[Photo: Welcome to the Hoarders! Our living room has been even more chaotic than our kitchen during the renovation. The TV was covered in plastic for nearly two months as we were too busy to bother with watching TV.]
Hey all! We are now 13 weeks into our kitchen renovation we have had a lot of progress, a few delays, and a lot of excitement built up in anticipation of finally having our dream kitchen. But, it also means we have now been living in chaos for thirteen weeks, or as I prefer to call it… Living in an episode of “Welcome to the Hoarders!”. Our apartment is a disgusting mess, it’s dusty, it’s dirty, and it’s completely disorganized. But before I get to that, we hit an important milestone on the kitchen renovation followed by a MAJOR hiccup. The weekend before last I was fighting an awful head cold, but I had a deadline to meet, and carry on I must, so I loaded up on Mucinex-D and managed to complete the installation of the base cabinets along the sink wall. I had to complete the cabinets to the point where we ready have the measurements taken for our honed Carrara marble countertops. Woo Hoo! This is a really big deal!
So, with our deadline met, the appointment we made a couple of weeks back for countertop measurements happened this past Wednesday. How did it go? Well, I had to be present to explain what we are doing, so I worked from home that day to be available. An hour into the 2-6PM arrival window a nice young man from New Jersey called to tell me he was ten minutes away. He arrived shortly thereafter and got right to work. I must say, major points for having solid communication skills as there is nothing more frustrating than working with tradespeople who can’t complete a sentence or mumble in a way you don’t understand. [Before you think I am elitist or a racist, allow me to clarify that if English is not your first language, I am much more forgiving for communications challenges.] He spent about 45 minutes using a device with a laser on a tripod and an iPad to take measurements in the kitchen, he had me sign a bunch of documents, and took our copper sink along with his equipment and that was it. Done!
What’s the plan now? Well, when I wrote the draft for this post late last week, our plans were to schlepp out to Edison, New Jersey on Saturday on NJ Transit to pick out our slab of marble. We were super excited (not about NJ Transit of course)…. But that didn’t happen. When we called the stone supplier late Friday afternoon to confirm their hours and check on stock, it turned out that they apparently didn’t have any honed Carrara in stock even though they claim to on their website. To add to this…. They don’t know when they will get more in. Ugh…. Really? We are hoping that honed Carrara doesn’t turn out to be the unicorn of countertop materials.
So what does this mean? That’s a really good question. Aside from the general frustration, the biggest setback is that after talking with the supplier yesterday, this now delays our having a functional kitchen by at least four to six weeks as they don’t know exactly when they will be getting more stock. Color both of us DISPIRITED and NOT HAPPY!!!!!
The biggest challenge with getting countertops boils down to us living in Manhattan and the logistics of obtaining anything that doesn’t fit neatly into a small box. Nearly all of the stone suppliers and fabricators are either in Long Island, or in our case, Edison, New Jersey. The stone yard is about 40 miles away and only open during business hours during the week, and from 9 to 1 on Saturdays. Since I have a day job, we can only go on a Saturday morning. And since we don’t own a car, it takes nearly two hours each way on NJ Transit (and a cab for the last 1.5 miles). But getting to the stone yard is just the first challenge….. Once we eventually get to select our slab, we have to make another trip to New Jersey (Passaic this time) to the stone fabricators to determine the layout of the different sections of our countertops and especially the slab on the wall behind the range. And, like the stone yard, the fabricator is only open business hours during the week, and even less time on Saturdays (of course), and there is virtually no transit. Then there is one more complication…. We have a much needed mini-vacation in Seattle where we plan to celebrate our second anniversary, a trip we planned long before we had any inkling of delays.
Now that we have this forced delay, I can only do what I can to make the best of a shitty situation. While we await the resolution to our marble woes, I plan to continue working on things such as priming and painting the shelves for the upper cabinets (almost completed this past weekend), priming and painting the door frames and drawer fronts, and hopefully getting started on some of the trim work around the upper cabinets. There are also plenty of other small projects I can focus on…. Maybe I will start on phase 2, the cabinets on the opposite side of the room, or maybe I’ll just take a day off on a weekend and do nothing. Something I haven’t done for a long time. Of course one other impact from this delay is the reality that we will not have a functioning kitchen before June, and that means we will be forced to live in chaos for at least an additional month, or God forbid, longer.
Okay, back to the topic of chaos. Because we opted for me to DIY the majority of our renovation, we are limited to the amount of available time I have when I am not working my regular 40+ hours per week. This basically means every weekend is devoted to the kitchen. Additionally, I have taken the equivalent of about three weeks off since January to get big projects out of the way. We may be saving a ton of money by doing our own work, but I will be the first to say that priming and painting all of the individual cabinet pieces has been a long arduous task. One that I am not sure I was quite prepared for. So far, I have primed and painted more than 70 individual cabinet pieces, some on both sides, some in two colors of paint, and I am still only about 60% done. That said, I have zero regrets about our cabinet choice and would do it again, especially considering we will end up with something nobody else has.
All the while, we have been living in total chaos in the rest of our apartment. If we had a house, we could likely contain the mess to an adjacent room, but not so much in our 785 square feet. Our entire home has been turned upside down and there is no end in sight. The refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and more than 40 boxes have been in our living room since the end of January. We are making due with a microwave in the center hall, a box of plastic dishes which we wash in the bathroom sink, and all of our art is piled up in the bedroom for protection. Our entry gallery was turned into a storage hall with all the cabinet parts lined up on one wall, beadboard and cement tiles on the other.
Added to all of this, a leak in the bathroom ceiling from upstairs has forced the super to remove the plaster from half of our ceiling, and part of the wall above the tub. It started in January when I noticed paint bubbling up on the ceiling. Initially they scraped about a quarter of the ceiling to get the loose plaster down so they could repair it after everything dried out. Then when they came back a few weeks ago, they discovered the problem which they thought was fixed was actually worse, leading to the removal of about half the plaster on the ceiling and a large portion of wall above the tub to again allow everything to dry out. The fireproof gypsum blocks in the wall were saturated. Not good. So, in the midst of chaos generated by my work, we have had the additional chaos of unexpected plaster dust and dirt from the demo work in the bathroom. We still don’t have a clear picture when this will all be repaired. Oy!
And now a word of caution to those who dream of doing their own renovations…. Be very willing to be very flexible in a constantly changing environment. An environment which will be unbelievably dusty, dirty, messy, ugly, and above all, chaotic. Fortunately, hubby and I are that exceptionally rare couple who never argue, and always just get along (seriously, we have never had an argument), but these past few months have had moments where we are both just frustrated with living in the mess, and fantasizing about the day when we can have our home back. We just want to not trip over crap piled up around our home, we just want to be able to enjoy the spaces which we had worked so hard to make nice and are now just disgusting.[I wrote the last paragraph before we found out about our honed hiccup and added delays, and I am even more grateful for my amazingly patient husband.]
What’s next? Well, I don’t now if I will have an update before we leave for our mini-vacay in Seattle, but hopefully we will know more about our honed unicorn marble countertops and I plan to just keep putzing along with the details. It’s not like I have nothing to do. 🙂
One last thing….. Our kitchen on Sunday afternoon just after I finished installing the under cabinet lighting. Swoon!