Tips for Remodeling a Kitchen on the Big Island of Hawaii

remodeling a kitchen on the big islandWhen we bought our second home, I was not thinking about remodeling a kitchen on the Big Island. In fact, I had no thoughts of remodeling anything apart from replacing the bedroom carpeting. But you know how it goes. You spend a few months here and there and things begin to speak. For example, the window coverings began to complain. Out loud. Yes. For one thing, they were 26-year-old cheap blinds, consisting of one-inch painted metal slats. They were also crusty and icky. OK, sure, we could buy lined bamboo for the sliding glass doors and weather resistant wood-like 2-inch slat blinds.

But it did not stop there. I wrote recently about the how the decision came about to remodel the baths, which started in the bath tub. Before long, there I was at Lowe’s, working on buying a bath tub. Still don’t have the order in because Lowe’s cannot seem to get in touch with the manufacturer, Kohler. I might have to call Kohler myself. However, to replace the vanities in the baths means I have to think about the kitchen. Even though I am not ready to engage in remodeling a kitchen on the Big Island, I will be shortly after we finish the baths. That’s just how these things go. Or, maybe next year. I dunno.

Yet I do know we need matching cabinetry throughout the house. And matching countertops. I went to visit a bath-and-kitchen guy last week. Thought, given the fact he has really good reviews on Yelp and has been in the business for a long time, that he’d have a store. It looked like he had a store. When I arrived at the address he gave me, he wasn’t there. Island time. I went through the gate. Found a group of people lingering, talking story, and they directed me to his store.

Imagine my astonishment when they opened the door. Wait right here, they said, at least you’re out of the vog. I stood in front of a storage unit, squinting down a long hallway containing other storage units with those pull-down garage doors. When this guy showed up 15 minutes late, he mentioned a client who tried to “jew” him down. Hey, that’s a terrible thing to say, and my husband is Jewish. You should never use that term. I’m almost 66, and my mother taught me a list of words I was never to repeat when I wasn’t old enough to tie my shoes, and that phrase is one of them.

Things began to go downhill from there. Then he said “the Jews run all the banks.” How classically ignorant. I explained it was quite possibly anti-semitic and to just stop. Then we argued about it. Wondered if I should walk out. He did show me a beautiful piece of quartz called popcorn, creamy ivory with scattered splotches. I left anyway and called my husband to get his thoughts. He said the guy was a clueless idiot, not necessarily anti-semitic. At least I spoke up, so I felt good about that. It is our responsibility to interrupt and not let people get away with this shit. If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Later, the guy comes over to look at our kitchen. Why? Because it is less expensive to buy 3 slabs of quartz than to do it piecemeal. Since I know at some point we will replace the cabinets in the kitchen, it made sense to order all of the quartz. While he’s looking at the kitchen sink, he says, hey, the sink is not centered under your window. There is no logical way to center it, and it doesn’t bother me. He made the comment that women do not like a sink that is not centered.

Well, that’s just plain sexist. It implies that only women use a sink. Perhaps washing dishes, staring idly out the window, fantasizing about a life where sexism did not exist. Not wearing an apron and washing dishes in the sink while wearing rubber gloves, give me a break. I tell him so. We are just not getting along. I had already been to just about every other tile store in Kailua-Kona.

Overall, the quartz is just as important as the cabinets. More important than the flooring, although I already had bought the termite-free vinyl plank flooring to install over the old ceramic from Kathy at Wisteria Lane. Whether you’re remodeling a kitchen on the Big Island or anywhere else, for that matter, it is always a good idea to buy all of your materials upfront. That way every piece is available on site and has been inspected for damage.

Overstock carries a beautiful vessel sink bowl in white with a glass waterfall faucet in the shape of a lotus flower. I bought three, although I need only two, and will probably sell the extra to a neighbor. Shipping breakable glass to Hawaii is a bit tricky. This way, if a sink is broken, I can ask for a refund and not a reshipment. Also, there is a cure for a vessel sink that does not drain. Most do not drain correctly. So make sure you pick up an air-gap. See, problem solved!

Further, after falling in love with a painted cabinet with mitered corners, I came to learn that mitered corners is a bad idea when the cabinets are next to open windows. Way too much humidity in Hawaii, and those corners will eventually separate. Not to mention, we have painted cabinets now, albeit they are pressboard, with a finish that drips at the bottom. Wood is a much better choice. This project should commence when I come back to Big Island in August. We’ll see how this goes as to when we get around to the kitchen.

Over the years, I have personally designed and remodeled many kitchens. More so than your average bear. Which means my clients find my experiences very helpful with their own homes. We often fix up homes in Sacramento prior to selling. I know which repairs will return more than the cost of materials and labor. Otherwise, why do it? If you’re interested in selling and would like guidance and to hire a top producer in Sacramento, call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759.

In case you’re wondering about the products in the photo above, the cabinet shown is not the cabinet I bought because it has mitered corners. But it is the color of the cabinetry. The quartz is Popcorn. The vinyl plank is Cumano.

Elizabeth Weintraub


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