I’ve been stumbling upon home renovation ads with “before” pictures that closely resemble my current kitchen. They land unsolicited, usually by USPS delivery in the form of local publications. Almost overnight, it seems, the world has moved on from my mostly earth-toned cooking space to I-don’t-know-what. Industrial Farmhouse Midcentury Sleek Bouillabaisse?
I’ve always thought it was emotionally draining to worry if my house was not on par with today’s arbitrary interior trends. I don’t watch HGTV. I don’t stalk home improvement stores. But the cool kids’ chef-adjacent designs still cross my radar.
Besides the stealthy local ads, I unwittingly see too many of today’s “dream kitchens” on pharmaceutical commercials. You know, the footage of cheerful families rolling cookie dough on pristine marble counters. They frolic in slow motion while the silky-voiced announcer utters disturbing drug side effects. The appealing visuals distract us from grim facts:
“Nausea.” Look at that farmhouse sink.
“Headaches.” Isn’t that butler’s pantry as long as a bowling alley?
“Insomnia.” I’m counting six gas burners.
“Fainting.” Wow. These fictional people with pretend eczema have two kitchen islands.
“Shortness of breath.” Check out that soaring copper range hood.
I admit I’ve had brief pangs of, “Am I turning into a stubborn curmudgeon who chops onions in a Gladys Kravitz time capsule?” Pleased to report the dominant answer is, “I don’t care.” I’m not knocking those who find joy in renovation. Have at it. But my appliances work, I can prepare meals, and I actually feel warm and embraced by the familiar ambience of my nineties/aughts kitchen.
Others would disagree with this inertia. They’d suggest “updates” requiring sledgehammers and lacquer paint sprayers and piles of cash. I’m not budging. I have never disliked my light oak cabinetry. In my mind, at least, the solid cabinets are timeless.
Over the years I have changed out some things on an as-needed basis. Like the former high maintenance grids of chipped grout-and-tile countertops. And sputtering appliances. Broken is the best motivator. But I’d never run to Williams Sonoma to order that (admittedly dreamy) vintage French stand-alone gas oven range thing with the Tesla price tag. Such an extravagant act would cause a domino effect of, again, reconfiguring with sledgehammers and question$ of why.
I’m an almost adequate cook and an OK baker. No reason to justify a Merck or Pfizer showcase kitchen. Maybe I sound like a caveman. But a heat source is a heat source. And any working fridge is cool. All these years I have even survived without a second faucet: The coveted pasta pot filler. Cue Orphan Annie. It’s an al dente-knock life.
To round out this discussion, though, I checked 2022 kitchen trends. Guess what? At this fleeting moment my largely undisturbed kitchen is predicted to be sort of in style. Again. Just like a broken clock is right twice a day. My “before” room might become an “after.”
A sweep through sites like Veranda and Homes & Garden informed me unpainted grained wood tones like my warm light oaks are making a comeback. As are gold or brass finishes. Just like the simple round cabinet pulls I never got around to “modernizing.” Who knew procrastination would pay off?
Pops of color are considered de rigueur. The wall art and ceramics I’ve slowly gathered over the years take care of that. Also, black elements are supposedly on board with some design experts. Like my midnight appliances and noir sink. I was never sure I correctly threw the dart on the decision to skip stainless steel. Then again, I never lost sleep over it.
So bring on the passive aggressive home renovation ads. I will not fret or let the bones of my home get swallowed by landfills. A roof over one’s head is a blessing. Having an alleged “before” kitchen doesn’t matter. These days, there are bigger fish to fry.
Reach Denise Snodell at firstname.lastname@example.org