The Kitchen Timer, Day 31 — Failed Counter Measures

IMG_1622Something was wrong with their phones today. The stone company’s Silver Spring showroom number switched to a jolly little kid’s cell phone voice mail. The salesperson’s direct number got disconnected, and the corporate number on their website was answered by a computer that sounded exactly like Siri.

“Maybe they went bankrupt,” my business partner, Marcie, joked. I laughed. But I felt increasingly uneasy when I cycled through the phone numbers again. Uneasy enough to leave the office early and drive to Silver Spring. After all, the carpenter at my house was waiting for the quartz people to come and measure for our counter tops. Apparently, those measurements can’t be just taken from the architectural plans but need to be super exact and must be taken from the actual installed cabinets.

The “SHOWROOM IS CLOSED TODAY,” said a sign on the door.  No explanation given. A dozen huge trucks sat idle in the lot, all neatly parked and without any cargo. Something was wrong. I couldn’t help thinking of the $3,000 deposit I had handed over just two weeks ago.

Then I happened upon a nice guy who was just about to drive off the yard. It was someone who worked there, and he said he was upset as well. The company, he informed me, was going out of business. What?! When did that happen? — According to him, just a couple of days ago.  Counter Intelligence was, among other things, one of the most well-known stone retailers in the area. It wasn’t just the clever name; they also came highly recommended. Perhaps you remember how I had so painfully chosen them.

The man, who introduced himself as Nat H. and involved in the “financial side,” said he might be able to find out if my slabs had arrived. There was no longer anybody there to cut them or even transport them, but if they indeed had them, I could at least have them released to me. Or to whoever else I’d hire to cut them.

I walked off with Nat’s cell number in my hand. Because the landlines weren’t broken. They were cut off.

(To see a regularly updated slideshow with pictures of the kitchen remodel, click here.)

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The Kitchen Timer, Day 30 — Wordless Wednesday

The Other DC House Cat apparently isn’t so sure about all of this, but I’ve entered the phase where I can hardly wait to get home every day. This is fun!

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(To start following the kitchen project from the beginning, please click here.)

(To see a slideshow with pictures of the progress, click here.)

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The Kitchen Timer, Day 29 — Spring Is In The Air

imageFinally, finally, things are starting to happen. The big empty space in the middle of our house is flooded with sun. And it’s now going to get filled with whatever has been waiting in those mountains of boxes we’ve been staring at all weekend.

It’s been four weeks since the start of demolition. We went down to the studs to rewire and repipe the insides of those walls that are now once more covered with drywall, except for all those little orifices that have cables, gas lines or water pipes poking out of them.

It was hard to get excited about a dusty, messy space that’s been cluttered with tools and debris, but now the fun is back. There will be visible, tangible progress. The cabinets are getting assembled. In a few days, the counter people will come by to measure, and by the end of next week–dare I say it?–we’re supposed to have appliances installed, not to mention the luxury of running water.

After all the frost, storms, snow and freezing rain, the sun is shining now. From behind my future sink, I can see the daffodils pushing through the slushy snow. Spring is in the air.

(For a slideshow of the project from Day 1, click here.)

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The Kitchen Timer, Day 26 — Carried In, Crowded Out

UntitledThis is our family room, or better, the room off the kitchen that ordinarily serves as such. We’ve now been further displaced from our regular habitat because the cabinets arrived. They were conveniently delivered immediately before a weekend so they can, well, rest a bit. We, on the other hand, can’t, at least not in that room.

It seems to me that this stuff could fill several kitchens. “Why so much?” asks my 10-year-old who is the only one in the family that still follows the project with uncurbed enthusiasm.

Frankly, I have no idea. I do know, however, that there are boxes with tile  sitting in my home office, building materials and the old range are still filling up my deck, and cartons with light fixtures, faucets and sinks are piled up in the living room. The dining room still serves as the food station, and the appliance warehouse keeps asking whether they could soon deliver all of the appliances.

I guess they’re running out of space in that place.

(For regularly updated pictures of the project’s progress click here.)

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The Kitchen Timer, Day 25 — It’s The Winter, Stupid!

IMG_1754 Hibernation, according to Wikipedia, is “a state of inactivity and metabolic depression” and “refers to a season […] that is characterized by low body temperature, slow breathing and heart rate, and low metabolic rate.”

If I haven’t documented any kitchen renovation progress in a while, then it’s because, well, there hasn’t been a lot of it. Presidents’ weekend (which turned into a 4-day affair with the government and all schools closing on Tuesday because of snow) and the following record low temperatures in DC have had a powerful effect. They caused the metabolic rate of change in our future kitchen to drop down as well. One guy couldn’t get his truck started, the other couldn’t drive down here, and the cabinets can’t get delivered because carrying them in through the snow endangers them. (Aren’t they wrapped up somehow?!)

IMG_1466So here we are. Unfortunately, we can’t lower our body temperature and stop eating for a few months like those lucky heterothermic animals (which would conveniently eliminate the need for a kitchen and solve a lot of problems).

While the original schedule got thwarted, at least we can still make coffee in the powder room. We’ve enjoyed some lovely meals out with friends, bruised our tailbones sledding (okay, only mine) and got some great exercise pushing my husband’s car up an icy hill. It’s the winter, and what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!

(For pictures of the progress, click here.)

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The Kitchen Timer, Day 19 — Sound Advice Needed

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To bury or not to bury? The 1980s intercom net could be turned into a modern Bluetooth/smartphone-controlled sound system

Day 19

Day 19

One of the curious relics from the 1980s in our house is a 5-station intercom system. Presumably, you could use it to call the kids in from the backyard or basement, or wherever else they might hide out. We have found this obsolete: In times when teenagers have cell phones attached to their hips 24-7, it’s a lot easier to text them than to try and get their attention via auditory stimuli.

The only part of the system that has ever worked properly since we moved in, is the radio that was operated from the ugly fake-wood kitchen base station. In fact, it worked so well, that it couldn’t be completely turned off. We knew it had to go, but when the electrician removed the panel today, he found that the wiring to all the other stations in the house was overall very sound (no pun intended).

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An opportunity to get rid of the unsightly almond colored speakers that are scattered around the house

Now since the drywall work will be finished on Monday, we will have to make a decision: wall the whole thing over and forget about it, or retrofit with a modern smartphone/Bluetooth-controlled base station and updated speakers in whichever parts of the house we would like to play music–the basement, the deck, the master bedroom perhaps?

It’s a once-in-a-house-time opportunity. I’m just not sure if we want to stomach yet another “change order.” Is it worth it? Any advice appreciated.

(You can find the start of the Kitchen Project here, and a regularly updated slideshow of the progress here.)

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The Kitchen Timer, Day 17 — Lights At The End Of The Tunnel

IMG_1438Things are taking shape. While there isn’t anything in the room yet that would remind you of a kitchen per se, it’s nevertheless enjoyable to watch parts going in rather than coming out.

The big theme of the day is the lighting. Not only did I receive a bunch of lessons on the inner workings of a home’s electrical systems (I really couldn’t have told you how recessed lights actually are fastened inside your ceiling), I also learned that the demands of contemporary code and timeless common sense have a price. That discovery came when the contractor presented us with a “change order” of almost $2,000. Mind you, most of the items on that list weren’t things I fancied to change. They were dictated by either the nasty findings of hidden sloppiness or esthetic and code considerations nobody had thought through before.

On the upside, I ordered pendants today. I’m trying not to waste any mental energy on whether they will look fabulous or hideous once they’re up on the ceiling. After all, it’s a lovely feeling to move on from the horrible anxiety that thumbing through an online selection of some eight or nine thousand pendants will give you. In short: There is light at the end of the tunnel!

(For pictures from previous days, click here.)

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