Women rehabbing together-let's do it

Opinion: Arlene Jones

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By Arlene Jones

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Recently, I hosted a party at my house to celebrate my birthday. As one of my friends gushed over my kitchen, I told her that, prior to the second-story addition being added onto my home, I had the world's ugliest kitchen. 

The walls were covered in Big Bird-yellow plastic tiles topped by a black liner. Many of the tiles near the light switch were missing, so one wall had a big white blotch on it. The cabinets were solid wood, stained a dark, rusty red. The floors were old white-and-red tiles in a checkerboard pattern. I had very limited countertop space and the entire kitchen was something like 10 x 8 feet. It was a depressing sight to come home to every evening.

The addition of my second story allowed me to rehab my kitchen. 

I told her how I saved money by buying used cabinets and appliances from the outlet store, and I did a lot of the work myself. She then invited me to come to her house to see her "ugly" kitchen. 

When I went over the following day, she gave me a tour. 

The house didn't have a kitchen when she bought it, so she got some basic stock-bottom cabinets and fixtures. She has done a fabulous job of figuring out how to have storage space when she doesn't have a single wall cabinet. 

But she, too, currently hates her kitchen. Her biggest lament? The kitchen floor. It had beautiful white tiles on it. But they are slippery when the floor gets wet and they are a lot of work to keep clean. The floor also sits about an inch higher than the rest of the house. 

I suggested she begin her kitchen rehab by taking up the floor. It is a lot of weight to have that many layers of flooring in her home. She was scared because she didn't know what was underneath. I told her most of the older homes have a wood floor in the kitchen. Mine was maple. So she gave me a hammer and told me to take up a piece of the floor. I found a good spot to do it by the kitchen. I hit the tile and it easily broke by the grout line. Underneath that tile was cement backer board. Underneath that was yellow tile and still beneath it was a plywood. Finally I chiseled out a piece of that wood and there it was. A wood floor underneath all that stuff!

It has been six weeks since the day I took the first piece of her floor out. I went over yesterday and boy had she been busy. All the ceramic floor was gone. All the cement underlayment and corresponding screws were gone. The yellow tiles were gone and so was the plywood. She was down to a bare wood floor that needs to be sanded and finished. My friend was very grateful for my having inspired her to take that first step and she feels there are lots of women homeowners who would like to network together to learn more about rehabbing their houses or even to take the first step in demolishing what they hate as the initial process. 

I plan on documenting my friend's rehab journey via this column and online. But in the meantime, how many other women out there want to do something with their houses but are scared of the process? How many would like to get together to learn about fixing up your house yourself? Or just to network with other women homeowners in the area so that your circle of friends and acquaintances grows? Email me at westside2day@yahoo.com

www.arlenejones.blogspot.com

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