When you live in a home for decades, you learn to visually turn off the areas that require work, planning and money to fix. That was us with our kitchen, until this summer. I absolutely could not stand looking at the cracked and corroded countertops one more day, as well as the old/original cabinets that were solid but outdated.
With a wedding in the works and a cruise on our August calendar, we decided to put one more big-ticket item on our to do-list for 2019. During a visit to Home Depot to purchase garbage and contractor bags, we just happened to stop by their kitchen remodeling area.
A representative from their concierge service was in the kitchen department and we struck up a conversation with him. Before we knew it, we had a date scheduled for him to come to our home upon our return from Italy to assess our needs and determine the best way to go about upgrading our cabinets and countertop.
And so the fun began. I am not talking about picking out colors for the new cabinet exteriors and hardware, countertop, backsplash and paint, I am talking about emptying out all our kitchen supplies, dishes, utensils and pantry so we could prepare the kitchen to be remodeled. Talk about a busman’s holiday! I do this kind of work all day long with ease and a sense of humor. With my kitchen, it became personal.
And by that I mean the dish towels (you know, the ones filled with more holes than fabric). I vividly remember when my mother purchased them at B. Altman’s in the mid 1960s when our family converted our home into a kosher home. The red (meat) and blue (dairy) dish towels always brought back fond memories of a family journey to a more observant Jewish home, saying goodbye to bacon, hello to Friday-night chicken dinners and attending Friday-night services instead of staying home and watching Star Trek.
I had donated my mother’s dishes several years back and wrote an article about that experience that was published in 2015. That decision was quite emotional, and it took me several years after she passed away to remove them from our home. The dish towels…also not so easy. Many still had the B. Altman’s label attached even with the holes in the fabric that I ignored as I did with the other “blind spots” in our kitchen.
How did we go about downsizing our stuff so our kitchen cabinets could be not only pretty on the outside, but organized on the inside? My husband took this project by the horns and made it happen. When Don was not working with me on a job, or doing back-office paperwork for our business, he was sorting through dishes, appliances, pots, pans, food items and yes, dish towels. At the end of his sorting, he walked me through what was done and asked for my feedback. He recommended that we cut back on the volume of dishes, as well as purchase new dish towels. We agreed that a place setting for 12 is unnecessary for our current lifestyle, as well as storing the multitude of wine and champagne glasses and assorted coffee mugs that took up three entire shelves in our tiny kitchen.
Don drove the bus on this project, and I came along for the ride. Thank goodness for his initiative, his understanding of organizing and his respect for my input. Since he does the food shopping and all the cooking, I did not want to step on his toes because, after all, while I do use the kitchen to prepare my breakfast, the buck stops there. Decisions were made quickly, we did not linger, and much has been donated to charity.
Final decisions included keeping my grandmother’s small frying pan that is great for making scrambled eggs. And the dish towels? They have been graduated to my rag bag. Although my beloved husband may not appreciate the “holey towels,” in many ways in my memories they are truly “holy.”
Eileen Bergman is a professional organizer and a proud member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO). Eileen is listed in the resource directory for the Hoarding Disorder Resource and Training Group. Eileen may be reached at 973-303-3236 or [email protected].