Thursday, September 19, 2013

Our IKEA Kitchen- Part I: The Professional Planner

So, in deciding to keep our 1954 rambler for 8-undecided more years, Jon and I agreed that certain renovations just needed to happen. We made a list, gathered our price quotes, prioritized, and got to work. Our modest budget has meant quite a bit of DIY work and getting a little creative with certain things, but all in all I'm pretty pleased with how it's coming together.
A large part of our inside renovation budget went to the kitchen. To make a total gutting of the kitchen even remotely affordable for us at a time that we really should focus on saving, we read all we could about our options. We determined for our budget, wants, needs, and things that were important/ unimportant to us it made sense to go the IKEA route on the cabinets. My former kitchen was simply not functional. I do NOT have a lot of kitchen stuff- at all. In fact, I'm kind of a minimalist when it comes to kitchen gadgets, and even I struggled with the serious lack of storage space. Further, the cabinets just had this weird "old house smell" in them no matter how much I scrubbed them out with everything under the sun. Even Activated charcoal- which will get rotten meat stench out of a storage room (we learned when a freezer full of meat came unplugged...) won't get the weird smell out of the cabinets. Add to it the funky flour storage bins that consumed nearly all of the lower storage space rendering them useless to me, the lack of any kind of pantry, and the oven that worked but had a bad temper and a vendetta against me, and this renovation was simply needed. I needed a functional kitchen. Not necessarily fancy, but functional. It was ugly before, but not so ugly it wasn't tolerable. The lack of function wasn't going to work for me anymore, though.
So, off we embarked on our next project! Let me tell you a little about this experience.
We'd seen good pictures, read good things, and felt confident that this would give our awful 50's kitchen the much-needed face lift we were going for, while not breaking the bank. I'm not one to care about keeping up with the Jones' and was excited to have a new kitchen to prepare meals for my family in- even if nothing was custom or designer. -shrug- It would be an upgrade anyway!
I spent countless hours browsing their catalog, walking their showroom, and making lists of things I liked, didn't like, etc. The project quickly became overwhelming to me. (disclaimer: I'm pretty easily overwhelmed when I'm out of my comfort zone, in all fairness) So many options, and I was having a hard time making sure that my measurements were accurate in the online planner program.
Jon and I decided we would go ahead and hire an IKEA kitchen planner to come out, do measurements, and help us design the layout. It's not that we weren't capable of measuring, but I was worried about messing it up. To me, the security that came from putting the measurements in the hands of the pros, and having a "designer" help with the layout to where we literally just had to push a button to make it spit out our shopping list was going to be completely worth the money spent. Then we'd have the plans to go by, and planned to self-install. Not that Jon and I are super handy- we're not- but we can follow instructions pretty well and though a little nervous, were ready to tackle the project.
This is where it started going wrong.
Our "designer" showed up a few minutes late, which is fine. Things happen. I showed him the kitchen, told him a little bit about what I was thinking as far as layout, etc. I had already filled out the requested worksheet provided, indicating things like my choice of cabinet color, hardware, sink, fixtures, appliances, etc. so he could plug all that into the program.
Before- 1950's Dysfunction
I gave him some space to get the measurements, showed him which appliances were staying and going, and he said he'd set up the bare bones of the room in the program and then we'd lay it all out. I sat in the living room and waited. And waited. An waited. During this time he took several phone calls from other clients which bothered me, because when I pay for someone's time (at over $100/hour, mind you) and am on their schedule, I do expect them to respect the fact they are on MY clock. Mine. My time. That I'm paying for. He also was texting on his phone a ton, and when I walked by a few times noticed he had an instant messaging program open on his laptop and was actively chatting away. At the time I wasn't super angry- as long as he also got the kitchen mapped out it was mission accomplished as far as I was concerned.
When he called me over, I was surprised to see that he already had all the cabinets, drawers, etc. entered- I was also surprised that he didn't really implement a single change I had said I wanted to make. He had pretty much plugged in a new version of the exact same kitchen I had before.
Not only that, but he literally put every single upgrade in every single drawer and cabinet. He had included every fancy storage and organization solution you can imagine- which, neat as they are, I just have no need for all that. Regular shelves and drawers were plenty for me. I don't have a ton of stuff to begin with, so I wasn't concerned with all that. Not to mention the insane cost it added.
Before- 1950's Dysfunction
I requested that we move a few things around and he'd tell me why it wouldn't work that way. Me being the clueless novice, and he being the all-knowing "professional" I accepted his reasoning even though it made little to no sense because I was in way over my head here already. If I have a professional telling me something about a subject I know NOTHING about, and no time to learn, I am really left with no choice but to accept. The layout didn't really disappoint me, I still liked it, I'm not picky, so it was easy to quickly let go of my previous thoughts of what I had wanted. In retrospect, I think he just didn't want to edit/ redo his design. I think he was lazy. I've had a contractor, a few family members (whose opinions I really respect/ trust) tell me that his reasoning was completely bogus and had no base on literally every account. I could have had the layout I wanted. Live and learn.
As we were going through the final plans, just a few moments away from that click that spits out our shopping list, I made a few more requests. I really actually LIKE the side of my fridge exposed. The front isn't magnet and Jon and I use it as a message board of sorts. That's where our family calendar goes, coupons, shopping list, etc. I don't care if the built-in look is higher end or more desirable, I like what is functional for me. Plus, those panels were $170/piece and we'd need two. No need to increase cost where it's not necessary to me. I'm more budget conscious than that even if I DO have the money at hand. I also didn't care to pay the price for all the cabinets and drawers to have the "soft closure" add on. Regular opening and closing is just fine for me. Plus, soft closures would totally kill the dramatic effect that angrily slamming the cabinet gives. :-p (kidding. Kinda) Anyway, never had soft closure cabinets, never wished I had them, never thought about them, so at several bucks per drawer/ door.... I requested those go, too. Also, he had slide-out shelves throughout the pantry. Neat as that is, I just don't need all that and it was a lot of added expense. (think $600 in the case of regular pantry shelves vs. ones that pull out. He had also upgraded my corner cabinets from regular lazy susans to some fancy schmancy contraption that was supposed to "maximize my storage space." I explained to him approximately 8,921,284,248,129,001 times that this new design was already giving me literally four times the storage space I had and that I wasn't overly concerned with storage space, nor did I need all the expensive fancy gadgets designed to make every last square inch usable. I also didn't like the Ikea hardware options, and (as I indicated on that worksheet they so desperately stressed the importance of having done before the appointment) said I planned to get them at another time because I was undecided on style/ color at that point.
Before- Laundry in the kitchen?!
He agreed to take it all off and change it to basics. I left him to do so for the last half hour or so of his time.

It was the end of the 20% off sale. We literally had to order the stuff first thing in the morning to get that deal, and in turn save a very large amount on the materials. So, when he was finished, we went over the changes I had requested, which he lead me to believe had been done, and we submitted the order.
We opted to have IKEA deliver all the parts, because they're about 30 minutes away and it would take multiple trips in the truck- not to mention Jon's already slammed weekday schedule. The fee was reasonable enough to make it worth it. Our kitchen would come in early the next week! Yes! The planning part was done, and though we had a few little hiccups and disappointments, I was still really excited! I wasn't even going to have a washer and dryer in my kitchen anymore- it will be a REAL kitchen! I'm going to have a real laundry room! Oh happy day.
I also had no idea what I was in for. be continued...

Our IKEA Kitchen-Part II: The Demolition (Coming Soon...)
Our IKEA Kitchen- Part III: The Install (Coming Soon....)
Our IKEA Kitchen- Part IV: Customer Service [or lack thereof] (Coming Soon...)
Our IKEA Kitchen- Part V: The Finishing Touches (Coming Soon...)
Our IKEA Kitchen- Part VI: In Summary & Review [A look in retrospect] (Coming Soon...)

No comments:

Post a Comment