Buying an old house comes with many headaches, usually in the form of updates and repairs which are either badly done, garishly ugly, or both. We inherited the ugly and badly done variety. The fake brick wall in the Crappy Kitchen was definitely an eye-sore and coming up with a solution took a few years.
This white-washed looking brick may have been something I could have lived with, but when it was discovered that this brick was about a 1/4 ” thick and fixed somehow to the “real” wall, I couldn’t stand it. We tried to remove it and fling it ceremoniously into the rubbish bin, to join the cupboard doors (thin panels of sloppily painted wood with plastic knobby handles!) which had met their demise earlier in the week, but they were stuck on with something so powerful it would take years to chisel away.
When you don’t have the money to do that fabulous kitchen renovation, you resort to being clever and inventive, qualities you cultivate in abundance when practiced over and over.
Since deciding that the rickety floors and main bathroom needed to be tackled first, the kitchen was forgotten about. The only thing that brightened it up was all of my lovely kitchen tools and hand-made ceramic dishes, bowls and cups.
I remember one day when we first moved in, writing a phone number with a pen on a wide wooden panel on the wall because I desperately needed the number and no one came running when I yelled “PAPER!” I thought it looked interesting, and since I did not care for anything in the kitchen but my cooking equipment, the whole family began to use all the ugly wooden surfaces in the kitchen as an address book. It is now so crammed with numbers (eventually we graduated to writing address too!), it is a source of interest to anyone who visits the kitchen. It can be a bit of a challenge to find a number when you want one, but no harder than looking for your address book in that drawer filled with everything for batteries, to loose change.
I don’t know who in the family to give credit to the idea but suddenly we decided to draw on the individual bricks. It probably came about after another discussion on how to camouflage the bricks in some way. We came up with a simple set of rules that had to be followed if you wanted to draw on the wall, and after that it was open to anyone who wanted to color a brick.
You could only use one color, it had to be a permanent marker (we started keeping a whole selection of them in that drawer I just talked about), and it had to be an abstract design (no cute flowers or stick figures!).
Any time we had people over there was always an opportunity to color a brick. It became a great after dinner activity when a few glasses of wine seemed to release some people’s inner modernist. Of course the kids seemed to not need wine to come up with designs that far surpassed our sometimes too-serious approach.
So now, if you are ever stuck with an ugly wall or cupboard door, you’ll know what to do until you can fix it: sharpie pens and no fear! I would still prefer a fake-brick-free kitchen, but now I’m thinking it will be hard to destroy because when I look at the colorful bricks, it is a lovely reminder of the people who created them.