Have you ever renovated a kitchen? If so, you know that it can be one of the more stressful processes you can experience as a homeowner. My husband and I are currently preparing for a major renovation — and because we don't seem to do things by halves, we're not just renovating a kitchen. We're buying an inexpensive fixer-upper in our urban neighborhood, and modernizing it in many ways. It's our first house purchase, so we have the learning curve of a first mortgage and home ownership. We also have on top of that a very accelerated process of architects' plans, contractor agreements, and a host of details large and small to be decided upon in a short period of time. Of course, the kitchen is still the most important piece of it, to me, and as a food writer and blogger I've been gathering inspiration and dreaming about a great space to cook, photograph, and work. It's only as you dive into a project like this, though, that you realize how many little details are involved. Before the end of this week I need to decide on appliances, like the stove, fridge, and dishwasher — and it's a little scary, after years of vague dreaming, to really narrow such choices down! There is a solidity to such a commitment, an acceptance of things becoming reality and leaving fantasy, of imperfections to come. But those imperfections are not the point (although I know they will be there). The point is really that we are going to have more space for friends and family to gather. Our current house is lovely but small, and fitting my large family or our pack of friends into it for a big dinner takes some coordination and squeezing. Our new space isn't going to be a lavish mansion by any means, but it will be just a little more generous, a little more amenable to gathering friends for an evening of community and food. And that, in the end, is really what I am looking forward to — it's what saves us from getting bogged down in tile, paint, countertops, stainless steel and enamel. Those things are just the details, and they all fade into the background when I think about big meals with friends and loved ones.
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