Reviving the Heart of the Home

The kitchen, they say, is the heart of the home. Everyone loves to hang out in their kitchen. They cook and they talk and they have huge cups of tea. It smells like walnut cookies. Everyone’s happy. It’s warm and bright.

The kitchen is not the heart of my home. The kitchen is more like the wasteland I go to when I have to forage for food. I’m not a cook, and I hate making food. I live mostly off of canned soups, take out and raw vegetables. (Not the best diet by far, but I manage.) I hate my kitchen. It’s dark and smells like the moldy Silence of the Lambs basement that’s just behind the back door. No matter what I do – clean it with the strongest-smelling chemicals I can find, burn a million candles, Febreze the hell out of it – it continues to smell bad. The ceiling is saggy and discoloured from my neighbours’ flood last month. The paint is dingy and gross. I have put up a few pictures and tried to make it homey, but I really just hate being there. I don’t have a dishwasher – I tried, my 100-year-old pipes wouldn’t take it – and I hate washing dishes. My kitchen is clean and my dishes are done, but I haven’t touched the cupboards in a long time. I could take some serious kitchen cleaner and scrub the place down. I could organize the food, throw out things that were left here by my ex-girlfriend six months ago (like ALL of that pasta sauce that’s probably expired). But I don’t. Because up til now, it’s been too hard.

The heart of my home is my living room. It’s always spotless. It smells like my latest scented candle. I love sitting in here. It’s comfortable, bright and pretty. The old house in which I live shines around my furnishings and the original hardwood floor. It’s pleasant. The bedroom is my vacation spot, where I take long naps in my comfortable queen-size bed that my parents bought me for my 30th birthday. Everywhere else in my house (with the exception of the dingy, tiny bathroom which I consider an extension of the horrible kitchen) is comfortable and bright and sweet. And then there’s my kitchen.

So, I got tired of it. I’m sick of hating my kitchen. I don’t want to spend time in there because it’s so different than the rest of my house. So the solution is to “unfuck my habitat” – something friends of mine have been doing to their homes. You focus on one room at a time until you have organized and decorated to your liking. And so, I’m starting with my kitchen.

Clearly, I can’t paint or replace the ceiling without my landlord’s okay (and sometimes, chasing them is more trouble than it’s worth. I did get them to replace the horrible living room ceiling), but I can start cleaning out the cupboards. Yesterday, I threw out a ton of old food that’s probably been there since I originally moved into this place. (Really funny what you find in the back of your cupboards – I had lost a few herbal remedies that my best friend gave me, and I found them behind the boxes of pasta and pasta sauce my ex was so fond of! Good to know!) I cleaned the microwave inside and out and bleached down the counters and sinks. I started scrubbing off the smudges from my cats putting their paws on the white cupboards. And slowly but surely, I started to see what the kitchen could be like if I cared enough to keep it bright and clean beyond every day things like washing dishes and wiping counters. It could be the heart of my home – maybe. More like the arm of my home, but the point is, it could be a part of my home instead of the place I shudder into to find food.

This old house, as much as I adore it, is never going to be clean and modern and cut-glass. It’s just not that type of character. And normally I’m fine with that – but with the old dark floors and chair rails on the walls, I have to deal with things like the creepy rough-stone basement and the questionable kitchen. But I don’t have to live with the house as it is. I can change it.

Maybe I’ll start cooking. Hey, stop laughing! It could happen!

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