Home Renovations: Part 5 – Cabinets

And now for the “Big Impact” item – cabinets.

And yes – there will be pictures at the end of my rant.

Actually, our renovation project really begins here with the cabinets. Back in 2019 when we first started thinking about renovating the kitchen, we attended the Seattle Home Expo (before the lockdown and the year that wasn’t). We saw many interesting things, like giant “swim in place” lap pools, but the main thing we came away with was a reference for some high-quality cabinets, made locally in Woodinville.

We were astounded of the quality of the cabinets, and that they were inclusive of any inserts or accessories and were made locally to order. Of course, the pandemic struck next, and we soon forgot about them.

After going through the design/build ranks in Seattle, and even a store front kitchen design place, we had a general idea of what we wanted, but none of those places would satisfy us of the quality and customizability of their cabinets like the first place. After almost 2 years of trying to plan, design, and find a contractor/builder, we returned to the first cabinet company.

What a night and day experience. The first designers we worked with took some loose measurements and went away for a few weeks. They came back with drawings that were maybe 80% of what we wanted, but nothing looked quite right to us, and we made them tweak it several times – then, after COVID hit and things got crazy, we had to back off. We came back to them later, and they were so busy that they could not accommodate us for anywhere near the same budget. Everything got more expensive.

So, we went to that storefront place I mentioned earlier. Fortunately, they required no money up-front, and would design and estimate the layout in just a few days of working with us. They came up with the better plan after seeing what the first company did, and even found some outside-the-box ideas which helped us find our final layout. But they were WAY over budget also and would not let us choose better cabinets. They had a specific vendor that they used and would cost much more to get the cabinets we wanted in the colors we chose.

Fast forward through much frustration and emotional meltdowns, we eventually remembered the first cabinet vendor. After brining our sketchy plans and ideas, their designer/technician calmly began entering all the data and dimensions into AutoCAD (or some such architectural program) and began to lay out the entire plan. He came up with a cost estimate that very day, and even found a contractor to do the install of the cabinets and the remainder of the construction work to very close within our budget.

Now, that was a year ago that we signed our contract with them. There were some speedbumps on the way (I hate speedbumps, by the way – they are indeed evil). These speedbumps were us tweaking the final details, putting the finishing touches on all the accessories that we needed, and finally getting enough design time with the cabinet designer to make sure everything was covered. We finally finished it up and signed the contracts in November.

They said it would take 6 to 8 weeks for cabinet construction, but I think the order was expedited because we had cabinets delivered to us early in the second week of December – closer to 4 weeks production time. We thought they would fill one of our garage bays and that one of us would have to park in the driveway or on the street – that was a gross underestimation on everyone’s part. The cabinets alone filled one and half bays, so we were both out in the cold.

We arranged the main cooking wall in a line to make sure everything was there.

There were a few issues that we had, such as a miscalculation on where the rangetop and hood would be in the layout, but those issues were corrected expeditiously. In fact, see those two cabinets above without doors? Those were produced within 24 hours in order to correct the layout issues. There are a couple of chips in the finish, but we are supposed to be getting some touchup paint for those things.

Fast forward (past two or three other blog posts and one ice storm) to this past week where the cabinet install began. First, was to get all the cabinets inside. That took longer than I think the installers were prepared for.

A snapshot from our “construction cam” showing the cabinets being staged for install.

One of the installers levelling and installing the main cooking wall cabinets.

The lowers for the “buffet wall” in what is now our new dining room.

The new cabinet where the oven will be installed. The oven was previously in the section just to the right of where it is now, just next to the pantry door.

Complete lowers for cooking wall (minus drawers and a couple of doors).

The new cabinet for the fridge – we went with an upgraded size (48″ instead of the usual 36″). Not only will it help resale value, but we can get so much more stuff in it!

Uppers for the “buffet wall”.

Final install state after getting as much done as could be at this time.

You’ve probably noticed that not everything is quite finished yet, but that’s okay – some of it we intentionally delayed in order to figure out what to do with the floor, and the crown moulding on the fridge wall is missing because the lights are actually in the wrong place and blocking the install. That will be fixed later.

While we had some issues with the install of the cabinets, I understand that it was par for the course of how these things go. Overall, they did a good job getting everything in place and correcting some install mistakes that our contractor caught and held them to task.

As you can see, it’s getting real now.

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