I went into a home right after Katrina where I saw the kitchen of my dreams. The homeowner was a friend of a friend. Mr. FS and I were taking a walk after the storm (since there was nothing else to do); also, the rumormill said that someone on that street had a working phone. En route to the phone, we saw Catherine, who had just returned to town. She said we could see if her phone worked. We went into the kitchen and discovered that the phone indeed worked. We called our families to tell them we were okay. Meanwhile, Catherine discovered that several trees had gone through the roof of her newly renovated house.
But the kitchen! Beautiful antique-looking (custom) cabinets that went up to her high ceilings. Glass front cupboards (custom) filled with beautiful dishes.A custom-made island that looked like something you'd see in a fantasy of Provence. An 8 burner Viking stove. I admired the kitchen. She said, Yes, I bought the house for the kitchen. The previous owner--a cigar chomping youngish guy who looked like the Master of the Universe--had done the renovation. No one ever saw Mrs. Master. Catherine said that the cabinetry had been in natural wood. She "couldn't live with that." So she had it painted white.
Catherine is from an old wealthy Louisiana family. So is her (now ex-) husband. That kind of kitchen could be mine--for about $100,000.00. Out of my league, I'm afraid.
The first time I went to a kitchen place, I witnessed this exchange. Customer: I want what's popular. Salesperson: Maple cabinets and granite. Customer: That's what I want. End of design process.
Salespeople assume they know what you want. I kept being told that I "needed" an island or peninsula. I pointed out that I would have to remove my table. To which the salesperson replied, You could eat on stools at the island! No, said I. Then you could eat Japanese=style on your living room rug! So much for the design process.
When I said I wasn't crazy about granite, I was looked at with pity.
So what do you do when you don't want the maple/granite kitchen of most middle-class dreams? What if you REALLY like Catherine's magazine-worthy kitchen but don't want to spend $100,000?
Well, you have to figure out how you can get something of the atmosphere you want (unassuming Creole cottage?) while staying within the boundaries of pathological frugality. In other words, you have to figure it out yourself. Even if it drives you crazy. And you over-research. And everyone laughs at you for not being able to make up your mind. What else is new?