Monday, March 30, 2009

The Home-Improvement Chronicles: The Kitchen Revisited

how it started: who knew a little discoloration could wreak so much havoc? i feel dumb for not noticing it sooner. rather, i feel dumb for not doing anything about it sooner. i noticed the floorboard changing color months ago, but chalked it up to sun damage. little did i know the evil that lurked beneath.

then the paint chipped: it fell right off the baseboard. i couldn’t blame the dogs for scratching it off as there were no scratch marks nearby (nor are they particularly destructive). more unsettling was the fact that the area behind the paint appeared pitch black, a far stretch from the blond-colored MDF it once was. that’s when Mo let out a big sigh and crawled under the house.

satan’s fridge: what he discovered was a leak that appeared as a big watermark underneath the house. a plumber came over and further uncovered that the leak was many months old, caused by a faulty water line running from the wall to the fridge. i know it seems the water line is to blame, but i’m positive this leak is the fault of the used maytag fridge that has been the source of endless trouble since it arrived. the evil fridge that had blown out two outlets in the house. the fridge that, for months, needed to be defrosted every three weeks for some inexplicable reason, a monumental pain in the ass that miraculously stopped being an issue about six months ago, the time when the leak probably began. this realization caused me to etch a very important NOTE TO SELF in my head: Never buy a used fridge from a used appliance store again, because the appliances in those stores are discarded by previous owners for being broken pieces of shit.

the damage: this is what we saw when we pulled the fridge away from the wall. clearly, water had been seeping onto the flooring behind the fridge and cabinets for months, causing the floorboards to warp as they swelled with water, the paint to chip off in huge chunks and mold to form.

the nasty: the area stank like mildew and i worried that super toxic black mold had begun to grow, a worry perpetuated by the fact that the mold looked pretty damn black. then i started making phone calls.

my contractor to the rescue: he was one of the first people i called, and as he has before, he came through like a champ. he showed up the next day, assuring me that i didn’t have to go through one of the pricey mold remediation agencies i had been calling for estimates. instead, he and his guys could handle the mold removal and treat the area with bleach once it had dried. and that’s what they did. (call him for all your home improvement needs: Platon Markarian, 818.279.3118. he’s the best!)

gutted: sadly, some of the plywood subflooring that was less than a year old didn’t make it and had to be replaced. this hole in the kitchen, which stayed for a few days, caused all sorts of fun as the dogs kept trying to dig into it and mosquitoes kept flying up from the basement. my solution: vodka.

meanwhile: Mo and i were living in this kitchen nightmare, with cabinets, counters, canned goods, utensils and dishes everywhere. the only cooking the kitchen could actually support involved making coffee. i never thought i’d say this, but i actually got tired of the tacos from La Estrella, which we ate about five times a week.

this is Miguel: who was prompt as hell, arriving each morning at 7am to work the drywall while i sauntered around in my bathrobe, coffee in hand, rubbing my eyes. sleep was elusive during construction, and i found myself waking up every morning on the proverbial wrong side of the bed, pissed off, irritable and covered in this nasty layer of construction soot that seemed to line everything in the house.

then came bad news: as if things weren’t bad already, the espresso flooring, manufactured by Teragren, was out of stock. all i needed were five measly boxes, totaling 100 square feet, but every warehouse in the country was dry. Teragren reps said a shipment was coming in from China in two or three weeks, which meant Mo and i had to endure a protracted construction and still dysfunctional kitchen. i was livid. i tried arguing with them, then bargaining, then begging but was repeatedly told OUT OF STOCK, to which i finally said, “ok, i’ll wait.”

waiting: once the drywall was finished and painted— a process that took about two weeks — we pushed the cabinets against the wall and are making due with half a kitchen floor. this is the kitchen as it currently looks. ETA for flooring is sometime in April.

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