Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fresh highlights and manipulation are the real diplomats.

We have finally arrived at a solution to the Countertop Disaster of Epic Proportions of 2011 and All Time Ever from last week!  Drunk hugs to everyone for their support!  I’m giving you all the boring and dirty details not because I think you really care about my most important kitchen remodel of all time ever but it’s a lesson in problem solving and I’m nothing but a horrible warning amazing tool you can learn from.
So the morning after the gaping “incident” we met to discuss what the hell happened.   They (the owner and project manager who you’ve already met) told me the sink is slightly concave on all sides (uh… maybe that’s why it was on…??) and cutting a curve through an inch and a half of solid wood is kinda hard.  Uh yeah... no shit.  They assured me that the gaps could be filled with silicone because apparently they aren’t aware of the awesome power of glitternaise…  it’s the new duct tape!  Well it didn’t matter because the sink was sitting improperly so far back in the cabinet that the faucet couldn’t have been installed correctly and my 50 yr old windowsill would have been breathing down Venuto’s neck and Venuto does NOT like to be crowded y’all.  

Don't crowd a brotha.
Gaps aside, the major point of contention was that they felt like I told them where to place the sink therefore I’m at fault for its incorrect placement and should take responsibility for the fuck up.  There weren’t any instructions with the sink (nor were there any specs online) and despite the fact that I emailed pictures about how I would like for it to sit they neglected to pay attention to that or ask questions.  At one point I received a text that said “We’ve found the natural resting spot of the sink!” to which I replied “Go for it.”  Madame mistake #1.  In addition to not being at home for this because, ya know, I was working and shit, I ordered the sink four months ago and hadn’t opened the box which is really dumb and unlike me since I’m the type of Madame that will rip open a new Sephora box with the ferocity of a rabid make-up slut in desperate need of some under eye cream.  You do not get between a Madame in need of fixing her under eye circles and her overpriced lotions.  So I didn’t know the “resting place” of the sink but apparently agreed to it via text with the company owner.  I guess the texting magic only exists between my project manager and myself.  Le sigh…

At first it was sitting on that tiny lip inside the cabinet box.  This is how it looks now.
Turns out the “resting place” is really just the extended facing of the sink which you can see above but because they had never installed a sink like this they didn’t know.   Let’s all just blame Overstock and their lack of diagrams but ridonkulously low prices and $2.95 shipping for this one.

If they could cut everything correctly I agreed to allow them to piece together the counter using leftover wood to make two side pieces and a back piece just to speed things along.  Madame mistake #2!  I wasn’t happy about this but two tiny seams seemed like something I could live with at the time.   It’s only a few inches right?!  I’m not that high maintenance and demanding am I??!!!  ANSWER ME!!!  So fast forward two days through some sleepless nights and an embarrassing number of distraught phone calls to Saint Nick (heeeyy!!!) and they still hadn’t cut it right.  Then I really had to grow a pair and told them I would be willing to drive to Atlanta (I like big city shopping and cinnamon rolls!) to pick up a new piece but they would have to pay for it.  Seemed reasonable to me.  Mr. Owner Contractor suddenly decided to grow a backbone and said no because in trying to follow his customer’s exact wishes (thanks a lot, stupid text message) he still wasn’t at fault for the sink placement and I was being too picky about the side gaps because in the end I would never notice them.  *screeeeecchhh*  Stop the music y'all.  Fuck.  You.   Don’t tell me what I will or will not notice.   I’m noticing it NOW.   A very heated 7 AM discussion ensued and still no resolution.

*eye-motherfuckin-roll* This has gone on long enough - I’m tired of their bullshit, tired of my surprising inability to find my balls in this situation and want to get the project moving again.  I will get the counter I want regardless of how it happens.  I have to live with this shit FOREVER!  If these guys couldn’t figure it out then I would micromanage until they wanted to slit their wrists or call someone who knows how to use a damn saw.  I called Nick and Queen of IKE-RA Becky of Ecomod again to learn exactly how they will cut the counters and what saws to use, what tolerance I would accept, how to finish the edges, how to fix the cabinet below the sink and the consequences if they didn’t follow through this time.  

Me draw good.
I did more soul searching (yes over a damn countertop), went to the salon and refreshed my highlights and felt bolstered in the way only a girl’s stylist can provide.  It was time to put on my big girl panties.  They looked great with my fresh highlights of course.  

By now I was confident that I was not going to live with halfassmanship or those seams at the back of the sink.  They weren’t just unfortunate design details at this point but giant chasms filled with food crumbs and my self-loathing and I really don’t want all that drama staring back at me when I do the dishes.  I hate doing dishes enough as it is!  So I was going to get the countertop I wanted regardless of price - monetary or emotional.  I would have to do horrible, horrible things.  I called Mr. Owner Contractor again for a civil discussion where there was so much petting of his construction skills and stroking of his ego that I think I have a friction burn.  He was so happy to see that I had “decided” to compromise (we’re both paying for the new top which I still had to pick up) that we were both laughing and joking and bestest friends again at the end of the convo because I may not be ballsy at the right time but gawddamn I’m exceptionally good at being nice.  But now I feel so dirty on the inside.  So we are a team now which is how I felt we always were supposed to be rather than the "customer is always right" dictator that they felt I always was but, in fact, forced me to be.  There is some serious mind fucking going on here!

In the end it doesn’t matter that I’m right and awesome and that you all 100% agree that I’m right and awesome because being right and awesome doesn’t get shit done.  So I’m out about $100 and a trip to Atlanta to pick up a new countertop.  Big fucking deal.  MY ego is not so big that I can’t swallow some pride about a small detail for some dudes I barely know.  I do not want them to be pissy as they finish the rest of the project either.  The stroking continues… 

But it worked because look at it now:

That's a sexy tight fit.  Even my monkey toes agree. 

I know I should have demanded this on the first day but I'm not unreasonable and understand that oopsies happen and tried to make the best out of their mistake even if they were resistant.  They should have just owned up to their mistakes in the beginning since it's not my job to tell them how to do their job.  I really need to work on this second guessing problem I have...  People say that I’m the one with the money so therefore I’m in charge and should get what I want when they mess up.  That sounds logical and rational but that's not how the real world works and if everyone was logical and rational all the time we'd never get to enjoy watching celebrities self destruct.  Although maybe having Chris Brown as a threatening back up may have helped...  However, just because I have money doesn’t actually give me leverage.  I’m the one in need of their services and they can leave at any time (regardless of the contract we signed) because we're both even at this point - they have 80% of my money and I have 80% of a kitchen.    Neither party is going to sue over 20% of this tiny project.  They already have other projects lined up so they could easily move on to something else if they wanted and leave mine unfinished.  It happens all the time - it’s happened to me before and most of friends too and we are all filthy rich!  I don't think they are the type of guys to do something like that but we were at an impasse so something or somebody had to change.   I chose me and I'm fine with that.  As a customer with no real means of recourse it often feels like I’m bent over a counter where I’m forced to take one for the team WHILE I stare at the giant gaps of their poor craftsmanship and pretend to like it.

But not anymore!!

Fortunately, their early resistance was smoothed over rather easily once we "compromised" and they realized I wasn't trying to cheat them out of the $180 bajillions of dollars for the countertop made of diamonds and dreams.   I continue to charm them with my hilarious jokes and ego stroking because I ain't dumb!  We are really close to being done and I want them to FINISH WELL!!!  I still bring them breakfast and use my biggest happy face and they are back to being super nice and taking out the trash and mopping my floors.  They are also making cutting boards out of all the leftover wood!  Guess what you're all getting for Christmas this year?!

There are more developments and things are looking hot!  After almost 4 days of doing nothing last week we are still on schedule and will be done probably by the end of this week.  If this is the most traumatic thing in my life during this remodel I'm still doing pretty damn good.   In the grand scheme of things this is nothing and maybe I needed to buy some perspective last week during my over-dramatic angst.   Do they sell that on Overstock?


  1. A $100 bucks and a trip to Atlanta is worth it to alleviate a lifetime of annoyance. Looks great! Ginny

  2. Sounds like you made the right choice...hard to take that "dirty" feeling, I guess, but you are 100% correct that you'll have to live with it and who knows what else may have gone wrong if you didn't stroke that ego a bit.

  3. Ginny - My thoughts exactly! The problem was more about communication than anything. Lesson learned! Thanks!

    Amy - I turned it into a much bigger deal than it was, I admit! I don't feel too dirty fortunately. ; ) But I like to keep everyone happy!

  4. Sometimes it's better to choose to be happy instead of choosing to be right. Congrats!

  5. It feels soo much better to be happy! I could give a shit about being right. Thanks Paul. ; )

  6. 1. What, you don't have a cartoon avatar of your foot!?!

    2. While it may have taken a few gyrations and extraordinary measures, that's one sweet fit now huh? (well done details make me all drooly).

    3. Your "school of hard knocks" training qualifies you as a project manager in most design fields. I bet you could flip houses now :)

    Well done MS.


  7. 1. I'm so lazy.

    2. There was definite squeeing when I saw it. Heavy petting of their construction skills wasn't a lie! They just needed some confidence too. I'll continue to post details just for you. ; )

    3. I'm so "seasoned" now huh?! RAAWRR! Bring it on!

    Thanks Izzy. Feels good. And I ain't talkin about being bent over the counter... ; )

  8. Two things to learn from this post:

    1) Apron front sinkks are beautiful, but EVIL. (This I already knew).

    2) MS is and "amazing tool." (This, I did not know.)

    Thanks for letting us learn from your pain :-) Sink looks awesome by the way ... but it's still evil.

  9. Arne -

    1. I was totally blinded by the beauty I didn't see the evilness. Why didn't you tell me??!! I blame you now.

    2. Thank you. Unless you mean I'm a "tool" as in jackass type of tool and then, well, you're still probably right...

    Keep learning, y'all! I am! ; )

  10. Looks so much better. Just remind them with a smile at the very end of your project that you will be sure to tell your friends just how well the WHOLE project went.

  11. I know right?! *eyeroll* Honestly though I would probably use them again because despite the fuck-up they are the best options I have available. Stupid small town...

  12. Madame, I am very proud of how you handled the whole situation. I do have to say, they knew they had screwed the countertop up, they were just hoping that you didn't know! Remember, I was married to a contractor for waaaay too long and I saw him try to pull that kind of crap moer than once. Just one of the many reasons he is an ex! The new installation is fantabulous! Sometimes we have to choose the devil we know...

    Brenda Lynn

  13. The devil we know! Ha! Perfect. I think you're right - they knew what had happened but were hoping I wouldn't make a fuss about it. Then they couldn't ADMIT they were trying to cover it up. Oh well. I don't think they're bad guys just faced a situation where they didn't know what to do and then made the wrong choice. Live and learn! Moving on... Just like you!

    Thanks Brenda!

  14. Maybe its just me (or maybe its the 'Don't crowd a brotha' caption), but Venuto totally looks like he is flipping us off. That handle is totally a bird in mid-flip! Stainless steel attitude. I love it.

  15. GASP! Venuto would never do something like that! You need to get yo mind outta tha gutter Franco!

  16. Now that you mention it, it DOES look like he's flipping us off! All he needs is a bright red lid on backwards.

  17. Did Venuto go back in time to 1994 where he wears a backwards hat, Timbalands and a bad attitude?!

  18. Greatest sentence ever, "In the end it doesn’t matter that I’m right and awesome and that you all 100% agree that I’m right and awesome because being right and awesome doesn’t get shit done." So true.

    It's times like this I think, "If only I shot laser beams out of my eyes. I bet it would fucking matter then."

    1. EVERY situation would be vastly improved if I shot laser beams out of my eyes! That would be so badass.

      You really are digging in the archives, huh?! Bless you, child.