Friday, April 24, 2009

Parisienne's dream kitchen, part I

My stove and my washing machine are sitting on my balcony covered in plastic; my dishwasher and dryer are in the middle of the living room. Renovating a kitchen while living in a 600-square-foot apartment is not for the faint of heart, but add a toddler in the mix and one might question one's sanity. It doesn't matter to me, for I've been complaining, pestering and cajoling--err--respectfully negotiating with my husband ever since we bought the place three years ago (we moved in as renters), and I'm thrilled to say our remodeling project is off the ground.

Here are some "before" pictures:

Part of what earns me the "presque" after the "parisienne" is that I won't live without my dishwasher, washing machine, and clothes dryer. Most French hang their clothes to dry, a more economic and ecologically-friendly solution, but I refuse to turn my apartment into a jungle of hanging underwear or wait three days to put on a pair of clean jeans. Alas, since the apartment is small, the appliances all end up lined up in my kitchen, giving it the chic look of an aisle on the exposition floor at Darty.

The machines stay, but they will be capped by a wooden counter top which will both tie the kitchen together visually and keep me from dropping utensils into the no-man's-land behind.

Note the dirty white floor tiles, which really are that ugly in real life. They date from the construction of the building fifteen years ago, and have the dings and cracks you'd expect from life in a rental unit.

(For the record, who puts white tiles on a kitchen floor? Is this some conspiracy to make empowered, modern women feel like incompetent housekeepers? I have better things to do than vacuum and mop every two days.)

Opposite the row of machines was an old, sturdy workhorse of a bookshelf. It was a simple storage solution when we moved in as renters, but open shelving in a kitchen gets dusty and grimy, and keeping a toddler from emptying the shelves is a losing battle. Since the kitchen isn't wide enough for standard cabinets on both sides, we're replacing the bookshelf with narrow-profile cabinets from Ikea.

(Our downstairs neighbors are most likely cursing us and our remodeling project at the moment, since we unfortunately timed it to start in her ninth month of pregnancy while she's at home all day, uncomfortable, miserable and tired. I'm hoping they'll ultimately be grateful when le Petit no longer can throw pots and pans on the floor.)

The stove, a major point of contention. It cooks well, but I want one that mounts in the counter top and has a child lock. My husband rightly points out that this stove is practically new -- bought in 2003 when we moved in -- and was top of the line when we bought it. Our compromise is to take it to Troyes to replace the 1960s-model gas stove in the family home.

The sink, stove, fridge, and a few paint samples we put on the wall. The sink is in stainless steel and thus perpetually stained by Paris' hard water. The cabinet under it is warped particle board with a shelf that is prone to collapse when le Petit pounds on the doors. No one is sad to see them go. They'll be replaced by two cabinets from Ikea, one with drawers (drawers! In my kitchen! Finally!), and a white porcelain sink. The cabinets themselves will match the current wall units, a classic white style called "Stat."

The wall tiles in the picture are a nondescript gray, vaguely reminiscent of 1980s RER stations. I was thinking of donating them to the RATP, but as of this evening, they're history. We bought some white tiles that are ever-so-slightly pink, a warm tone that will be reflected, we hope, in the terracotta floor tiles we chose.

The walls will be painted a light sage green. To save money, we are doing the paint and plastering ourselves. In these pictures you can't see how damaged the current paint is, but we have our work cut out for us.

The chantier (sounds so much nicer than "construction zone," no?) should be finished by mid-May, when we leave on vacation. Whether my appliances will be out of my living room by then is anyone's guess.


La Mom said...

Congrats on the kitchen update! My kitchen fantasies always revolve around an island workstation.

Ha ha ha -- maybe in my next life.

La Mom
An American Mom in Paris

caramama said...

Oh, how exciting! I love seeing rooms get remodeled! I can't wait until the after photos, although I'll be you are even more excited and impatient to see the after!

I won't even entertain thoughts of how I would really redo my kitchen. It's actually in really good shape, but it is not what I want in a kitchen. It was one of the two things we settled for in our new house. But the kitchen in our previous condo? A dream...