Great Kitchen Expectations

BY CARLA RIEDEL

This is going to be terrible. Just terrible.

People who tell you their kitchen remodel was a breeze are liars. I often tell my customers that a kitchen remodel is exactly like childbirth: you’ll be so tickled with the outcome that you’ll forget how painful the labor was. Living through a kitchen remodel is on par with losing your cell phone. We never appreciate how much we needed a kitchen until we’re without one.

Remodeling a kitchen is awful. Have I mentioned that it’s awful?

Now that we’ve readjusted our expectations, let’s talk about reality. First, you’ll make some hard decisions. You’ll find a designer and a contractor you trust and admire. You’ll crunch some budget numbers, realize you’re a bit over budget for your dream kitchen, and do some re-crunching. You’ll pick a door style and a finish from dozens and dozens of stunningly beautiful possibilities. You’ll select flooring and faucets, countertops and appliances and backsplash tile. And light fixtures and decorative hardware and, of all things, outlet covers. (Who knew somebody had to pick those?) You’ll select and select until your pretty little brain is fried. And then they’ll tear your kitchen down to the studs. There will be nothing left. Nothing.

You’ll acclimate yourself to washing dishes in the bathtub. You’ll grill every meal outdoors or use the crockpot every day, or you’ll revel in the convenience of take-out for almost every meal. It’s a bit of a drag but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel so everything is just hunky dory. Then disaster strikes. In spite of your team’s best efforts, windows get back ordered so they slow down the flooring people which delays your cabinet delivery so you lose your countertop template window and then your tile guy goes on vacation and your schedule is shot to hell in (as my grandmother used to say) one swell foop.

This is the point where the rubber meets the road, where we separate the men from the boys, where we decide to do this easy way or the hard way. And everyone knows what the hard way is. We’ve all seen diners fuss rudely at the waiter at the next table, and fellow travelers absolutely lose their you-know-what with flight attendants. But you don’t have to do any of these things because your expectations were realistic in the first place and, most importantly, you picked the right team. Your kitchen designer and contractor feel way worse about this than you do. They’ve lost sleep and fretted over how to deliver the bad news to you. And before they even told you there was going to be a delay, they probably made a zillion phone calls and navigated through Plan B and devised the next-best scenario.

Your team considers the opportunity to work with you an honor and a privilege. They’ve been through this before and they’ve got your back. You’ve picked the right people and they’re not slacking, they’re doing everything in their power to get this done for you.

Take a deep breath. Patience and kindness will get us all there with the team intact and with a great feeling of accomplishment. The kitchen that will eventually make your heart sing is just around the corner. Just like childbirth, this too shall pass. And just like childbirth, it’s absolutely worth the effort.

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