We replaced kitchen cupboards at our cottage on the weekend.
The old ones had been there for decades—probably since the 1950s when my father-in-law bought the place. They were functional, but not perfectly so. The drawers, without sliders, squeaked closed, wood against wood. One cupboard door was hung crooked and sprang open again if not closed with authority.
I was excited to replace the old cupboards with units that had proper shelving and drawers the slid home easily with a quiet thunk at the end.
And then we took the old ones apart.
Those gliders on the wooden drawers? Hockey sticks. (Canadian stereotype alert!)
The side panels were pieces of used decorative paneling (that I suspect he picked up for free from a discard pile somewhere). Every screw used to cobble the whole thing together was different. He’d obviously empty every jar of used screws in his work shed.
We bowed down to the skillful frugality of my father-in-law, the King of Making Do. What we found behind the smooth white front was a masterpiece of creative re-purposing that gave new meaning to the term “custom kitchen.”
He was teenager during the Great Depression and those years of poverty marked him. He lived Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Re-purpose, Recycle before it became an environmental mantra.
It was marvelous. And so beautiful.
Syd, if you’re out there somewhere, I hope you know that I am bowing down to your work and the beauty of making do.