Taking Risks and a Kitchen Remodel

You risk tears if you let yourself be tamed.

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944), The Little Prince
I love this quote – for me it is a representation of all things lost when we avoid taking risks, great or small. I can’t say it has been comfortable, but I am not opposed to the idea of taking risks.
I took a risk 13 years ago when I bought an old 1912 uninhabitable Victorian house. It was one of the greatest projects of my life, created with my own hands alongside those of family and friends. I didn’t know at the time, but the process of bringing that house back to life was a direct metaphor of bringing my own self back to life. Within 2 years, I resigned from my job, sold that lovely house, and packed up whatever belongings I had left after a major yard sale purge. I was ready to take my next risk, a 12-month (or so) period of travel in Europe and across the United States. So, off I flew to Europe. I could not begin to understand that one of my life’s biggest risks was yet to come. Not even 2 months into my travels, I met a man at the train station in Gothenburg, Sweden, when I asked if he spoke English and could help me find my lost CD player. He said ‘yes’, and 2 months later I said ‘yes’. That man is now my husband, and that 12-month travel plan never happened, and I never returned to the U.S. to unpack all of those belongings I had left behind. That was 10 years ago! Yes, I’ve taken some risks.
We bought a house nearly 3 years ago, one that requires total renovation in order to properly give it a new life. It’s a much slower process for me this time – but none the less satisfying. We’ve tackled the kitchen first, and it wasn’t until we took the risk of finishing some of the work ourselves that we really got a kitchen that includes a real piece of us  – regardless of what current trends of Sweden dictate. Let me explain. But first, a peek at the (almost) finished product.
Now a look at where it all began. 

We felt overwhelmed, so we originally hired out the work, but that money quickly disappeared as everything seems to cost 3 times more here in Sweden than what I think it should. So, we TOOK A RISK and decided to finish the work ourselves (hanging cabinets, tiling walls, installing appliances, etc.). We wanted a clean-style kitchen to match the 70’s flat-roof architecture of the house itself. But at some point I felt it was getting ‘too clean’ – that’s when I took another risk and grabbed some long stone tiles that I had saved from a trash pile at a local tile store and slapped them right in the middle of the clean-lined glass mosaics that I had been using.

 

 

It wasn’t until I added this little piece of ‘junk’ to our kitchen that I felt it was more complete, more mine. The wall below this area was not totally smooth and the rest of my tile turned out a little jiggly – something my husband said added more character (bless him).

 

The glass mosaic tile wall may not be perfect…but it IS perfectly me!
Those belongings I left back in the States were whittled down over the years and dispersed to my American family – all but the most near and dear items and artwork that represented my ‘historical me’ – which have finally been reunited with me here in Sweden. Thus, the reason for starting this blog and naming it after my precious-but-less-than-perfect blue velvet chair. As cheesy as it sounds, my past has now joined my present and I feel more whole as I move into the future.A big thanks to Nesting Place for your National (not really) Take a Risk Day.

Until next time…
M

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