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My kitchen remodel: rethinking the whole thing

KitchenremodelIn the years since my husband Bill and I moved into this house, we’ve spent many fine hours fantasizing about what we could do with this kitchen — punch up the ceiling, pop out the wall into the dining room, create a big island with a cooktop. And so on.

But two growing concerns — the economy and ecology — have me rethinking these grand plans.

Is this a good time, financially, to spend our savings gutting and redoing this kitchen?

And even if money was not the issue, is this kitchen so bad? What if it was tuned up rather than replaced? Wouldn’t that be more in line with the green building mindset Bill and I are constantly promoting?

And so I’m rethinking . . .

The floor: We installed this parquet flooring with the thought that it was temporary, just until we could afford something great. But maybe it’s already a great floor and simply needs to be sanded lightly and refinished. Anyone done that with parquet? (Estimated cost: 10 hours labor, $50 materials)

• The cabinets: Though this house is at least 30 years old, the wood cabinets had never been painted before I took a big brush slopping with orange paint to them. Did I do the right thing? Should I have refinished them? And why orange? I really can’t recall. I’m ready for a different color, and maybe some moldings. But rip them out? Why? (Cost: 10 hours labor, $50 materials)

The walls: I chose this wonderful blue when we first moved here. But maybe I should go for something a little more dignified? (Cost: 10 hours labor, $50 materials)

The knobs: Here’s where I could really get creative, adding some cool knobs and pulls. I’ve seen you homeowners having fun doing this for years, and now’s my time. (Cost: 5 hours labor, $200 materials)

The counters: This is where Bill and I would usually come to an impasse with our fantasies. He’s talking tile or laminate, while I’m seeing granite or concrete. But here’s the truth: I love the existing green laminate countertops. I call the color sage green, but I’m sure when this house was built, it was called avocado. (Cost: n/a)

The sink: This sink is really fine, and the same great sage green. Not an amazing sink, but OK. (Cost: n/a)

The faucet: We put this faucet in a few years ago, and it’s already crummy. I could go for something a lot nicer. (Cost: 2 hours labor, $150 materials)

The backsplash: Here’s another place I could make sweet, sweet music. What fun I could have finding just the right glass tile (or whatever) for this very visible spot. (Cost: 10 hours labor, $200 materials)

The light fixtures: I think I can do better than these old-fashioned globes (which I could drop off at the thrift store). Maybe some kind of low-voltage track lights? Or something else unusual? (Cost: 2 hour labor, $150 materials)

The windows: We seriously need new windows in the whole house, including the three windows in the kitchen. There’s no way we’re keeping these old, rattling, leaking, single-pane, cheap windows. We won’t go super high-end, but mid-range. (Cost: 15 hours labor, $1,000 materials)

The island/cart: We love the extra workspace this gives us. This works fine, but I think it could look better. I’m just not sure how.

So, for about 65 hours of labor and about $2,000, we could tune up our kitchen pretty nicely. And, we won’t be hauling a bunch of stuff to the landfill.

How about you? Is the economy or ecology causing you to reconsider any of your remodeling plans?

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