It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have to.  Last year when Dom ripped out the oven from the wall into which it was built, two questions blazed through my mind:  1) What in the hell are we going to put in that giant hole?  and  2) How much is it going to cost??

The question that did NOT enter my mind is “How long are we going to drag our feet on making it look good?”  I mean, really…who starts an adventure thinking that?

Like I said, folks, that was right at a year ago.  Now that we are getting ready to sell the house, we have repaired, fixed-up, and downright improved 80% of the home.  The other 20% either already looked good or had no issues anyway.  It has been a heck of a process.  For two people who can’t complete a project without something going so wrong that simultaneous meltdowns are inevitable, we have rocked us some home improvement in these last two months!

Most of our projects begin with these words:

“It shouldn’t be that hard, huh?  It doesn’t look that difficult. What do you think, couple’a hours?”

“In theory.  This is US we’re talking about.”

“You’re right. It’ll probably take a month and a half.”

“And one of us will bleed.”

“And both of us will cuss.”

“Yep.  (sigh…) You ready to go to Home Depot?”

To fully appreciate the journey of the oven, you must see where we started.  This is what the oven area looked like when we moved in and for the following eleven years. (Except that this photo illustrates a fresh paint job. Imagine the oven surrounded by three uncomplimentary shades of white paint and wallpaper.)  This appliance is straight from the bygone era of 1965, when it was likely all the rage, making its first owner the envy of the neighborhood and all her Sunday School class.


Oven circa 1965; Photo circa 2008, after much paint!

Then one day many moons later, Dom burned some cookies he was baking.  (As it entered its golden years, the oven was prone to arbitrarily jumping up to 500 degrees with no warning.)  Ladies and gentlemen, you must understand something:  Dom doesn’t burn cookies.  Ever.  So this ghastly offense propelled him into finally deciding that the antiquated metal pit in the wall had to go.  (And I was suddenly off the hook for all previous cookies that had burned on my watch!) The next night, the oven stood trembling with fear in the middle of my kitchen.  I eyed it with my own share of disdainful satisfaction.  You get what you give, testy little appliance; you get what you give.

That evening’s activities left us with this:

March 2011. I joked that I gave up cooking for Lent.

During the next two weeks we ordered its replacement and had a gas line run to the oven wall.  And we ate a lot of take out.  When the newbie finally arrived, we gingerly placed it in the seat of honor.  Ain’t she a beaut?

April 2011. Primo!!

And that is what it looked like for the next year.  That’s ransacked drywall board behind the oven there.  No backsplash.  No vent hood.  No cook-top light.  No lie.  Honestly, it was the “no backsplash” part that bothered me the most.  But, I’m frugal and a DIY-er, and a perfectionist to boot, so I never quite came out of the planning phase on the backsplash and the vent – until we decided to sell.  Then it was a mad dash to the finish!  I needed something quick, inexpensive and moderately impressive.  Helllooo, Google!

My search for backsplash ideas led me to these sturdy, textured peel-and-stick tiles.  For fifty bucks and literally ninety minutes of my time, there’s my backsplash.  Ordered the range hood, but in a size smaller than the hole in the wall (no luck finding a 40” range hood for less than $700!! 36” is apparently much more mainstream.) Once the hood was installed, my father-in-law cut a piece of wood to fill in the enormous hole at the top and hide the exhaust pipe.  With that, we were nearly there.

March 17, 2012

At this point all I had left to do was paint and add decorative moulding, which meant angles had to be measured and cut.  Mitered corners usually cause us a bit of frustration – to the point that when I balked at the idea of putting crown moulding in the half bath Dom scolded my resistance by saying, “We’re pretty good at it when we’re not fighting about it!”  Touché.

So here it is, folks.  The finished cooking area:  something I’d be proud to keep, but which will hopefully make the next owner very happy.  Better twelve years late than never!

March 19, 2012. The End.