The family kitchen in the house my Father built is one of my favourite places to be.
Built in 1963, just before I was born, he often told me about his struggle to get it complete in time.
But against the odds he did it. Since then the house has stayed in the family, passing down to each generation of Austins.
The kitchen, above all else, holds many memories for me. It’s a room that has been battered by use over the 50 years since it’s construction.
When I sit in the big kitchen-diner, I’m brought back to countless family dinners spent eating around a forever scarred dining table that Mum never stopped fussing over. The chairs still have the same wobble that always sent my sisters flying whenever they lent back on them – bored from their homework.
The faux-marble work surfaces are the same ones that served as the stage for my Mother’s excellent baking projects and our disastrous ones. Little marks in the door frames even stand as a testament to the rate of our childhood growth spurts.
In 3 month’s time, I’ll be moving out of the old place to make way for my own daughter.
She’ll be taking the place off my hands and will be bringing her own young family in. Now that the house is about to change hands again, the time has finally come for a bit of a refurb. She holds just as many cherished memories for the place as I do, so I now have a real challenge on my hands.
I need to find an affordable way of modernising my old family home, whilst retaining the original charm that my Father endowed it with. It has to be redesigned to suit the needs of my daughter’s growing family, whilst keeping the little touches that will make it feel like the home that she grew up in, all those years ago.
There’s a lot to get done.
The battle-worn kitchen will be the biggest job. We’ve done our best to keep it clean, but that hasn’t stopped the now retro fittings wearing. I’ve spent the last 3 decades lovingly patching this kitchen up, but the result is less than aesthetically pleasing: a Frankenstein’s Monster of odd handles, mismatching doors and knobs.
The floor tiles have been kept sparkling clean by my wonderful wife, but that hasn’t stopped cracks popping up in the odd place.
The grouting between each tile has also slowly been crumbling away. My Father did a fantastic job in ’63, but it looks like his work’s slowly being undone by time. I’ll be reusing what tiles I can and finding a few matching ones to fill in the gaps.
Lastly, my daughter has begged for me to restore the furniture. I’ve never been that handy working with wood, but I have to admit that it would be a shame to simply throw away the table and chairs that have served two generations of Austins. My final job will be taking these old pieces apart and putting them back together.
All so this kitchen can play host to another 50 years of boisterous dinners and homework marathons.