I lived with this kitchen for nine years. I look back and wonder what I was thinking. Really, I wasn’t. I was switching careers, building a business, dealing with aging parents, and basically trying to have a life. So, my kitchen kind of languished. And I was embarrassed about it. Decorator’s are expected to live glamorous, well-appointed lives. Well, self-employed decorator’s have to pay the mortgage and their health insurance too.
Of course, many of you followed my blog posts about my kitchen redo last year. I was just done with the clutter and lack of anything pretty in my kitchen and it was time to roll up my sleeves. Budget was still a big issue (a never ending constraint that the downturn in the economy did not help!) but I was determined to finally create a pretty space that I could be proud to show off. What I ended up with was so much more than that.
First and foremost, I realized how kind other people can be and how truly lucky I am to have them in my life. My dear friend of over twenty years Rob O’Connell (cute guy below) spent nearly every Sunday afternoon at my house working on my kitchen from August through mid-January. Seriously. He gave up half of nearly every weekend for almost six months. For me. And he got to do all the heavy lifting and tall work.
I was incredibly lucky to have forged a relationship with New England Home magazine and Ferguson appliances, which resulted in the delivery of an entirely new set of kitchen appliances. Whew! Beyond that, I challenged myself to spend no more than $300 on everything else. Okay, it ended up being closer to $500 – because all design projects cost more than expected, let’s face it.
The big task that I did do myself in my kitchen was to repaint my kitchen cabinets. I’ve never done this kind of thing before and I pretty much made it up as I went along. I knew what I wanted them to look like and I got there. And all the while, I had my dear Daddy (cute guy above) whispering in my ear from above to do it right. So, when I considered not even removing the hardware and painting around it – whisper – and when I thought about not sanding between coats of paint – whisper whisper.
My father was the quintessential DIY guy. He built, sanded, sawed, painted, papered, upholstered, electrified and even hung window treatments. He built the kitchen in their house – by himself. I know, beyond a doubt, that he would have been very proud of the end result of all the work on my kitchen. And he would have been prouder still of my friend Rob and his dedication to me and the project.
You see, for my Dad, family, friendships, loyalty and gratitude were everything. He was a kind and giving person and never took kindnesses offered to him for granted. I try to live up to his example, although I am sure I fall short.
The final player in my little kitchen story is my photographer Michael J. Lee (cute guy with me below at an event just last night!) who gave of his time and talent to provide me with the most beautiful final images of this small yet really very big project. Michael is not just an excellent photographer, he’s become something of a business mentor. (And, he’s a doting father to two adorable little girls as well).
And so, the reason why my kitchen is my favorite room in my home is not only because I simply enjoy how it looks (and I do), it’s really because of all it represents. Hard, hands-on, nail breaking work mixed with collaboration and friendship. I miss my Daddy every day. But I try never to forget to be grateful for all I have been given.
If your father is still with you, spend time with him and make the most of the time you are given together. Because when that time is done, you will only have your memories and the lessons learned.
If you’re in the Boston area, I will be giving a lecture called “Strategic Splurges” on Wednesday, June 23rd at the Boston Design Center. This is part of the Jr. League of Boston‘s kitchen lecture series. I hope you’ll join me as I share two very distinct projects – my kitchen and a living room project – and how creative and strategic choices led to a big look on a strict budget.
Happy Father’s Day everyone. And Happy Friend’s Day too.
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