We’re excited to introduce our blog's latest series, “My Kitchen Mistake." In this new column, homeowners will share their "I'll-never-do-it-again" missteps that they made while undergoing a kitchen remodel. Read, sympathize, and maybe even laugh a little— but whatever you do, don't make the same mistakes. For the first post, we asked Elizabeth Blitzer, founder of a NYC public relations firm that specializes in interior design, to share her all-too-common remodeling blunder.
“I bought my 600-square foot, one bedroom West Village apartment in 1995—much to the chagrin of every person I brought to see it. While each friend grimaced as we entered the apartment I would, with great pride, announce my grand plans for contracting my own gut renovation. You see, I am SORT OF in design. And by that, I mean that everyone around me is an interior designer, and I just look at their beautiful pictures. All I knew was that I wanted marble countertops, full-sized stainless appliances, a farm sink and brass knobs. And I was pretty sure I could save money by doing it all myself.
“After shaking their heads at me and signing, my designer friends would tell me to get nice marble, IKEA cabinets and GE Profile appliances. I naturally had my own ideas for the brass pulls. That is exactly what I did and why today I have the most unusable kitchen in New York City.
“Let me first explain that I actually have a full-sized kitchen, albeit a galley kitchen, that most New Yorkers only dream of. My first and biggest mistake was my appliances. I was so preoccupied with having full-sized like those I grew up with in Baton Rouge, LA, that I didn’t realize their grand stature was a terrible idea for my kitchen. Even worse, so that I didn’t break the bank by buying the most high-end line, I settled on a ridiculously sized and totally inappropriate refrigerator for my tiny city kitchen.
“Did I mention that my apartment is 600 square foot—including all closets and hallways—and that I am a single girl who eats almost every meal out? I digress. So what did that leave me with? Absolutely no counter space! Want to know what it takes for me to cut an onion? A cutting board precariously propped on a burner (let’s hope I don’t accidently turn on the stove while chopping), and a box of Band-Aids on standby.
“Turns out that in my “decent-sized,” New York City kitchen I ended up with only four kitchen drawers. Ask me where utensils are supposed to go? I’m still figuring that out.
“And dish cloths? Should I hang them from the ceiling? I found a way to get creative with my pots. Only problem is that is that now they block my fire escape. Not good.
Elizabeth's fire escape window-turned-pot rack; photo courtesy of Elizabeth Blitzer
“I also discovered that here are some things a decorator knows that a decorating amusant does not: Marble countertops need to be sealed or else everything stains them. (How was I supposed to know that even water would be the culprit?) Four burner stoves can come in any size. Not all refrigerators come with ice makers (check before you buy)—and it’s best to know this fact before you’ve called the fire department to lift an oversized fridge through a window because you know you're not replacing it anytime soon.
“And finally, let me tell you what it takes to bake something—or for that matter, even just use the oven. I have to take EVERY piece of the 20-piece, discontinued white Le Cruiset collection off of the oven racks (at no less than 20 lbs each) and stack them on the floor or on the trash/recycle bin. I can’t put them too close to the oven because then I can't reach the burners. I can't put them in front of my over-sized fridge because then I can’t open the freezer. When I’m all done baking—and hopefully haven’t tripped over my Le Cruiset—I have to wait for my oven to cool and then load them back inside.
Elizabeth's beloved Le Cruiset collection piled high, with no cabinet or drawer space to call home; photo courtesy of Elizabeth Blitzer
“My kitchen’s impracticalities go on and on. The moral of the story: Kitchens are different. It’s not like picking pretty fabrics or adding a nice throw pillow. Your decisions are hinged to the wall, stuck to the floors and glued to the counters.
“Rather than working with my kitchen’s best qualities, I made terribly expensive mistakes—ones that cost a lot of money and resulted in a ridiculous lack of kitchen usability. Sadly, I never cook anymore (which, by the way, I love to do), and I constantly dread the day I have to spend more money to fix my mistakes.
“It was a tough lesson to learn, but I sure learned it! Next time (I pray there’s a next time), I'm asking a design professional to renovate my kitchen for me. Or, at the very least, I’ll listen to what they said in the first place.”
Elizabeth Blitzer, kitchen remodeling victim and founder of Blitzer & Co.
See the rest of Elizabeth's apartment by clicking here.