September 4

Repair Replace Renovate

Y’all . . .

I’ve been feeling that I needed to update the sole reader who might be out there wondering what has been going on with our surprise hole in the wall.

I honestly thought I’d recapped something by now, but . . . no, you, sole reader, have sadly been left all out in the dark while the TORNADO has swirled inside of our home.

I mean . . . when I start this entry with the trite “Y’all” . . . I don’t mean this in a chipper lightweight wave at my neighbor across the produce section at the Publix.

No, I mean this as a harried woman bursting into your local bar, arms full of shopping bags aplenty (and not FUN shopping bags), drenched in a sudden rainstorm that dropped an ocean out of the sky with no more than a how-do-you-do, and landing haphazardly on the only seat left, right next to you.


So.  We had some plumbing problems . . . and I think it was (it must have been, b/c I was working on this for what feels like forever long ago) BEFORE the wall fell in, that I had been instructed to start concocting plans for the upstairs.  Plans that dealt with a bathroom that could include a Minion without us all losing our minds, bringing up the washer/dryer because I’m tired of dragging laundry baskets up and down the stairs, etc.  I feel like this was happening WAY before The Great Wall Collapse.

Then collapse it did, and after the panic subsided to a level which did not leave me laughing like Mozart in “Amadeus” AT EVERYTHING, Knobby began saying . . . ok, so that decides if we’ll be doing more than just re-tiling the shower!

Then it became “Wellllll, while the drywall man is redoing the area around the tub, we might as well just have him do all of the bathroom . . . ”

And then this virus spread downstairs, when fixing BOTH bathrooms crept into our conversation so easily that it seemed the MOST SENSIBLE THING we could do all year.

Not long after that, though.

Not long after that . . . this little green monster thought popped up in my head.  This spoiled little green monster thought that selfishly pinched me on the arm and said “Hey.  You don’t even CARE about those bathrooms . . . as much as you care about that BLASTED KITCHEN.  You know, the BLASTED KITCHEN with no countertop workspace, one decrepit little falling-apart drawer, and not even a proper side to prop the countertop off of the dishwasher!!!  It’s THE KITCHEN YOU WANT TO REPLACE, LADY . . . THE KITCHEN!!!”

I mean . . . once we crossed this mental threshold of very high-priced demolition and renovation and how MIRACULOUS and DisneyPrincessMovie it would be to run my hand down a long-lost cool and smooth granite countertop that allowed me to chop up some onions AND still have space for preparing another ingredient??  AT THE SAME TIME?????  And how those animated little birds with banners in their beaks were all chirpy and singy and there was a chorus of squirrels peeking through my window singing some chipper phrase over and over . . .

Oh.  See.  I got carried away.

*composes herself, calmly focuses on her hands clasped primly in her lap*

I headed back to the floor plan software.

This time, I planned out the first floor . . . obviously, the kitchen was my main number one focus . . . but.


It all did make some sense, when you were pulling this many marionette strings.  A bunch of little changes I had hoped to make (moving entrance to another side of the house, bringing the staircase to the first floor in a different way, etc) all grouped up together and made a perfect puzzle of the way we could make this house streamline space and be more modern about serving our needs.

We’d have to move the wet wall upstairs, were we to relocate our bathroom . . . and then how did that affect the downstairs bathroom under it . . . and then to make the kitchen of my DREAMS for this house — yes, OF MY HOUSE DREAMS THESE NEARLY FIVE YEARS . . .

It all fell into place.

If you want an easy plan of our relationship . . .

Knobby is the muscle and the money.

I am the planner, the creator, and the spender.

Knobby doesn’t want to be asked if he likes this color, this texture, this scent, if he thinks these two things work well together or are too busy.  It’s best, really — I have very strong opinions about what I like, and I read too many blogs of too many couples that have to spar over every single decision that makes up their home.  I depend on him completely for working through what is possible (walls, plumbing, electrical, blahblahblah), and often get annoyed that he’ll tell me “oh sure, that is an easy thing to install” . . . when the install turns into many more hours, many more sweat droplets, and much more chaos then I ever expect to see from something “EASY”.

(Our current microwave.  We bought it a few months before Minion was born.   We tore out the cabinet where it needed to go . . . ok, no surprise there.  Then all this talk began about framing it for support and . . . . the next thing you know, we are building pseudo CABINETRY all around this thing so that it will stay up on the wall.  Ok, Ok, fine, it was a few 2×4’s and some sheets of good wood that we turned into a new soffit and a display shelf and all that, painted like the rest of the cabinet.  But none of that fell into EASY.  For me.  No, that fell into “yeah, do we reeeeeally need this microwave?  Do we reeeeeeeally need half of our countertop??  Hmmmmm, we live in a world today where one company delivers takeout from a minimum of 30 different local restaurants.  Do we reeeeeally need the microwave??)

(Yes.  Yes, we need the microwave.  Can you imagine the desertland this place would be if not for microwaveable fare?)


I have planned this floor plan.

I have gone out (actually gone outside of the house, can you believe it??) and estimated cabinetry.

Here is “the thing”.  I will research and hunt down whatever I can, online.  Most of my purchases — all my purchases, not some specific category — are made online.  I sit and compare prices, I sit and research reviews, I generally don’t mind sitting here and waiting for these boxes to be delivered to me on a daily basis.  (In fact, honestly, half the fun of the acquisition is that I get to stalk the tracking on its way to me.)

I have dreaded cabinetry, above all else, because of the variation of all the prices.  I want storage.  I want good sturdy quality storage.  I do feel strongly about certain looks of wood or painted cabinetry, but . . . I hate, hate, HATE the variables of the estimation process:

Inset? Shaker?  Ornate?  Mitered edges?  Maple, Cherry, Alder, Oak, or Walnut?  One or more of our 22 stains?  One or more of our 17 glazes?


MDF?  Plywood box?  Which of FIVE LEVELS of cabinet construction?  (This means, do you want the bottom two levels which basically convince you that you are better off storing your pots and pans in cardboard boxes you’ve nailed to the wall.  Oh but ha ha ha, how silly of me, of course you don’t.  Of course.) Slow-close hinges?  MDF drawers?  Or custom bamboo?  Do you want the interior of each drawer to be illuminated as you open it?  Do you want drawers that open 3/4 or the way (here you are to sneer), or drawers that come allllll the way out into the middle of the room like a model on the catwalk, so that not one corner might require you to reach so much as one centimeter out of your way to obtain that errant grain of pepper!

(Honestly, I do like the drawers that pull out all the way.  But.  In these showrooms, the option that you might buy a drawer that is all the same as ALL THE DRAWERS YOU HAVE EVER LIVED WITH FOR ALL YOUR THIRTY-SOME YEARS . . . it’s made to be abhorrent.  As though your eating utensils have suffered the same fate as that proverbial sock that gets lost in the laundry.  “MY SILVERWARE DRAWERS HAVE CONSUMED ANOTHER FORK!!  WE’LL HAVE TO BUY THE SEVENTH SET THIS YEAR IF WE WANT TO AVOID HAVING TO EAT THE CREAMED CORN WITH OUR HANDS LIKE COUSIN BOBBY AT THE YEARLY FAMILY HOLIDAY PARTY!!!!!!!”  Surely.  Surely.  We have EVOLVED.


I don’t have a difficult time whittling down most of these choices.  Out of the possible 49816087341 combinations you could make with those two sections of cabinetry selection questions . . . I’ll have about five options I want to know about.

Such as . . . “Ok, not inset, mitered edges, maple, no stains, no glazes, level four cabinet box, level three hardware, no illumination, full extension drawers, blahblahblahblah, BAM.”


It’s so variable, really . . . and you know in not even the back of your mind, but right there where your squinty crease is front and center . . . right there in front you are thinking “ok, this is going to be a fortune” by the way the woman is answering you or describing how this is one step up or three amusement parks away from what she thinks you want to spend (and, that alone, no numbers have even SURFACED in this convo, so it’s hard to know if she’s thinking your yearly expenditure at Sephora, OR say the usual budget for your bi-yearly vehicle purchase.  “This IS going to be about 30 – 40% more IN GENERAL than the other door style we talked about . . . . . . .. ”

“. . . Is that . . . four dollars?  forty dollars?  four hundred?  four thousand? EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS????”

You just can’t talk percentage when you don’t even have a basis for comparison.  You just can’t.

People can’t decipher what you can and cannot pay.  We were talking to someone at the bank about a loan for something, and this was just a friendly little fact-finding mission convo . . . didn’t know our names, didn’t know our finances or numbers, totally blank little convo.  The “so, chat with me about how this type of loan works, what you expect, how much we are charged, limits, all of that good stuff”.

We realized that, in our everyday garb — strictly all tshirts and casual wear — maybe the woman was being waaaaay too cautious with the info because at one point we were asking “ok, but what about (double)”, then . . .”alright, but say we asked for (something, say, quadruple the value with which she’d begun)?”  and she very cautiously and concernedly looked across her desk at us, dipped her head a bit from the chin, and said in a softer, quieter tone, as to spare us the embarrassment of having to be told this . . . that if you were to qualify for that amount, it WOULD be a sizeably larger payment expected per month . . . .

This scene . . . oh, in our biographical movie this would be pure gold.  I think we were both slightly leaning in, if only to hear what she was saying, if at the same time anticipating the number that this sizeable payment could be . . . soft plush carpet underneath our feet crushing ever so slightly with the weight of the lean . . .  There would be suspense.  Silence.  Taut attention.

Knobby spoke, sort of offertorily . . . placing upon the sacrificial altar a request to know a number . . .

. . . and then this response to his request was . . .

. . . say, one third of our car payment two or three purchases ago in our vehicular history.

That is when the bowstring would be released of the tension of the scene, and jubilant party HOORAY music would blare as we ran leaping across the parking lot with streamers of celebration or something.


Oof, it’s so late now.

Me and my novellas.

Point being . . . I don’t want just one estimate.  I wanted comparison figures.  And not even difficult comparisons, but two decisive scenarios of cabinet choice.  A best and worse, if you will.

Same brand, one door style cheap shaker, the other mitered with an intricate braided trim.  Same wood.  Same finish/no stain/no glaze.  All the same hardware and drawer choices.

It doesn’t seem that grabby, does it?  I mean, I know this is a free estimate, but we were getting along really well with the designer (well, I was . . . I had come in with my cabinet layout, my house plan, AND a few sheets of kitchens to let her know what kind of look I was wanting.  Knobby was just sort of bored but wanting to know what sort of college education Minion could not have b/c of this kitchen.).  She liked me — she liked my preparedness and was impressed at the way I had situated the cabinets to avoid some rookie mistakes, she even laughed that if I wanted a job I could totally work there.

Even still, without paying . . . I could only have one estimate.  She went with the more expensive variety . . . the next day she’d emailed me the breakdown and the total . . . so you could look at that as “ok, so no MORE than this” . . . but at the same time, I really wanted to know how much cheaper WAS the cheaper scenario?

Then I went home and built the same kitchen using IKEA’s kitchen software planner.  And clicked a simple button at the top of my grid and POOF!, out popped a shopping list that detailed every part required to make the kitchen, included the cost of appliances (not using their appliances, but it’s nice to subtract THAT from your total) and lighting . . . and gave you a quick simple guaranteed price right there.

You didn’t like the figuration?  Ok then, go back and change doors, or change sizes, or styles . . . and voila, another free quick reliable estimate.  You knew what you were working with, without having to ask someone to calculate up imaginable, intangible figures for you.

The difference, you ask?  Approximately seven thousand dollars between the two very different cabinetry choices.

But we’ll talk about that next time.





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Posted on Sunday, September 4th, 2016 at 4:37 am. Housewife, MimiHouse.