Sunday, January 20, 2013

major game-changer.

Throughout our kitchen renovation, it was of utmost importance to me that we not lose functionality in the space. I mean, it's the kitchen. And while it's just the two of us, I'm sure the house would have seemed a lot...smaller...had we not been able to use the kitchen. Also, J.J. was already wary about the whole project, so I wanted him to be able to pretend it wasn't even happening.

As far as the appliances were concerned, they were pretty much exchanged one-for-one as we purchased them, which meant that (a) we always had use of them, and (b) they remained in the kitchen for the whole four- six- eight-month renovation period. (Ha, remember when I thought it would only take about four months? Ha. Hahaha.) We emptied out the cabinets for painting, but that just meant that our small stockpile of dry goods was relocated to various surfaces until we installed the pantry. So far, so good.

It was the countertop and sink installation that worried me.

First off, let me say that the counter ended up being more expensive than the rest of the renovations (minus the appliances) put together. Seriously. I'll do a total budget breakdown soon, but let it be known that everything else - hardware, flooring, electrical work, lighting, backsplash, paint, materials, and new cabinets - cost less than the counters did. The "Everything Else" stuff totalled about $2,150. Since our original budget was $5,000 (again, not including the appliances), that left us a pretty sizable cushion of $2,850.

Or so I thought. Then I fell in love.

I fell first for Zodiaq Minera Pearl.

I knew I didn't want granite (too costly, too high-maintenance), but I wanted something higher-quality than laminate. Really, I was only browsing when I ran across Minera Pearl in the quartz section. I absolutely loved the way it pulled in different colors from our kitchen, and how it came across as neutral but still packed a close-up punch. I brought samples home and stared for hours.

...Was also sampling the floor tiles, apparently.

Honestly, I thought that was it; Minera Pearl was the right material and the right look. Price, however...was not right. $74 per square foot, installed. I had estimated we had about 48 square feet to cover, which would add up to nearly $3,600. Wonk-wonk. I even called around to other installers to see if I could get the price down, but Lowe's was far and away the least expensive (especially with my credit card discount and/or a 10% off project coupon).

I looked at the budget again, peered lovingly at the Minera Pearl posing all over my kitchen, and realized it would only put us about $500 over budget. Not too bad. And, importantly, WE NEEDED A FREAKIN' COUNTERTOP so we could finish the dumb kitchen.

Let me just tell you, it is annoying as all get-out to not have counters on either side of the range. Just in case you're planning on trying it anytime soon.

So I headed to Lowe's in July, all ready to make my purchase. Well, turns out there are all sorts of semi-hidden fees associated with countertop installation at Lowe's, which brought my estimate over $4,000. Um. False. I was so pissed at the countertop lady that I ended up just leaving. Mostly I was pissed because I asked the dude who gave me the original estimate about extra fees and costs, and he was all, "Oh, no, this would be the final cost." BS. A more confrontational person might have eked a deal out of the whole situation, but since I didn't have the estimate in writing (and since I was already stressed to the max this past July), I headed back to the drawing board.

I considered laminate, just to bring costs down, but it turns out the laminate would have only cost about $1,000 less than stone. I mean, $1,000 is nothing to sneeze at, but taking into consideration long-term value, resale value, looks, quality, etc., it seemed worthwhile to invest more to get more out of it. Make cents sense? I tried to look at the bigger picture, I guess.

And, also, I fell REALLY TRULY in love with someone else. Someone better.

This is allen + roth's Angel Ash quartz countertop, and it. Is. Beautiful. I brought it home with a few other samples, and it was my clear favorite - even more so than the Minera Pearl. It was understated but gorgeous, reading as a grayish-brownish (greige?), neutrally magnificent wonder of the world. Overdramatic, right? WRONG. Words can't describe how perfectly this seemed to work with every element of my non-designer-designed kitchen: the blue walls of the kitchen, the yellow walls of the family room, the white cabinets, the brown flooring, the stainless appliances, the couches....Really, I would get home from work and spend an embarrassing amount of time imagining what it would look like. *Sigh* It was love.

So I bit the bullet and ordered it, half out of love for the material, and half out of hatred for my never-ending kitchen renovation. Angel Ash is usually $70/sq. ft., but it was on sale when I bought it, and I had a 10% Lowe's project coupon, too. (They wouldn't let me use that on top of my 5% credit card discount, though. Bummer.) Along with the installation costs, the edging costs, taxes, and other lovely fees, it ended up costing $3,639.45. YEP. Wayyy more than I had planned. And actually, when I sat down with the lady in the store (same lady who dashed my Minera Pearl dreams), the estimate was $3,100, which was totally reasonable for our budget. They called me three weeks later, after the countertop measurements had been done, to say it would actually be $500 more. I was so over everything kitchen-related that - have I mentioned I was unduly stressed at work this summer? - I quietly expressed mild displeasure (shaking my head at my nonexistent confrontation abilities) and took the hit.

All I knew was...that freakin' countertop better be gorgeous beyond belief, considering it was singlehandedly blowing the budget to which I had so carefully attended. I was also nervous about what amount of leveling would need to take place, even though the guy who measured for the counters assured me it would be fine.

Finally, finally, in the BEGINNING OF OCTOBER (long drawn-out kitchen reno was long and drawn-out), it was installation day. I shimmied the range out of the way, cleared the counters, and emptied the cabinet under the sink in preparation. Side note, turns out I had rodent friends visiting that cabinet occasionally to poop and eat the furniture-scuff-repairing walnuts I had stored under there (Pinterest never warned me about THAT). Groooooss. I also did some last-minute spackling on the trash cabinet front because I didn't want them making some comment along the lines of, "Who did your cabinet install? Because you need to make them re-do it!" But, spoiler alert, last-minute spackle is an unwise choice right before a counter installation, so my plot to avoid DIY embarrassment kinda backfired. Ah, well.

When the two counter dudes, Gary #1 and Gary #2, showed up, I wasn't sure where I was supposed to be or what I was supposed to do while they were removing the old countertop and installing the new one, so I alternated between taking pictures and updating my Facebook.

Old countertop GONE, BABY!

Awesome creepy dead-space-hole in the corner that was,
blessedly, rodent- and insect- and poop- and spiderweb-free.

Top of dishwasher that was, unblessedly, NOT poop-free.

As for who "Alex" is - have I mentioned we have a snake?

...And on and on until...UNTIL...


That area right there - under the microwave shelf? That's both J.J.'s and my favorite spot in the new kitchen. It didn't really exist before, given that the range was where the drawers are now, and the fridge was where the range is now. It's a whole new counter space, and we're in looove. With the whole thing, really. Having the counter finished made me feel like the kitchen would really, truly be finished someday. The plumber came the next day to hook up the sink (and replace our broken garbage disposal), so we were only without a sink for about 24 hours. YES NEW COUNTERS! File under Major, Major Game-Changer.

I was indeed left with a little bit of after-work to complete. Because the Garys ended up having to do a fair amount of shimming and caulking to make the counters level, I needed to paint the caulk between the cabinets and countertops. You know, one of those areas that no one would ever, ever even think to look, but that I would have always known was incomplete. Not a big deal, and I did it quickly, re-energized by the fact that THE KITCHEN WAS ALMOST DONE.

All I needed now was an upcoming birthday, an awesome mommy, and some professional help. Spoiler: All three were bestowed upon me, resulting in a finished back splash. But that's for next time. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...