Reflections on a Kitchen Remodel – Here’s Why It Takes So Long

January 18, 2022

Reflections on a Kitchen Remodel – Here’s Why It Takes So Long

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The great Glover Gardens Kitchen Remodel, AKA the Glover Gardens Kitchen 2.0, is coming to a close.

The beginning was a while ago.

And now, the end is in sight!

Where We Started

To remind you, here’s the first post in the Kitchen Remodel series, from late August just before we began this journey. I look back at the “before” pictures and simply can’t believe we lived with its outdated pinkness and galley shape for so long. What were we thinking???!!!

For a while, we were calling the Kitchen Remodel period “the siege”, because being displaced from your kitchen for months is a little unsettling. If you’ve been through this process, you know what I mean. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and if the heart is off limits, well, the rest of the body just ain’t right.

No Longer “The Siege”

Now that we’re close to the finish line, we’re not calling it “the siege” any more. These days, we refer to it as “the metamorphosis”, “the transformation”, or the “why did we wait so long to do this?” project.

The new space is so open, is beautiful and so refreshing and relaxing that sometimes I just stand still in it for a few moments and take it all in. I see the future in this kitchen, all of the memories to be made: with our loved ones, the grandchild we have and the grandchildren to come, friends and family we currently hold in our hearts and new ones we’ll meet and embrace. I wrote on the bare walls before the new goodness was installed.

You’ll see it here soon, I promise. Once all of the tiny touchups and last tweaks are done, I’ll bombard you with pics. And those memories will be shared, as they’re being made.

Reflections on the Duration

Now that the end is in sight, there are lots of reflections to share. I’ve never been through a kitchen remodel before, and neither had The Grill-Meister, so it was a terrific new learning experience for us. Maybe, if you’re just setting out on a kitchen remodel journey, some of what we learned will be useful for you.

The first set of learnings was about the duration, why the remodel took about twice as long as we originally thought.

Scope Creep at the Outset Adds Time

When we initially set out to remodel our kitchen, we were thinking of removing a few walls to open it up, taking out the unnecessarily large pantry and moving it to the butler’s pantry area. That would have been a 2-room remodel, max. Once we finished our visioning, planning and “maybe we should-ing”, we had a 6-room remodel:

  • Kitchen and butler’s pantry
  • Pantry
  • Breakfast room
  • Laundry room
  • Bar
  • Half bath

In other words, our “lil’ kitchen remodel” became a “25% of our house remodel”.

Change Orders Add Time

Realizing that the lil’ kitchen remodel had become the BIG kitchen remodel, I held back on wanting some things to be done, thinking, “we can do that later”.

Here’s an example: Our staircase that lands smack in the middle of the kitchen space was carpeted, a maroon color that’s perfect for the game room upstairs. You can see the carpet below, on the right. I thought we could just keep the carpet on the stairs for now, and give them an upgrade later.

We took out walls, which you’ll see soon, and the staircase flows into the kitchen. It looks great, a conversation piece rather than an eyesore.

One of the reasons it looks great is due to a change order.

I woke up in a cold sweat – literally – one night soon after the remodel started, during the demolition phase. I was envisioning the existing staircase descending into the kitchen, a kitchen that would have Shaker-style cabinets painted in Sherwin Williams Honey White … and those stairs would be sporting 13-year-old maroon carpet. Maroon, a color that had absolutely no business being in that beautiful new space.

What were we thinking???!!!

Noooooo! It would look like a fuzzy goatee on the chin of our kitchen! A dated, worn maroon staircase in a gorgeous new kitchen… nooooo!

We had to do a change order, the very next day.

“Can you update our stairs? Can we make them wood, and get some cool wrought iron pickets?”

Our contractor was pleased and relieved. He agreed with the goatee assessment. He had been waiting for the right time to bring it up. He’s getting a co-designer credit for this kitchen, as he has taken a huge degree of ownership and kept us from making big mistakes while gently nudging us in the right direction when we were on the fence about what to do.

Other change orders included additional electrical outlets after we signed off on the original set, installing a new back door, rearranging our laundry room to house our water dispenser, unstacking our washer and dryer and adding a counter. Another addition we’re considering is swinging french doors between the kitchen and living room. And I could keep going… the front stairs don’t match the back stairs now, as they have the old wood balusters and banister and the maroon carpet…

Ayee! Every change (addition) has a schedule impact.

External Forces: Supply Chain Issues Add Time

A kitchen remodel is dependent upon external forces. 2021 was a challenging time for materials, and supply chain issues were rampant.

The Big Freeze Impacted the Supply Chain for Paint

Paint supplies were impacted by two (random) acts of nature. The first was the big February Freeze in Texas. I wrote about the freeze a few times when it happened almost a year ago, never realizing that it would impact our future kitchen remodel.

The freeze was unprecedented, halting production at chemical plants that make key ingredients for paint for days and weeks. Hurricane Ida had much the same impact, causing widespread outages at key Gulf Coast petrochemical plants that produce raw materials for paints.

Hurricane Ida and the 2020 Storms Impacted the Supply Chain for All Building Materials

Hurricane Ida and its predecessors, the numerous hurricanes that graced our shores in 2020, also impacted the supply chain for building materials in other ways: there was a huge demand for rebuilding efforts, particularly in the Gulf Coast areas that suffered four hurricanes in a four-month period.

Our contractor spent a couple of days in December chasing down the last few gallons of paint he needed, finally finding it about 75 miles north.

General supply chain issues causes by repercussions of the pandemic also had an impact on our schedule. Finding the frame for the pocket door to the laundry room was time-consuming.

Other Shortages were Pandemic-Driven

Glass was also in short supply. The order for panes for our glass-front cabinets took several months from being placed to being delivered. Demand for glass is high; some COVID vaccines require a certain kind of glass, driving part of the shortage, and other raw materials are held up on ships that can’t be unloaded because of labor shortages.

The Pandemic Itself was a Schedule Crusher

Doing a kitchen remodel during a pandemic will bring delays beyond supply chain issues. Contractors and workers are humans like all of us, susceptible to the virus that has swept the world. We are beyond grateful that our crackerjack architectural and construction team have weathered the pandemic storm, returning to work after being downed by illness. Their health was far more important to us than the schedule for our kitchen remodel.

However Long It Takes, It’s Worth It!

As we move into the final few days of our project and back into “normal life,” we know that we will never look back and regret the length of time it took to get from the start to the finish.

Eyes on the prize!

© 2022, Glover Gardens


 


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