shabby to chic

Before I begin my kitchen renovation project, I’d like to do what I do: bring meaning into my work. I think everyone wants to do something meaningful in their lives. So, what meaning does a kitchen remodel project have for me and for others who might want to renovate their rooms?

The Redemptive Process

For me, I’ve always enjoyed the redemptive process. I love taking something old, broken, and shabby, and turning it into something new. Something it was intended to be. There have been many times when I’ve found an old piece of furniture at a rummage sale and had a vision of what it could be. One time I found an old dresser with these gold, gaudy handles. I sanded the dresser, painted it an off-black, and put new handles on it. I weathered it a bit and it looked good as new. I later painted the same dresser a muted shade of red to go with my new color scheme and it shined once again. Another time I found an old coffee table. I added slates to the bottom creating a shelf, painted the shelf and legs green and refinished the wood top with a creamy pine finish. It looked beautiful. Before, these pieces were discarded as old, odd, and disposable. But I gave them new life.

I see the same process when I renovate a room. Before I had children, I renovated an old house. I discarded layers and layers of flooring and built-in shelving (good thing the garbage man didn’t seem to mind the huge piles each week on my curb) that had accumulated over years from various homeowners. I repainted the walls and trim, refinished the original hardwood floors, replaced windows and countertops, added window treatments, and even landscaped and added a cute picket fence. The house was returned to what it was originally intended to be…a cute old house with tons of character. The old shabby layers were removed and new light shone through the windows.

Redemption in a Favored Children’s Book

I am reminded of a children’s book I called my favorite at age 8: The Little House by Virginia Lee. The story traces an old pink house that used to bask in the sun in the country, but eventually got stuck between skyscrapers as the city moved from far away to right in the little house’s backyard. As the city crowded out this little house’s spirit, her windows broke and her paint chipped. She was unhappy and she couldn’t see the sun or moon and she couldn’t hear the birds anymore. The subway below her kept her up at night. However, a distant relative found her one day, discovered it was the house of her great great great grandmother. She had the house moved back out into the country. She had her windows fixed and her shutters repainted. The little house was once again happy and could hear the birds sing again.

I think this story influenced my strongest passion: to renovate houses, but only because, for me, there’s meaning in taking something old and broken and reclaiming it. Turning it back into what it was intended to be.

We’re All A Little Shabby

Don’t we all feel like that little house, or that old broken coffee table at times? A little old, a little shabby, a little broken? We’re all human. We all have regrets. We all have pain. But, I believe strongly that we can all be redeemed and reclaimed. We can all be made whole again.

So, I don’t say I’m in the renovating business. I say I’m in the redemptive business. Because that’s a more fitting description of why I do these projects continually. I see beyond the outside and find the gold on the inside. I turn shabby into chic. Old into new again.

    1 Comment

  1. Ron Kesterke August 31, 2019 at 10:41 pm

    Redemption is a good thing for us all.