Our New Kitchen, the Final Chapter

2017-28-5--13-27-29Our new kitchen is finally done ……

Unfortunately, ours was not the perfect experience.

Planning the new kitchen went well. The kitchen planner seemed trustworthy and professional. The problems began on the day of installation. One side of our kitchen counter (“L” form) was cut too short. A temporary adjustment made it usable until another was to be delivered six weeks later. The ceramic stove top was installed at a “noticeable” slant and not aligned parallel with the wall. The splash walls could not be mounted until the new counter top was delivered. The kitchen planner didn’t consider the fact that the cupboard door under the sink would slam into the drawers when opened because of the “L” form in the corner. Our new refrigerator door hit the door frame when opened and the inside fridge light died after just one day.

We directed our complaints to the company’s customer service department and the original kitchen planner came out personally to assess the problems which were later put into writing. She promised us that they would do everything possible  to complete the kitchen in a timely manner and to our satisfaction. Apparently, they were not responsible for the defective light inside the new fridge, so three weeks later we got a letter from the appliance manufacturer. An appointment was made to replace the light bulb in two weeks time.

The second counter top was delivered nine weeks later with only a single craftsman to install it. He informed us that he could not do the work alone. Apparently, there was a mix up in route planning. He also assessed the problems mentioned and agreed that in his opinion the kitchen installation was not done professionally.

After waiting another four weeks, another work crew arrived. They insisted that the stove was put in correctly. Apparently, our wall is “crooked.” (?)  They took down the original improvised counter top, only then to discover that the new one that had been sitting in storage all those weeks was also the wrong size. We phoned them and complained to customer service again. Why hadn’t it been inspected upon its arrival at their store, or before it was brought out to be installed? The splash walls were still not mounted, the stove still crooked, the sink only taped into the counter and a third new counter top was ordered.

Then we got a letter nine weeks later that our order had arrived at their store. The same routine again; phone them for an installation date and add another four weeks to get an appointment for the installation crew to come out and do the job. When that was finally done, the other imperfections were still there. By the time the counter was finally put in, the black ceramic coated sink had turned spotted, gray and faded. We were told that the manufacturer had forgotten to apply the required protective finishing coat. So, a new sink was ordered. Of course, all this time the sink hadn’t even been mounted or glued in because the counter had to be replaced. Believe it or not, it had been taped in with packing tape! The glue on the tape stuck to the counter surface and had been exposed to direct sunlight for months. When they removed the tape to install the new sink nine weeks later, the counter top had faded under the taped area. While putting in the counter they had also broken the cabinet lighting above the wash basin. So another complaint was made and we waited another eight weeks before that was taken care of. At this point we were convinced that we were either cursed or this new kitchen was just not meant to be.

We insisted someone from installation management personally look at our kitchen. The manager came and inspected the kitchen. He wrote a report which we signed off. Weeks later we got a letter stating that they would not reinstall the stove and would not replace the counter on the other side which had faded stripes from being taped for so long. According to their statement, they could not see any damage or faded stripes on the photos they had taken and insisted that the kitchen stove and everything else had been professionally installed. Huh? As for the cupboard doors slamming into the other doors? We had to find a solution to this ourselves.

In our opinion, this kitchen company’s customer service and management did not provide satisfactory service. They were disorganised and lacked the qualified professionals required for fitted kitchen installation. We were definitely NOT satisfied with the quality of their service. Our new kitchen was to have been installed and completed in June 2016. It took ten more installation appointments, numerous complaints and reorders in over a period of almost one year to be completed. Our new kitchen was finally finished in May 2017.

What did we learn from this experience? When purchasing such an expensive product that you haven’t seen in finished form yet…..

  • Don’t finance it even if at 0% ! At least then you can refuse payment until the job is done right.
  • Be sure you have insurance for legal action if necessary. As an average consumer,  fighting something like this alone can be tedious, expensive and exhausting.

We had also been promised a substantial gift certificate as compensation for our inconvenience, but never received one.

Are we completely satisfied now? Well, let’s just say we have learned to ignore the little imperfections that are still there and are glad the drama is over and done with.

We sincerely hope you have better luck with your new kitchen.







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Buying a custom fitted kitchen?

Part 3
Delivery and Installation

Finally! After weeks or months of waiting………..
The big truck loaded with all your fitted kitchen shelves, cupboards, drawers, doors, parts and appliances arrives at your front door. Hopefully that includes at least 2 qualified and experienced craftsmen to assemble it all for you. You will probably have to take an extra day off from work and sacrifice a vacation day to be home when your kitchen is being installed. It might even take more than just one day for it to be completed, so don’t be surprised if everything isn’t operational in just a few hours or after just one day. Don’t think for a minute that you can just go upstairs and sit down at your computer with a cup of coffee and leave the workmen alone to do all the work without any supervision. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. You will want to be sure all the parts delivered aren’t damaged and your freshly painted walls aren’t scratched, or worse, while the cupboards and counter top are being assembled. Upon completion of installation you will be asked to inspect the kitchen thoroughly. Please do so with a critical eye! Inspect everything inside and out. Make sure all the appliances function correctly and there are no scrapes or broken off corners on cupboards, doors and drawers. Check to see that they all open and close properly and that nothing has been overlooked or forgotten! If you are one of the lucky customers,………. the kitchen is in perfect condition and functions as it should.

Mistakes, however, can happen. Document and take photographs of everything that is not to your satisfaction. If in fact you do find some faults, it will definitely come in handy when you contact their customer service and make your complaint. Always follow-up any complaint made on the telephone with one in written form and document everything. The more detailed you are, the better! Especially, if there are big problems involved and the situation becomes one for which you must seek legal counsel.

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Buying a new custom fitted kitchen?

Part 2 –
Out with the old 

Before your new kitchen can be installed you’ll need to figure out what to do with the old one. Of course, if your old kitchen is in really bad shape then I recommend the dumpster. On the other hand, if it’s still in good condition and can be dissembled without further damage then try reselling it. You would be surprised how much money you can get for a good used kitchen with functioning electric appliances. Place an ad in Ebay, the internet or even the local newspaper. If you can’t find a buyer, then surely a donation to the needy would be greatly appreciated. Be sure to set a fair price and insist on having the new buyers come and see your used kitchen in person. Insist on having them dissemble it themselves under your supervision. Your kitchen consists of hundreds of pieces so what better way for the new owners to learn how to reassemble it, right? It not only saves you from doing it yourself, it also relieves you of any fault for damages incurred at time of disassembly. Plan the date for the sale and removal wisely.  Be sure you leave enough time for all the necessary renovations before the new kitchen arrives. If you are doing the work on your own, leave a few extra days to be on the safe side. Efficiently organize appointments with painters and craftsmen. Be sure they are aware of the date their work must be finished and make sure they are finished on time!

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Want a new custom fitted kitchen?

Be prepared for a rollercoaster ride.

If you’ve been living in your home for over 20 years, it’s inevitable that it will start showing signs of wear and tear. Since you spend a majority of your time in the kitchen, it’s definitely the room that deserves the most attention. You’ve probably already renovated every room in the house numerous times and have left the kitchen for last. Why ? Well, not because it couldn’t be done, but probably because a new kitchen involves a lot of planning, time, money and energy.

Part 1 –
The Planning and design

Planning a new fitted kitchen can actually be lots of fun, especially if you’re the kind of person that is creative and generally enjoys designing and remodeling. But make sure you have lots of time and patience. There are hundreds of custom kitchen sales galleries and stores in your immediate area, however, finding the right one won’t be easy. Make sure you ask friends, family and acquaintances for recommendations based on their personal experiences with kitchen designers, their in-house installation specialists, professional craftsmen and customer service. Know what you must have and what you don’t need! Take inventory of your kitchen ware and supplies so that you know how much storage space you’ll require. Research color schemes and suitable materials for the kitchen cabinets and counters. Go online and look at different kitchen wall colors and designs too. When viewing actual models of kitchens on site, make sure you open all the drawers and cabinets and take a closer look at how well the kitchens are assembled. Assess the quality of the product and material. If you can’t afford a custom crafted kitchen made of pure hardwood, be very critical of the quality of pressed wood countertops and cupboard materials. Inspect everything! Take your kitchen measurements or blue-prints and go to at least 3 to 5 kitchen studios for extensive planning and estimates. You’ll be surprised at how different their ideas and prices can be. Where one kitchen designer might spend hours with you planning something great, another may not invest as much time or effort into the process. I had one kitchen planner ask me for pictures of my old kitchen and without much effort on his part, he told me that was the best option – he then drew up (literally, by hand) a plan for a new kitchen that looked just like my old one! Another fitted kitchen designer worked with me for over a week creating numerous kitchen designs suitable for our home using modern technology! And yes, for no extra charge.

To be continued…..

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Is there really a Santa Clause?

As a mother of two lovely daughters, I enjoyed looking forward to the Christmas Holidays every year – Don’t get me wrong, I still do! It’s just that now they are teenagers and the way we celebrate Christmas has changed.

I actively spent weeks preparing for Christmas, creating a budget, making our Christmas lists, comparing prices and shopping for toys and other childrens’ goodies. We all looked forward to our yearly Christmas cookie baking day – always followed by the kitchen clean up evening. We exchanged presents on Christmas morning while listening to Christmas music playing in the background. It was so beautiful hearing them talk under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning about the wonderful things Santa had brought them.

One Christmas, my oldest which was six at the time, said she had actually heard Santa’s sleigh with his reindeer land on our roof Christmas Eve. How I envy that innocence and magical imagination that children possess! Little did she know, the sounds she heard were actually her parents carrying all the beautifully wrapped presents from their hiding places and putting them as quietly as possible under our Christmas tree. Every Christmas they’d get a personal letter from Santa full of compliments and praise. Their eyes would twinkle and their faces all smiles.

Then one day I was asked the dreaded question, “Mom, is there really a Santa Clause?” There it was. Like a balloon just popped by a pin. As the responsible parents you are, you have no choice but to tell them the truth and all because the kids at school had to spoil all the magic. It’s such a shame; but you tell them. You explain to them that there really is no Santa Clause and that now they are old enough to understand. Santa isn’t just a story about a fat man in a red suit with a white beard, a sleigh and reindeer bringing presents to children around the world…..

Santa is FAMILY and Christmas is LOVE.

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Goodbye Dolls and Trains

100_2087We all have these wonderful memories of our children at Christmas when they’re sitting under the Christmas tree opening their presents. The kids would tear off the beautiful wrapping paper and then they’d pass the boxes on to me to do the rest.  I couldn’t get the toys out of the original packaging fast enough!  This was no easy task, since I believe that toys are purposely packaged extremely well to make our lives more stressful on Christmas Day. Remember the dolls with their buggies and cool outfits? Or if you have boys, remember the cars and train sets?

What I didn’t know then was that one day the toys would be gone.

As my children got older they simply lost interest in their toys. They sat untouched, collecting dust in the cupboards and on the shelves.  My girls sprouted into their teen years and the dolls were forgotten. Instead, their interests changed to CDs, DVDs, mobile phones, gaming consoles, makeup, clothes and …… boys. Now that’s a scary thought, especially when you picture them running around the house in their little princess costumes at the age of four!

I guess as a parent, this must be the first stage in preparation of our children eventually leaving the nest. But what about all those beautiful and expensive toys and dolls sitting on the shelves?  Two options.  Box them and hide them away in the attic for almost forever or give them to children that would appreciate them NOW. I decided on the latter.

Today, a young family came to pick up the toys.  They searched through the boxes with eager looks of anticipation and wonder on their faces. They gave me looks of appreciation and embarrasement. I helped them load all the boxes of toys into their car and then sadly watched as they drove away.

I was glad, of course, that the toys would be cherished but never imagined I would be so sad to see them go. Our babies are no longer babies anymore.

They’re growing up.

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Fitness Guru to Fitness “Boohoo”

After contemplating which of my experiences to write about first, I had an eye-opening experience today that I just had to share.  I have always had a few extra pounds on me ever since I was a child. When I became a teenager I started running and doing aerobic exercise and was a great athlete in high school and beyond. I made fitness part of my career, got myself certified and successfully instructed aerobics and fitness classes for more than 27 years.  This additional part-time job not only kept me fit and the pounds off, but it also put extra money into my bank account. This was something I really loved doing and knew I could never live without. But the many years of running and fitness caught up with me, and forced me to stop instructing about 5 years ago. From then on I spent my spare time jogging and enjoying the outdoors and my own personal fitness routines.

Then the menopause symptoms began followed by a hysterectomy. I had to take a 6 month break from fitness classes and running altogether. When I finally did begin again I ended up with one injury after another. It was a never-ending battle and extremely frustrating. As a result, I gained weight.  Then one day I bent over to pick up a bucket and that’s when it happened.  I pinched a nerve in my lower back. The pain became so extreme at times just while sitting that it was unbearable. I’ve spent the last 3 years going from one doctor to the next explaining all my symptoms. The pain in my neck, shoulders, lower back and spreading down the outside of my right leg. Needless to say, that due to all this pain and discomfort my fitness routines and running came to a halt! No more jogging etc. It just wasn’t possible anymore. I practically stopped sleeping because of the pain I felt at night.  Lying in bed was even painful.  Every doctor told me to go walking, do fitness – but honestly, when you’re really in pain, that’s the last thing you want to do.  It just made mine worse.

In addition to my prescribed physical therapy, my doctor recommended I sign up for some injury rehabilitation fitness classes. I go twice a week, hoping that I’m doing something that will help the pain eventually go away, even if it means I won’t be able to move the following day.   The problem is, it isn’t very motivating when 95% of the participants are over 65 and the instructor is a teenage bikini model. This doesn’t help build self confidence and I’m not so sure whether this really helps my back problem.-But I do come out of that class feeling as though I’ve gained 25 pounds and aged 25 years.

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First blog post

Here it comes.  My 50th birthday is just around the corner. I never thought it would be such a big deal, but I keep asking myself, “What comes next?”  I’m guessing there are many women experiencing the same thing – going through the usual age related changes, soul-searching and also wondering about the “Then what?” question.

I’ve created this blog for all of us.


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