Reluctant Renovator: There Will Be Flaws During a Kitchen Remodel

Reluctant Renovator: There Will Be Flaws During a Kitchen Remodel

When I wrote about our kitchen reno a few months ago, I shared tips, resources and our questionable design choices.

But what you really need to know about a kitchen renovation is that there will be flaws.

A kitchen renovation is a big deal. It involves electrical work, plumbing, walls, floors, appliances and more. The work involves getting the right elements in the right place at the right time, not to mention many different tradesmen putting it all together.

Because a kitchen install is so complex, chances are it won’t go exactly as planned.

When you hit the inevitable road block, stop, breathe deep and find your center (as well as your supply of emergency chocolate which obviously isn’t in the fridge anymore).

I wish I had been prepared for delays, but I was a renovation newbie. Frankly, until we reached the kitchen, our Plan A Reno had gone smoothly. It was only after we hit several roadblocks in the kitchen that friends came out of the woodwork to share stories of their mixed-up kitchen installs.

Or maybe friends had tried to warn me, but I refused to listen. After all, up until that point our home renovation was relatively trouble-free.

Because our general contractor (GC) didn’t fully manage the kitchen work, it was up to us to coordinate the cabinets and counter top installs. When you have multiple tradesmen working in the same space, albeit on different days, they love to pick apart the work of the other guys. This adds yet another layer of complexity to the job.

Professional digs aside, it was a challenge to time out the various tasks, especially because we decided at the 11th hour not to use our GC’s tile installer. After interviewing a record number of tile guys we found on Angie’s List, we signed a contract with Tigele Tile. Johann and his crew accommodated our kitchen schedule, which was getting tighter by the day.

The new floor was laid just as we hoped and then it was time for the cabinets. The much-anticipated cabinet installation day started on a sour note when the installers informed me early on that their measurements (taken by a man from their firm) were off by an inch.

An inch?! That’s quite an error from someone who measures for a living.

It went downhill from there—a broken cabinet, outlets in need of relocation and drywall we’d instructed our contractor to remove from the peninsula support bar had to be re-installed.

Fortunately, we were only set back a couple of days, but because a finished kitchen was crucial stop on the road to occupying our new house and I was really itching to get in and settle down, those few days seemed like weeks. It felt as though our house was destined to be an expensive never-ending hobby rather than our home.

Eventually, it all came together. The refrigerator fit into its intended slot (barely) and the peninsula is stable. The counter tops are smooth, all the outlets and lights work as planned. It’s a pleasure prepare food in our new kitchen.

I’m still pondering the concept of our house as an expensive hobby because still have several pricey projects ahead of us, but our place feels like home.

Did you have any heart-stopping moments during a kitchen renovation? Share your survival tips and tricks below.


Kim Moldofsky knows how to rock a tool belt, but her favorite technique for fixing things in her home is calling up tradesmen she finds on Angie’s List. That said, she’s learning a few things as she works to turn her “new-to-us” 1950s Cape Cod into a modern home in Chicago’s suburbs. She documents her home improvement projects at Reluctant Renovator.com. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.

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Kim Moldofsky used Angie's List to find a tiler for her Chicago home renovation. | Photo courtesy of Kim Moldofsky
Kim Moldofsky used Angie's List to find a tiler for her Chicago home renovation. | Photo courtesy of Kim Moldofsky

A Chicago blogger gives advice learned while renovating her 1950s suburban Chicago home

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