In Which Our Heroine Returns From a Two-Month Absence and Has No Pictures to Show For It

I certainly didn’t intend to be away from here for over two months, but, well, the best-laid plans and all that. Church is cancelled tonight due to snow (!), so it seemed like a good time to get caught up. Here’s a quick rundown of what we’ve been up to, and I’ll plan to go into more detail on some of the items in subsequent posts:

  1. We finished renovating our kitchen! We started mid-August and had hoped to be done by the end of September, but due to various bumps in the road didn’t end up finishing until the end of October. More on this in a later post.
  2. We refinanced our mortgage. We were able to refinance a little over a year after our purchase due to the larger-than-expected bump in our home’s value after the kitchen and other renovations (new roof, windows, HVAC, bathrooms, flooring, siding, …) and our double loan payments (knock out that principal!). More on this later!
  3. We got pregnant. And lost the baby at 4 and 1/2 weeks. This was, by far, the most painful event of the last two months, but I’m happy to say that our faith and family and friends and love for each other pulled us through it, and we came out stronger for it. I may (or may not) talk more about this later.
  4. We hosted Thanksgiving. We had our parents over for Thanksgiving, and I was in charge of Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. Other than forgetting a couple ingredients in the stuffing (which still turned out delicious), there were no real disasters, and I think a lovely time was had by all. It was a much-needed time of relaxation and refreshment, especially coming the tail-end of our loss.

P.S. The title of this post is a bit misleading. I did take pictures of the kitchen renovation and will plan to share them in a future post (or posts). Stay tuned! 🙂

Made in China

On Thursday our ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets finally arrived. We spent most of the day Saturday putting them together. Nick, Bre, and Nick’s brother showed up around 3:00 to help us with what was left, which, due to the complicated Lazy Susan we’d put together first thing in the morning, ended up being most of the cabinets. Now our living room and part of our dining room are full of cabinets, waiting for us to decide on someone to install them. We ordered them from RTA Cabinet Store; here are some of my thoughts on the experience.

The good:

  1. The cabinet doors are gorgeous. They’re a lovely toffee color with a satiny-smooth finish.

    First one!

    First one!

  2. The boxes are 1/2″ plywood, not fiberboard, so they should be durable.
  3. This style comes standard with all the bells and whistles:
    1. dovetailed drawers
    2. full-extension, undermount drawer glides
    3. soft close drawers
    4. soft close cabinet doors
  4. The price is unbeatable, and we got an additional 10% off.
  5. For the most part (Lazy Susan excluded!), the assembly is super easy. The pieces connect with cam locks, so a screwdriver is literally all you need.
  6. The doors were already attached to the face frames, making our job that much easier.
  7. My few experiences with customer service have been fairly pleasant.
  8. The cabinets are guaranteed against defects for 5 years.

The bad:

  1. The shippers did a terrible job loading our cabinets, and a number of them arrived broken and/or scratched. Presumably, these will be replaced. (Quickly, I hope.)
    Ugh...

    Ugh…

    Is it so hard to seat this straight?

    Is it so hard to seat this straight?

  2. There were no assembly directions in any of the boxes. The website does have directions for some of the cabinets, but we found minor variations in our cabinets from all of the directions listed. For the Lazy Susan there were four different sets of directions, none of which matched our particular cabinet. Luckily (see point 5 above), once we figured the first couple out, assembling the rest was straightforward.

The ugly:

  1. The website has an annoying habit of popping up a “We beat anybody else’s price, guaranteed!” banner from time to time, and the size of my laptop screen is such that the “x” to close the window is inaccessible. I’ve resorted to deleting the HTML node using Firebug.
  2. Although RTA Cabinet Store is a US-based company, the cabinet boxes are made in China. This bothers me for a couple reasons:
    1. I would really prefer to support the American economy.
    2. As often seems to be the case, the focus with work outsourced to China seems to be “get it done as fast as possible” rather than, “take the time to make sure we turn out the best product possible.” In contrast to the gorgeous doors, the boxes displayed poor workmanship: cams were installed crooked, holes and troughs weren’t drilled deep enough or cleanly at all… A number of little details added up to make me wonder if we’d made the right decision.

Bottom line:

They’re beautiful cabinets, and I think the quality of the materials is good enough to offset the poor workmanship of the boxes. Time, of course, will tell.

FLOPS says, "I guess they're OK, but where's the fish?"

FLOPS says, “I guess they’re OK, but where’s the fish?”

Update 8/19: I submitted a damage report yesterday, and I already received a response back from the claims department today. We’re getting $15 back per scratched cabinet (a pittance, really, but every little bit helps), a free pot of stain to fill in the scratched spots, and two new panels to replace the ones that were broken. Here’s hoping they ship faster (and more carefully) than last time!