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New and Improved

Richard Quinn

THE KITCHEN REMODEL is complete. It’s so new that we’re still trying to remember where we put the can opener. Truth be told, we haven’t quite learned how to work all the appliances, either.

Ready or not, our remodeled kitchen was recently put to the test by the visit of two of our children’s families—including five teenagers. There were ongoing warnings like “be careful how you close that drawer” and “don’t put that there, it will stain.” Happily, the kitchen survived. But only barely, according to my wife.

One outstanding issue: What would make an appropriate door between the kitchen and laundry room? We’re debating the issue. There is the door my wife envisions—and then there’s my idea of a door at a reasonable cost. It’s just a door, after all. I wish.

That isn’t the only surprise expense. A new kitchen makes the rest of the house look worn. The solution was to repaint everything. The woodwork and doors, last stained in the 1980s, were all painted white. “Watch the woodwork, it will chip if you hit it,” was heard frequently this summer. It turned out to cost $10,400 to update our look to 2021. I sure hope that white stays the “in” color.

In the fall, we will move the remodeling show outdoors. We plan to have the trim painted, the front stained, damaged facia boards replaced and new gutters hung. The price? To be determined. Then there are two bathrooms to be made new again, starting next January.

Why would a couple with an average age of 80 want to live in a construction zone? My wife says she wants the house up to snuff for the kids. I say… actually, I don’t say much.

How are we paying for all this? I never commit to spending before I know where the money is coming from. That’s true in this case, too. Since our ability to travel was restricted by COVID-19, we have unspent money in our travel fund. The fund was bolstered by the refund from our 2020 cruise disaster. We used to dedicate our Social Security payments to travel. Not these last 18 months. They’ve gone for remodeling, too. Then I’ve relented and stopped reinvesting some dividends. You guessed it—remodeling as well. Thinking ahead, I imagine my 2021 required minimum distributions will also be paying for those two new bathrooms.

Money well spent? You’ll need to ask my kids. Logical spending? To be determined.

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Rick Connor
Rick Connor
1 year ago

Great post, Richard. We completely remodeled our kitchen just before we moved to our shore house. This led to redoing the floors (which turned out great). Next is the two bathrooms. I am at peace with this – it will be a nicer place to live. Luckily the roof was replaced just before we moved in (paid for by insurance). Who knows after that.

One of the ways I justify this spending to myself is we are helping the economy. When we redo a kitchen we are using national firms, as well as local craftsmen. It helps keep our community going. At least that’s what I tell myself.

R Quinn
R Quinn
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick Connor

That’s a reasonable justification. We use all local people on the Cape. The great thing is they all seem to know each other and work together. I’ve talked to the carpenter, gutter people and painter on our current project. They have all talked to one another. I just leave it to them to coordinate who does what and when.

jerry pinkard
jerry pinkard
1 year ago

I am glad it is working for you. We initially planned to buy a new home after retirement. We have such a great 2 acre wooded lot with privacy and could not find anything close at an affordable price. Therefore, we decided to remodel our ranch style home instead. The big project was kitchen/dining area remodel with new cabinets, countertops, appliances, flooring, a new bay window, trim and more. My son is a remodeler and he and I did a lot of the work ourselves. It cost around $35k and rivals what you will see in an upscale new home and we are very pleased. The only remaining project is to remodel our baths. Retirement in place was not our original plan but it has worked out very well.

R Quinn
R Quinn
1 year ago
Reply to  jerry pinkard

Sounds to me like you made the right decision. As long as the house is senior friendly for the future which a ranch should be, you are all set. We moved from a three story older home to a 55+ condo which suits our needs fine, but we still have the vacation home to maintain.

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