Kitchen Before & After: How Take Advantage Of Your Contractor

When you have 2 months of waiting on a permit and demo that takes three quarters of a century, you have lots of time. Time to think. Time to rethink. Time to question your thinking. Time to stalk Pinterest and find all the coolest ideas that you now MUST implement or your brain will die a slow death. There was one inspiring kitchen that started it all, though. This one from House and Home Magazine's October 2015 issue. I took a photo of the page and sent it to my contractor, hence the photo quality sucki-ness. 

Then, I took advantage of my contractor. I lean on the talents of the people working on the project. If they have special skills, I use them. I use them for all they are worth. Wah-ah-ah-ah. It is helpful if you already know the contractor for hire. My contractor Joe Wood of All Around Joe is a sucker for carpentry projects. I told him my idea of chunky wood shelves and he was instantly hooked. He was especially excited because he would then be "forced" to buy a planer he had been eyeing. A win-win for all. 

NOTE: If you can, work with someone who is excited...to WORK! This should be an art project for the both of you. If they grumble and spout off reasons why it won't work (other than for safety or financial reasons), you probably aren't a good fit. For example, I had mosaic floors in a bathroom design once. The contractor complained that they wouldn't work. I looked at him like he had 3 heads. If they could lay mosaic floors 100 years ago, they can certainly do that now. This was simply a case of not wanting to do the work. Moving on....

So, off to Building Value I went to pick up some old wood. I found what was probably 100 year old floor joists. I know because I ripped the same things out of this very house and had them pitched. There just wasn't room to move! People wanted it out of the way. 

GET OFF MY BACK! 

You can't store everything. I'm not Nicole Curtis. I don't have a garage X3. I lived in a condo. You can't win everything. Anyway, found the wood. Brought it to Joe. He did his magic. 

A hood can be almost anything. All you have to do is build a box and throw an insert into it. So, in this project the box was just framed and drywalled. I didn't want a big shiny silver thing stealing the show. I wanted to mimic the chimney bump out in the living room but not draw much attention to the hood itself. From there, Joe attached our salvaged wood floating shelves on either side and trimmed out the "hood box" with some of the salvaged wood. 

In order to balance the room out, and get the coffee bar I was dreaming of (bc Pinterest and Joanna Gaines), he ripped a few more boards to span the fridge/pantry area on the neighboring wall. I didn't want to do another backsplash tile and introduce another pattern and material, so I opted for chalkboard paint. Only problem was I didn't want the chalkboard paint to just end at the top in an awkward line. So, Joe came up with the fab idea to trim out the entire coffee bar with more of the salvaged wood.

Teamwork.

BOOM. 

I personally drew the coffee bar sign. I'm no Picasso but I think it looks decent.

PRO TIP (from a pro not me): dip your chalk in water before you start writing. It makes the chalk line nice and bright.

What I love (but also hate) is designing on the fly. In some cases it's really frustrating and stressful to have some things up in the air. I'd love to say that every idea is perfectly thought out, scheduled and implemented, but it's not. I usually have a pretty good idea of what the design will be. But, inevitably I end up tweaking the idea until it is something new, original and even better than I envisioned. This is also something great about Joe and his team. They are flexible. They want it to look great. They are proud of their work. I like them. Hire people like Joe.

I think it turned out pretty well.