Updated 2010-08-22 21:54:06 ID=620:0

© 2010 The Romantic Table
©2008 The Romantic Table, Susan McGourty's Table Talk, a California Central Coast Lifestyle blog. 2011-06-09 16:33:16:80
©2008 The Romantic Table

Susan McGourty's Table Talk

Our Kitchen Exile Endures its Fifth Week

Our fifth week of kitchen exile, due to our kitchen remodel, has been a hard one. Aside from the expertly installed counters, our kitchen remodel has endured-and mostly overcome- the curve balls and errors of the kitchen installers ending with a flood.

It's been a week since I last blogged and I'm sorry for not getting back sooner, but we've had a lot of curve balls and mess to take care of.


The meeting with the Lowes kitchen-designer went as well as expected, given our past experience. We explained all the problems with the "ugly duckling" two-piece hutch that we were shipped.--No finesse whatsoever! (Though now it's called the "evil spud" because of its crude craftsmanship and the fact that until we figure out just how to make it look "normal" it just "sits there.")

The designer just didn't grasp what we were saying! She doesn't seem to understand all the little intricacies and problem one gets into during a field modification. --Especially a stand-alone piece.

My husband said he and Alan -our ace installer- SHOULD be able to salvage it. I selected some decorative handles and pulls that hopefully will improve its ugly bulky wedge of wood appearance.

These cabinets in general are nice-looking and have a lot of organization features that are helpful. Until we got the "spud", we were deluded and slightly brainwashed into thinking the cabinets were furniture-grade. But it wasn't until the "free-standing" (supposedly matching") hutch cabinet arrived on the scene that we saw just how crudely the cabinets were fabricated. The quality of the cabinets are NOT as "good-furniture quality" such as top of the line "Thomasville" (the REAL Thomasville not the licensed named cabinets) or "Drexel Heritage.") For the price we paid for this miserable ugly spud, we should have just bought a finished hutch from either Thomasville or Drexel Heritage that would have matched as well to our core-kitchen cabinets. On well live and learn...


In the meantime, our quartz counters were being fabricated in Fresno California. by Payless Counters and Floors. The owner of the shop promised me that we would have our counters in our kitchen one week from being templated! That sounded almost too goo to be true! On that promise, my husband decided not to put the temporary counters in. --Too much trouble for such a short time. So we kept our fingers crossed and continued to cook our dinners in the mudroom.

Luckily, and unlike any other part of this remodel, the quartz counters went off without a hitch!!! Allan our cabinet installer had leveled the cabinets perfectly so the counter top people had no issues to deal with and went right to work. The installers were "all-business" and worked tirelessly for over five and a half hours installing the counters on a hot Saturday afternoon! What a great team! We are VERY pleased! (Though their diamond saws (even with their vacuum running) made a lot of dust and the saltillo floors had to be steamed and scrubbed again --the fourth time!).


The next hurdle coming up was the arrival of our new appliances. In preparation, we decided to prep our old refrigerator and freezer for the "musical chairs" they were about to do, and make it easy for the appliance installers. Monday and Tuesday were spent moving all our refrigerators and freezer to their new position. The refrigerators and freezer were too large to get through the office doors, so we had to remove not only the refrigerator and freezer doors, but also the door to the office. And of course when we moved the appliances the saltillo floors needed to cleaned, steamed and scrubbed (is there is patterned here?). By Tuesday night we were so tired we could barely take a shower and fall into bed.


The appliance people showed up on Wednesday. As they walked in they said it looks like the kitchen is coming along nicely. Then they took a look at the oven cabinet. BIG PROBLEMS! First the opening was not large enough for the double ovens, and second, the ovens needed an internal shelf to rest upon. No one from our crack cabinet team told us that. Now I had told the kitchen designer that we were getting 30 inch ovens, and I told the cabinet installer that I was getting 30 inch ovens, and of course the appliance salesman knew we were getting 30 inch ovens. So why in God's name was I standing in front of cabinets with a 27 inch opening and no support shelf!

My husband quickly said "I'll get my saw and open up the cabinet hole." But, the cabinet wood was solid oak and very slow going. I convinced my husband not to the rush the job with a hasty cut and create a bigger mess. I talked to the appliance people and arranged to have them leave the ovens on the patio and come back in a day or two. Before leaving, they brought in the new refrigerator and plugged it in, but did not install the water line. With some effort because of the saltillo floors, they pushed it into its final position in the cabinets. It looked good. Before they left, I called the store and rescheduled final installation for Friday afternoon.


Thursday my husband finished the cabinet modifications, and I ran to the grocery store to get a few items. We were trying to get back to a little more normalcy in our life. For dinner that night we had our first "new kitchen" meal. We had a delicious meal of a basil (fresh from our garden) pesto with linguine and a nice mixed green salad with fresh tomatoes also from our garden, accompanied by a loaf of Pugliese bread, extra virgin olive oil, and a glass of our Sangiovese wine. It was the best meal we had in weeks!


Friday morning, I called and found out that our new sink was in. So my husband went to pick it up. When the Lowes people brought the box to the checkout, they asked my husband if he wanted to inspect it before taking it. From our past experience he DEFINITELY wanted to inspect it first. When they opened the box the drain board was on the right side as ordered, BUT, there was only ONE large sink, not the TWO bowls we had ordered! Another mistake. In all fairness, the plumbing manager did order the correct model, this time the manufacturer Elkay screwed up and shipped the wrong unit (is there a conspiracy here?). Back to square one regarding the sink...

Friday afternoon the appliance people returned to install the 300 pound double ovens and finish the refrigerator installation. The oven went in beautifully --my husband made the modifications exactly to specifications in the installation manual and there were no problems. Before leaving, the appliance people pulled the refrigerator out of its position and installed the water line. Now, moving the refrigerator in and out on the saltillo floors was like dancing with a reluctant bull! With one final last heavy push they got it back into place. That Friday evening I had fresh ice in the freezer for the first time!


Saturday morning disaster strikes again! We came out to the kitchen and found the floor soaking with water! My husband surmised that the water must be coming from the refrigerator water line. I guess that last push must have done-in the water line. I ran for rags and a mop while he turned off the water line to the refrigerator. I put in a call to the appliance store right away. All the repair staff was at the Paso Robles Olive Festival installing stoves for the celebrity chef cook-off. Bummer. The installation manager called us from the festival and apologized. Since everything was stable for the time being, he promised to come out Monday and fix the problem.

The rest of the day was spent dealing with little issues like fixing electrical sockets. There is one big job left to do, the tile back splash. The hand made tile decos I found are gorgeous, but I am dreading the mess of installation. No doubt I will be cleaning, steaming and scrubbing the saltillo tiles --AGAIN!

So far the lesson we have learned is that if you want to do a "simple" kitchen remodel and get it done fast and well, you had better plan to be personally involved every step of the way. If you are not "hands on" expect to spend a lot more time and money than originally planned. If you cannot do some of the work yourself, it could take months.

Tomorrow will mark the start of our sixth week of kitchen chaos. Maybe we are not in kitchen exile right now, but very definitely just on parole since the tile job still needs to be done --exiling us once again to the office and mudroom!

Check back for further adventures in never-never-kitchen land.

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A tip from Sue!

A good cook should control the salt and spices!

Do not use salted butter, garlic powder, or heavily salted canned foods. Instead, if you need butter, use unsalted butter and then add in the salt separately so that YOU control the amount of salt you need. The same goes for spices. Using commercially salted and seasoned products will homogenize the taste of your recipes. When you eat something, you should be able to taste all the individual.flavors of a dish.