Sunday, June 04, 2006

Counter Change

Counter Change

Right now, my counter is making me very happy.

We have a beautiful kitchen. The previous owners revamped it. The cupboard doors are hunter green, the counters, edges of the cupboards and door pulls are medium oak. They made a lovely backsplash of small green tiles bordered by oak trim, and covered the wall behind the sink in a pattern of stone tiles exactly to my taste. Mostly squares, a few diagonal seams -- just enough variation for interest without so much as to become gaudy.

One particularly gorgeous feature is the piecing of the oak boards in the corner. The boards run from the edge to the backsplash along all straight sections of counters. There is one corner. They meticulously fanned triangular pieces of oak to create an even and gorgeous transition from one facing of the strips to the next.

Now that Doug has repaired the under the cupboard lights, the whole counter glows in home magazine fashion. It really looks like a designer kitchen, photo-worthy, rich.

Using the kitchen instead of looking at it revealed a few problems. The space allowed at the end of one counter, where the water line to hook to an internal icemaker suggested we should put our refrigerator -- is actually too small to place any standard refrigerator, if you want to actually open the doors wide enough to open the drawers. The dishwasher is an inconvenient three steps distant from the sink. And, most ungracious of all -- the gorgeous wooden countertops were not waterproof! In the time between when we first saw the home, and when we took possession after closing, the area around the sink had darkened and waterspotted. Boards had separated from their neighbors and the gap had been filled with wood putty. The whole counter had aged, in a matter of weeks.

It's amazing how awkward it feels to work in a kitchen where you dare not get water on the counter. Every standard kitchen task becomes more complex.

Three days ago, I refinished a section of the counter. Sand, coat with polyacrylic, wait three hours, repeat. To a total of three coats, with a final sanding.

It's not perfect. I preserved some flaws too deep to be sanded out, and one section of the finish has a little pebbling. Yet that counter glows. I can fill a glass on it, without hyperattention to not spilling any. I can wipe it with a wet cloth, no harm done. I'm free.

So I'm now very happy about being able to do with a counter things that before I moved, I took for granted for counters.

That's the way it goes. We're often more appreciative of an improvement, than of the many blessings we're accustomed to.

I don't know how long I'll continue to be happy every time I wipe the newly refinished counter with a wet cloth. Most likely, in time, I'll forget how wonderful that seems to me now. But do I have to? Could I remember?

May you see one of your current blessings with fresh eyes.

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