Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How Not to Design a New Kitchen

Kat and I have lived in our little house for thirteen years now. Our current kitchen decor dates back ten years, which is when we painted our cabinets white and the walls blue. I do love a blue and white kitchen, but the look needs freshening up. We decided to reface the cabinets, replace the laminate countertops, and trash the window toppers in favor of something simpler. Fresh paint and perhaps a backsplash should finish the job. All of this depends on budget as I don't want to borrow for a kitchen re-do.

One day last week I was exploring the kitchen section of our favorite home improvement store, when the floor person approached me. He seemed friendly enough, and as we've had good experiences with employees of this store helping us with DIY projects, I accepted his offer to send a designer on the store's dime to our house for a consultation. He assured us there would be no pressure to purchase anything, that the designer would be paid regardless of an order from us. "That's good," I told him. "Because we won't be ready to do this until next year."

Fast forward to the designer's visit. I asked him questions about color, "How do I better integrate my warm living room with my cool kitchen?"  "Uh . . . "

And the PRESSURE. Good gad. As we entered the second hour of his interminable visit, I wondered how we would get him out of the house. He wanted an order and he wasn't hearing 'no'. I began to think Kat would have to physically remove him. We were polite as he went over all the financing options (for an $8,000 job that didn't include countertops or anything other than the refacing), and offered incentive after incentive with each 'no'. "If you order within the next 24 hours I can give you 15% off the entire order. If  you order today I can get your countertops below cost." Etc, etc. By the time he left I was angry, though more with the floor person at the store than with him, and finally more at myself. The thought of consulting with a professional without having to pay for one overwhelmed my good sense.

I know a carpenter who has done fine work for a client at a reasonable price, and once the taste of this experience is out of my mouth, we may contact him for a quote, but we've pretty much decided to do it ourselves. I've been researching the process for refacing, and it doesn't look so bad, especially with Kat's expertise (She built our deck, some patio furniture, a murphy bed, and together we replaced our privacy fence).

Lately I've been slipping back into frugal-thinking mode, and that's because I've reached a decision to ditch real estate (not that I was earning a lot doing it, but the potential was there). This decision might seem hasty after the agonizing back and forth of the past few months, but it involves a lot I haven't yet discussed here. For the next few weeks I will live with the decision and work on Plan B to make sure I'm sure before officially pulling the plug. Right now, the kitchen re-do is a fun dream that's receded in the distance a bit, and I'm ok with that.

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