Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mid-Century Home, with a Twist

I love watching house hunting, home decorating and DIY landscaping television shows. Being an amateur woodworker, I get some "food for creativity" from watching these shows. One trend I've noticed recently is the number of home-buyers who are looking for "Mid-Century" style homes. These are homes that were built in the 1950s and early 60s. My parents bought one of these homes in the 1960s and my mom still lives in it today.  My parents have done some remodeling and some updating but it remains a mid-century style home.

As part of an expansion and remodel about 25 years ago, my parents enlarged their kitchen and purchased one of the first down-draft ranges. We all thought it was pretty cool because you could interchange range top "burners" for a griddle or for a "grilling" attachment. Then, because the fumes of what you were cooking, were "sucked" out through an exhaust system, (that sounded like it was powered by some engine from NASA), we felt like we were closely tied to the new "space age."

So, the range worked really well, of course there were countless trays of burnt cookies over the years that were blamed on the oven not working properly, but, aside from that, no complaints. Recently, however, there have been some pretty serious issues that have arisen. So, my sister, Karen and her hubby, Robert, decided to purchase a new stove for mom. They took mom to one of the big box stores, (which shall remain nameless), and let her take her pick. They explained to the sales rep that mom was replacing her current down-draft stove but that she was not married to the plan of replacing it with another down-draft. Mom explained how her exhaust system worked and where the ducting for the exhaust came into the stove and exited the house. After a LOT of looking and discussion, they decided to go with a more conventional stove.

Now, convention is a subjective descriptor. The machine they purchased is a beast! It has a ceramic stove top and a gigantic oven which is capable of baking three levels of cookies at a time. (Yes, I have a bit of an issue with cookies, one can never have enough, you know!) Now that it is installed, mom couldn't be happier with her selection. HOWEVER, getting it installed was much less satisfying and much more stressful.

One of my long-running rants/issues/peeves with large box hardware stores, especially the orange one, is that customer service is pretty much non-existent. That trend certainly held for mom's experience with her new range. You see, despite her having given detailed description of the venting system for her old stove, that information was not forwarded to the installers. When her stove was delivered, the first installation team refused to install because the old one was "hard-wired." So, mom called in an electrician to put in a plug. I phoned the big-box and told the manager that the wiring was completed and ready for the installers to come back as agreed. I was transferred three times, then told they would phone me later. Well, later became the next day. At that time, we were told that a different installer would be coming to do the work. We, however would be required to wait until he contacted us.

The installer came a couple of days later and started work. He was, however, not informed about the return ducting from the old stove and insisted that he be paid an additional $100 to do the work. I advised him that his issue was with the big box store, not with me. After a few tense moments and after I spoke with the correct person at the big box, the manager acknowledged that we had given all the information about the ventilation system so they would cover the additional cost.

One final issue arose with the stove. You might recall that I mentioned that my parents had done some renovations on the house. Well, part of that renovation included custom cabinetry in the kitchen, the customization included making the cabinets slightly taller than standard. Well, that little snowball caused another problem. The stove mom and my sister chose has a really cool lip that is designed to cover the "crumb catching" space between the stove and the cabinetry. Well...since the cabinets are taller than average, the stove did not fit. Fortunately, we found some plywood that worked well in allowing us to adjust the height so the stove slide in as designed.

In the end, the only thing that matters is that mom loves her new stove. However, let me just give any of you future renovators a suggestion. Unfortunately, cookie-cutter is the norm. Everything you do that is outside the norm has a series of consequences. Many of those consequences will continue to show themselves at the most unexpected times and in the least convenient times.




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