after kitchen hoard 1

Turn Your UGH! Into “Ahhh”

Before After

As of press time for this blog—just like millions of people around the world—I was working from home because of the ongoing threat of COVID-19. I am lucky to have the technology in place to design and write from home.

I’m about to tell you something that seems unbelievable. Borderline preposterous. Ready for it?

You know the saying, “when it rains, it pours?” Well the heavens opened in earnest with rain that sheeted down on our client, Judy. Once the black cloud took momentum, it started showing up everywhere. Every time Judy turned around, she just couldn’t seem to catch a break. There were too many issues and too much context to Judy’s troubles, so I will try to condense them for the purpose of sharing what she struggled with. In just a matter of months all kinds of misfortunes happened to Judy. First, she purchased a condo with plans to renovate it for her brother. That’s when I met Judy. She’s a super nice, genuinely good person. I was instantly charmed by her and we became fast friends. Right smack in the middle of the renovation, a good friend of Judy’s went missing. For an entire week Judy spent nearly all of her daylight hours driving up and down streets throughout nearby neighborhoods scouting for her friend, along with other search parties. The outcome wasn’t good. Eight days later, they found the woman in her vehicle. Unfortunately, she was dead. Then Judy’s mother got upsetting news, of having preleukemia. The news came nearly fifteen years after she went into remission. Then Judy underwent rotator cuff surgery. Judy had to keep her arm in a sling for four to six weeks. She also needed to wear a shoulder immobilizer. Then, although Judy’s mother had just been diagnosed with cancer, her dear mother passed away—unexpectedly. And that’s when Judy inherited her mother’s house and the hoard. It can’t get any worse than this…right? Wrong. Then dreadful coronavirus happened. I know! I told you it’s unbelievable. I would be skeptical myself if I hadn’t known Judy.

I said “hoard” because the open-plan living space had been turned into something resembling a junkyard. Every room was overrun with personal effects, jewelry, clothes, and bric-a-bracs. It appeared that Judy’s beloved mother found it difficult to part with her belongings. There’s a difference between “collecting” and “hoarding.” For the person whose collecting has become hoarding, possessions become unorganized piles of clutter that are so large that they prevent rooms from being used for normal activities. In the living room there was a tiny pathway and room to sit in a chair or on the sofa. Treasured possessions littered the floor, discarded and left to weather the sands of time. The sofa was littered with family photos and clothes, while the coffee table was piled high with many years’ worth of newspapers that had yellowed over time. The woman’s hoard had taken over so much of the house, it was impossible to even get a feel for the layout. Even the piano couldn’t escape the years of accumulated belongings. Perhaps once the family’s pride and joy, items sat atop the piano, while underneath the instrument, more magazines sat stacked in neat piles.

Judy intended to sell her mother’s home. But first she needed to restore it to its former glory. Judy knew potential was there, underneath all of the piles of junk. Here’s what it was like to tackle a fixer-upper of epic proportions. Judy spent weeks at this house, working 12-hour days. Every. Single. Day. There were many, many days when Judy felt total frustration. She worked hard to clear a large area in a room, only to turn around and see that the room was still packed. Debris took up every available space in the room. Yet, she knew there were still more rooms that were still full. This house was packed to the gills. Judy discovered treasure troves of times gone by. She found boxes of personal belongings and antiques, offering a window into her mother’s life.

It’s really staggering and overwhelming to even consider, isn’t it? And just to make things worse, Judy hadn’t fully recovered from major shoulder surgery. And then there was grief to deal with.

Before After

Ultimately, Judy did get the house cleaned out, but the years of neglect had taken its toll on the house. There was major rat infestation in the attic costing Judy a small fortune for cleanup and repairs! The abandoned time warp kitchen had been left untouched over the years and fell into disrepair. Some cabinet doors hung on its hinges. A few drawers no longer closed completely shut. Judy asked me to measure the kitchen and master bathroom. During my initial visit it looked as if someone had started to tidy up. But it was difficult to traverse the kitchen with dishes, glassware, and bric-a-brac that covered the countertops completely. Stuff was still stacked high in the sink. The whole kitchen was overrun with clutter. I passed the deserted master bedroom on my way to measure the master bathroom. The closet doors were flung open, suggesting someone left in a hurry, while the bed was littered with countless possessions.

And two months later — what a stunner! The new white Shaker-style cabinets look so much fresher than the former kitchen. Judy selected two beautiful colors of granite exactly one month to the day later of her mother’s death. The granite countertops in the kitchen are different than the ones in the bathrooms, but they are both light and airy. Judy changed the feel of the cabinets from something that was rather ordinary to something very special by selecting the perfect knobs and pulls. Having beautiful hardware is like putting on your favorite piece of jewelry. The kitchen now looks so warm and welcoming. I can imagine sitting on a barstool at the peninsula and chit chatting with the new homeowner. Yep! You read that right. Who doesn’t like a happy ending? The house sold after being on the market only four days and during Covid-19 lockdown!!!

The team from Just Counters & Other Stuff, Ben Hanson and Tylor Lefever, performed another wonderful job installing the cabinetry. Both are knowledgeable, organized, conscientious, and have by far exceed Judy’s expectations. Every step of the way, Imex Stone did a fantastic job, from template, fabrication, delivery and install of all the countertops and sinks.

Maybe by the time I sit down to write my next weekly blog, life will be slowly getting back to normal. Maybe not. Nothing is certain right now; except for one thing…it will be a “new” normal. Here’s to you and all of your families staying safe and healthy.

Before After


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