The Suitcase Lady


January 6, 2009, 10:50 pm

Anyone can remodel a kitchen by being handy with $40,000. It’s a real trick to do a make over for $2,000.

Our son in San Diego found himself with four young children, a large dog and a kitchen built in 1939. Taking his design inspiration from friends’ houses in Mexico, he planned a remodel. The new kitchen would be owner-built of simple, affordable materials. Our daughter-in-law noted another Mexican imperative, “Stops in construction might have to occur until the next payday.”
Two building materials would be featured, Mexican tile and concrete – lots of concrete.
The work began. Four, ninety pound bags of cement were mixed into concrete. The concrete was poured into a handmade, arch-shaped wooden mould and allowed to dry for a week. Nine of these arches were created from the same mould. The arches became the supports for the built in table and countertop.
Then, the easiest, cheapest and most visually striking work commenced. Three trips to Mexico were made to bring home a stunning array of tiles. Patterns were created, and the table, countertops and floor were hand tiled.
One summer of hard labor, ingenuity, trial, error AND intense patience from all family members produced an utterly delightful kitchen. To which I must add, our son and his family now have the heaviest kitchen in all of America.

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