In the Zone Part V: If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Rid of the Kitchen

Folks in real estate like to say that kitchens sell houses. Buyers, they’ll inform prospective sellers, want a kitchen with good flow and great vibes. So, if you’re looking to sell your home, you should put your kitchen’s best foot forward because potential buyers are going to picture themselves using that kitchen and how it makes them feel.

Funny they don’t say that about bathrooms.

Don’t get me wrong. There are folks who will take that first sentence a step further and say that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. But even those who’ll tell you buyers want bathrooms with good flow and great vibes will stop short of saying that buyers will imagine themselves USING the bathroom and how it makes them feel.

Which is funny since most people USE the bathroom at least as often if not more often than they USE the kitchen. Especially if you’re gluten intolerant and still eat a lot of cake. And wash it down with a quart of milk. Or frequent restaurants with the word taco in their name and bel grande on the menu.

I’m just spit-balling here, of course. What business do I have speculating on your eating habits? I don’t know your life.

Perhaps the Jarhead and I are not the best examples here, but in all the years we have been looking at properties, never have once have either of us stood in the bathroom and imagined ourselves USING it.

I take that back. There was one time, when we first looked at the house we’re working on now, and I walked up to the bathroom sink, did a half-turn and thought, What? And then did another half-turn, and wondered, How the? And then did another half-turn and said, Who the? And then, finally, Why?

It bears mention here, that although I was miming the act of washing my hands at an ordinary bathroom sink, technically I wasn’t actually picturing myself using the bathroom because the sink wasn’t actually in the bathroom. In fact, it was standing in the northeast corner of the master bedroom along with a sunken jetted bathtub. Turns out the actual bathroom was several feet behind me. Or at least the toilet was. Along with a nice big walk-in shower stall and a ginormous, mirrored medicine cabinet. Tucked neatly behind a clear glass door.

Yes. You read that correctly. Behind a clear glass door.

In my last post, I shared a picture of what we like to call the open-concept master bathroom. But here it is again for your edification.

As you can see, the sink and bathtub were well and decidedly outside the bathroom door. Which meant you had to leave the bathroom to wash your hands after using the toilet. Which meant you had to touch the knob after using the bathroom before washing your hands. Then again, since the door offered literally nothing in the way of privacy, I guess you could just leave it open so you wouldn’t have to touch the knob before washing your hands. And there was no towel bar, so no towel. And no mirror other than the one above the toilet. So unless you were supremely confident, it was useless in terms of shaving. Or putting on makeup. In other words, better just go use another bathroom.

It was all very baffling. Because it’s not like form had to follow function, like it did back when folks started adding indoor plumbing to Victorian-era homes and the bathrooms had to be located right beside the kitchen because it was easier (and therefore cheaper) than putting them as far from the kitchen and dining room as possible the way nature intended.

No. The folks who designed this particular master suite were starting from scratch with a blank slate and absolutely no limitations on fixture location other than their own imaginations and personal taste (or lack thereof.) Which means that when it came to deciding where to put the toilet, the sink, the shower, the tub, and the ginormous mirrored medicine cabinet, they deliberately chose to put the sink and the tub outside the bathroom door, and the mirror near the toilet and the shower rather than above the sink. In my book, that’s akin to criminally negligent habicide.

It could be worse, I suppose. At least they put the toilet behind the bathroom door and the sink outside, rather than the other way around.

Anyway, as I mentioned in the last post, we tore out the doorway, built a couple walls, and gave the bathroom some desperately needed definition. But since we knew we needed to repair the foundation and we knew the fixtures might be damaged in the process, we opted to just update them a bit now and replace them later, if necessary. Along the way, we also removed the wood from some of the walls and replaced it with drywall to brighten up the room and add dimension. Here are some of the highlights.

To update the appearance of the shower stall, we started by removing the seat.

Then we warmed up the woodwork by painting the beige tile a nice bright white.

We did the same with the tub surround.

But back to the kitchen, which is what this post purports to be about.

In case it’s not obvious, I’m the buyer they’re talking about when they say kitchens sell homes. But not for the reason they say it. No. For me, it’s all about potential. Because almost nothing makes me happier than to walk into a house with a horrible kitchen, imagine what it could look like, and spend hours and vast sums of money making it look the way I think it should.

Which is why, when I saw this place, I started to salivate. It was Dark. Dirty. Dank. Disgusting. And it was just waiting to be brought back to life. I won’t bore you with the details of how it progressed, but I will show you some photographs.

Forgive the lack of before shots. Between the walnut ceiling, floor, and cabinets, the burgundy countertops, and the lack of lighting, not one drop of light was available to take a decent photo, so the post-demo images will have to suffice.

Click on any image for a closer look.

So that’s the kitchen. Thanks for reading.

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