Behind the Before & After | Mad Rush

The Mad Rush to the End

We’ve reached the point in this project where everyone is ready to be done. And I mean D.O.N.E. I’m sick of the house being filthy. I’m sick of eating takeout. I’m sick of being broke from eating takeout. My pants are tight from eating takeout! (Did I mention we are eating a lot of takeout?) And I’m pretty sure the crew is sick of showing up bright and early every morning to face my anxious questions and concerns about every little thing.


And there have been plenty of those, because in the last two weeks we have had an installation issue with the countertop, garbage disposal woes, and a severe shortage of decorative tile . . . but I wrote this blog to share the bumps and detours of my kitchen reno journey, so here they are.


A Snug Fit

When we signed off on our countertops, we were told it would be then 10-12 days for installation. So we planned for that. But then the countertop people tried to push us out another 2 weeks! Thankfully, our contractor pushed back and installation ended up only being a week later. But once it started, the install was not without drama.


Things were going fairly smoothly until they went to install the peninsula countertop. That piece of countertop was too thick to slide into the narrow space that the cabinet installers left above the lower cabinets, and under the appliance garage and the tall upper cabinets. I learned this when I overheard the installers explaining to my on-site carpenter that the cabinet installation should have left a little more room because we were using quartz. And then my carpenter said the guy who did the template wanted it “tight.” Well I guess he made it too tight. So now the plan was to have the cabinet installers come back and remove (!!!) the upper cabinets on the peninsula so they could slide the countertop in. And then they’d re-install the cabinets to sit snug on top.

Above: Ooops! The Peninsula piece that did NOT just slide into place.


So of course for four days the Hubs and I talked (and stewed) about how this is going to work. Would they eff-up the cabinets by doing this? Would everything get delayed again when they had to have new cabinets made, after they eff-ed up the cabinets? And even if they didn’t damage the cabinets, how on earth was the crown moulding at the top of the cabinets going to line up and not be all wonky, if it hadn’t all fit to begin with?


Well, I don’t know the answer to all those questions, but I do know that together, the cabinet carpenters and the countertop installers did some measuring and carpentry magic and now it fits fine and looks good.


Emergency Tile

And then came the tile. But, tragically, not quite enough of it . . .


When we picked out the tile for the kitchen backsplash, with the help of Fitzgerald Tile in North Reading, we decided to go with 2 different tiles: one tile for the space between the upper and lower cabinets throughout the kitchen, and a second tile for an accent wall, behind the stove. I brought in some rough measurements of the space behind the stove, and I was able to get an estimate of the cost. Now I assumed (I know, I know) someone would double check these measurements and order the exact amount of tile.


But that didn’t happen, and when the install occurred, we came up short on the accent tile. Which was a special order. And not in stock. And there were no samples to be had anywhere.

Right to left: Before the tile install, the backsplash tile, and the special order tile for above the stove.


So I got on the phone with Fitzgerald and begged them to help. Could I get a box Fedexed? Whatever the cost. I need it here by tomorrow. We are trying to get the tile done so the plumber and electrician can come back and get this damn kitchen finished already!


And their answer was, “Yes.” It could be Fedexed. For double the cost of the actual box of tile. So now a $150 box of tile turned into a $450 purchase.


What to Plumb?

The plumber showed up, right on schedule, all ready to install our kitchen appliances. But we aren’t ready. Tile isn’t finished so he can’t install the stove. The dishwasher isn’t here because Thermador hasn’t updated us on our order originally placed back in MARCH. The plumber was going to install the sink faucet and garbage disposal…but wait for it….there were disposal parts missing.


Now, we had purposely saved our old garbage disposal, because it was only about a year old. But then SOMEONE threw out the old sink, which had some of the necessary garbage disposal parts still attached around the drain, AND a large note that read KEEP stuck to it. You know where this story is going; the garbage disposal re-install didn’t happen, and my General Contractor is buying me a brand new disposal.


A Reorganized Laundry Room

But there is one good thing that happened, unexpectedly. We ended up with a new(er) laundry room. And for anyone reading this who is my age (ahem, ahem), you know how excited we can get over a new laundry room. So here is the backstory:


Even though the Hubs and I claimed we were “Hardy New Englanders” throughout this kitchen renovation, during the long wait for our cabinets we caved and purchased a new utility sink, and had it installed as a temporary measure in the kitchen. I wasn’t going to, but then I realized we could move this utility sink to our basement laundry room after we were finished with it upstairs. Our basement laundry room had an old, huge concrete sink with a laundry hose that emptied right into it. The faucet barely turned on, and was so old and rusted so we never really used the sink as a sink. In fact, all our laundry valves and shut-offs were so old they wouldn’t turn.

Above: A laughably bad laundry room, with the concrete sink already removed.


So I ran this plan by our team and asked them if we could get rid of the old concrete sink - preferably, while we still had the dumpster sitting in the driveway. Before the dumpster was taken away, my GC sent over 2 laborers to smash up the sink and dispose of it. This meant that one day I came home and found, suddenly, that I could no longer do laundry but I (no lie) did a few loads at friends and neighbors.


And then the plumber showed up, and found nothing reading to plumb. Perfect time to move that utility sink down to the laundry room and get the laundry room working again.


But my plumber took one look at the space and asked, “Why is your laundry room even like this?” Our washer and dryer had never been next to each other; one machine was up in one corner of the room, and the other machine was perpendicular to that. Then, the old concrete laundry sink was shoved up in the corner, so you had to wedge yourself between the 2 machines to get to it. We had a good laugh, and he offered to completely rearrange the space so we had the washer and dryer actually next to each other, with the new utility sink behind them. It all made sense, and he could run new, flexible piping accordingly.


Up next is finishing all the tile. Then we can bring back the electrician to finish lights and outlets, and the plumber (again) to finally hook up the appliances. Please, kitchen gods, no more delays!


I'm writing these Behind the Before & After posts about our kitchen renovation because I want to share our process - including any bumps along the way - so that homebuyers and homeowners can get a look at what really happens when you take on a major renovation. Clients ask me all the time, "Should I renovate?" And my answer is - usually - this, "Renovate for you, now, and how you want to live" so I'm following my own advice and inviting you to follow along.


Read more about our kitchen renovation here! And feel free to comment or contact me with any questions you have!!


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