Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Home Stretch

It's always darkest before the dawn.
The devil is in the details. 
If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing well.
Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
No rest for the wicked.

When it comes to home improvement projects, those quaint old sayings always ring true. 

Take this concrete kitchen counter makeover I've been working on for the past three years.

Oh wait. It's actually only been three weeks.

Messy, difficult-to-schedule work sessions; long drying times; and delays while I waited for more supplies to arrive - those three factors have drawn out the timeline on this DIY far beyond my original plan.

Shoot me. I feel like I've been washing dishes in the laundry room sink forever. 

But all whining aside, I'm insanely happy to report that I am nearing my goal.

^ See that? Sure, to the untrained eye, it looks like a mottled grey flat thing. Kind of like a sidewalk. 

Okay, fine. 

But I see a creation of exquisite beauty:
Four layers of concrete, painstakingly applied with my bare little hands, carefully allowed to cure exactly according to the directions, and then sanded into dust-covered perfection. 
Four clean-up sessions, in which each vertical and horizontal surface of the entire kitchen was diligently splashed and scrubbed to remove every fleeting flick of stray concrete and omnipresent dust.
The first of two treatments of concrete sealer, applied in an intensely complex process that requires precise timing and multiple repetitions.
Sigh. I poured my soul into this hunk of concrete. To me, it's poetry.

^ But now I'm ready for this job to be done.

Yet, as the proverb writers well know, there is still plenty of work to do before this scene reaches its full potential. There's woodwork in need of waxing, and painted walls requiring some touch up. 

In other words, a few gross and dirty jobs remain.

But in another day or two, I should be past it all, and ready for the fun job of putting my kitchen back in order, and styling up my new counters to show them off in their best light.

^ Wait. Did you notice? I might have already started adding a few new touches. Normally, I force myself to complete all the manual labor before I allow myself to add cosmetic details, but in the critical path of this project, this weekend was the right time to install new cabinet hardware. 

^ Mmhmmm, I hear the voices saying. Simple brushed nickel cabinet pulls. From Home Depot. That's nice. Not particularly exciting. But nice.

Yep. I get it. I didn't exactly turn the design world upside down with this revolutionary new idea, but here's the thing.

^ I've been considering the idea of adding cabinet hardware to my naked cabinets for at least two decades.

Yes. Twenty years of mulling. Trust me, that's an awfully long time to think things over. 

And now that the trigger has finally been pulled? Man, it sure feels good to be off the fence.

^ So, twenty-two days after my concrete counter kickoff, here's a quick recap of where the project stands
  • The work on the concrete counters is done; the final drying time expires tomorrow evening.
  • The cabinet hardware is installed.
  • All of the cabinets and shelves have been emptied, cleaned and waxed, inside and out.
  • Every single item in my kitchen was washed, dried, and carried off to the dining room, where it was evaluated for usefulness and sorted into an appropriate pile.
  • The upper cabinets are reloaded; the lowers are about half filled. I can almost walk around the dining room table again. 
  • The counter stools have been disassembled; the seats have been recovered

And my remaining to-do list looks like this:
  1. Paint counter stool frames black; reassemble.
  2. Tape off and paint the kitchen walls.
  3. Touch up the woodwork around the window frames.
  4. Reinstall the sink and range top. 
  5. Style up those counters and celebrate!
I've got all my supplies at my fingertips, and plenty of time in the next two days to accomplish these last few tasks.

That means I am officially in the home stretch!

* * * * *

A break-down of my kitchen upgrade adventure:

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