Every big remodeling project undertaken by a novice has to have a mistake or two (or more). The biggest mistake I made would not have occurred if I had followed my own rule to “shop local.”
Cabinets are the big ticket item for a kitchen. My old kitchen cabinets lasted 94 years. I wanted these new cabinets to make it at least until after I’m dead. One of the cardinal rules of wise spending is to buy quality things that will last so I was willing to put money into good cabinets.
I considered custom cabinets. I knew I had to have one custom built to fit a particularly shallow space. But I thought I couldn’t afford custom cabinets throughout the kitchen so I went to a big box store to order the main wall of cabinets.
That was a disaster.
Terrible communication, missed delivery dates, a failure to identify design problems … and a complete lack of accountability on their part had me pulling my hair out for most of this 4-month-long project.
The custom cabinet made by a local builder, on the other hand, was pretty close to smooth sailing. It fit perfect and it fit the bill. He suggested some additions – extra cutting boards and a butcher block top – that were smart. We got everything we wanted and needed.
I hired them to help with the installation of the store-bought cabinets and they were able to get me even more useful space with a tall cubby for baking sheets, which the big box store designer said I couldn’t have.
I asked him what he would have charged to do the whole kitchen and the cost would have been the same. I could have gotten the job done faster, better and right if I had priced out custom cabinets from a local builder instead of assuming it would cost more.
The cabinets from the big box store are very nice. I am pleased with the quality and – surprise – it turns out that they, too, were made locally. They were delivered two weeks early (or 3 weeks late), without warning, and the delivery guys told me they were made about 40 miles away from my home.
The problem was the big box store.
We didn’t do too well when it came to local sourcing. Nothing else came from a big box store but most everything was made elsewhere, except the custom tiles inserted into the stove backsplash. They are made by a local artist whose work is shown at Clay Squared to Infinity. We bought these from a friend who couldn’t use them for her project. (This is an older design so it’s no longer in stock.)