Putting a Chanel Jacket on a Pig

BY CARLA RIEDEL

Whether we like it or not, kitchen design is a fashion business.

Tastes change. The pendulum swings toward light woods, then dark, then all white, then back round again. Even though most people set out to design a classic kitchen, the trends of the day find their way into the choices we make and leave their unmistakable mark. If you’re starting to suspect your kitchen could use an update, it probably can.

When folks first start considering a remodel, they often default into the realm of what my mom used to call ‘penny wise and pound foolish.’ If I had a nickel for every time somebody told me their cabinet boxes are fine and they just need new doors, I would have a huge giant pile of nickels. The biggest expense for cabinetry isn’t in the box itself, it’s in the finish and the doors and drawer fronts, and all the brilliant storage accessories added inside the box to optimize storage. Putting a boatload of money into new doors for an old kitchen is like putting a Chanel jacket on a pig. At first glance she looks a bit prettier but at second glance she’s still a pig.

Let’s talk more about the pig. We know her storage is inadequate because there’s kitchen stuff stored in the garage and the basement. She could use rollouts because getting things out of the far back corners isn’t as easy as it used to be. Her dishwasher (or microwave or cooktop or refrigerator) is getting way old and there’s no guarantee new models will fit in the existing cutouts. Besides, she’s desperate for a built-in espresso machine or a swanky steam oven and there’s no place to put them because they hadn’t even been invented when she was new.

My Google machine says the average return on investment on a new kitchen or bathroom remodel is somewhere around 93%, which is amazing, especially when you consider how much you (yourself – not the lucky duck who buys your house) will enjoy a new, improved space. Nothing, absolutely nothing, lasts forever. Even if you’re lucky enough to come across a vintage Chanel jacket in your size, it’s still going to need a bit of tailoring before it truly works for you. Armholes used to be way smaller and there’s no place to put your cell phone.

The most important room in your house deserves the same makeover. Coco would be so proud.

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