My neighbour Shari and her husband Josh renovated their kitchen this past Spring. They chose someone who came highly referred by their friends. He had installed two kitchens for them and they were beautiful.
This is the note I received from Shari:
“We went to Home Depot and a few other kitchen stores but decided to go with him since we saw his work in our friends home.
We paid the first half of what was owing for the completed kitchen. His contract stated that we were to pay half upfront, and the final half was due upon delivery and in our minds completion of the kitchen.
On the day of the installation, he arrived with a young employee and installed most of the kitchen in under four hours. All that was missing was the doors.
After he left Josh and I took a look at his work and were dismayed to find all the chips and damage. The fridge panel was crooked. (below) He cut part of the crown moulding too short and just patched in a one-inch piece to hide it. etc.
We emailed him right away listing the imperfections and he said ‘Don’t worry we are not done’. He was coming back to fix it and put the doors on. He told us to keep our check-measure appointment with the countertop company to keep it all moving and on schedule.
The counter guy arrived and said he couldn’t measure them since the fridge panel was installed incorrectly.
A few days later two young employees showed up and put up the doors and handles. Every handle was crooked. They filled the chips and holes and left. Josh emailed the kitchen guy right away with pictures and a detailed list of all deficiencies.
A week later the kitchen contractor messaged Josh to confirm he was coming back that day and requested that the final payment was waiting for him.
Josh declined and responded, ‘When we are sure the problems are corrected we will cut you a cheque the same day’. The kitchen guy refused and said he would not come back to do any more work. He noted that the contract stated that final payment was due upon delivery. He told us he could have delivered the kitchen in boxes and the payment would have been due.
We consulted with a lawyer and she confirmed that according to the way the contract was written, we had no choice but to pay him what we owed. After that, he came back and fixed the crooked handles and patched a few holes but obviously, the gables remained, given the kitchen would have had to be entirely disassembled to move them.
We have a friend who is a contractor who gave us some advice and helped with a few little things. The rest we have just had to live with. It would have cost an additional $3000 in repairs.
The lawyer said that the contract should have said “Final payment due upon completion of the installation”.
I’m telling you this story so you can also make this adjustment to a contract when you plan your kitchen or bathroom renovation.
I asked Shari if I could style her kitchen and post this story on the blog to save anyone else from going through this.
I’ll also share the other thing I learned from renovating my three bathrooms this summer, at the end of this post.
First, here’s Shari’s new kitchen. She had been following my blog and decided that her small kitchen would be best in white-on-white.
They had lived in the house for 12 years and eight years ago they stained their oak cabinets brown (below).
Shari and Josh already had medium brown hardwood floors in their house (see their living room in this post) and I told them to continue the same floors into their kitchen and dining room.
They did not have more of the same floors they had installed in their living room and hallway so they took a sample and went to every single flooring store in the lower mainland but could not find anything close.
So they ordered tons of samples from online stores and finally found this one in California. They paid more for shipping, but in the end it was an almost perfect match!
I was so impressed, I did not notice they were different at all!
Shari liked the white beveled subway tile so that’s what they installed along with off-white quartz countertops.
Just in case you think all my styling ideas come from the clear blue sky, they don’t. When I was thinking about what I would bring (or buy) to style Shari’s kitchen, I was reviewing my ‘Kitchens and bathroom styling’ Pinterest board and came across this image:
I didn’t have a tall 3-tiered stand, but I do have a small white one, so I puttered around, picked some white Fall Daisies from my garden and some small faux pears from another display in my kitchen along with some tiny bowls and Ramekins that Terreeia uses when she’s prepping meals or serving condiments during dinner parties.
I have all kinds of random vases and I happened to find some tiny ones someone gave me once for placeholders at a dinner party.
When you have a white (or off white or cream) kitchen or bathroom, you can introduce almost any colour you want!
It’s a beautiful thing.
Related post: The Best White Bathrooms
This was the kitchen/dining room before (below):
Josh found the new light fixture (below) on Craigslist.
The person selling it had won it and it was originally valued at $3000. She was trying to get more for it but no one would pay, so she finally lowered the price to $150.
I think it makes the dining area! If anyone knows the original source, please post the link in the comments!
Shari runs a daycare out of her house so she removes the faux lambskins during the day and for this reason she only has pillows on the built-in bench (not a seat cushion). This way everything remains washable!
I mentioned we could get faux leather seat cushions made but she showed me the damage on her two dining chairs (which are upholstered in brown leather) from her cats, so her bench remains cushionless.
Okay so, the cake is totally fake (below). It sits in my accessory room which is located off the garage and I have used it many times with different cake plates (Can you spot it in this post?). A photographer I worked with gave it to me a long time ago.
The cookies are real, I left them for Shari’s kids to enjoy 🙂
When I was taking photos of her kitchen this week I noticed a duck in her backyard and asked her about it, Shari said her husband was doing some work for a Vietnamese man last week (he manages a power line company) and the man asked her husband in broken English if he would like a duck, Josh said sure! The guy owned a restaurant so he figured it was pre-packaged or cooked.
The man disappeared and then Josh saw him go into a large duck pen and grab one. Josh was thinking oh God, he killed the poor thing put it in a box, and into the back of Josh’s truck.
When Josh got home he opened the box, and the poor duck just had his feet tied up, but was very much alive and healthy!
The duck follows their dog around everywhere, haha. The vegetarian in me was very happy to hear this story!
Here’s a picture of Shari, her husband Josh and their two kids:
And last but not least, here’s what I learned about renovating this summer.
Never, ever, ever, ever completely pay a trade until he or she is finished the work you hired him or her to do or you are happy with the work he has done.
If you pay too quickly, they will either disappear or be VERY SLOW in coming back to finish what they started.
If you hire a designer or contractor who comes with their own trades, the world is different. Their trades are loyal to them and want to continue getting work from them so you shouldn’t have this problem. It’s, of course, one of the many reasons why you should hire a designer to help you with your renovation!
And, I don’t want to paint EVERY trade in the world with the same brush, however, I would say 99% of them fall into this category.
The trades my friend Jan brought were wonderful, however, I live in the country so we did have to hire a few locals.
The plumber we hired said yes to every job that came his way and as a result, would arrive at our house at 4 or 5:00 pm when I needed him to do something. He was exhausted and couldn’t even see straight at that point.
Finally, when I needed him to come back and install my freestanding tub and toilets, he again arrived at the end of the day and started talking about how some parts were missing. We sent him home and found a fabulous local plumber (by referral). It took him ALL DAY to do the work (because he had to move the drain which was installed incorrectly by the original plumber) and he did a beautiful job.
If you are in the Fraser Valley and need a plumber, contact Brian Stoner at 604-819-3379.
By the way, I had already paid the other plumber to do the work so I paid twice.
Did I mention DO NOT PAY YOUR TRADES UNTIL THEY HAVE DONE THE WORK TO YOUR SATISFACTION? Don’t do it.
Great lesson of the day right? If you have any hard lessons you’ve learned to add to this, please post them in the comments, they contribute to everyone!
I’m also excited to announce that I will be attending the KBIS show in Florida with Modenus in January!
Go here to see who else will be joining me!