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Diary of A Fixer-Upper: Kitchen Without Walls

About 80 years ago, somebody built a wall, and last Tuesday, that wall came down. The wall was an enemy of natural light, an inducer of claustrophobia, and an obstructor of conversations from living room to kitchen. It had to go.

Before I walked into my freshly de-walled apartment and gazed directly into the kitchen from the living room, I had begun to doubt myself. Dealing with contractors and my building managers while trying to operate a normal work and social life is a massive and unpleasant undertaking. What’s more, after working on this for months, I had nothing to show for it.

But now that there is a giant hole where that wall used to be, I am back on board. It is fabulous! My apartment suddenly feels huge and bright, and even in its Beirut-like condition, I love being home. Welcome to my emotional roller coaster.

My new sans-wall existence is not without difficulties, though. The contractor also took away the cabinets, dishwasher, and oven. In exchange, he left behind a ubiquitous chalky substance that makes me want to wear socks all the time and wash my hands constantly.

My new “kitchen” consists of a side table topped with a microwave, topped with a coffee maker. On top of the refrigerator, which is still functioning, is a stash of paper- and plasticware that would make Al Gore blush. I will have to make this up to planet earth later.

Until my kitchen was gone, I hadn’t realized that I cook a lot, and I almost never use the microwave. It was time to get creative. The first night, I perused the grocery store’s convenience foods, which have come a long way since I was in college. I grabbed pre-cooked chicken strips, grated cheese, pre-made guacamole, flour tortillas, and chopped green peppers—and we had some pretty good fajitas on the table. The second night was even fancier. I learned how to steam salmon steaks in the microwave and added corn on the cob and a mozzarella, tomato, and basil salad. The third night: Chinese delivery. We all have our limits.

Daphne has already made some decisions about what will make up her new kitchen—subway tile, white beadboard cabinets, wood counters, and a cast iron sink.

Taking away all of my kitchen appliances has helped me focus on what I want in my new kitchen. Over the last week, I have logged hours upon hours researching appliances, sinks, and faucets. My boyfriend has become accustomed to my pausing movies and television shows to say, “Okay, so see that paint color behind the murderer there? Do you think it would look good with stainless-steel appliances?”

My refrigerator is already new. After my old one died a couple of months ago, I agonized over which to buy. The day after my new fridge finally arrived, I was explaining the winding road to my perfect refrigerator to a friend when she said, “I know! And it’s not just a fridge you’re buying—you also have to love that brand dishwasher and oven, too, so they all match.”

I had not thought of that.

In the end, I decided to mix brands and hope that the colors of the stainless steel match. Honestly, I’m just happy to move a bunch of items over to the “decisions made” column.

I am very excited about the new oven I picked out. It’s got two cooking compartments within a 30-inch space! That means baked ziti and garlic bread! A turkey and pumpkin pie! Let’s just hope the color of the oven is similar enough to the refrigerator that I don’t have to return it when it arrives. If not, you are likely to have a very grouchy blogger on your hands.

Meanwhile, in my last few days with a totally empty kitchen, I’ll have to think of something fun to do with all off this crazy space. Like, a hula-hooping contest or Slip ’n Slide.