“It Needs Updating”

J Philip Faranda September 8, 2009

** Rant Advisory**

Since my 4 year old has elected to forego sleep and erect a Thomas the Tank Engine memorial on the dining room table, the 2-year old has followed him in the project and my 70 pound German Shepherd feels the need to jam his schnozz in my armpit, slumber has not been an option since 4:30 am. I have therefore stationed myself at my kitchen table to observe Those Two reinvent the planet, canine at my feet, and I have fired the laptop up. Thank God for wireless Internet. 

Gregory Max 

To my right, peeking out from behind the kitchen hutch, is a 59-watt Nutone radio/intercom system in the wall that probably hasn’t worked since Watergate. Not long after we moved in, we were able to get 104.3 FM, the Home of Rock, in a grainy but understandable signal, nodded at each other, and turned it off. The kitchen counter tops are the same Formica with the stars and metal edges that were installed in 1962.  Just about everything in the kitchen outside of the appliances  is original. Some call that ancient. More charitable souls call it a period piece. I just call it a kitchen. No kidding. My wife’s lasagna will taste like heaven if it were prepared on plywood wrapped in tin foil. Any flat surface will do. It doesn’t bother me that my kitchen dates back to the Kennedy administration. We eat well. 

Nutone    Kitchen counter

So I have a confession to make. Sometimes, when I hear a buyer tell me that they think a kitchen or bathroom needs updating I hold my tongue and think about Aruba. It isn’t that I’m not impressed with a fabulous granite counter top, stainless steel appliances, a Viking Stove and Sub Zero refrigerator; they are very nice. The same goes for column sinks, jacuzzi tubs and ceramic tile in the bathroom. Good stuff. I just never got the memo that those things were necessities. 

Maybe I’m just too outcome oriented. In Boy Scouts, they taught us the rudimentary ways of living, cooking, and yes, pooping, outdoors. Among the principles ingrained (aside from the fact that you don’t mix the endeavors) were what it took to make the food appear and the poop go away. The last time I checked, when I flush my toilet, the desired outcome occurred. And I’ve already told you about Ann’s cooking. Plus, we’re indoors, which is very nice indeed, especially when it gets cold. 

Perhaps we just have different priorities. My parents grew up in the Great Depression. Ann’s parents survived the brutal Japanese occupation of Korea and then a horrible war. A new bath or kitchen isn’t a must. When I walk through a foreclosed property and I see a cook’s kitchen and a bathroom that belongs at the Bellaggio, it just kills me. “They must have run out of money” someone says. Can you imagine? Losing your house because you leveraged the hell out of it, not to pay for college or treat some horrible disease, but to cut celery and do Number Two in luxury? Are you kidding me? Have we lost our collective minds? Try this: Make yourself a tuna fish sandwich. This time, add some horseradish and Worcestershire. Unless you hate tuna, that is good, and it is yummy if it was prepared on granite, Formica or a butcher block. Don’t take my word for it, try it. 

I have walked through some amazing homes in this business, and seen some magnificent kitchens and baths. I am a little envious of those extra faucets that give unlimited hot water for coffee and tea. I want one of those. However, before we start gutting this old kitchen and updating the baths, I have college tuition for four children to think about. Once we have that squared away, we’ll make this a place that will give Martha Stewart the chills. But first things first. 

In the meantime, when I represent the buyer, you can bet I’ll tell the listing agent our price is more than fair considering the updates needed. I’m good at that. It is smart, honest bargaining. My buyers may in fact feel that a new kitchen is a necessity. I just hope, that once my clients take ownership, that they’ll make the right decisions, especially if they have children. 

Asleep

Next week: Are walk in closets a communist plot to weaken America? 

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