Christine and Pierre's Kitchen: The End is in Sight... or Is It?

Renovation Diary

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Name: Christine & Pierre
Type of Project: Kitchen remodel
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Type of building: Ground floor apartment of a triplex, 1,100 square feet

The Renovation Diaries are a new collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

This week was simultaneously exciting and frustrating. Exciting, because on one hand, it feels like we're so close to finishing. The cabinets are almost all installed! The appliances are actually back in the kitchen! Frustrating, because we are facing delays that are out of our control and that threaten to put the whole project on hold.

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Mom visits, and I put her to work painting. Thanks Mom!

My mother came to town this weekend to visit and also to help us out with reno stuff. I took the day off on Friday and we drove around with a singular mission: finding countertops. I had originally wanted soapstone, but was finding it nearly impossible to source, as it's very uncommon to find it installed in homes here. Also, Pierre wasn't all that crazy about the idea of a counter that scratched so easily, and I started to doubt whether I would find scratches charming, or whether they would just drive me crazy. So we set out to explore other options, trying to keep our minds open.

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Checking out options at the stone yard.

We visited two different places. Both were showrooms, where you could view samples, and we were dealing with salespeople, not fabricators. I knew we wanted something dark and not too busy, and we came away with a few options. Lastly, we took a visit to the place that supplied natural slabs for BOTH of the showrooms we had visited. The only granite option that I sort of liked — a black granite with white veining — turned out to be impossible to get. The slabs they had all had micro fissures throughout, so they wouldn't be suitable for any kind of large project. The other option in the granite I liked was the Super White, but while it's beautiful, it was way busier than what I had been imagining, and Pierre wan't a fan. So our final choice was the engineered caesarstone in the Piatra Grey — a sort of warm grey with subtle veining throughout.

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A few of the countertop options we were considering. Clockwise from top left: Via lattea granite, soapstone, Super White granite, and Piatra Grey Caesarstone.

HOWEVER. When we started talking timing, things got depressing fast. In Quebec, the unions for construction workers have obligatory holidays for the last two weeks of July - and those construction workers include counter manufacturers. (Plenty of other workers take their holidays around the same time, too - it's estimated that 25% of all workers in Quebec go on holiday at that time!) So not only would every fabricator be closed for two weeks, but they were all so busy trying to finish orders before their vacation that they wouldn't be able to start our order until after the holidays. Then, we would be looking at a two to three week turnaround. So a potential 5-week delay, where we wouldn't be able to install our sink, backsplash, open shelving or range hood.

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Pierre had a few friends come over and help him out with the pantry install. Those things are HEAVY. Not an easy job.

With this depressing news, we spent the weekend finishing the painting and installing the pantry wall. Pierre installed his huge pantry structure on Saturday, and a few friends came over on Sunday to help him attach the two pantries and the stacked cabinets on top. They also moved the fridge and the stove back into the kitchen, which felt like a huge accomplishment.

I'm not completely ready to give up on this countertop story yet, so I'm going to try and explore other options next week.

Estimated time for project: 18 weeks, or possibly forever?
Time remaining: 5 weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for #17 of Christine and Pierre's Diary.

(Images and diary text: Christine Zoltok)