Sunday, November 25, 2007


We had a contractor come to look at our kitchen situation. He recommended that we buy tile first, then agree on a kitchen layout, then buy appliances and cabinets. In the meantime, he built us a temporary countertop out of 2x4s and dropped our sink into it, then hooked it up so we have water and a garbage disposal. Otherwise, we’d be eating delicious meals at fancy restaurants every night, and that would have really sucked.


We spent a Saturday wandering around tile places and disagreeing on what would look good on our floor. It seems my wife wants a tile pattern that looks “dirty,” so that people can’t tell when our floors are actually dirty. This is what she picked out, and I agreed it was the least filthy looking design.


We’re going with large 20x20 tiles, laid out in a diamond pattern. We needed 105 of them, so we bought 21 boxes containing 5 tiles each. I picked them up today. Each box weighed 60 pounds, so I had to move 1,260 pounds of tile from the car to the back patio area until we can get the contractor to install it.



My wife’s minivan was positively groaning under the weight. Because the springs were so compressed, I cracked my head on the hatchback, which is normally high enough for me to stand under it. But you can see from these before-and-after wheel-well photos how low it was sitting.


The second step in this process had proved to be the most contentious. My wife wants to lay out the kitchen differently than it is currently laid out. We’ve been through a half-dozen layouts, all perfectly serviceable in my opinion, but each with some fatal flaw in my wife’s opinion. The problem is, it’s not a big kitchen with lots of options. So we’ve been struggling with the limited configurations available to us, and finally agreed to replace the ageing stove with a separate oven and cooktop. We shopped around and today I went out to buy them, locking us in to this design scheme. This will prevent her from changing her mind, which normally happens 3 – 5 times a day.

Finally, we’re down to the real tough choices – the cabinets. I thought we were on a fairly smooth path, because we’ve looked at a few designs and it turns out our tastes are similar. But then, at Thanksgiving dinner, someone had to screw it up.

Recently, an IKEA store opened in our area, and some people are treating it as a religious shrine. One woman at the table couldn’t stop gushing about it. “Do NOT buy cabinets until you visit the IKEA store!” she insisted. “The designs are so clever! You won’t believe it!”

I’m skeptical, because it sounds to me like they’ve added a lot of little storage compartments where traditional “unimaginative” cabinet design has large storage compartments. You can’t get something for nothing, so in my opinion, you’ll actually lose storage space. Plus, I suspect that there will be lots more things that can break. And I’ll have to assemble them myself, because that's how IKEA works. Any married woman will tell you that "husband labor" is free.

“And you can get an entire kitchen for less than $2,000!” she added. This got my wife’s attention, because we’ve already received the settlement check from the insurance company, and they’ve allotted nearly $6,000 for the cabinets alone. This would mean that we’d be able to pay for almost our entire kitchen remodeling project from the insurance money, with very little out-of-pocket.

So our cabinet shopping is on hold until we can visit the stupid IKEA store. It’s just far enough away that it will be an all-day shopping trip. I expect to be aggravated to the point of physical violence. It may not be a religious shrine, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be praying for deliverance.

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