Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | May 22, 2012

Kitchen Values and Granite in My Kitchen

Is it just me? (I’ll warn you right now that this might be considered a controversial post. If that bothers you read no furthur.)

I was lucky and was able to get new granite countertops installed in January. I am finally getting around to taking photographs and writing about this project.

I realize as I was writing this blog post, the ‘moral of the story’ is not that I got something new, but that I am satisfied with my kitchen as it is. To understand this you need to know that I lived for 27 years in a 75+ year-old home, with a very old, never remodeled kitchen. In order to live on one income, on a tight budget and still save for my two son’s college education, a kitchen remodel was not an option. Around 1973, we got an estimates for new oak cupboards and they came in at over $21,000 – more than we paid for our home!! (We chose instead to put our children through school.)

By old, I meana  circa 1950 kitchen complete with ancient yellow VINYL countertops with the black rubber and a metal edge, no dishwasher, no disposal and 1970’s era place and yellow press tiles on the floor. Not very functional and definitely not beautiful.

So, I feel very lucky that after saving for 12 years, I had the opportunity to have new counters and granite ones at that. I choose granite for its value, durability and the most importantly the one-day install on top of my existing counters without a lot of tear out and mess. This also means that the 1970’s laminate countertops did not have to go to fill up the landfill – very important to me

Plus the granite won’t show the toast crumbs from the late night snacks my husband enjoys every night!

I’ve been thinking about renovating expectations a lot lately. l love the decorating blogs and love to see what others are doing. But I really follow them for the great style ideas, the community I find here and the helpful tutorials. My current favorites are the furniture painting blogs, DYI ‘before and after’s’ and how to take trash and turn it into treasure. My kind of deal!

I know that my kitchen, with its wallpaper and older-style appliances wouldn’t meet the standards of some but I say to each their own.

I also know that maple wood stained cupboards are not “In” in ‘blog land’ but my cupboards are in good shape, function well, keep my dishes clean from the road dust and quite frankly, even if I could afford newer ones, I would not remove these cupboards only to put them into the landfill anyway. This goes against my frugal, what’s best for our ecologically bottom-line value system anyway.

My black Energy Star appliances all work fine and they keep my food safe and cold. They are fairly new, bought around 6 years ago. Stainless appliances are pretty but not worth the extra cost to me, now. If I had $5,000 to spend today, I’d put in central air in my home before I bought new stainless steel appliances. I ask which expenditure would contribute more significantly to the overall quality of my health and comfort?

This is the nicest home and kitchen I have ever owned and while it won’t make the cut in a Better Homes & Garden Magazine, I don’t really care and quite frankly. I am deeply grateful to have this kitchen. It is safe, it is comfortable, its well-lit, it functions well and it is clean. What else do I “need” anyway?

At age 62 my life choices have become more about the needs than the wants.  I need to stay out-of-debt. I need high-quality healthcare. I need good doctors. I need a safe car to drive, healthy food and a safe place to live without polluted air, soil and water. I need my family around me. I need enough money to pay my bills and to live on until I am 90 years old or so.

Quite frankly, I’d rather spend my money on organic foods, Reiki and massage and yoga classes that keep my body healthy and on gas to visit my grandchildren than buy new stainless appliances. Or, take that money instead and rent a cottage to spend a week with my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter instead of paying for a new kitchen and being alone in it.

I am from the School of Simplicity – keep it simple, clean and easy to maintain. And, I guess that our priorities change as we age.

The kitchen photos follow:

Standing in my adjoining dining room looking into the kitchen. I love the open floor plan and this is one of the main reason I bought this home. This is a cook’s kitchen and I am a cook from scratch cook, healthy eating everyday, kind-of-cook. We extended the new bar area by 7″ and added stools with cushions so informal meals can be eaten here and my granddaughter can color on the bar while I am cooking in the kitchen.

The appliance garage corner. I shopped my house and found this $10.00 T.J Max bamboo bowl, an artist-made pottery bithday gift pitcher from NC and a $2.98 tray from a resale shop. Local, organic unfiltered honey fills a vintage blue Ball jar.

The laminated countertops before. They were in the house when we bought it twelve years ago. The maple cupboards have held up well.

Before: Standing in my kitchen and looking into our dining area. Excuse the papers!

Tray inside a tray on my stove top. I added the neautral cream colored 4″X 4″ tiles in 2002, shortly after we moved in. I am probably conservative, but I prefer a neutral look in the items that are “permenant’ figuring I can repaint or repaper easily and without a lot of costs when its time to update.

The pantry wall (doors are closed) and a third set of doors (left hand side) looking into my first floor laundry room. After 27-years of an unheated, basement level laundry room, unfinished with a cement floor and one bare lightbulb –  a finished first floor laundry is such a gift!

This is the vintage music cabinet corner. The music cabinet was puchased for $40.00 from a newspaper ‘For Sale’ advertisement. It has been repurposed into storage for my cookbooks.

Small House / Big Sky Donna


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