My kitchen isn’t bad, as far as kitchens go. Sure, the oven is older than me. Yes, the portable dishwasher sometimes rolls around on its own. I can look past that. Antiques are interesting! Locating the dishwasher is an adventure!
I can’t cook, so my standards are pretty low. Honestly, there’s only one thing that I look for in a kitchen: that it not be pink. I’m even flexible on that, as long as it does not also have lace curtains. For some reason, pink kitchens with lace curtains leave me with the impression that someone’s dead grandmother is haunting the room.
On those two fronts, my kitchen is not doing so hot.
I’ve complained about that room every single day since buying my house. I’m obsessed with it. As soon as someone points out a feature they like about the house, I say, “Yeah, that’s alright. But have you seen the kitchen?”
After I brought it up last week in a conversation where it didn’t belong (“This is a nice little town.” “Yes, I like living here. My kitchen is pink.”), I realized something needed to be done. I don’t want to be the person who only complains about her kitchen. That person is crazy. I want to be the person who does something about it.
I feel great about my decision when I’m not sure it’s the worst thing I’ve ever done. Repainting my kitchen is somehow simultaneously the best and worst idea I’ve ever had.
What I Thought Painting the Kitchen Would Be Like
Step 1. Sand off the horrible pink paint to reveal flawless antique cabinetry beneath.
Step 2. Slap some stain on there to highlight the cabinets’ beauty and add some complimentary color to the other walls. Have a lot of fun doing it, like you’re in a Home Depot ad. Wrap up by the end of the weekend.
Step 3. Revel in the glory of your increased property value. Allow passing interior designers to feature your kitchen in trade magazines. Meet Martha Stewart and then Oprah, probably. Become Queen of Pinterest, Ruler of All Things DIY and Maker of Tastes.
What It’s Actually Been Like
Step 1. Briefly research cabinet and wall painting techniques. Read one blog that makes it look simple. Jump right in without a second thought.
Step 2. Clean the grease off all surfaces. Why is there so much? Lose your mind a little when you touch what might be a collection of strangers’ boogers.
Step 3. Clear out the cabinets. Pile everything on the piano you still can’t play.
Step 4. Remove hardware that’s been painted over with a chisel. Try to fill the extra holes. Begin to suspect the cabinets will not be flawless. Attempt to open windows that have been painted shut. Fail miserably.
Step 5. Buy an electric sander but neglect to buy a mask, or eye protection, or a lead paint testing kit.
Step 6. Sand and sand and sand and sand. Finally finish and clean fastidiously. Realize afterwards that you missed an entire cabinet and that every other room in your house is covered in a fine pink dust.
Step 7. When your boyfriend asks about lead paint, don’t worry about your own safety. Instead, become convinced you’ve killed your cat with your stupidity. The internet confirms this. FREAK OUT.
Step 8. Purchase appropriate safety equipment and test for lead paint. Find none. Become convinced you’ve killed your cat with fine pink dust. FREAK OUT, PART II. Follow him around for several days asking him personal questions about his litter box, seizures and blindness.
Step 9. Continue to sand, but hermetically seal the kitchen to keep the cat murder to a minimum. Realize that your cat might be an unkillable demon when he appears out of nowhere. Clean up carefully all over again.
Step 10. Learn that you can paint over your counters with something called “Make It Stone!”. Decide that though this sounds made up, anything is better than old pink Formica. Fight and then accept the fact that this will require more sanding.
Step 11. Pick out the perfect paint colors, then discover you don’t live near a retailer. Find close matches on a hardware store’s website and listen to an employee say they don’t carry those colors. Think about crying. Find two kind-of-almost-similar shades and ask for samples. Stand around awkwardly while the employee mixes them. Buy primer, rollers and brushes.
Step 12. Think about crying again when the internet tells you the things you bought are either the worst items you could have possibly picked or huge wastes of money.
Step 13. Sadly eat some trail mix because you can’t use your kitchen. Feed your cat a raisin. Google “cats and raisins” and learn that they don’t mix. FREAK OUT III: THE FREAK OUT RETURNS.
Step 14. Begin priming after taping everything that you don’t want primed. Paint over the tape boundaries anyway. Add more primer because you can still see pink under the white. It’s in your lungs. It’s in your soul. You’ll never be clean.
Step 15. Get primer in your hair and be unable to remove it so you look like you’re aging in a strange way. Keep priming. Wonder if you should sand. The internet doesn’t know anything except that it hates you.
Step 16. See your demon cat peeking out of a drawer, inadvertently priming parts of himself. Read about paint spontaneously combusting, and arson and tornadoes. Have nightmares that you and your cat die before the cabinets are finished and that at your joint funeral people say things like, “At least she died doing what she loved — working on those cabinets. They’re all she ever talked about.” FREAK OUT 4: FREAKING OUT 4EVER.
Step 17. Decide to let things go. So what if your supplies suck? You can try again next year. Tell your cat that you both might die or you might not and that that’s how life works.
Step 18. Have trouble committing to paint colors. Blue? Yellow? White? You know what would look really good in here? A light pink.