Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Money doesn't grow on trees but I wish jewelry did.

I don't really showcase a lot of "stuff" here on the Sauce because even though I enjoy lusting over pretty things, other blogs do the whole shopping thing better than me and DAMN I don't have that kind of time to spend all day shopping on the internet.  I have work to do and videos of sleeping kittens riding rainbows to watch a thousand times.  (Please someone find me that video ASAP!) 

That kind of constant shopping always-want-more mentality is something we try to avoid anyway here at the Sauce.  We're better than that consumerist curse.  

Also, just poor.

But sometimes I just get the shopping bug as I sit here on my couch and look around at my thrift store gems.  Here are a few things I've drooled over lately.  I've so generously included the prices for you so you can purchase these if you get a wild hair.  Purchase them for me that is...
Meier/Ferrer Console Table via I'm Revolting's pinterest
This table sets my loins on fire which is appropriate since I would have to sell an ovary to get it.   Or you could sell an ovary.  Whatever.  I'm not currently using mine at the moment and madame eggs are going for a pretty penny on the black market I hear...

I think I'm also in a metal mood.  Normally I gravitate towards wood (shut up) but my house is looking like a hobbit house with all the gnarly brown fabulosity (and tiny dudes with hairy feet running around everywhere).

Ventilateur Prometheus, 1940 via lannerart's pinterest
This vintage fan is sessy as hell and omigawd it costs 7 jizzillion puka shells.  Even Kenny Chesney doesn't have that many necklaces

Maybe I'll try to wear my metal accents...
Nada Sawaya via She Breathes
These are some bracelets I WOULD sell an ovary for.  Too bad they will cost me 7 years of indentured servitude as Justin Bieber's vajayjay waxer.

via coco + kelley
It's like a table that IS jewelry.  Also it costs 7000 pounds of bacon.  Moving on...

How about something smaller and therefore probably more affordable and accessible and other 'a' words?
Hanging Light by Lukas Peet via The Contemporist
This one is only fifty-eleven American pesos but you can't just have one - you need a cluster of at least four dozen to look even remotely cool.  That's a lot of American pesos, amigo.

Okay, fine.  I'll just go for something super tiny.  
vintage Italian keys on etsy
ARRRGGGHHHH!!  My love for old skeleton keys knows no limits!  Oh wait - 23 euros you say?  That is indeed a limit.  By my calculations that is about 17.5 heart transplants.  

Fuck this economy.

I'm going to Tuesday Morning.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Don’t Stop Believin: A Journey Into Contractor Land. (get it?! Journey!!!!)

Oh contractors... It's been a long year.

First you wouldn't even talk to me, then we went on same really bad dates, then I had to break up with you before finally settling on a hopeful candidate which my house tried to kill.  You took your revenge - perhaps rightly so - by fucking up my countertops.  It's been a complicated experience.

It may have appeared that I focused on what went wrong in my kitchen project and that's partly true.  I tried to show when I thought my guys got it right because they DID do good work. Mostly. But I made a point to show the problems because that's how I - and hopefully others - learn. Despite this seemingly negative tone, I feel like I was incredibly lucky in my overall experience. My guys were super dependable, had good personal hygiene, didn't try to swindle me and showed up erry day. Honestly, this is about 137% better than many other people I've encountered so they were ahead straight out of the gate.

Don't you wish you worked at a job where you were able to get bonus points for just SHOWING UP? Unfortunately I live and work in the real world where being present at my job every single day is somewhat required.

But I'm beginning to see that the contractor biz isn't really like a normal business where the rest of us work - it's Contractor Land where there are completely different rules and numbers never seems to add up like you think it does. It's like quantum mechanics but with more sawdust.

Even though I am tremendously better equipped to handle future renovations like this, I unfortunately feel like some of my worst stereotypical thoughts about contractors were confirmed. This is sad. These conclusions are not just from my personal experience but from highly scientific research I conducted by talking with other homeowners, talking with other contractors, scientific studies of ant colonies, spying/eavesdropping, voodoo magic and lazy generalizations. Nothing would make me happier than proving these conclusions false at every single project I tackle in the future.

That's not to say I am now racist against all contractors. I have a great amount of respect for people that can build things and have skill sets that I don't. When the zombie apocalypse comes I will definitely need more contractors to help build my bunker than silly accountants! Money will be useless then and I'll have to resort to trading ammunition or sexual favors to get what I want. In this case, a kitchen/zombie-proof bunker. [MS sidebar: Could you imagine what kind of contract fuckery a zombie bunker would have produced?!]

But until this country is overrun with the walking dead, I just don't think I'm in the tax bracket to actually employ any of the good contractors I want. So if you're stuck in the same shitty tax bracket like me (and I'm pretty sure the majority of Americans are), here are some things you homeowners might want to keep in mind as you navigate through the strange wilderness of Contractor Land:

Trust: You still need to do it with protection.
The first test you encounter during your journey through the CL is a test of mental fortitude to see how prepared you are for the actual project. Perhaps you can avoid this test if you don't constantly tread water in a black pool of anxiety like me. Lucky you. But for me - I don't really like strangers, I certainly don't like strangers who are men and I'm not too fond of lots of people in my house. So let's put all of that together at the same time WHILE YOU'RE NOT EVEN HOME! Every day for an indefinite amount of time.

*nervous laughing*

Isn't this fantastic???!!!!

That pain in my chest is the utter lack of control in my life as I'm drowning in anxiety coupled with the knowledge that they are most definitely going through all my drawers and stealing blank checks from my desk right fucking now. I spent all day at work thinking horrible uncontrollable thoughts:

Omigawd, are they going through my dresser drawers? Reminder to check for possible webcam locations when I get home...

I could be in a meeting at work and the thought would pop up that they could be taking a nap on my bed in their dirty clothes or petting Charlemagne in that spot she doesn't like and there's not a damn thing I can do about it because I'm not even there!

Contractors may or may not give a shit about understanding the intimacy of their job. You can only hope that when the time comes they make an effort to be respectful.  Either way, it's still really unnerving to come home from work and have a stranger - maybe a subcontractor you've never even seen before - open the door for you and then proceed to navigate your house with familiar ease. I don't even let my family do this.

It’s not like these guys are going to be seeing all of my darkest, filthiest spaces every day for months!  I mean, no one has ever been so deep in my crawl space but please don’t bother going slow or being gentle with my property. Please keep hammering away in your dirty boots and calloused hands without mercy. I shouldn’t be nervous or have reservations - I should rely solely on the promises of the experienced person in this cherry-poppin equation.

Trust like this is not something that should be earned - goodness, that might take a lot of time! The homeowner isn’t giving a contractor permission to earn that trust when they sign that contract, they are just blindly handing it over with their keys and rights to complain.

Nothing bad has ever happened in that kind of situation.

Stop being so selfish, homeowners!

Did I leave panties in the bathroom floor??? GAWDAMMIT!

This business is personal.
Homeowners, you might have been under the impression that this was a business arrangement. How naive you are!   This isn’t like selling your old lawnmower on craigslist - the chances of you remaining detached and objective are fairly slim. This is a HUGE investment in time, energy, money and resources in addition to the forced intimacy of such a project. In no way can this be profession - it is actually a personal relationship during the course of which a renovation may or may not take place.  But not the fun kind of relationship with date nights and exchanges of bodily fluids - an emotional relationship where one side is a woman with constant PMS.

And that woman is not me. (Get ready for some tired and tasteless jokes about gender... ZING!)

Contractors are like delicate hormonal flowers with access to large amounts of power tools. It's important to treat them with kid gloves while wearing your safety glasses in case they lash out. Their inflated egos are only dwarfed by their white trucks. If you ask a question you will most likely be met with an eyeroll or condescending explanation. Stupid homeowner! Don't question their methods or things you don't understand. They are always right and like to remind you of it.

But it’s really just an act to hide their sensitive nature - they are always the victim here in Contractor Land regardless of the fact that they are in charge of the payment schedule, can select their own projects and have all of the knowledge, skill and power to cause to cause absolute misery or joy in this project. After all, the client is standing in the way of their great love of providing mediocre craftsmanship to kitchens and garage-slash-family rooms across the country. They are ARTISTS! Don't sully their creativity with your money or your own opinions. This isn't about you! It's about them and you should really stop being such a self-centered dick about it.

Besides, they're not being bitchy for the hell of it - they are merely responding in kind to the idiocy around them. (Psstt... that’s you!) This is my personal favorite because I practically invented this line of PMS reasoning.

Attempts at lightening the mood with jokes will only be met with stony silence. Gifts or bagels are empty gestures that are quickly forgotten. I think the only solution is lots of hugs and letting them cry it out. THEN go for the bagels.

Carbs make everything better. And chocolate.

At least it works for me...

What. The. Fuck. is on my nightstand right now.......????  Please, please, please let me have at least shut the bedroom door....

I’m not sure this “business” is a business at all...
Many times I’ve heard about homeowners being unprepared, not knowledgeable of the contractors' time and ignorant of the process in general. I think those are valid complaints. Contractors seem to run into these problem clients over and over and over... So often that I’m beginning to think that perhaps these aren’t problem clients but just actually how clients are.


Certainly the only solution is to bitch about how problematic clients are. Contractors aren’t there to provide a service for the client and to make their dreams come true, clients are there to make sure the contractors job goes as smoothly as possible. It’s always about the contractor, remember!? If a contractor calls the homeowner for an immediate decision - a decision the homeowner knew nothing about and is unprepared for - the contractor does not suck at managing his business and timeline, the client is flaky and unprepared. How inconsiderate of the homeowner!!

I’ve said a million times that homeowners should do their homework and try to get as much accomplished beforehand as possible so as not to upset the delicate disposition of the contractor. Pick as many materials and fixtures as you can or at least have a good idea of where you're going, have a good grasp on your own budget, understand your personal expectations about a project - you should probably go ahead and research how to build and install every component of your project too in case the contractor runs into any problems regarding placement of undercabinet lighting or how to install a sink or faucet per se. They can’t know everything and you will definitely need to fill in!

By no means should contractors institute some kind of procedure or checklist or a “What to expect when you’re expecting a remodel” type of brochure to educate people. That sounds like a lot of work! And a lot like a real business. A contractor is not supposed to provide information up front - they fly by the seat of their pants! It’s more fun that way when they are making birdhouses or drilling shit together.

Or watching the subcontractors do it.

Homeowners really only pay them to babysit the subcontractors.

I can’t imagine why a homeowner would want to pay someone to have all of these business-y type skills? That type of easy solution sounds too good to be true. It is totally my responsibility as a nit-picking homeowner to manage the entire project and anticipate the contractor’s needs, provide him with all of the information that I can’t possibly even know about, manage the timeline, put all the emergency numbers on the fridge, have the kids’ pajamas laid out and then drive him home at the end of the night.

Maybe we’ll stop for ice cream since everyone behaved tonight.

I think I accidentally left the giant tub of pimple ointment next to the sink!!!!! Oh well, at least they're not looking IN the medicine cabinet! Oh gawd they are totally IN my medicine cabinet, those assholes!!!!

None of it matters because in the end it’s all your fault anyway!
So much of my research on working with contractors was incredibly enlightening. Apparently projects go wrong all the time because clients are so horrible! It's a wonder why contractors are even in this “service” industry at all and not just building their birdhouses at a monastery somewhere in Tuscany. That seems much easier for everyone. This was so weird to learn because the majority of projects I hear about going wrong are because contractors fucked up, took the cheap/wrong way out, got lazy or just didn't even bother showing up anymore but still demanded payment. Guess what? That's still the client's fault!

If you couldn't guess beforehand that your fully-insured, licensed, highly recommended contractor was going to bail or fuck up then you should have researched better. No matter that all these fuckers look exactly the same with their horrible penmanship and shitty bids, you as the homeowner should be able to look into their souls and know which ones are going to actually do things the right way. Don't know what the right way is because you're not a professional builder? Well, you'll have to find out from a contractor. But he probably doesn't know or won't tell you. Best consult a gypsy fortuneteller. Or Alice Cullen.

Are we behind schedule because the contractor can't get the electrical inspector to come back or the HVAC guy hasn't showed up in over two weeks? Nope! We're behind because I ordered the wrong part for the microwave. How inconsiderate of me to try and have everything lined up for you! I know everything was sitting in the dining room for over a month at which any time you could have made sure it was the correct part but I think we both know it's my fault for not unpacking it for you. I’m so lazy like that!

Oh you installed those cabinets wrong? It's not your fault for ignoring the plan that Nick so generously made for you or by not calling him when you encountered a problem. I know that I wrote his number on the installation packet but I probably didn't make it big enough or include enough smiley faces. It's also my fault for even noticing the fuck up because my expectations are way too high in that I want things done, ya know, correctly. Don't forget to bill me for the incorrect work you did and the extra labor where you had to try and cover up what you fucked up too! I love overpaying!!

I don't feel like myself unless I'm in my natural position as project whipping boy.  Or whipping madame as the case may be...  It's how I best serve the Lord (of Remodeling).

I'm pretty sure there is a pile of Ghirardelli chocolate wrappers and a dirty wine glass I left on the coffee table last night... SHIT!

I'm trying to not stop believin... 
Contractor Land seems to be a magical place - like Narnia - where common sense and logic are flexible forces.  I wish I could say that proper communication could fix all of these things but when one person is PMSing *secretly points to contractor* it turns communication into a constant defensive/offensive “who sunk my battleship?” attack, it makes progress hard. My solution right now is to deal with the PTSD and sink their battleship with enough sarcasm to obliterate an entire navy fleet.

I doubt it's working...

I still believe in a place that exists between the real world and Narnia Contractor Land - like a Venn diagram of remodeling. And that place isn’t reserved for English kids in an weird wardrobe or fancy people here in this country with loads of disposable income. That there are contractors out there who - for a reasonable price - I can just be chill with while they’re all up in my crawl space and we can eat some Turkish delights and bagels and listen to early ‘80s rock music and talk about how much we both love the smell of fresh paint.

Oh hell - I think I left an industrial-sized box of tampons right out in the open...... You know, I don't even care anymore...

So... who wants to do my future bathroom remodel?!!




Steve Perry...??

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Sunday Set

Today was supposed to be the final installment in my Lord of the Rings trilogy about the kitchen but this week spanked me!  Also, I was literally sick of my own blog voice.  Yes that happens.  So the finale is on Monday!

In the meantime, here's some images to cleanse my your palate.  They are decidedly absent of interiors and exteriors and things with walls and wires and anvils.

Third dimensions are highly overrated...

via ffffound

Morbid Excess via Behance
It's worth it to check out the whole series...

Pat Perry via Looks Like Good Design
And this one too...

from here but anybody know the artist?
[Update: Thanks to reader Baldwinium for pointing out that this is a self portrait of Egon Schiele proving that I spend more time on tumblr than reading actual art history books.]

here but artist?

Apparently I'm also in an 'androgynous haircut on lady portraits' mood....

Jenny Morgan that I found on some blog I forgot...

I've been staring at her for daaaays!  

I'll probably keep staring all weekend...  

I think she's hypnotized me. 

With neon.


How to survive a kitchen remodel: Saucy style. (Hint: Thin Mints help.)

Now that this kitchen project is dead and gone, I feel like I'm earned my Girl Scout badge for remodeling.  I should probably make a badge for my sidebar now that I think about it...  I've compiled a psuedo-survival guide which may or may not be informative to others but I'm posting it because I'm a Girl Scout now and I believe in preparedness, helpfulness and delicious cookies.

Get ur control freak on!
Despite being somewhat of a control freak when it comes to things, well... in my control, I'm really a hater of micromanaging.  I think people work better without the hot stank breath of some ignorant ass down their neck.   So I tried to keep my hot stank breath to myself - after all, these dudes are the experts and I know less than zilch about wires or anvils or whatever the hell people use to build things.  But when it comes to the things I know a little sumthin sumthin about - like how things should look -  I have some apparently outrageous standards.

I wish I had somehow communicated how important these standards were to me.  Outrageous things like how much I dislike a sloppy caulk line.  Or that the undercabinet lighting should not act as wall washers and should not be installed against the back of the wall.  Or that sheetrock does indeed need to be smooth.  Like, everywhere.   

I learn from the best.  What I looked like telling them to fix my shit.
Having seen examples of my contractors' work before, I was a little surprised at their lack concern in some areas.  Some things they excelled at but some things were on par with the craftsmanship I see in a lot of new construction.  Y'all know what I'm talking about...  Especially up against the quality in my 50 year old house that may have seen better days but her baseboards are still immaculately constructed.

Sadly, I think some things maybe they just didn't know were bad.>Maybe they gave me C grade work to fit into my budget - I don't know.  I wish I had known I had a choice in quality of work: 100% effort is full price, 50% effort is probably 75% of full price.  That might be something they needed to communicate during the bidding process.  But that's okay - I'll just spend my weekend sanding the edge to this door jamb you made out of splinters and found lumber you thought I wouldn't notice. 

Maybe some homeowners don't care about details.  Awesome.  You're a dream client.  But you might want to do some soul searching to see what you really care about and what you don't care about and then tell your contractor people.  I don't even care if they are insulted or not, America must be saved from sloppy details and kitchens with shitty undercabinet lighting.

Seriously, they didn't even know it was wrong.

I'm starting to change my mind about micromanaging...

Contractually obligated to ignore this contract
I've said before I thought the bidding process was not even CLOSE to being detailed enough for me (also, see note about control freak above) but I thought we got everything ironed out by the time of the contract signing.  What I didn't plan for was the different interpretation that the contractor and I had of that contract.  I thought it was a finite document and work order changes would be discussed should a problem arise but NAY!  Apparently our contract was treated like a general guideline for the project and open to debate - like the Constitution!

When my scope of work and the contract said "install cabinets and all necessary components including but not limited to trim, hardware, etc. herein described to for the remainder of the blah blah blah" I meant all the damn cabinet parts period end of story just do whatever that shit is.  They interpreted that to mean "install all cabinets and parts until it got too confusing and they just didn't feel like doing it anymore because OMIGAWDTHISISHARD I need more money."   So I got magically billed for a whole range of surprise things right at the end.  Yippee!!! 

They did not follow the agreed upon work order changes procedure and once we signed the contract it was virtually forgotten.  Some problems that came up they just didn't charge me for (they were generous) and some things they charged me where they shouldn't have.  I like getting things free as much as the next Madame but when I don't know what I'm paying for (or not paying for) because the contractor just randomly makes decisions without consulting me, it breaks our bond of trust.  A bond of trust we made in blood in the center of the pentagram!!

There were some very heated words exchanged during our final communication - words that tainted my overall experience and opinion of them which is unfortunate - but we did finally agree on a final payment.   I don't think these guys are the type to cheat me but it's hard to tell when you don't know the full story.  I LIKE DETAILS!  I also like for someone to follow through on a gawddamn contract.

I'm not too worried though, I had the ghosts in the house put a curse on anyone that tried to cheat me and nobody's skin melted off so I think in the end it was fair. 

Perhaps in the future I'll just be a bigger bitch about proper work order changes.  That's probably less messy than cursing someone.

Permit Shmermit
Even though this goes against the "law" I still think permits are subjective.  I'm like an dangerous outlaw!  Nobody I know gets permits but the "law" says if there's more than $50 worth of work going on (at least in my area) I need a permit.  Fuck that!  If I get a new front door I have to get a permit and that is bullshit.  If someone is building an addition and pouring foundation or making structural changes then whatever - obviously you need a permit.  And I get it - I really do - that it's about safety and legal issues and blah, blah, blah don't lecture me. I just don't think I needed a permit but my asshole neighbors felt otherwise and called the inspector's office on me.

I wasn't really concerned that my contractors were not meeting code - otherwise I wouldn't have hired them - but I just didn't want the extra trouble.  The fun part was that in the end the inspector asked twice "Now, why did you pull a permit for this project?" because even the inspector DIDN'T THINK I NEEDED A PERMIT.

The extra fun part was that the electrical inspector was a complete jackhole who was apparently more interested in using my bathroom than actually inspecting the work.  He approved the plans and rough-in work on two separate occasions only to decide one day that I needed more outlets on my backsplash.  AFTER the tile had already been installed.  I shit you not.  But my guys are smart and we rigged a solution just to pass inspection that they immediately removed:

Something I didn't pay for.  Or did I???!!!
Even though this has nothing to do with my kitchen, the electrical inspector also didn't feel like my smoke detector was adequate (I'm sure he had plenty of time to look in my hallway on the way to the bathroom).  He required that I add 3 additional smoke detectors along my hallway and hardwire them in because gawddammit this guy is an asshole.  So now my hallway looks like an airport landing strip at night and I'm out $500.  But I'm sure he's totally concerned about my safety considering I have an entire wing of my house with only ONE smoke detector.  How will I manage?

Even the final inspector agreed this guy was an asshole.  Thanks a lot neighbors!  Let's look at how your project is going:

It's probably illegal to post pictures of your neighbor's house, right?!
I know people in mint green houses shouldn't throw insults but damn I wish you had to get a permit for style because that is the ugliest eye-fucking house vomit I've ever seen.  Ugly paint, stupid window on a hideous 2nd story addition, mismatched brick on a garage built less than 2 feet (!) away and they don't even use it like the redneck Tea Partiers they are.   After 6 months your work still isn't done.  Karma's a bitch, muthafuckas.

The Kitchen Remodel Diet kicks Jenny Craig's ass!
Going without a kitchen for two months really wasn't as horrendous as I thought it was going to be.  Some people have to set up actual temporary kitchens complete with running water during the remodel but I'm not that high maintenance nor do I have kids.  I used a bowl, a plate, a wine glass, a few utensils and washed all that in the bathroom sink.  It was like living in a dorm but I didn't have to shower with flip flops on. Ahhh, being a homeowner...   

Normally I only cook about twice a week and eat on leftovers for a few days so I didn't actually miss the zen art of trussing a chicken.  Martha Stewart I am not.  

My dining room/temporary kitchen. Flowers from my neighbor - how sweet!
Since the weather was warm I mostly ate salads, cheese and crackers and apples with almond butter.  I was like a forest creature.  It was kinda nice not even having to worry about defrosting chicken or whether my squash was going bad.  My grocery list consisted of spinach, fancy cheese and apples so it was easy - I would have saved money on food except for the lunching out and bushels of organic produce.  This menu makes it seem like I'm a much healthier eater than I actually am so let me assure you, when I wanted something warm I did indulge in some fast food hamburgers because YUM.  

Since I'm a Madame of the classiest order (disregard previous fast food comment) I don't like cooking in the microwave, however I tried a few frozen meals but quickly remembered they are like poisonous vomit in a plastic container.  FYI, this:

is edible but makes your house and microwave permanently stink like rotting curry eaten out of a sweaty crotch.  With tires burning somewhere...  So basically, just like India.  Good thing I was throwing the old microwave away anyway.  Gawd I want to go back to India.

But lemme tell ya - the first thing I cooked when I had a stove again was a giant pan of roasted vegetables.  I never thought I'd ever say that I was craving a giant plate of green beans but damn they were good.  I think I ate them with a hamburger because it was pretty hard to get back in the habit of defrosting chicken and wondering if my squash was bad.  

Me so drrty
What's good about a remodel (if you're lazy like me) is that you get to totally slack off on cleaning for a legitimate reason and not the normal reasons I use like no one comes to visit me because I have no friends so why should I clean the house because I'm going to die alone anyway wedged between my piles of creepy stuffed animals, video tapes and rotten food!  *sob, sob, sob*

I kid.  I don't have a VCR.

My normal reason is that there's usually there's just a Strange Addiction marathon on.  THIS time there was no point in cleaning because it was going to immediately get dirty and dusty again.  It felt like I was living at the base of a moderately angry volcano.  

Lars and the Real Girl didn't seem this creepy...
I would highly recommend putting everything that's in close proximity to the work and isn't bolted down into storage.  I didn't until the ceiling fell and it rained white dirt in my house for days.  DAYS!  So I wiped everything down, put it into boxes and covered the furniture with sheets.  I went through 3 air filters in less than a month.

What my entire house looked like for two months.
My guys kept a pretty clean jobsite (except for that black dirt that kept showing up in my shower... what WAS that, guys?)  but there was still a lot of dusty foot traffic and general grubby hands all up in my ranch and ew.  Possibly blood too.  All that was cleaned up before I got home but if CSI ever comes to my house I bet I'm fucked.  Reason #98398429384 why this blog is awesome: it's an alibi.

I could probably write a book about this whole process and what I learned but I'll stop there on my Girl Scout list today.  Did I leave anything out?  Basically, do your homework but shit's gonna get fucked up because people are stupid and you're going to look like a bitch so just deal with it and eat some Thin Mints.

On your dirty couch.

Or put curses on your contractors... whatever.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Final Kitchen Budget: AutoSUM does not compute the ignorance factor.

It's been several months since the kitchen of amazing awesomeness was completed and I've given myself plenty of time to reflect on the project and dance and twirl as necessary.  You might have expected my Jerry Springer style "Final Thoughts" a long time ago but I was seriously kitchened out and thought some distance might allow me to be more objective considering my last thoughts in May were "take my check and get the fuck out of my house!"  

And that was in my happy place! 

"The floor looks so good no one will even guess how many bodies are buried beneath it!"
As I sat down to catalog all of my amazing earth-shattering insights I realized I had a shit ton to discuss so I had to break up all my final kitchen tawlk into three parts.  If you don't care anything about this stuff then sorry, your MS week is going to be boring as shit and you can just skip all this.  I'll reward you with some mediocrity later.  But if I don't blog about all this stuff then the project will just be left hanging open and I just couldn't bear to live in a world where my inconsequential ramblings weren't posted for the strangers on the interweb.  I have to complete the circle.  It's the final step in closing the hellgate!

The most important thing that all you project voyeurs probably want to know is if I stayed on my budget.  The answer iiiisssssss.......   



Good enough for me!

"It's a good thing I have such low expectations!"
I already discussed my ideas about setting a budget here - to make a long post short (too late) I picked an arbitrary value that I felt comfortable with my kitchen costing in relation to the value of my mortgage.  I don't trust appraisals but I trust the numbers in my bank account. [MS sidebar: I'm not really concerned with what the appraiser comes back with anyway because I have yet to meet one who seems to have a firm grasp of the real estate market since this last appraiser used comps from 2001 and spent the majority of the time at my house trying to coax Charlemagne out of the bushes while telling me about his own cat hoard.  Take your pussy fetish elsewhere, you fucking wierdo!  I mean, oh that's hilarious would you like another cookie Mr. Strong Inspector Man?!]  

"Yes, do my bidding you ignorant swine. I have weapons to polish!"
Anywhoozle, I decided that I would like my kitchen to be no more than 20% of my original mortgage.  Aaaaaannddd.... I came in at 21%.  I'M A FAILURE!!!  That is a number that I'm totally fine with even though technically it's over budget.  My original original budget was about 15% but that was completely without doing any homework or any idea what I was going to the space period.  I was so wrong.  Upon further reflection, pre-shopping and introduction into the real world my revised budget put me right under 19%.   That number was without factoring in any allowances for mystery problems so 21% is pretty good.

If you believe in the concept of national averages, for what the rest of the country spent on a low end kitchen remodel (new laminate counters, refacing cabinets and new vinyl floors) I got an entirely new kitchen top to bottom. 

"They" can suck my 21% dick.  I fucking killed it.

So where did I go over?  Well, lots of places actually.  I made a super scientific ghetto-ass spreadsheet where I pre-shopped for everything I would need to purchase long before the project even started.  I'm sure there are official forms somewhere but hell if I could find them and they couldn't be better than my superb Excel skillz.  That freshman computer science class is really paying off!  This was my project bible and let me know when to praise jeebus for sale prices or when I needed to start drinking more (something I forgot to include in the budget).

My estimates weren't perfect but I don't know how people could even entertain the idea of any remodel without some sort of research like this.  They probably used a number like my original original estimate and were fucked.  The amount of people I heard about that just jumped into remodels completely blind made me question the future of the human race.  Maybe this is my anxiety-ridden nerd talking but Madame tip #93493938:  DO YOUR HOMEWORK, Y'ALL.

Some things I saved money on like the glass inserts for my cabinet doors (I saved, like, 20 whole dollars!) and faucet (shout out to Brizo!); a lot of things I broke even on like the hardware, sink and garbage disposal.  

Behold my Excel skillz.  Click to make larger if you care to read.
Other things I completely fucked up.  For instance, I originally budgeted about $200 for a microwave (that was probably low anyway) but it ended up costing me almost three times that amount because I had to ship back the wrong parts and order the new ones from Middle Earth and have them blessed with virgin panda tears, blah, blah, remember?.  

I also totally fucked up the backsplash tile estimates.  It was a last minute addition anyway because I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to afford it and therefore didn't have time for my usual amount of ulcer-causing obsession.  Then I realized that I'd rather just do it all right now rather than wait so... Boom.  Done.  Tile.  Turns out the tile of my dreams that I would accept no substitutes for ended up costing the same as all of the tile for my floor.  SHIT!  I also didn't realize that I had to pay for the freight (not just shipping!) for the tile that was hundreds of dollars.  THE FUCK?!  I kinda assumed buying from a tile store meant I didn't have to pay for that stuff but oh the things you learn...  It was still worth it for me.

I also went over my initial cabinet budget because I had no idea that glass door cabinets are SO expensive.  Even paying for the glass myself, the fact that they are finished on the inside somehow translates into wallet-raping numbers.  Hey manufacturers, it's all the same cheap shit on the inside. You're not fooling anyone!  

Of course there were some additional labor expenses that I knew would pop up because no one really knew what existed at the base of the hellgate until we got down and dirty in the remodel. Nothing major showed up except for some moldy insulation inside the walls, a damaged joist that needed repairing and other thrilling details you just have to deal with.  Nobody has X-ray vision even though that was on my list of wants in potential contractors.  

The other extra expenses resulted from a lack of communication rather than a renovating mishap.  Some ended up being semantic debates (What exactly does the word "trim" include?  Apparently, we had different meanings...) and some were just incorrect assumptions from both parties. We'll delve into this bullshit when we talk about contractors later.  Aren't you excited?!!!!!  I'm not.

In the end, the unexpected down and dirty parts put me about 10% over budget on my the entire cost of the project.  I was expecting 20% so that's not too bad.  I would have liked it to be 5% because I wanted to funnel some money to my bathroom project but whatever - I didn't have to make Charlemagne resort to whoring (again!) to pay for anything so it's still a win. 

"I spent so much money on this gorgeous wallpaper border I had to use broken glass from the alley in your sandwich."
I tried to figure out where I could have really saved money had my budget been even tighter and there weren't a lot of places.  Sure, I could have eliminated the tile floors and backsplash but if I'm getting an entirely new kitchen it seemed a waste not to do everything if it was reasonable to do so.  I guess I could have done the over-the-stove microwave/vent hood combo unit thus saving me a few hundred dollars to ensure my place as a middle class homeowner.  I don't think the money I could have possibly saved for any decision was worth the style value that I added.

"Finally that kidnapper took the hint!"  This Madame needs some alone time."
In the end, I did as much research as possible and it payed off.  Literally.  Unless it didn't pay off because I fucked up and hemorrhaged money for a short while.  There's no accounting for the ignorance factor.  Or if there is I wasn't taught it in my computer science class.

Maybe the ignorance factor is like a handicap in golf if I actually understood what a handicap in golf is... 

Sometimes it's not all about the math or numbers or percentages anyway.  It's about the backsplash tile or the yellow sink or the hush money that really makes a kitchen have value.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tennessee Honey is my new weekend type of fabulosity. Without the shame.

I was subjected to watching an actual commercial online the other day because I couldn't figure out how to X out of the screen fast enough.  I'm glad my reflexes happened to be slow because it turns out it was a commercial for Jack Daniel's.  But not just any regular Jack - a new flava called Tennessee Honey!  Hey hey heeeyyyy!!

Tennessee Honey is now my new 1-900 sex line name and it looks DELICIOUS.  And that's a big deal because I don't even drink dark liquor anymore.

After my early twenties I really can't do much whiskey.  It smells like vinyl booths and shame.  Not my shame - I'm a good girl!  It smells like other people's shame and other people's shame always smells way worse than your own.  Kinda like body odor.  At least you can temper your own stench with the sweet smell of self-righteous pity and abject longing one only experiences in a bar but heaven still can't make a Yankee Candle big enough to mask it completely.  That's including their bestselling 'MacIntosh Apple I Heart America, Katy Perry and Cracker Barrel' scent.  Needless to say I stick to clear spirits and biscuits and gravy. 

The commercial featured the Stone Foxes cover of I'm a King Bee which I rather dig.  

This version sounds like it might work equally well for a vibrator commercial (note to self: After 'Sunday side of life' outdoor furniture line design a line of sex toys! Do not enlist Pantone's color advice.) or something 1-900-TN-HONEY would listen to while getting inspired for work.  If you thought I was to cool to actually post a song from a commercial you'd be wrong.  You can listen to the original version on your own time.  

I don't know when the Stone Foxes turned into the Black Keys but least now I won't confuse them with the Stone Roses which I always get mixed up about and wonder 'why is 1994 coming back to sell be booze and do I really care?'  I didn't even start drinking until 1997 2001 as per the law.  

That's all I got really today...

Just booze, blues and bees...

*awkward silence*

That was a really long post about getting drunk and sex toys that gives you absolutely no worthwhile information or inspiration but this is pretty much what my brain sounds like all the damn time.  Welcome to my world.  

But now I AM rather inspired by booze and blues and bees so here's some honey-colored love for you:

I'm lazy and just linking to my Pinterest... sorry.  But here it is.



How'd this get here...??



Nika Toroptsova via iiiinspired


Pretty sure I've posted this before but it deserves a repost...

Sadly, I can't wear this color because if it comes anywhere near my skin tone a unicorn shits dead babies so I'll have to just embody the spirit of honey. 

By drinking it...

So I hope my weekend is going to sound like blues and honey (does that just mean sticky?).  I've got some really sex, drugs and rock and roll things planned too like painting some furniture, tossing my hair, laundry, getting my oil changed and other sessy honey-inspired things which I can't think of because see note above about being a good girl.  

I might possibly break my ban and try some Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey - I think I feel a No Expectations party coming on...

[MS sidebar: can you believe that 1-900-TN-HONEY works out perfectly to be a phone number?  This is fate!  Somebody call it!  I would lose my shit if my phone actually rang....!]