In honor of April being…

In honor of April being National Poetry Month -- you're supposed to write about what you're obsessed by, no? Even if your obsessions are a little sad?

we thought we were so original

these are the decisions we make
tile versus slab
pine versus cherry
plain versus fancy
over and over again

we promise ourselves that
when the time comes
we will choose
so that we can afford the space we desire

everyone agrees
choose form over finishes
build the bones correctly
and the rest will follow

we tell ourselves that actually
we may like the plain as well
or better

Alice Waters has slate tiles for her countertop
set around a custom copper sink that we cannot afford
still, the tiles are lovely
and dark grout isn't so hard to clean

but he points out that slate chips easily
it isn't as durable as we would like
at the same time as we are trying to be frugal
we are trying to chose materials that will last
a century or so
like our house has
more or less

a better choice
zinc countertops like the Victorians used
they won't stay as pristine as stainless steel
zinc and copper are living metals
but patina means you don't actually have to clean them

and there's a rough honesty to a painted pine cabinet
enduring charm that resists
the sea of black granite and Brazilian cherry

we start to get excited about painted wood
just like Julia Child's kitchen
so homey and functional
comfortable for dog and children

and then the man tells us that actually
painted cabinets cost more than solid alder
so we had better have stained wood instead
and zinc costs more than than granite
those choices would save us nothing

we'll shave another six inches off the bones
hope that that's enough

at least my mother will be pleased.

3 thoughts on “In honor of April being…”

  1. Isn’t Formica the cheapest countertop material? It is durable but not very pretty. But I have it until I can afford something else.

  2. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    We’re trying to avoid as much as we can the cost-ineffectiveness of changing materials. Short-term, putting in a laminate is less expensive, sure. But if we’re going to change it at some point, then we have to add that cost to whatever we eventually put in. So laminate ends up being more expensive, long-term.

    So overall, since we hope to be here for thirty years or more, we’re not really trying to just pick the cheapest finishes. We’re trying to chose less expensive finishes that are still ones we like and expect to be happy living with, ideally for a very long time. If we put in a zinc countertop, for example, that could easily last a hundred years.

    And when we do plan on replacing things, we’re trying to make those the things that are easier to replace — lighting, for example, rather than counters or tilework.

  3. Oh, OK. I was thinking that putting in something functional, to be replaced only if/when you sold another book or something was in keeping with what the retired architect said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *