How to Give a Kitchen for Christmas
. . . or a bathroom, office, or other project
More than one homeowner has asked us to help them give their spouse a newly remodeled room in time for Christmas. It’s a wonderful thought, we agree, but there are only two ways to do it right, and only one can be a last-minute gift.
The first way is to plan ahead – way, way ahead. It takes time to remodel any space in your home, whether it’s a kitchen, bathroom, rec room, office, sunroom, attic, or whatever. Even adding a couple of closets takes thought and design before the actual construction can begin. A complicated project like a kitchen often involves renovation as well as remodeling. The walls behind the sink may need reinsulating. The floor may need leveling. Wiring and plumbing may need to be upgraded. Special skills require the services of subcontractors, which means careful scheduling and the potential for delays.
You also have to allow plenty of time up front for the design work: not only where the new fixtures will go, but also what they’ll look like. Appliance colors and models. Floor coverings. Back splashes and wall treatments. Paint colors and tile patterns. It takes time to make the best choices.
And there’s the deconstruction part: tearing out old cabinets and fixtures, stripping the walls and floor. Does a window or a door need moving? Add more time for that.
If you want a new kitchen to be ready by Christmas, you need to start the work right after Thanksgiving – at the latest – which means you want to contact your contract before June in order to get on their fall schedule. It can be done, but you have to be ready with the design answers before the contractor is ready to start, and the contractor has to stay right on schedule.
The second right way is a lot better if your goal is a Christmas gift. For one thing, the work can be scheduled so it won’t disrupt any of your family’s favorite holidays. For another thing (and this could be the most important), the gift will actually be a surprise. You have to admit, it would be very hard to hide any sort of remodeling job from someone living in the same house.
The solution is to give your spouse a certificate for that new kitchen or bathroom. And to make the gift seem more real, you can include the delivery date on the certificate. Just call a good contractor now and get on their schedule for next year. Explain what you’re up to and pick the most realistic delivery date (which could be early in the Spring if the project can start in January or February).
Now, contractors don’t usually have certificates on hand, but that gives you the fun of making one. Or perhaps we should say “assembling” one. Because you can make the gift more real by putting in some paint chips or samples of tiles or product sheets for appliances. You can print photos from the Internet or download some of the how-to-design-a-kitchen/bathroom/whatever materials. You can layout a certificate with fancy fonts and photos in your word processor or buy an appropriate card and slip everything inside.
After Christmas, you can spend some fun evenings together with tape measure and pad, paint chips and all, sketching out the project and consulting with the contractor in plenty of time to start the project on schedule. And when the project is done, you’ll be able to celebrate a mini Christmas (and test out the new room well before the next Christmas).
A remodeled room is a gift that keeps on giving. Just make sure the gift is presented in the best possible way.