That First Step Down the Road of Choices

Stunningly attractive brown and cream tileWhat did we do in the kitchen? The floor was the first step, locking us in to certain future choices.

This is not a home decorating blog. Having such a blog is like having a food/recipe blog, for which the hapless blogger has to come up with new projects all the time. Hey, once I’m done, especially on the decorating front, I’m done. And while I’m a fan of new recipes, I’ll let others do the day-to-day work of developing them.

(But watch for a couple of e-cookbooks I have in mind, one with recipes well suited for crowds and one to get you excited about eating meals with no or minimal added sugar.)

Not that anyone asked me, but here are two home decorating blogs that I really like:

Young House Love—a mid-thirties-ish, two-kid couple who are seriously into DIY home decorating projects. They are on their third house, plus they’re renovating a beach house for rental use, plus they just bought another beach house. Plus they do a podcast that comes out on Mondays. I love YHL! (They were among the very earliest people to figure out that you could actually make money from blogging. Their site is pretty cluttered with ads, but you can ignore/close them. I first stumbled onto their site when I read an article about them in the paper. Yes, an actual newspaper.)

Addicted2Decorating—very different from the above. The author is a married woman whose husband is disabled and wheelchair-bound because of M.S., so she does all of her decorating projects herself or hires it out. She came up in a google search I did several months ago when I was trying to find a cream-colored small kitchen table-and-chair set. At some point I realized that I was going to have to paint something myself to get what I wanted, and I asked a woman I know who does furniture refinishing what product she’d recommend. She suggested something called “chalk paint,” so I dutifully looked it up. Kristi’s post, “Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint,” jumped out at me. Always a sucker for a contrarian point of view! I liked her writing style (although not necessarily her color choices), and I periodically check in to see what she’s up to. (Again, as above, tons of ads. These people have to eat, I guess.) As for the painting job, well, when the beautiful little set that I bought arrived from Overstock.com, I realized that there was no way I was going to mess up the professional finish with my efforts, so it stayed oak-colored. It doesn’t really go all that well with the walls, but I’m just going to live with it. I had a very exacting list of requirements for this set, and my patience was at an end for looking at any more web pages. I have to say that it’s is very well made—Jim and I are quite impressed with it. Overstock.com, by the way, is a great resource. I’ve bought quite a few items through them and never had any problems with anything.

Okay. On to at least part of the kitchen info. I’ll probably spread this out over a few days. My purpose here is not in any way to tell you what to do with your own kitchen or your home in general but to give you some ideas on how to have something that’s workable, affordable, and beautiful. You can spend huge gouts of money doing, or re-doing, a kitchen. (YHL spent $17,000 on their first kitchen re-do, in a very small house! And it’s perfectly possible to spend way more than that. But there’s somewhat of an inverse relationship between how much you spend on your kitchen vs. how much you actually cook in said kitchen.) You don’t have to spend a fortune, any more than you have to keep your pantry items in cardboard boxes. I’ve already written about the gorgeous Corian countertops, which I actually enjoy cleaning, so I won’t revisit that item. In that same post I talked about the appliances we bought.

Since this post is running a little long, I think I’ll confine myself today to a discussion of how initial choices determine the items downstream from it. Not to be too heavy-handed here, but this principle applies to far more than kitchens. And often that first decision slips by without your even noticing it much. In our case, we chose the floor tile to go with the paint in the bathroom. (Read that engrossing saga here. I was astounded to see that we picked out that tile almost a year ago.) Once that choice had been made, we were locked into a cream/beige/brown palette. Which is perfectly fine. I like how things ended up. But oh boy! The brown was pretty hard to match. I love it, though—our kitchen walls are the color of hot chocolate. (That’s about the only hot chocolate I’m going to be having from now on because of my anti-sugar kick.) Our source for the floor and backsplash tile was Floor & Decor, a huge sort-of-cheap warehouse that has fantastic selection and liberal return policies. (Link is to the store we used; they have another location in the area and are a nationwide chain. I don’t understand their two-star rating; we’ve been very, very pleased with them.)

Would I have gone with that tile choice if I’d realized how limiting it was going to be? I think so. We were very tired of thinking about floors. Do I still like it? Yes I do. So that’s that. Every other choice keyed off of it, but that would have been true for any floor.

Later this week: the cabinets and backsplash.

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