The kitchen is really the center of our house, as it probably is in yours, too. Ours has a fireplace and one wall that’s almost entirely windows. You can’t enter the house without traipsing through or past the kitchen, and since I’m an avid home cook, most of our visitors wind up hanging out there. So I guess it’s not surprising that the kitchen is the room for which I have the biggest plans, and yet the room in which we’ve done the least.
Oh, we’ve rid the room of the hideous roosters and apple green paint. We repainted the wood cabinets and replaced their contractor-grade door- and drawer-pulls with tiny silver spoons and forks I bought at an antiques store. When our refrigerator died a couple of years ago we bought one that actually matches the other appliances. I felt like a real grown-up then.
One thing we haven’t fixed? The floor. The white porcelain tile floor that shows every drip, drab and crumb. The white floor that’s still shiny enough in most spots to make it obvious when I skip mopping for the day. The white tile floor that is cracked in at least a half-dozen places where we walk, while by the stove there’s an entire tile missing so I have to keep a mat there to cover the subfloor.
I hate that floor.
So why haven’t we replaced it? Well, like a lot of things in our lives, it still works. That is, we’re not walking on plywood, and spills are still easy enough to mop up. (Daily.) But the main reason is because ripping out a porcelain tile floor is a truly tedious, back-breaking job that involves spending hours on one’s knees wielding a hammer to crack the tile, then a chisel to get down to the subfloor, then a wheelbarrow to cart loads of broken tiles out to the garage where our trash company will not pick them up. That means, getting them out of the house doesn’t mean the work’s done: we still have to load them into the van and drive them to the city dump, one van load at a time. It’s work for young people, I tell you, which is probably why we should have made it our first project in the house since these last six years have been doozies.
Today, though, I decided I could stand it no more. I’d taken the kitchen rugs out to the deck so I could mop the floor (again), and forgot to bring them in before washing the breakfast dishes. One wrong move and — YOWZA — a cracked tile sliced a nice chunk off the bottom of my foot. Naturally, I bled everywhere.
Now, I could’ve cleaned up the carnage. That’s one nice thing about porcelain: blood splatters wipe up real well. But I’d already mopped the dang thing once today; I wasn’t about to do it again. So, after tying a kitchen towel to the bottom of my blood-soaked foot, I hobbled to my husband’s tool bench and found his hammer and chisel. By the time I needed to pick my son up from school, I’d only been able to crack up and haul out six tiles. SIX! And meanwhile I’ve worked so hard that my knees are locked up, my back is aching, and my hand has stiffened into something sore and claw-like.
So I’ve decided I was right: tearing out this tile really IS a young person’s job. As it happens, I know a young person with destructive tendencies and too much time on his hands. A young person whose adolescent hormones have lately led him to mouth off far too much for my liking. A young, smart-mouthed person who, when it comes down to it, is behind 99% of the drips, drabs and crumbs that made me hate this white porcelain tile floor in the first place.
Now, every time he mouths off, talks back, argues, rolls his eyes, calls me names or even breathes funny, he’s required to crack, remove and haul out one tile. At the rate he’s been at it this afternoon, we’ll be down to the subfloor in my 20’x26′ kitchen this weekend.
I love it when a plan comes together.