What's wrong with this pictures?

What should have been the simplest part of the whole renovation process turned out to be the most trying.

Here are the lessons we have learned this week, and not without some suffering:

1. Get your story straight impeccably gay.
2. Watch them like a hawk – or, as Toshi likes to say, be a stalker.
3. Don’t let them get away with anything.

Allow me to elaborate.

1. Communication with your better half is essential. Toshi has done almost all of the planning for this kitchen reno, spending hours on Ikea’s kitchen design software (which operated at a snail’s pace on our Mac). When he told me his expectations for the countertop – specifically, the overhang on each side of the peninsula – I had in my mind that I understood what he was saying.

I was wrong.

We should have sat down with a pen and a piece of paper to hammer out the finer points. Because we didn’t, problems arose when the counter guy arrived on Monday.

2. Keep a very careful eye on your contractors, or they will get away with whatever they can, says the skeptic in me, and my Mom. I figured 3 pieces of laminate countertop would be a quick and easy install. I chatted with the guy – who said he’d been doing countertops for 25 years or so – but didn’t watch every detail of what he was doing.

In contrast, Toshi watched every moment of the cabinet install, which was flawless.

However, when our countertop guy was done, I took a quick look at his work and thanked him, and he left.

Then I saw that the counter was crooked. Not just ‘gee, that looks a little bit off’ crooked, but ‘the overhang is about an inch different from one end to the other’ crooked. Fortunately, I caught him in the elevator, pointed out the problem, and got him to fix it – telling him how I thought it should be (but not what Toshi had planned – see point #1).

When Toshi saw that our countertop had no overhang at the front – it was flush with the cabinets – I got one very irate phone call from him. A few tears and harsh words later, I was on the phone with the counter company, who said that the installer had done exactly what I had told him to do (um, except for install the thing crooked in the first place…).

3. Don’t let them get away with anything. Yes, so, the countertop company tried to blame me for the installer’s poor job. Fighting my tendency to apologise for things going wrong – I mean, I’m the amateur here – I told them we wanted the installer come back to do the job right. Begrudgingly, he showed up the next day and – under Toshi’s watchful eye – fixed his mistake. With no apologies.

But we finally got what we wanted.

The plumber came today, and hooked up our dishwasher and sink. The final step is our tile floors – and then we’ll be on to the bathroom!