Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Healing Kitchen

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it
~Helen Keller

A couple of years ago I began working for a new client that had a wonderfully conservative home in an older area of town. The house had been built in 1920 and along with its age came many challenging characteristics unique to the home. After completely renovating the master bathroom, and exterior front entry, the client was ready to look at having some new kitchen countertops installed. I loved this little cape cod home and I loved this client, I was excited to work with her on our next project.

Kitchen Before

Kitchen Before

As I met with her to discuss what she was looking for, she soon decided it wasn't just the countertops she was unhappy with...come to think of it, she didn't like the layout or the lighting, and could some of the cabinetry be changed? Oh, and then there's that dreadful back door that enters into a laundry closet and then into the house...can we fix that? Needless to say, it was out with the simple countertop plan and in with an entire kitchen remodel. Did I mention that I love this client?!?!

The client quickly decided on a new layout from three options I presented her with. In this odd shaped kitchen with three exterior walls, there was not much to choose from. After making her selections she packed up the family and headed out of town, well actually, they left the country. They apparently don't think kitchen renovations are as much fun as I think they are. 

Kitchen After Demo

Back of Kitchen and Laundry Closet After Demo

We ran into the typical 1920s surprises with this project such as the floors rolling so much we had to customize the trim on all of the base cabinets to hide it, the fun of plaster, and bit of mold.  Nothing was going to slow us down though, that is until my very minor table saw incident that made my father's voice echo in my ears, followed up with that phone call no one ever wants to receive.

As we were heading into the final stages of this reno, I was installing the crown and base for the cabinetry. I fully admit that I am terrible about using my glasses for more than just a forehead accessory. I ran outside to make a quick cut on the tablesaw and the small oak piece I was cutting got caught in the blade of the saw and flew back at me with so much force that it took a bit of time for me to be able to think clearly. It had hit me high on my cheekbone missing my eye by about 1/2 an inch. I would be just fine after the couple of weeks it took for the egg sized knot on my face to go down. Oh, but I could hear my dad clear as day "you take care of your eyes and always wear safety glasses when you're working".  He wasn't a construction safety enthusiast. He was an eye enthusiast. Dad had only one eye. He lost his left eye after battling a malignant brain tumor. Following eight brain surgeries 30 yrs ago he won the battle, but his eye didn't. I was dreading the moment he would find out about my little accident.

That moment never came. My phone rang at 6:00am and my dad's number showed up. I knew immediately something was wrong. Dad was never an early riser. It was his fiance calling to tell me he was in the hospital in a level one trauma unit. He had fallen down the brick stairs outside of his house and hit his head at the weakest point (where his skull had been operated on so many times). I put the kitchen renovation on hold and spent every hour I could at the hospital. Dad never woke up. He had been in a coma since he was brought in and we had to make the awful decision, after watching him decline, to take him off of life support.

I slowly went back to work, back to that kitchen I had started. It seemed like a lifetime since I'd been there. I cried and worked for hours and days until it was finished. The tile I installed was a tedious project that helped me focus and allowed me to think. This kitchen helped me to heal and will always remind me of my dad.

Kitchen After

Kitchen After

Back of Kitchen and Laundry Closet After

Pot Filler Shelf Tile

This kitchen remodel finally finished very much behind schedule.
We are constantly changing to move forward in our journeys. I have missed my dad so much. I will forever cherish my memories of him. He may not have taught me my construction skills, but he is the reason I started in this business. Thanks to our stubborn personalities and his determination to tell me I couldn't remodel my first little house that had been destroyed by renters when I was young and inexperienced, I was that much more determined to prove him wrong.
Look what he started!
I love you Dad


  1. What a beautiful and profound post. If all of your blogs make me cry, we are going to have to have a discussion. : ) T

  2. Thanks for sharing this Lori...both you and your Dad are special people. He would be so proud of you.

  3. You did a beautiful job on that kitchen and I'm sure your Dad is super proud of you right now. :) I know I am. Love ya.