That’s the cover to "Fixing to Die," my November 2013 Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper mystery. In "Fixing to Die" Josie and her new husband, Ted Scottsmeyer, are fixing up their home. I need your help with the remodeling.
Each Josie book has a mystery shopping theme. I wanted to write about remodeling bathrooms. Don and I had remodeled a 1905 brick two-family flat in St. Louis. A lot of our money went down that bathroom drain.
The toilet stopped up if you looked at it cross-eyed. The neighborhood plumber not only knew our address, he knew the previous owners by their first names. They did not have indoor plumbing in their homeland, and regarded the commode as a garbage disposal.
The bathroom’s crumbling plaster walls were papered with exuberant blue flowers. The clawfoot bathtub was painted, then decorated with those same giant blue flowers. The toenails on the tub’s claw feet were manicured blue. I stripped the paint and wallpaper off the tub.
One weekend, the tub leaked into the globe light of the bathroom below us. The couple downstairs demanded to know what we were going to do.
"Would you like a couple of goldfish for the bowl?" Don asked.
"How about a cute kitchen?" she said.
"There is nothing cute about kitchens," I said. "They are sweatshops."
"You’re so funny," she said.
"I’m not kidding. I don’t cook. I once burned boil-in-the-bag lima beans. I don’t know anything about kitchens. What am I going to do?"
"Research," she said.
Before I set foot in an actual kitchen, I trolled the Internet and found the impossible: A cute kitchen.
I discovered Pam Kueber’s Retro Renovation blog, www.RetroRenovation.com.
Mid-century kitchens are all the rage. Being a mid-century person, real mid-century kitchens held little appeal for me. Mainly because they had tired mid-century mothers and squalling mid-century babies. Also, washing the mid-century Melmac was no treat. I didn’t realize it would be an antique.
But distance lends charm. I liked the mid-century kitchens on this site. Especially this renovation by Carrie. She restored this kitchen for $6,000 and told her story here. http://tinyurl.com/at64cfv These are Carrie’s photos. I wrote to Pam and Carrie and asked if Josie could have this kitchen. They agreed.
I also discovered Web sites and whole stores devoted to mid-century antiques, furniture, appliances and more.
Now I need your help with the remodeling. Tell me your kitchen remodeling story. If I use it in the book, I’ll send you an autographed copy of "Fixing to Die." Gentlemen, if you don’t read cozies, your mothers, wives or sweethearts would love this book.
Please send me your struggles with stoves, wiring, plumbing, cabinets, painting, even the kitchen sink. Especially the kitchen sink.
Send your kitchen renovation stories to email@example.com