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!

Home-Improvement Hodgepodge

The title of this post makes me think of a certain 90’s show and how I decided to be in love with “JTT” because it was the cool thing to do. Ha, what a silly girl I was.

But this post isn’t about 90’s TV or childhood crushes. This is about how crazy busy we’ve been lately.  Because being busy is even more in style than being in love with random movie stars. We’ve been up to an interesting assortment of home-improvement-related activities lately.

  1. Home office renovation. As I mentioned when Jordan’s parents were here a few weeks ago, we’ve been working on putting up drywall in the back room. Interesting fact about this room–when this particular style of house goes on the market, some people advertise the back room as a bedroom. Others advertise it as a study and part of the “master’s suite.” (Jordan tells me “owner’s suite” is the politically correct term. Take your pick.) The closet is so tiny that I think “study” is more appropriate, but I guess an extra bedroom makes the house more marketable. In any case, the back room had this lovely (ha!) 60’s fake wood paneling that our plumber had to cut when he re-ran our water lines. And everyone knows wood paneling looks fantastic with a line sliced horizontally across the middle of the wall. As gorgeous as it was, we opted to replace it with drywall, and Jordan and I have spent some time since his parents left sanding and applying drywall mud.

    Getting there

    Getting there

  2. Decorations. Sigh. I haven’t taken nearly as much time as I’d like decorating our home, but I did make what I think is a nice arrangement of bridal portraits on the wall below the stairway. Jordan is a fan. 🙂

    Jordan's six favorites

    Jordan’s six favorites

  3. Bathroom mirror. Before we moved in, we had all the bathrooms renovated, but we didn’t have the mirrors replaced. Unfortunately, our contractors never put the old mirrors back (a couple of them don’t fit anymore), so we’ve been without for a while. We did buy a new one for the master bath a while ago, and after an evening of sanding drywall this week (see point 1), we decided to finally take the time to put up the one for the downstairs guest bathroom. In the process, we discovered the mirror was original. It’s in beautiful shape for a 46-year-old mirror (no sarcasm this time); the other two didn’t fare so well, so we’ll be buying replacements.
    Stamp on the mirror's back

    Stamp on the mirror’s back

    No more blank wall!

    No more blank wall!

  4. Kitchen renovation. Sadly, nothing has been done with this kitchen in all of its 45 years, and it shows. Drawers are missing, doors are nearly impossible to open, linoleum is stained and peeling back from the floor, and the whole thing feels a bit cramped. We’re hoping to get the whole thing redone in September, and part of our money-saving plan is to buy RTA (ready-to-assemble) cabinets and put them together ourselves. In the interest of time, we’ll pay someone to install them and the new flooring (repairing our broken laundry line in the process–woot!), but we can handle the demolition and assembly. So I’ve been looking at RTA Cabinet Store’s website and trying endless variations in their planning tool. I’ve finally decided on the Rustic Brown style (solid wood, soft-close doors and drawers, and a gorgeous finish–all for under $3000!), and I’m almost finished with the layout. Keeping my fingers crossed I don’t make any stupid mistakes!
  5. New refrigerator. I’ve got to say it–the refrigerator that came with this house is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen. I’m a little embarrassed that I’ve been using it the way it is, but with the craziness that was our move into this house, I never had time to clean it. And there’s really nothing I could do about the pieces of it that are broken. So I’ve had my eye on this refrigerator for a little while. Wanting to save money, though, I checked Craigslist last weekend for bisque refrigerators (I’ll explain in a later post why we’re going with bisque). Lo and behold, the only bisque refrigerator for sale in our area was the exact one I’d had my eye on, and not only was it just three years old, but they were asking half what it advertises for online. Can we say “sold”? So Monday we went to look at it, decided we wanted to go for it, and paid a deposit. We came back Wednesday to pick it up (thanks to Nick for his last-minute help!) and spent yesterday evening cleaning it up. (It had been sitting in this couple’s garage for a little while and hadn’t been cleaned, so there were some minor mold issues.) It doesn’t fit in our refrigerator cubby yet, but I’m so eager to get rid of the old one, that I’ve already started using it. 🙂

    (Almost) like new

    (Almost) like new

  6. Duct repair. OK, this one hasn’t happened yet, but I finally scheduled someone to come repair our crushed air-return duct. Here’s hoping it improves our energy efficiency.

Whew, who knew owing a home took so much work! In all fairness, we knew this was coming when we bought it–that’s how we got the price we did. But everything I hear tells me there will always be something to do.

How about you? If you own, did you have any unexpected repairs after closing? What do you do to keep your home in good shape?