Last week I got back from a college tour in California, and walked into my kitchen, having completely forgotten that we had renovated. Somehow the old kitchen with its ugly tile floor and falling-off cabinets had implanted itself in my head, and I walked in, momentarily delighted to see my kitchen again.
A couple of months on, this kitchen may be the best kitchen I have ever renovated, and I have renovated more than a few over the years. The Ilve Stove, aka The Sexy Beast, works just as beautifully as it looks, and I am back to cooking every night for the pack of kids (I have a bonus son for the next year, so we are back to five children at home. Long story. I shall save for another time).
I’ve even figured out how to use the French plate, although not without melting three plastic bottles and a packet of sea salt (that’s the problem with not using the French plate – it became an extra surface, and then I forgot it was on).
Every now and then I trawl the website of AJ Madison – the online store where I bought the Ilve – just to take a look at other stoves, to check I made the right decision, and I have yet to see anything more beautiful.
I have also learned the perils of a huge stainless steel counter when you have five cats, and have learned the easiest way to make that steel look as good as new. Johnson’s baby oil squeezed onto paper towel (not too much), shines the steel up beautifully. My wood-look tile and cabinets from Lowes are, if I do say so myself, genius. A tile floor with the number of bodies in this house, both four-legged and two-legged, is perhaps the most sensible decision I have ever made.
I am even training all the family to leave my beautiful Nantucket sink clean and empty, which is harder than it sounds. For some bizarre reason, everyone in my family goes through about four glasses of water each within the space of about two hours every evening, and each glass of water demands its own clean glass. The old glass is never put in the dishwasher, but left in the sink, and we are finally making some headway with the move towards the dishwasher.
Because we have had a garden filled with gorgeous flowers all summer, the vases on the island have been filled with fresh-cut flowers, although now we are heading into Autumn I am aiming to do something clever with white squash. I have no idea what it will be, only that I will doubtless be spending significant amounts of time on Pinterest for inspiration.
But mostly, the kitchen has done what it was supposed to, not just in terms of beauty, but in terms of gathering the people we love. The children no longer disappear up to their bedroom to do their homework alone after dinner, but sit around the kitchen table, working, and chatting, long into the evening. Friends have started dropping round again, and perch at the counter as I pour them a glass of rosé.
I said to Beloved at the beginning of the renovation, that once I had a new kitchen, I would be completely happy with the house and would never ask for anything again. So please don’t tell him that I am eyeing up the perfect spot for a sun room/dining room addition. Oh, and then there is the guest suite I’ve been thinking about adding above the garage…