For weeks, I’ve been living with a far-from-functional kitchen. The Los Angeles cabin that me and my husband, Buck Mason founder Erik Ford, recently purchased is essentially a full-on construction zone, and we’ve been making do with a $100 laundry tub as a sink and a rickety, stand-alone dishwasher, which I swiftly cover up with a blanket when not in use. I was gung-ho on renovating the room, but then the COVID-19 pandemic happened. It has majorly impacted everything.
While the California governor’s office has deemed construction an essential service in the state, I’m not having visitors over right now, and this includes most contractors. But instead of letting quarantine put a damper on my timeline, I’m taking matters into my own hands, starting with my Lauren Liess–designed cabinets, which arrived in a truck at my doorstep last week, ahead of schedule. There was no traffic on the highways. At least that was one perk. Rather than let the 10 boxes sit until my crew can come back, I opened everything up and started configuring the frames myself. Here’s how I’ve been staying busy at home.
It’s Okay to Depart From the Original Plan Photography courtesy of Leanne Ford Photography courtesy of Leanne Ford
Two days before the cabinets were delivered, my intentions for the space changed. The original layout accounted for one main sink, overlooking the dining area and backyard, so I was going to get rid of the makeshift one in the corner that I’ve been using to get by. But then I thought, Why am I going to pay the plumber to close it out when I already paid to have it opened? No. I’m going to figure out how to have two sinks. I spent hours measuring and readjusting the configuration to try to make room for the 30-inch basin I want to install there.
Play…and Then Play Some More Photography courtesy of Leanne Ford
I liken the cabinet frames to Legos—very heavy Legos. Fortunately, my husband and my sister-in-law, who is staying with us, were able to lend a hand. Even though each cupboard was designed to fit into a certain spot (there are designated end pieces, corner pieces, etc.), that didn’t stop me from experimenting. I must have moved things around 100 times. Everything is so perfect, and then I’m like, ‘Well, what if I put this part upside down.’
Shop Your Own Home
Right now, I don’t have the ability to go shopping for a second sink base, so I’m looking around my own house for a potential option. Whatever it is, it has to be sturdy enough to support the heavy Native Trails basin that arrived with the cabinetry. One promising candidate? The legs of an old wood worktable. An ‘uh-oh’ happens on every project, but that always becomes my favorite part.
Move Forward in Small Ways Photography courtesy of Leanne Ford
The cabinets aren’t totally secure at this point, but they’re at least in the right spot. I covered part of them with a tabletop so me and my family have a spot to prep food for now. My main piece of advice for other renovators who are feeling stuck: Don’t start anything if you can help it. Oh, and be up front with your spouse about how long a DIY is going to take. I’ve lied to myself plenty of times.
Now that the cabinets are in place, I have my sights set on smaller, tool-heavy tasks, like swapping out the fixtures in my shower, some drywalling, and installing the cabinet hardware. My punch list is never-ending.
As told to Lydia Geisel.
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