ordering cabinets

Guess what? We've made a decision and we are ordering kitchen cabinets today! I'm so excited and relieved to be moving forward on this piece of the puzzle.

Before I get to the finishes, I'll tell you a little about the cabinet shopping process. Brace yourself—this could be a long story.

The first guy (we'll call him Dude) I happened upon by accident as we were shopping for doors. I didn't know this place had a cabinet shop, but they told us their cabinet guy loved to visit the actual kitchens and help make the plan from scratch, so we made an appointment for him to come visit when the door guy came to make his measurements. When the Dude called me on the phone to schedule, the first thing he said to me was "I've been doing kitchens for 20 years and I'm really good." O.K. then. Well.

During his visit he did some measuring and came up with a preliminary design. We discussed a few things at the time, and then later I visited the cabinet shop with my mom to revise it some more. It was apparent to both of us then that he was a bit stubborn and didn't listen all that well. And he insisted he needed to make another visit to our house to measure again. (What? We live 55 miles out! Why didn't he measure correctly the first time?)

Instead I offered to measure for him, and I sent a nice little detailed drawing to him. The next time I heard from him he said "I got your measurements and its not gonna work." He told me that he really needed to come out again. But the next week he reported that he needed to spend a week at the hospital (?) and cancelled our appointment. Legitimate excuse, of course. But I took the opportunity to spend time making my own drawings so I could shop around.

My next appointment was with Mr. Big Box Store. I made an appointment with him, and when I arrived for my appointment he told me he was in the middle of a big expensive kitchen order and didn't really have time to meet with me. Humph. I had traveled 55 miles to be there, so I insisted we meet as planned, and he did go ahead and draw up a plan with me. His price was good but not significantly cheaper. I found out later it was the last day of a 10% off promotion that he didn't feel the need to tell me about.

My 3rd appointment was with a gentleman I'll just call Nice Guy at a local shop. Our appointment went smoothly, he helped me refine a few details on my plan, and educated me in the process. I left with a written quote (unlike with the other two) and a detailed plan. 

Seems like an obvious decision, right?

A twist—the Dude advertised a 20% off promotion. That is too significant to ignore. So I waited for Dude to call me, then gave up and finally called him. Then I waited several more days for him to finally meet with me. I was tired of waiting by then but I waited several more days to get his final price. Which was good. Very good.

Meanwhile, Mr. Big Box called and said they would be having a 15% off promotion. He also Big Box would chew up any Small Box and would beat any price. Sorry, Dude, but I want to keep Small Box in business. For one, I already knew the Dude would beat his price significantly, and he had better cabinets. For another, Mr. Big Box informed me he had lost our plan. Two hours with him unsaved and down the tube. I wasn't about to spend 2 more hours with him, so I ruled Mr. Big Box out.

When I got tired of waiting for the Dude to set his final price, I decided to take what I knew back to Nice Guy to see if he would drop his price at all. He did... just a little...but not enough. The Dude still beat his price by over $2000. So now you see, this made the decision very difficult. What would you do?

Ultimately, we have made the decision to go Mr. Nice Guy. For timely service (confidence that he will get our order right) and better style and color options. In the end there were too many compromises with the Dude and this is a piece of the kitchen where regrets are NOT GOOD. Not to mention the fact that the Dude insisted on measuring again before he would order. Who knows how long that would take.

So, in summary, shopping around is exhausting and you might as well go to Mr. Nice Guy in the first place. If you are in the market for some cabinets and would like me to dish the dirt on who these people really are, I send you a private message.

So sorry if I lost you back there. The fun stuff is up next!

What's wrong with my kitchen, anyway?

So by now you have probably heard about our upcoming kitchen remodel, and you may have asked the question, "What is wrong with the kitchen you have?" Well, nothing, really, as long as you love original 70's decor and stepping over each other a bit while cooking. But listen. There is no question this kitchen needs a few updates. So if we are going to dig in, we are going to fix a few things. This kitchen sees a lot of action, especially during busy summers, holidays, and harvest time, so making it efficient and a pleasant place to spend a lot of time is a priority for us.

(the kitchen today)

Okay, but really. What is wrong with this kitchen?

Let's start with the very worst:

Yes, that is carpet in the kitchen. And I probably don't need to say any more. Admittedly, it doesn't look so bad in this photo. But trust me. It is dirty, grimy, and old. And a really bad idea in a kitchen. How it doesn't have spaghetti sauce stains in it, I have no idea. We shampooed a big soy sauce stain out of it when we first moved here. Rumor has it my Grandma liked warm floors because she liked to walk around in her bare feet. I feel gross if my bare feet touch this floor. And I am even more grossed out that my baby girl learned to crawl on this floor.

Next, the cabinets. Orangy stain and ornate hardware aren't my cup of tea. I prefer a clean, modern style.

The floral wallpaper border is rather dated. (I already removed the matching floral valances.)

The white laminate countertops aren't so offensive, but they have seen better days. 


OK, fine. Then why not paint the cabinets, replace the flooring, update the countertops and remove that wallpaper already?

I have been tempted to tear into that wallpaper on more than one occasion and do some quick and cheap updates like this. The truth is, that solution only glosses over the functionality issues. 

For instance:

The corner sink. Great in concept, poor in execution. I've seen corner sinks that work okay, but it is never ideal for more than one person working at the sink. And in this case it is even worse because the dishwasher is right next to the sink. That means, when the dishwasher door is down, there is barely room for you to stand and load the dishwasher. When you need to open the sink cupboard to get dishwasher soap or turn on the disposal, you must close the dishwasher door first. This arrangement could definitely be improved.

Funny story: My dad thought we should build the cabinets for this kitchen. It seemed to take some convincing to talk him out of it. I wasn't so much afraid of the quality as I was the amount of work, but I do think there are some advantages to having a "factory finish". Well, the other night we were talking about things my Grandma would have done differently if she'd have had the final say (as opposed to my Grandpa.) "Like what?", we asked. After some thought my dad said, "Well, for one, Grandma didn't want the contractor to build the cabinets. She wanted to buy them". We all stopped for a minute and then cracked up as the irony of that sunk in. Maybe my Grandma will finally get what she really wanted in the first place... ?

(I should mention that these cabinets are not built as traditional individual units and could not be easily reconfigured.)

As you can see above, the cabinets do have some quality issues. The wood isn't the best quality and the doors are thin.

The doors have started to look a little uneven and skewed.

The cabinets are all hung below a soffit (which has can lighting—very nice). However, my Grandma was petite. I am not. To me, the soffit is wasted space. 

The soffit also causes some of the cabinets to hang very low. For example, the corner cabinet in the photo above is very hard to work around and I have to scoot my mixer out a ways to be able to lift it up.

The appliances aren't original and the black is not terrible at all. Something I've longed for, however—is double ovens. This kitchen can use that kind of capacity. And something else—I didn't mind a glass top electric stove until I started using it for awhile. But over time I got frustrated with the slow response when turning things down to a simmer. I was always boiling things over. And then another problem surfaced. When I boiled things over the liquid would cause the pot to slide all over, and then I would have to try to clean it up by wiping a scorching hot burner. I'm not knocking your electric stove if you love it. But we don't get along as well as I did with my gas stove in Utah.

There is one more pet peeve I could cover:

We have this desk area in the corner of the kitchen.

It is mostly open storage and always cluttered, possibly because of a lack of effective storage. It currently holds my cookbooks, a few photos, Christmas cards from the early birds, a charging station, a CB radio (for farm communication—some of our land is out of cell phone service), a bulletin board for school calendars and such (that I never bothered to actually hang on the wall), and usually a pile of mail. All this means I don't actually use this area as a desk. Instead my laptop sits on the kitchen counter (as seen in the first photo in this post.)

And right around the corner, we have this little niche that is not as useful as it could be:

See where I'm going with this?

I don't want you to come away from this thinking I am whining and ungrateful. That is not the case. But I think sharing the issues will help you understand our thought process behind our new design. 

Tomorrow I will share more of that with you—the new kitchen layout. Until then, I'm curious. What would you do if this kitchen was yours? Live with it? Update it cosmetically and live with the rest? Or rearrange? Obviously budget factors in to these decisions, and we are very budget conscious—no spending 50 grand on this renovation. We are doing some pretty exhaustive comparison shopping (20% off cabinets!) and have some creative ideas for reusing materials, which I will share with you another day. We are going to DIY quite a few things as well (laying tile, building a pantry cabinet, installing our cabinets, and doing our own electrical and plumbing work-thanks to my dad's expertise.)  With any luck we will have a new kitchen before the spring farm work kicks in!