thinking about ways to incorporate mid-century modern details of into our home’s interior. I chose bright and dramatic: Paprika.

Labor Day weekend we were ready to transform our kitchen. It took several weeks. In addition to using the kit, we painted the interior of our cabinets and drawers white. We painted the drawers outdoors, but moved into the garage for the paprika bond coat after we found leaves and bugs dried on the white.

painting, caulking and repairing drawers

In an inspired idea to make our door fronts look more modern, Kevin suggested we reverse the doors, moving the raised edging inside. This meant he had to putty over the hinge holes and sand before I could paint. This also meant ordering new, shiny silver hinges.

I moved everything out of our kitchen (I still haven’t put everything back), including our fridge. To keep our three cats out of the kitchen (which has no doors or walls now that we’ve ripped them out) for the weeks our cabinet frames were wet and curing, Kevin built a four-foot high cage out of wire shelving, PVC pipe, and zip-ties.

part of the kitchen cage

We did lots of ducking in and out of the cage’s entrances. My youngest daughter, home for the earliest parts of the project, saw me cooking in the cage, and joked that I was on display in my natural habitat.

The results are stunning, but not perfect. The polyurethane was very drippy, and not very shiny, so frustrated after the recommended two coats, we bought another product and applied it.
If you visit, you will see flaws. I see them too, and it’s a reminder that I’m human, and can live with imperfection, especially when I know how hard and long my husband worked on this project. 

But still, I dream, in the future of gleaming new IKEA cabinets (like the one’s we installed in the Writer’s Suite) gracing our kitchen.

Paprika cabinets. The door fronts used to be the backs.

My paprika cabinets also remind me that, kit or not, transformation is messy, and the results of our efforts may not look like what we thought we wanted.

Our lives have been and still are in a process of transformation.

In June of last year, my husband decided to take a severance package. We thought we’d sell our house and move near San Francisco for a job there.  We moved to this island near Seattle instead thinking a job was here. 

We’ve been fixing up this house and yard, tearing apart and piecing back together, dreaming about a vocation of writing hospitality for me, and meaningful employment for my husband.

The thing is, I can’t consult my transformation kit instructions and find out what’s next.

I thought I was applying sealant, the final coat before launching into all our plans. But, for all I know, we’re cleaning and deglossing, to get rid of old habits, patterns, and expectations. Or maybe we’re applying the bond coat, fastening ourselves to one another, learning to be content with our own company in an unfamiliar place, so that we can move again to the next right place.

The future could lead us anywhere.

After more than one year of job hunting, my husband has signed on with a search firm to help him find a great position that will utilize his incredible skills. As part of that process, we’re expanding the geography of his job search.
my wonderful hardworking husband hanging cabinet doors

We’d like to stay here in this house that we’ve poured our hands and hearts into, but we also want to remain open for God’s leading, whether it be this or something better.

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