Projects - Kitchen Remodel

Our kitchen remodeling disaster

After getting stuck on trying to figure out what to do for our master bathroom counter, we decided to remodel the kitchen instead. Click on the thumbs to see the full size image. Enjoy the blow-by-blow.

The Parties...

  • Beames Construction (Monty Kaylor)
  • World Wide Granite (Tony)
  • Lowes
  • Home Depot

The Plan (in a nutshell)...

  • Make kitchen feel larger
    • Remove soffits
    • Widen doorways
    • Remove ceiling fan
    • Install recessed lighting
    • Remove cabinets over "open" counter area
  • Replace appliances with stainless steel
  • Replace cabinets, improve storage space and organization
    • Add basket cabinet
    • Add microwave shelf
    • Add pullout shelves/drawers to some base cabinets
    • Make cabinet over refrigerator useful
  • Install granite countertops
  • New custom glass range hood

I'm going to try to give a blow by blow, but I'm doing it looking back from mid January, so I may or skip over a few things...

As we began our search for contractors, we found a wide range of estimates. From $1100 to over $9000. We wanted to remove the soffits to give the kitchen the extra head room. Amazing how not one contractor actually looked in the attic. Only 2 actually used a tape measure. Of course, the inexperienced we are, went with the lowest bid.

While searching for contractors, we began our design process for the cabinets. We used Home Depot's design service. We met with Susan, who was nice enough, but my gut was telling me something, and of course, I didn't listen (although I did report stomach ailment to wife). After several visits with Susan we approached a time where we actually had the illusion we could have our kitchen done by Thanksgiving. So, somehow we rushed (felt that way) through the final review while chasing Mia around the store and said "let's do this". We'll follow up on that statement shortly as well. Fortunately we came to our senses and decided not to start until after Thanksgiving. So we got our cabinets somewhere in the midst of November and just piled them in the front room.

The destruction began on November 27, 2007.

Week 1...

Monty starts the demo. Widens the doors and rips out the cabinets and counters. Installs new main lighting and wires for halogens.

Week 2...

Monty is working on building support for the new range hood. Appliances arrive, we throw them in back room since there is no room in front room, which is where we are living amongst the 5671 boxes of cabinets. Monty seems to be slowing, I start doing the mud myself to try to speed things up.

Week 3...

Monty finishes drywall, I finish mud. Most of the cabinets get installed. I also do all the texturing and priming and painting. We decide on red, turns out to be a great choice. Now we discover that Susan from Home Depot ordered a 12" cabinet for next to the sink when I distinctly remember telling her an 18" won't work, so let's do a 15". Of course it's already on the wall, so returning it will be a challenge. We discuss the 7" gap we have between the sink side and the range side on the corner. The geniuses at Home Depot though we should put 7" of fillers there. Brings me back to the moment that I was arguing my case for a cabinet there. Should of stuck to my guns on that one. Could of easily put a 12" cabinet and used a 39" sink base instead of a 48" sink base and fillers. Lets face it, sink base cabinet space is pretty useless. It's got pipes everywhere! Also notice she didn't include the tilt out drawer I requested.

Week 4...

Monty has disappeared. Not answering phone. We're left wondering what's going on. Tony and crew show up to install the countertops. Main counter (where range goes) is cut wrong. Must go cut another one. They show up Friday to install the new one. It's cut wrong too, but are able to do some onsite shaving to make it fit. In the process of aligning and adjusting, a cabinet is moved away from the wall. I didn't notice until later. now we have a 1/4" gap between a cabinet and the wall. Nice. Monty is still AWOL and the window and outside counter must be removed and support must be built for under the window and outside counter. So, I get the new window and basically just screw it in so that we can not freeze, since the timing here happens to coincide with the coldest night of the year yet. Go figure.

On the subject of the window, the crew in the millwork section at Home Depot is a bunch of morons. We go in somewhere towards the end of Nov. and order a window that is supposed to be 48w x 44h. We decide while we're there to arbitrarily lop off 5" for a partial wall under the window we will build. That night, we decide not to mess with anything and just replace it. Xiang goes back the next morning and gives them the new sizes (original). They actually enter the notes about the change and somehow enter an order for a 48w by 48h window, but have the correct dimensions in the notes. I go to pick it up, yup, it's wrong. Order new window, 10 days later (and 20 days later the originally planned), we get correct window. We also decide that the microwave shelf is not going to work, it's ugly. Should of put it in the base cabinet area instead of the wall. That one's my fault. We order a 27" wide and 30" tall wall cabinet to fill the spot and plan on returning the 12" tall cabinet.

Week 5 (Christmas week)...

Monty is amongst the living (or he made the mistake of answering his phone) and I ask him to come by and help me get the range installed. The granite guys apparently measured the range wrong (or not at all) and made the cutout for a free standing range. We bought a slide in, which all slideins are of a different dimension than free standing ranges. I'm po'd again. No excuse here, WE HAD THE RANGE 10 FEET AWAY WHEN THEY MEASURED!!! Idiot factor climbs higher...

We plan on cooking a meal for Christmas eve. After eating out for 4 weeks, we want some home food. No range, but I hook up the sink. Yes, Mark does ALL the plumbing, disposal, sweating copper and all. With the help of dad - thanks dad!

Since we have no range, we cook our dinner on the grill. It bombs. Oh well.

Somewhere after the fact we remember we have our old range in the garage - SWEET - it fits and we can cook!!!

Monty installs dishwasher at end of week.

Week 6...

I have Tony and Monty come by to discuss the range fitting issue. Tony discovers that all slide-ins are the supposed to stick out 1-2" and have a smaller depth for the cooktop. We also discover that the Frigidaire range we chose wont fit very well. The over door is 30 3/16" wide, not 30" as expected. With our 0 frame cabinet doors, they won't open fully. These cabinets have sliding drawers that won't come out since the doors won't open fully.

So we opt to search for a new range. We end up picking a Kitchenaid. It has a door that fits within the frame of the range, should minimize any issues with the doors. So we ordered a new range. Of course, it turns out Lowes does not stock them, so we have to wait 10 working days.

Monty finishes window installation. Looks great. Monty came up with a great idea to hide the fact that our window was 1/4" out of square on the top and right side. I guess the original builder didn't own a square or a level.

Note to Home Depot designers: if you are selling 0 frame doors and the customer is using a slide in range (you even asked), you should know to either; a: design the adjacent to have SINGLE doors that swing away from the range, or b: design in a filler on each side.

Week 7...

We try out the dishwasher, it doesn't wash worth a damn. Soap is still left and dishes are still dirty. We call Frigidaire and they send out a repairman. It turns out the bottom arm doesn't turn and it also leaks. Great. We decide, repairing is not an option. We call Lowes, and we have to take it back ourselves. So, I rip it out and take it back on Friday night. They give us a new one. Note that box looks like crap. Get home, suspicion is confirmed, the box fell off of a 396 story building. The dishwasher is bent to hell. So, we pick up dishwasher #3 Saturday morning. I install.

Monty installs toe kicks on front and rear cabinets and some trim molding. Does a great job on making some shelves to fill empty area on front side instead of using fillers. Also installs glass cabinet door on back side cabinet.

Week 8...

I now determined that this is beyond "snafu". The wonderful people at Lowes have driven the idiot factor up another notch. Didn't think it could go any higher, but, they've proven that there is always one more idiot than you count on. The morons didn't place the order for the new range. It's now due to arrive on the 24th (of 2055?).

New cabinet (replacing microwave shelf) comes in and Monty comes by and installs it. Also installs knobs and handles for drawers and cabinets. What a difference that makes. Opening 0 frame cabinets without knobs is difficult at best.

Week 9...

Lowes now informs us that the range is backordered. We find this out not because they call and inform us, but we called them to find out what the delivery time is going to be. What fantastic customer service. My original opinion of Lowes customer service has been confirmed. They have certainly failed to exceed my expectations. After ordering all the appliances on a Lowes account to get the 1 year, no interest, no payment plan, replacing the dishwasher (3 times) and now the range, we're paying everything but the refrigerator now. So much for that plan. Apsco is up to bat now. We'll see how that works out. Lowes is fired.

Monty shows up to work on range hood and install the other knobs.

Week 10

The saga continues. Snafu is the word of the week. Tony (World Wide Granite) has the guys come buy and install the "filler" behind the stove. As expected, it's garbage (see pics). Inform Tony (World Wide Granite) that it looks awful. He stops by and tries a sales job about som

Tony comes by that night, I inform him that we need a new counter and the message was received (I hope). Pretty sure I delivered it in English. Struggled to keep the colorful metaphors out.

Good news of the week - Monty came in Thursday and installed the hood. Wow, beautiful. Monty had to have it cut since we did not have it hung from a standard ceiling height. Great job Monty! He also finished off the toe kicks.

Week 11

The guys came and made a new template. Monty and I got the stove where we wanted it and let the guys make the template around it. Tony and I got into discussion about the "roundness" of the front of the counter. I wanted it centered, as before it was not. Tony was insisting that they tried that the first time and it didn't work out (counter #1). I never saw that so I could not testify to the fact. We agreed to let me make a cardboard template and they'll pick it up later.

I made my template, first attempt, looks exactly like what we are looking for.

They showed up Friday and put in the new counter. Beautiful!!! However (there's always that), since my template was a bit larger than the previous counter, the back splashes didn't quite fit.

Week 12

The guys came by Tuesday and put the backsplash in. I think we're now done with the counter.

Monty is still working on the cabinet fabrication for the area next to the stove. Outside of some touchup painting on my behalf, this kitchen looks like it's almost done.

Summary (aka...lessons learned)

  • Review the cabinet design 2 more times than you think you need to. Don't let time rush you into finalizing the design. Get your contractor involved in the cabinets as early as possible for his input.
  • Stick to your guns on the cabinet options and selections.
  • Expect it to take twice as long as anyone promises
  • Supervise everything. Be anal. Don't expect everyone to interpret what you ask the way you envision.
  • Paint before the cabinets are hung. No taping required.
  • Don't let the salesman do the measuring.
  • Finally don't assume Lowes or Home Depot care. They really don't.