Kitchen Renovations and Fighting Idealism

idealism

Stress can make any problem, no matter how small, seem like the biggest tragedy in the history of tragedies. There have been several points during our kitchen remodel where I went from extremely positive about the process, to a state of total despair in a days time. My expectations are often idealistic when it comes to something I am personally pursuing. If someone else is in charge of a project, I become more realistic (or pessimistic, really) with my expectations. It’s easier to trust yourself than to trust someone else with something you care about. So when our kitchen renovation started, other people messed up my timeline and my carefully thought out plans. But when dealing with others, miscommunication, over-promising and the eventual state of disappointment happen. I am feeling a little deflated, even though I know there’s not much nothing I can do about it. And there were a good several days, nay weeks, of emotional upheaval due to my dashed expectations.

Story time

It was a Saturday evening. The hubs and I just spent the entire day cleaning the house, running errands to get more renovation materials and organizing our food and stuffs to be more accessible in the future weeks of our remodel. We’d picked up everything on our list earlier that day, from paint brushes to a trusty ceiling scraper, and we left Home Depot with a satisfied smile and pockets no lighter than when we’d entered.* Little did we know, after we got home, things would begin to unravel. First, Lowe’s and Home Depot notified us that instead of the usual 2-3 week wait for the install of our counter tops, it would be 4-6 weeks due to this being the “busy season” and their “lack of staff.” This wait was just for the install and did not include having someone come out and measure. For the measuring (or “templating” as the pros would say) that would add another week of overall wait time, making it a lovely 5-7 weeks before we would get our counter tops.

Suddenly, our little home project that we’d hoped to complete by late July quickly catapulted into August.

Then, our tape and texture guy (who had previously fixed a downstairs wall in our house for cheap cheap cheap!) let us know that he couldn’t help us like he’d planned. He’s no longer in the drywall business as he drives truck now, so he’s hardly ever in town. However, he said he’d probably be available for us over the fourth of July weekend. We were psyched and planned everything around having the house ready for him to tape and texture that weekend. About a week out from when he said he’d be in town, he let us know that he wasn’t going to have the time to do the job like he thought he would. Now we needed to find another drywall guy and in the middle of “busy season.”

Mr. Fi discovered that scraping our popcorn ceiling wasn’t as simple in execution as in concept. While many of the sites he read explained how easy it is removing the popcorn, they often left out that many of the ceilings done before 1985 contain asbestos. Though many contractors or DIYers said “who cares? If the popcorn is wet enough when you scrape, no asbestos should release,” there were plenty of others that said, “It’s a bad idea. DO.NOT.DO.IT.” So we read and read and decided that although we hate this particular popcorn, there’s a good chance this isn’t our “forever home,” so better to not risk future health issues for current, cosmetic gratification.

Over the next few weeks more things would go wrong. Our Ready-to-Assemble cabinets continually gave us problems due to bad instructions, lack of carpentry ability and the worst painting experience to date. Our flooring purchase would turn into a bigger miscommunication than we could ever imagine. The sub-floor would show it’s unevenness and our attempts to smooth it would only slightly hide the problem. Russell would get all kinds of sick. A cabinet being built resembled a closet and not a cabinet and would be torn down as quickly as it went up. Our electrical maze continues because our contractor is extremely busy, and we are a side project in his insane schedule.

The list goes on, and I will go into more detail on these mishaps later. For now, all you need to know is this: Home renovation is exhausting, unpredictable, patience-testing, and revealing – not only showing the inside of your home, but the inside of who you are and how you react to stressful situations.

Mr. Fi and I have learned a lot about remodeling, fixing things and negotiating with people over the last few weeks. Beyond that, we’ve also learned about ourselves and our marriage. We’ve learned patience is not something we’re inherently good at. And when to bring up a problem and how based on how the other person’s personality will process that information.

We’ve learned to share duties and make time for us, even if it means not hitting our ideal deadlines. But most importantly, we know to lean on each other, no matter how angry or tired or downright frustrated this remodel makes us. Yes, even if we’re in the middle of a fight about why one of us isn’t washing the dishes now that we have no dishwasher while the other one is still cooking…not naming any names…could be anyone…

While my brain is still fighting with idealism and learning to cope with the setbacks and let-downs of others, I’m glad I have someone here to help me through it all. Stress is manageable when you have someone else pulling you back up and bringing you back to reality. A kitchen remodel isn’t the be-all, end-all of our existence. In case where we’re both stressing out, and neither of us feels like being the “beacon of positivity,” there’s always solace in knowing that someone else is right where you are. Deep in that dark pit of self-deprecation that stems from a botched project (here’s lookin’ at you, Gen Y Finance Guy). Misery loves company, right? Luckily, I love the company of my husband.

How do you fight idealism in your life? Any advice for keeping priorities straight and stress at bay?

*We used our handy-dandy, tax-refund gift card that we received from H&R block to buy our supplies. There was a special going on at the time that we did our taxes where you could get an extra 10% back if you got a portion of your return on a gift card. Since we knew we would be doing the remodel, it was a no-brainer to get some extra mullah while designating part of the return to future purchases at The Home Depot.

Comments

  1. our next life

    Whew, you guys are definitely seeing the worst of renovation! We have renovated a number of rooms, and it’s always stressful, just as you said. That’s part of why we’re putting off the renovations we’d like to do now until we retire and can knock them out faster. Your cautionary tale is probably also why we’ve instinctively worked to do as much of the work ourselves — to avoid those pesky contractor delays! Nothing is more demoralizing than being told that your job isn’t important. The nerve of those guys! 🙂 Good luck with the rest of the project! Hope it’s downhill from here.

    1. Post
      Author
      Mrs. FI

      Pesky contractors indeed…it’s like there’s a code with these guys to delay delay delay! Silly. Anyway, things are looking up and it seems all the major stuff has been (or is in the process) of being tackled…so I see a downhill slope approaching in the distance from this forever-tall hill we’ve been on 😉 Thanks for sending luck and commenting!

  2. Fervent Finance

    Ugh, I’m sorry to hear about the troubles. It sounds like most of the issues are arising from others not being able to fulfill their side of the bargain (contractors, HD, etc.). I bet you’re glad you in-sourced what you could, as you can’t ever delay yourself or back out on yourself (well I guess you could). Hope things go well from here.

    1. Post
      Author
      Mrs. FI

      Thanks FF! In-sourcing is definitely the way to go. We’re trying to continue to do as much as we can, I just wish we weren’t so helpless in some areas! Things are looking up though, and that’s what we’re holding on to! Thanks for the kind words and for commenting.

  3. taylorqlee

    Trying to deal with contractor schedules is the worst. I feel for you. But, remember, you are well on your way to a delightful space. There is a light at the end of that tunnel!

    Also, have you considered getting the popcorn ceiling tested?

    1. Post
      Author
      Mrs. FI

      The light at the end of the tunnel keeps getting brighter, I just want to get there faster! 😉 But you’re right – I need to just focus on what a great space it will be when it’s all over and done with. As for the ceiling, we did get it tested and…NO ASBESTOS! *cue happy dance*

  4. Maggie

    Yeah, we usually finish a project and say “we’re never doing anything again” – we’re drastic. But then we usually pick up another something to work on shortly thereafter. Good luck!

  5. Jeff

    If you havent done so yet, you can level your subfloor with roofing tiles. Remember, if you’re doing ceramic tiles, your floor doesnt need to be level, it needs to be FLAT.

    Good luck, It sounds like you’re having issues but just take it a day at a time. You’ve got 2 crock pots & a grill right? You shouldnt really NEED to cook inside until november or so.

    1. Post
      Author
      Mrs. FI

      Darn it! We’ve already leveled and put down the new flooring, which is laminate, not tile. We looked at tile originally but decided against it for the upstairs. But you can use roofing tiles, eh? We’ll have to keep that in mind for a (much) later project.

      Also, good call on the crock pots and grill. We’ve used the grill a few times but we’ve mostly had an oven and that’s what I’m most comfortable with so I’ve tried to make due. I keep forgetting about the CP though…darned brain. Thanks for the reminder and for commenting!

  6. Mrs PoP

    Awww, you’ll make it through. I, for one, am impressed with how much you guys have been able to accomplish so quickly. We’re definitely on a slower timetable and that’s been frustrating at times as well. I had a couple of breakdowns earlier in the project when we were getting to the end of 3 months without a ceiling… It wasn’t pretty. At all.
    Would I love it if things would go faster? Absolutely! But if I push Mr PoP when he’s already pooped to do even more, he’ll revolt and then where will we be? Worse off for sure.

    1. Post
      Author
      Mrs. FI

      I honestly have no idea how you do it. Breakdowns were a regular occurrence for the first month…or two. I can’t even remember now because it’s all kind of blurred together. We had about a month or so without a floor and I was starting to lose it with how dirty everything was (or looked – the sub-floor had a white coating) constantly. I actually tried to vacuum Russell directly once so I wouldn’t have to vacuum the floor for the umpteenth time. He was not a fan. Now that the flooring is in I think I’ve mellowed out a lot. Though Mr. FI might disagree 😉

      And good call not pushing it with Mr. POP. Having the handyman revolting during the middle of a project would not be a pretty (or finished for that matter) picture. Thanks so much for commenting!

  7. Claudia @ Two Cup House

    Oh, I do not envy you! We remodeled the kitchen a year ago and it took four times longer than expected. I had to laugh since this was the case with every other home improvement project we had. My advice? Try to laugh. And keep laughing. 🙂

    1. Post
      Author
      Mrs. FI

      FOUR.TIMES.LONGER???? Oh no no, don’t tell me that! I’m going to pretend your comment was a joke to start us laughing…that’s what it was right? Good. 😉 Thanks for the advice!

  8. Gen Y Finance Guy

    Sounds like you are holding it together pretty well. This too shall pass.

    I hope you guys are able to button up this project soon.

    I know when Mrs. GYFG and I get a project started, delays really start to wear you down and patience goes out the window. Even if you consider yourself a really patient person.

    Luckily we are done with home improvement projects until next year.

    Thanks for the mention!

    1. Post
      Author
      Mrs. FI

      That’s EXACTLY what’s tiring us out. Delays are the worst. Glad to hear you have escaped finished your projects – we hope to be done soon, too. Thanks for commenting and you’re welcome! 🙂

  9. Maggie

    Sounds similar to our kitchen re-do two years ago. Although we just kept canceling all the stupid people and doing it all ourselves. It took a bit longer, but we ended up saving money, doing all the work ourselves, and now we feel very proud of it. But there’s no doubt renovations are a beast. It’s never fun in the middle of it!

    1. Post
      Author
      Mrs. FI

      We have been trying to work AROUND people by doing other projects but that can only go so far, especially when the “stupid people’s” projects are the bigger ones. Unfortunately, we’re just not comfortable doing stuff like electrical or drywall taping and texturing ourselves…no matter how much I’d rather just have it done, or we’d try and tackle it. If only I’d watched more Bob Vila growing up…But good for you for doing it all yourselves! I envy your go-getter attitude. We’re in the cautious, don’t-want-to-mess-this-up group. 😉 Thanks for commenting!

      1. Maggie

        I should specify that I wouldn’t attempt those things. Mr. T just you-tubes it and talks to the guy at Lowes, and he’s on his way. I’m not made that way, so I get it! I’m pretty worthless when it comes to handy-type projects. I’m usually the “hold this” person. 🙂

        1. Post
          Author
          Mrs. FI

          Haha well that makes me feel better! Several things we’ve Youtubed have worked out rather well but it’s the others, where we had instructions and videos and STILL messed up, that keep our cautiousness alive. So we’re trying to learn from the “handy-type” guys we’ve hired for the scarier projects so we can be less of a “hold this” person and more of a “I got this” pro in the future. Although Mr. FI tells me we aren’t doing this again…but people change their minds 😉

Comments are closed.