Home Improvement

Are you renovating your kitchen this summer season? Proceed with warning.

When it comes to home improvement, I am generally methodical and conservative, torturing myself with paint, researching materials, and setting up the contractors months in advance. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be the type of person to take advantage of the most critical space in my home amid the historical supply and labor shortage. But you didn’t see my kitchen.

Last updated around 1980, it has faded blue floral wallpaper, Formica countertops, and vinyl tile floors that are unfortunately held together with packing tape. Most of the light is fluorescent and not everything works anymore – which is not a bad thing because it is fluorescent. But the room is dark and the layout is miserable.

My husband and I had planned to renovate the room this past spring, had already designed the room, hired a contractor, and selected our closets when the country closed. The kitchen hasn’t gotten any younger in the last year. The fridge and dishwasher gave up in the summer and both had to be replaced. The cabinets now look like they could use a break, and some drawers are starting to collapse.

Before calling our contractor back, we considered waiting another year to avoid the pandemic frenzy. But another year would only cause more problems. We might end up spending money on more stopgaps as the kitchen continues to deteriorate. Plus, the uncertainty won’t stop anytime soon.

Waiting until next year could mean trading faster turnaround for higher costs, according to Higgins, as suppliers pass the gains on to consumers. And so here we are, joining the legions of Americans who are desperate to order granite and ceramic tiles and hope they will show up.

Not a fan of surprises, I called Liz Caan, an interior designer in Newton, Massachusetts who renovated her own kitchen last year to find out how her job was going. She started the project in June and because she ordered her materials before the pandemic, she thought she would be ahead of the curve. When she ran into problems, she turned around and, for example, ordered a floor model of a Sub-Zero refrigerator when she learned that a new model wouldn’t arrive for months.

But then came the Carrara marble worktop. The material arrived from Atlanta with no problems, but the manufacturer outside of Boston was helped with orders that had been delayed during the shutdown, leaving Ms. Caan at the end of the line. Her kitchen sat there for six weeks, almost finished but not functional because she couldn’t install a tap without a worktop.

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