Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The "Wow!" factor

I know. You waited patiently for me to get beyond "Bike to Work Week", and now you're stuck reading about "Remodel Your Kitchen Biennium". Sorry.

Our kitchen didn't work. The range worked, as did the oven, refrigerator, dishwasher and sink. But the kitchen didn't. It was a combination of the homemade cupboards that had been cut in half to mount appliances, drawers without glides or any lubrication other than the sawdust they continually emitted, the fresh fruit wallpaper and the "layered look" vinyl vinyl floor floor with the patched square in the middle. For five years we tried to make it work, shifting use of counters again and again, moving the microwave, coffee prep area and main work spaces in an attempt to find some combination that made sense. It simply never did.

So, after months and years of talking about it, we invited bids for the remodel. The contractor we went with asked what we were looking for, to which we replied that, though we certainly appreciate quality materials and artisan skills, we just wanted the kitchen to work. "You aren't going for the Wow! Factor", they asked?

As it is turning out, we are getting the Wow! factor....

  • First of all, there was a 50% increase from the initial estimate to the numbers given us, at our insistence, before we would consider signing a contract. Wow!
  • There was the decision to part ways with the contractor, even though we'd already ordered the cabinets and paid design fees. Wow!
  • We learned about underfloor heating, first from our son, and later from our neighbor, Ron, who is helping it become a reality. Wow!
  • Sally and I have become accustomed to living with dust everywhere, including copious quantities in our lungs, and are getting along fine. Wow!
  • We've learned how to remove cabinets, soffits, and flooring, as well as how to string wiring for lights and outlets. Wow!
  • We've had help from neighbors, conversations about religion with people as eclectic as ourselves, and made the acquaintance of a mountaineering plumber who works both quickly and with a flair that can only be described as art. Wow!
It's too early to tell how this story will end. But for now, in spite of the disappointments, false starts, and sore joints and muscles, it's feeling just right.


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