So about 6 months ago I was sitting on the couch watching something (I need to come up with a new way to start these bits) when The Wife comes to me and says,
“We need a new kitchen.”
“What?! Is the kitchen on fire?!”
“No, it’s just out of date.”
“What do you mean? It’s the same kitchen we’ve had since the house was built 20-plus years ago.”
“Exactly. It’s all so 1995.”
“So, what are we talking about doing?”
“Well, we need new countertops, a back splash..”
“What’s a back splash?”
“Don’t interrupt — new cabinets, a new dishwasher, new oven, new sink, new faucets, new garbage disposal, new floor … and if we’re redoing the floor in the kitchen we need to redo the floor in the hallway and the laundry room. And if we’re putting new countertops in the kitchen we’ll need to replace the one on the wet bar. And let’s get rid of that big mirror over the wet bar. Replace it with a shelf.”
“Why don’t we just buy a new house?”
“Don’t be silly.”
“So, what am I going to have to do in all of this?”
“Not a thing.”
“Well then, let’s get started.”
Step one in any successful home improvement project is research. Laurie spent weeks looking at stuff online, visiting Home Depot and Lowes, talking to everyone she knows, in order to find the right kind of countertop and flooring, among other things. She occasionally consulted me but I was annoyingly noncommittal. As is my way.
Then she had to find the right person to do this work. The first guy passed the initial phone interview, but failed the in-home interview. The second guy had lots of great ideas but a quick check of his credentials revealed a lot of unhappy customers. Then it turned out her hairdresser knew a guy and that was that.
Remember how I wasn’t going to have to do anything? Well, before you can tear up floor and cabinets to put in new ones, you have to move everything out of the kitchen, hallway and laundry room. The weekend before work began we packed up all the coffee cups (we have quite a collection), glasses, silverware, pots, pans, water bottles (we have quite a collection), everything in the pantry, the large china cabinet in the hallway, etc. etc. etc.
And moved most of it into the living room.
It was quite a mess. And do you know who can’t stand mess? Hint: It’s not me or Andrew.
Yes, Laurie had the hardest time adjusting to the early weeks of the project. As long as we had our spaces on the couch, Andrew and I would survive. And if we could operate the TV with the remote, what difference did it make if we couldn’t get near it? But poor Laurie couldn’t stand the clutter. Especially not being able to clean things.
The actual tearing up and rebuilding of things took roughly three weeks. It was a long three weeks of eating out and cooking from an electric skillet. I was a little surprised that we were doing this in the dead of winter — I kept expecting an ice storm or blizzard to put a halt to things and leave us in limbo for months, but everything kept to schedule. The new dish washer was nice and quiet.
The last major appliance to deal with was the refrigerator. Laurie took the morning off from work to be there for its arrival. The plan was to put the old, still working fridge, in the garage. When the movers arrived they quickly suspected there was a problem. After measuring things, it was determined the new fridge was too large. It’s not that Laurie had mis-measured (she would never do that), but rather the water line for the ice machine had been moved which cut down on the available space. So the nice movers put our old refrigerator back in place and we put getting a new one on the list for another day.
All that was left to deal with was the wet bar. Removing the giant mirror revealed white paint where there should have been blue. The guy who did the remodel was not a painter, so we had to find someone else to finish the job. Laurie found some guy online who would paint, repair some minor dings from earlier, and hang a shelf. That’s correct — I really cannot do a goddamn thing.
Laurie was unsuccessful finding a shelf at the usual places, so I suggested we make the trek downtown to Ikea. It was her first trip there, and, as feared, she loved it. We quickly found the perfect shelf but that doesn’t mean we left quickly thereafter. I foolishly suggested we get 2 shelves just to be sure. Got home and realized we didn’t need 2 shelves, which meant another trip to Ikea. Just as well, because it turned out they didn’t include screws with the shelf brackets. Who doesn’t include hardware? We returned the second shelf and bought a case of screws — we were assured the right ones were in the box. Of course, we only needed 6 screws and there were like 50 in this set, but at least we’d be prepared for the future.
Turned out the guy who did the work brought his own screws.
And so it was that at 8:30 p.m. Monday night our 3-month home improvement project was finally finished. Time to sit back and soak in the glory of a job finally, and well, done.
After heaping loads of praise on the contractor for his work, Laurie says,
“Jim, could you come look in the bathroom. I want to talk to you about something…”