I’d been waiting for a new kitchen for, I don’t know, somewhere close to forever. Previous remodels have always been your basic facelift — fresh paint, new countertops, updated hardware. But I’ve never had a bonafide new kitchen. Now, it was finally going to happen. I posted a note on Facebook and when a friend offered “marriage counseling” to get us through it, I replied, “I’m really not too rattled about it.”
But oh, I should have been.
I’d picked out the appliances in spring, scheduling the purchase around a July Fourth appliance sale. We began wrecking out the old kitchen in June. The hubs was nursing a badly wounded shoulder and had use of only one arm, making progress slow and messy. Finished, we discovered the first surprise. The dry wall was badly damaged and we’d need a more extensive backsplash than planned. Next, we learned that the delivery people will deliver only to the first floor. Our kitchen is on the second floor, and clearly Mr. One Wing was not in any position to haul hundreds of pounds of appliances up a dozen-plus stairs. After much stressing, I found a moving company that would help. Next up, we learned the same delivery rule also applied to the cabinets. Fortunately, when the dozens of boxes arrived, I was able to bribe the delivery guys who were great about lugging everything to the living room, which meant I now had no kitchen and only a half a living room.
On a Monday, the cabinet installer arrived and immediately pointed out that the plumbing as it stood would not work with our dishwasher. Enter the plumber. I was grateful for his quick response, but not so much for the fact that he complained bitterly about the job, then disappeared for hours. We got that matter resolved just as the appliances arrived, minus the fridge, which meant we’d have to continue to do without kitchen appliances or pay the movers to return a second time when the refrigerator — a gigantic thing that I feared would never make it up the stairs and through the doorways — arrived. I did without.
Earlier this summer, we had our driveway paved and kept the cones out to signal to the heavy delivery trucks not to drive on it. The day the refrigerator arrived, I was out and about and returned to find — yep, the delivery truck parked on the concrete. Then, as Einstein 1 and 2 were leaving, I noticed that a metal bracket hanging off the truck was now digging into the new concrete. By the time, I got their attention, they’d gouged a foot-long scar in my new drive. They were half way down the street when I also noticed they’d left the refrigerator directly in front of the door leading inside the house from the garage.
The movers did a great job bringing up the appliances — yes, even the fridge — and finally, it was time for the countertops. The lead installer walked into the kitchen and announced, “Your dishwasher is broken.” Sure enough, the never-used dishwasher was cracked on the front control panel. Panic stricken, I rushed to the phone and was assured it would be replaced. But I would have to wait a couple of weeks for it to arrive at the store.
But at least now we had countertops, a fridge, stove and microwave — or so I thought. As it turned out, after the hubs drilled the hole in the new cabinet for the microwave cord, we discovered it was too short, which meant, of course, a call to the electrician.
I love my new kitchen — though it is not 100-percent complete. And I must admit, there are times when it sounds like I am living with a music ensemble. The fridge has alarms that sound when the door is not closed and chimes that signal nearly anytime you look at it; likewise the dishwasher, stove and microwave. Nothing just begins or ends quietly — there’s always some bell or whistle accompanying it. Worse, my big, spacious refrigerator can work itself into such a state, I sometimes fear it is preparing for liftoff. All normal, the manual assures me.
We are still awaiting the extended backsplash, installation of which is to take place in late September. I don’t know what could go wrong with a simple job of tile and grout, but I plan to be out of town for a signing of “Wander,” and I don’t plan to answer my phone.
Lori Tobias is the author of the novel “Wander” and a journalist of many years. Follow her at loritobias.com.