Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Wiz report for Thursday

Happy New Year to you all! Well it’s been just over a month in the new apartment, and other than it being a rather long trek into Manhattan, we’re quite happy with it. When we signed the lease, we discussed some minor renovations with the landlord. The kitchen was less than functional and in need of some serious updating. We agreed that we could do whatever we wanted to in the apartment. Once that was decided, I went into “renovation mode.” We chose the week between Christmas and New Year’s to begin the project. Wiz Spouse (WS) was off from work that week (and this week as well), and since he would be doing most of (if not all of) the work, that seemed to make the most sense.

I’ve heard many stories of the horrors of home improvement. I am also rather thick skulled and chose not to believe them. Of course we can do this! Wiz Spouse is a technical director – having built many sets and most of the furniture we own. Me? I am very good at holding things, locating tools and asking very silly questions. Between the two of us, we could tackle anything.

Being that we do not own our place, we chose to go the least expensive route. Our plans included putting in a snap and click laminate floor and replacing the cabinets. The floor would come from Lowe’s, the cabinets from Ikea.

Let’s start at the beginning. The floor would be first on the list. I’ve had a little experience with a snap and click floor. I helped install one on a set, and it was relatively easy. As I said to WS, “you just snap and click it together – it’s not that hard.” That will be the last time I ever use that sentence. It was more than moderately challenging. First of all, it turns out that the room isn’t square, so fitting the planks is not an easy task. They must all be cut to size – something we had not anticipated, but also something we could overcome. Secondly, there is ceramic tile at the bottom of the walls, making for a less than pleasing transition to the floor. But most importantly, “snap and click” really doesn’t happen that way. WS started saying “I don’t hear the click”. So I tried. I didn’t hear it either. After several hours of attempting to hear the click, WS did it his own way. I didn’t ask what that meant. I felt it was best for me not to know and more importantly not to ask. It took just about 2 days, and it was how we spent New Year’s Eve, but most importantly, it’s done. To the staff at Lowes – thank you for dealing with me. I know it’s a challenge.

The cabinets were next. (I am skipping over the demolition, as there’s really nothing exciting to tell. Demolition is demolition.) Once again, both of us have some experience with Ikea furniture. Whatever furniture in our house that WS didn’t make, Ikea did. Both WS and I agreed that this was going to be a painful process. There is nothing more tedious than lining everything up and making sure that it is level and square in all directions. WS doesn’t have much patience for that. For those of you who may not be familiar with Ikea, here’s a bit of background. First of all, everything has a name that you can’t read or pronounce. Second, everything comes packed flat in boxes. Third, the directions are all in pictures – not a single word! So we drive out to Ikea Elizabeth and purchase our cabinets. As luck would have it, the cabinets themselves were in stock, but the doors were not. They would be arriving separately in about 7-10 days – just when WS leaves for Toronto for a month! Our timing couldn’t be more perfect. So we purchase our cabinets, drive them home, and haul them up the stairs. We’re ready for the tedious process of putting them together. We know it’s going to be terrible. We couldn’t have been more wrong! They couldn’t have been easier. OK, the directions still don’t make much sense to me, but WS figured it out very quickly and he and Wiz Kid (WK) had most of the cabinets together within a few hours. Doors? Couldn’t be easier! There are pre-drilled holes for the hinges (which are really cool and snap together much better than the floor did!) and the shelving brackets AND they even have a “hardware template” that you use to determine where to put the handles and/or knobs! These guys have thought of everything! The cabinets went up without too much of a problem. The worst part of the countertop portion of the cabinet installation was our non-square room. The doors arrived today (much earlier than expected) and are already in place.

I very well could be the first person without a major horror story on home renovation. We are ahead of schedule. We are under budget. We didn’t come across any major surprises while doing this project. We only have a little bit of repair to do from the demolition – (the previous built-in cabinets were really built-in many, many years ago.) But most importantly, I’ve learned some things in the process:
1. never say “it just snaps and clicks” – it doesn’t
2. when it’s not going well, don’t say to your spouse “well I can call Lowes and hire someone.”
3. don’t do demolition on New Year’s Day – your neighbors won’t appreciate it
4. when you ask a question, remember the answer and then don’t ask the question again. Trust me.
5. the best time to shop at Ikea Elizabeth is at 10am during the week. It’s empty!

We still have one drawer to buy and install, one set of doors on back-order, knobs and such must be purchased and installed, and then there is the task of repairing and re-painting the wall and ceiling. We should have drawers and knobs on Friday. The rest will have to wait until WS returns from Toronto. He’s done a terrific job. My thanks to WS, WK, Lowes and Ikea for making this go smoothly and look great!

Until the next one,

1 comment:

the other one said...

It's wonderful to hear a good story about home renovation for a change. Ahead of schedule? Fabulous. Under budget? Even better. Two very important questions - how is WS at making shelves and is he available for hire?