The Road to Plantation Chic

We’re over being over the kitchen renovation.  The last time we blogged we were scrambling for flooring, the cabinets and appliances were living in the dining room and our contractor and designer were MIA.  Over the past 8 days we rode the emotional rollercoaster of a love/hate project – hating the process while loving the outcome.

After last Friday’s flooring fiasco, and a week of little progress beyond demolition, Daryush graced us with an 8am Saturday visit, where he assured us we were back on track- it’s all good – yes yes yes – we’re gonna get it done – blah blah blah.  At some point we became Charlie Brown and he was sounding like the teacher. 

We left for errands while they ran the gas line.  Interestingly, Nabo the cabinet installer is also the gas line installer.  Go figure.  He crawled under the house while his helper held the flashlight. Two non-English speaking flooring guys showed up at 3:30 and said Mohammed sent them.  Since we didn’t know Mohammed, we thought they might be at the wrong house, but Nabo took over and after some foreign negotiation they left. It turns out that they were at the right house, but it was too late in the day and they had just come by to tell us that they would not be doing any work today.  Thanks for coming by. 

While we were out, we stopped at designer Margaret’s yard to inspect our Colonial Cream granite and then to Best Tile to pick up Champagne glass subway tiles with special adhesive and grout.  After busted visits to 4 tile stores on the industrial Parklawn Drive, we found Best Tile next to our favorite Goodwill.  Owner Gil was working the warehouse and showed us a closeout special that was the perfect color glass to pull our “Plantation Chic” look together.  The 3 by 6 inch glass tiles were part of a large batch that the glass tile inspector found to be uneven in color from tile to tile.  We could not tell one tile apart from the next so we picked them up at a deep discount. 

Top it off with a $2.96 Johnny U black and white signed photograph for our pool room from Goodwill; we felt the tides changing.

That night, at 9:30, Daryush called to say “Sunday, we work.”  The two flooring guys arrived at 11:30 and we went to play whack-a-ball tennis and then to Rock Bottom Brewery to drown our sorrows with Kolsch and calamari.

When we came back, the flooring and base cabinets were in – we were on our way to granite and appliances – or what we thought was, the home stretch.  Since Daryush and Margaret gave us a one week production timeline, we were sure it would only be another day or two.  Turns out we are more naive than we look.

Welcome to Monday, August 26, the first day of 11th grade, the 2nd week of USNA and the inconvenient truth that we were facing another week of eating out, dust mites and renovation raiders. 

On the first day they installed the granite, sink, dishwasher and microwave/wall oven.  Unfortunately they couldn’t hook up the cooktop because Chuck the electrician (and Margaret’s uncle) disappeared and was not answering his phone or returning any of the dozen messages we left for him.  Turns out the messages we were leaving for Chuck, were picked up by his son, Little Chuck, who didn’t know what was going on so he just ignored them.  We pleaded with Margaret to call him, but she didn’t want to get in the middle, but finally conceded and Chuck profusely apologized, saying he didn’t know EXACTLY what we wanted him to do.  I’m surprised Eric has survived Chuck.  Here’s a sample of his work as it now stands …

On the second day Nabo was back to finish installing the cabinets while his helper mounted the pulls. Realizing that the refrigerator was too tall to fit the opening, we had to switch from a 24″ cabinet to an 18″, which is currently on order.  Rather than ask, “Who measured?” we took the high road and just shook our heads.  The pulls are another story.  We pined over the pulls for 2 weeks – would we use all one size?  A mix of 3 sizes?  Eric bought and returned pulls from 3 Home Depots til we made the final decision and guess what happened???  Bingo! The helper eyeballed the installation and my careful review with a level revealed that all but 2 of 44 pulls were either crooked or uneven. I won’t publish my pottymouth response to this, but Daryush got an earful and we got the promise of level pulls with no signs of puttyholes or all new cabinet doors.  Israel spent all of day 3 fixing the mistakes, while another helper painted the ceiling (a masterful finish to his credit!). 

On day 4 they stained the floors, painted the walls and finally removed the cabinet after I threw a hissy fit for having to walk around the refrigerator all week.  I wanted the damn refrigerator in the refrigerator hole.  Is that too much to ask??  Israel, fixer of cabinet pulls, put on his tile installer hat and put up the back splash.  Professing that he had NO IDEA that we had picked up special mastic for glass tile, he used his own pre-mixed discount brand which is JUST AS GOOD.  Should we pull off the tiles and start over or is this one more compromise?  We went with the latter.  Maybe we will replace the back splash some day and use that special adhesive that Gill the tile guy insisted we purchase.  That will also give us an opportunity to fix the alignment issues Israel had in some sections of the project.  Until that day, we put the toaster in front of the rough spot. 

On day 5 they cleaned up – which meant removing their tools and driving away.  We were worn out.  Daryush asked how everything looked.  We answered that with the exception of the dirt, drywall pieces, left over screws, old refrigerator still in the side yard, curb full of random tire-eating pieces or metal, and light coating of grout all over the counter, things could not be better.  The attention to detail just was not there in the all important ‘reveal’ of the new kitchen.  It was obvious to us that as tired as we were of having our dear kitchen friends in the house, they were even more tired of being here.  Me made the decision to cut them loose and clean up ourselves.  Personally, I feel like Daryush and crew made a huge mistake with this part.  This was there opportunity to showcase the final product and put all the frustrations of the past two weeks in the rear view mirror.  Instead, we were left with lots of messy little reminders of their efforts and a chance to focus on the little imperfections.  That’s just not good business. 

Eric spent most of Saturday with the air compressor, blowing out the dust, with wet rags cleaning out the drywall dust, with his finger nail gently removing the paint splatter, and with Orange-Glo rubbing  the cabinets to bring up a lustrous sheen.  The cabinets are a dark expresso color, so they excel at showing all the dirt and saw dust left behind.  They also look great when cleaned up.  We also hung the art between the windows.  We thoughtfully shopped for a set of matching paintings to fill the wall.  The one on the left is ‘four lemons’ and the one on the right is ‘squash and tomato.’ 

Today we emptied all the boxes and reclaimed the living room and dining room.  We always had a decent amount of storage space in the kitchen, and now we have a bit more due to to the 42 inch wall cabinets.  Just a little more work to be done – 2 cabinets to install, lots of electric work to finish.  The wall cabinets get under-counter LED lighting, and the ceiling cans get dimmers and matching hardware.  We hope it wraps up by next weekend, but come on, who do you think we are kidding?

We love the partial outcome – it’s been quite a journey!