Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 8/19/2013 [Archive]

Martha's Big Adventure - A Dishwasher and a Vent above the Stove

Martha's Big Adventure — A Dishwasher and a Vent above the Stove

By Martha Carr

I've lived in a lot of apartments in a lot of different cities. Most of them have been described as vintage in their listing, which translates as very basic and old. I'm a big believer in location, location, location and I'm willing to trade where I am for whatever amenities there just aren't in my immediate surroundings.

That means I'm used to lugging air conditioners up and down stairs when the seasons change, and standing over the really warm spot on the floor when the temperature drops and the wind howls outside. That's the spot that sits right above the giant oil furnace.

I'm also a veteran dishwasher, and have spent hours after a dinner party or figuring out a new recipe leaning in front of the sink, trying to really scrub the corners of a baking dish.

That era really needed to go. I was determined that this was going to be the year I upgraded to an apartment with a dishwasher and for good measure, a vent above the stove.

I've set off the smoke alarm more times than my neighbors would like as I've learned to cook this past year. My experiments have made me a much better cook and I do a lot more of it so having something that can draw not only smoke but smells was becoming a necessity. The neighbors were starting to guess what I was making for dinner and wanted to know why I cooked with bacon so often.

When it's bacon there doesn't need to be a reason.

Fortunately, when I was telling my landlord, Al that I was reluctantly moving, I mentioned exactly why I felt I had to go. "I think we can do something about that," he said. I pointed out a dishwasher would eat up what little cabinet space I had, so, no thank you. "I have an idea," he said and before I knew it, the kitchen was taken back to the walls. Even the wood floor was replaced, along with all of the appliances and cabinets. The cabinet spaced doubled along with the size of the stove. The old refrigerator, which was from another era, stayed the same size but the interior space increased by half.

Every room was even painted and I got to pick the colors. No more dingy-white. Just like that, every room was coming to life. The building manager, Luis, who did most of the work looked just as surprised as me as he said, "You're the only one in the building with a dishwasher." I even got a larger window sill in the kitchen for an herb box.

That set off a chain reaction of expected events. My old second-hand furniture looked very sad against the new framework but even with my budget I was able to find gorgeous pieces at a place called Casa Couture in Chicago. Julie, the owner paints old furniture that I wouldn't look at twice in a garage sale and makes them into works of art.

My favorite is the new armoire that gave me more closet space and started out in life as a 70's era entertainment center in all its disco-era flashy glory. Now, it looks more Victorian and is so beautiful, even the delivery guys were taking pictures.

One young delivery man took a look around and said, "You got a nice little crib going on here."

All because I shared why I was moving and then kept right on asking for more. That's not my normal course of action. Often, I forget to even negotiate and only ask myself if I can live with the offer.

But being able to ask questions and gather information are powerful tools that can go as far as transforming a life. When I have remembered to do it, I've found out there are more ways to look at a solution and that people are willing to work with me.

And sometimes, you even get a nice little crib in a fabulous location. More adventures to follow. Tweet me @MarthaRandolph with what you've asked for lately that turned into a big win. Email Martha at

© 2013 Martha Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc. newspaper syndicate. This column has been edited by the author. Representatives of fact and opinions are solely those of the author. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email

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