3/21/2016: Ed’s kitchen renovation (part 3)

We’ll Always Have the Cambridge Residence Inn and the Mad Ups of Canada’s Property Brothers

So, denizens of the Greatest Street in the World (trademark pending), some of you have been reading about our now nearly 5-month remodeling odyssey (initial proposed completion date: 12/28/15). Ultimately, we will look back on all this and laugh.

Hell, no. We will not. I’d like to reference the handful of low points:

• It may have been the day that I was yelling at our new project manager, upon learning that the previous project manager 1) was creating schedules based in fiction; 2) was doing a wonderful job poorly handling a number of simultaneous jobs; and 3) was being fired.

• “I work in client service and half the battle is setting expectations. If I did my job like you’re doing yours, I’d be fired.”

• (That was cleaned up as this is presumably a family blog; and luckily, he was going through a tunnel—or saying he was going through one—and missed my tirade. In my mind, I was Alec Baldwin in “Glengarry Glen Ross.” “ABFMK! Always Be Finishing My Kitchen!”)

• It could have been the days over Christmas break—when my office was closed but I wished it wasn’t—when, after a particularly tense e-mail exchange about the lack of progress, they decided to throw every painter and plasterer in the Commonwealth at us to complete the work that, logically, should have been done AFTER the kitchen was done. These gentlemen did excellent work—and didn’t speak a lick of English. And as someone who speaks rudimentary Spanish, I once again learned that Portuguese is AN ETIRELY DIFFERENT LANGUAGE FROM SPANISH.

o At one point, through some hilarious pantomime, I determined that the plasterer was either definitely returning the next day, or definitely not retuning the next day.

• It could have been the Saturday in January when, desperate to escape the miner’s lung we were developing from construction dust, we decided to book a room at the Residence Inn in Cambridge, because it had a 1) kitchen and 2) indoor pool. Actually, this ended up being pretty awesome, but not necessarily the first thing you’d think of doing in order to escape your house. (Also, if you plan to stay at a Marriott Residence Inn in the future, their kitchens are, well, spartanly stocked. That said, it was a kitchen, with a stove, a luxury we had not known for some time).


Fig 1.1 The clean but Spartan kitchen of the Marriott Residence Inn. Note: if you attempt to cook steak on the electric stove, you will likely set off a smoke alarm, which will 1) make the whole floor smell like steak and 2) get you a quick call from the front desk.

For quite some time, we had been planning a trip to Hawai’i over February break (note: when did our 50th state officially add the apostrophe to its name?) to celebrate our kitchen being done. Hilarious in retrospect.

Well, we are at nearly 5 months – and as we hit the home stretch, a few notes:

1. We have a working kitchen and appliances that are in place AND plugged in to appropriate sources of power/fuel.

2. I am functionally literate in Portuguese. (Note: that is a fact I made up).

3. I got to be in charge of decorating the “TV room” (my suggestions for other items in the kitchen and mud rooms were largely taken “under advisement”). Since then I have been told by the CEO of our home (I am at most a director-level marketing type) that the items I chose will likely not fit, and we bought them too quickly. Come to find out, I had a crazy belief that we were visiting a furniture store to buy furniture.
a. If you are a lucky Randletian, you’ll see me hilariously trying to do tai chi in there in the morning, until we scrounge up the money to buy blinds, or I realize that I am never going to figure this tai chi thing out.

4. My own casual swearing is down almost 30 percent.

5. I am more color blind that previously imagined. I love the green in our kitchen. I am told it is nearly neon—and that it is “ugly.” I believe Martin O’Malley received more votes in the Democratic primary in Mass. than did this shade of green.



Figures 2A and 2B: Due to my worsening color blindness, it took some effort for me to determine the number, but once I realized it, I immediately recalled it as the uni number of “Out of Service” Pervis Ellison during his endless stint with the Celtics in which he played maybe 30 games our of a possible 480 (note the extremely rare photo of Ellison wherein he is not 1) on crutches or 2) making the team plane late because he forgot his golf clubs). Perhaps I just care more about the mediocre Celtics of the late-1990s than colors.

6. Tai chi, the Mindspace meditation program, breathing, and breaking into tears for no apparent reason when a houseful of Portuguese-speaking don’t understand your queries are all excellent ways to cope with the stress of home renovation if you don’t drink.

7. Watching those home renovation shows on HGTV can be addictive, and can also make you want to fly to Toronto or Texas or wherever they film them to punch the family matriarch who complains because it might take “seven days” and “$30,000” for her home’s rehab to be complete.

8. That said, Canada’s Property Brothers are ballerz. And who knew Win Butler of Arcade Fire could hoop it up?


Fig 3.: Win Butler of alt-rock’s Arcade Fire has a solid post game.

9. I very easily distracted. Where was I?

Oh yeah, the big reveal – well, were not quite done, but here’s some photos of the “near big reveal.”



Figs. 4A and B: Before. I can’t say I miss any of it.






Figs 5A-F – new kitchen, including our first meal cooked within (salmon). Not shown: dishwasher which has obviated the need to use my bathtub to wash dishes.

More to come—


10/30/2015: Guest blog — Ed’s kitchen renovation

Guest blog from Ed today you guys. Just started his kitchen renovation.

I’d Like to Tell You About Our Kitchen Renovation … and Borrow Your Dishwasher

We’ve joked that our kitchen was designed by someone who had never used a kitchen before – riddled with “choke points,” a “fridgehole” (it’s a word, or at least it should be) narrowing our choices to one model of refrigerator, and an oven with a vent to … actually, I’m not entirely sure where—and basically tried to stuff the “elements” of a kitchen into a narrow space.

So we had the makings of a kitchen, just not a very good one. We also had some sweet faux Mexican tiling. A 2009 painting of our cabinets bought us a few years, but we finally decided it was time.

Unfortunately, we decided it was time at a time when there were no contractors available. The winter of 2015 pushed back every good contractor—so anyone who was available, well, sucked. Those who were good were booked for some time. So we found someone good—and waited.

So—time passed, and this “new kitchen” seemed like a far-off dream we’d achieve, maybe, someday. Even when the start date finally arrived, it still didn’t seem real.

Let me tell you—stuff got real fast. And what I’m going to tell you isn’t going to be news to anyone who’s undergone the process. Ours is a little more complex (opening up into the living room; moving some additional doorways; elevating the sunroom that was haphazardly added on by somebody, at some point, from what the City technically would classify as a “shanty,” “lean to” or “flower box” into an actual room with walls) … but we can handle 10-12 weeks without a kitchen.

Eds kitchen 1

Figure 1: Our “kitchen,” October 2015-?



I’m not crying. It’s just construction dust.

We’re through two weeks. Only a few surprises thus far (“Hey! There’s a stack pipe where that new door was going to be! It’s not just an ornamental stack pipe, is it? Because that would be awesome.” “Oh, that was a load-bearing wall. Oh, the 1980s bathroom renovation removed elements of an important load-bearing beam.” “Oh, there’s a gas pipe 6 feet above the sink I planned to do dishes in for the next three months … and I’m 6-foot-6. The bathtub is cool, right?”).

Eds kitchen 2

Figure 2: Clearly, this is a good long-term solution.

Eds kitchen 3

Figure 3: That looks expensive.

Here’s a list of things I didn’t expect (yet probably should have) going into this:

  1. Demo goes fast. Everything else goes really slow. Within a day, it’s like our kitchen was never there. Many days later, it still looks like our kitchen was never there.
  2. Life with a garbage disposal is better than life without one. And it’s hard to get loose food bits out of a bathtub.
  3. When renovating, you need to pack up your kitchen as if you were moving out. Because you actually are.
  4. Face it. You’re going to use paper plates. In an effort to be green, we usually avoid paper plates and idealistically thought we’d do the same through this project. That said, we drive a VW diesel as one of our cars, so we pretty much helped kill at least 60 people. So you know what? We’re using paper.
  5. It gets dusty. Like 1930’s Great Plains dusty (too soon?).

So far, we’ve set up a temporary kitchen in the living room, and thanks to our outside grill, a good toaster oven and a borrowed microwave, avoided the lure of takeout food … so far. Check back in a few weeks when, if the Editor allows, I’ll update you. And likely ask if I can bring over a box of dishes to wash.