An Irish-Made Kitchen

So here’s the deal. Yes, the HDF was kitchen cabinet doors. I’ve been told that it is a suitable material for cabinetry. I hope I was told right.


And the rest of the deal. What I said about being burnt out from tedious work and a messy house was true. I was absolutely ready to live my life unencumbered by house projects. The house had gotten a thorough cleaning and I had friends coming for dinner. And the Irishman needed a job and begged me to let him make my cabinet doors. I relented and on my first day of freedom he set up his cutting station on the sidewalk. And as the doors came through the saw he brought them in and dropped them onto my clean countertops. I told him that friends were coming over to cook and started moving them into the basement stairwell. He said, “I need them where I can get to them.”

A bit later on he asked me, “Where are you taking your friends tonight?”

Now let’s back up to how the project was planned, aside from the fact that it wasn’t. I had a few things oddly laid out: wall cabinets stacked 2 high and cut to non-standard sizes, fillers scribed to fit tilted walls, toe kicks scribed to fit sloping floors, a plinth holding the stove level, and a split-height peninsula room divider. The plan was to get a shop to make these, and I was gonna start with Semihandmade, a company that makes custom fronts for IKEA cabinets. The Irishman told me a while ago that he’d make them for me and slash Semihandmade’s price. At the time I think he had access to a shop. This spring, not so much.

And all these conditions came together to create a few of the greatest horrors I’ve endured since buying the Crooked House. First, he used the sidewalk in front of my house, shielded by an awning, as his shop. He had materials stored there under a tarp for the whole project, making my house an official nuisance property. No one reported me though.


And my living room became his lay down area.

Then there were his wildly unrealistic expectations about how fast he could work without a proper shop plus our usual agreement that I’d pay him for his time meant that I had a terrifying series of promises of cheapness and fastness followed by him hitting me up for more money. At one point I cut him off and he threatened to walk. I wondered when to cut my losses and put the stuff in the basement.

The Irishman started working shorter days. My fuse shortened more than his days. I started berating him every time he told me he was taking a break. People at the office heard me. He took offense that I was mad at him. Finally, it was my mom who intervened. She read my bank statement and totaled up the ATM withdrawals that paid him. Only she knows. I don’t want to. But now the Irishman decided that he owes me forever, that he’ll finish the job dutifully, that he’ll take on a litany of other projects, and that there’ll never again be a copper between us. (Read that sentence with a thick brogue.) I don’t know how she manages to slay like this over and over again. (The gun is plastic)


Anyways, one week became… 6 1/2. My plans to enjoy spring fell through. My plans to pay off Phase 1 are delayed a solid 6 months. But I’m a big step closer to a finished kitchen. Was it worth it? No way. Anyways, I’m desperate for a break. Maybe a long one. But the Irishman says he owes me work and I’m not about to miss collecting the debt. We’ll see how I do both. In the meantime, I should have my house back tomorrow – guess what that means I’ll be doing!

Happy woman cleaning

(I won’t be holding my balance on one foot in heels.)


13 thoughts on “An Irish-Made Kitchen

  1. francetaste

    Oh dear. It’s even more delicate because your handyman is also your neighbor. And there is always that uncomfortable balance between not-dragging-on-forever vs. quick-and-dirty. I’m glad your mom worked things out.
    Do you read Manhattan Nest? He is similarly fed up with yet unable to let go of renovating his house.


  2. Mary Elizabeth

    Your mom is a real trooper, plastic gun or no. (Some real ones are made of plastic, by the way.) She has major negotiation skills, apparently. Plus, you know, Irishmen love their sainted mothers–and everyone else’s sainted mother by extension. At least that’s how it was in my father’s family and my brother-in-law’s. It’s a good thing that it’s almost over. Can’t wait to see the finished product.


  3. Nine Dark Moons

    OMG!!! I’m guessing your mom grabbed him by the ear and gave him a stern talking to about getting his shit together and to stop stressing out her son? WOW. mom’s can really come through when you need them!


      1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

        She did it over the phone, but she also got some schmaltz into it. “He did this because he cares about you!” It doesn’t come naturally to me to get mushy but a little bit of that went a long way. Along with reminding him how much money he got and completely forgot about.


  4. Jessica@CapeofDreams

    Even though you had prepared me for it, I was still shocked by this tale of woe. Come up and visit me this summer, and we can go to the beach, or the city, or kayaking and forget all about house renovation.


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      I agree, but I can’t think that far ahead yet. I’m trying to make plans for this weekend now. So far I think there’s gonna be a mini-celebration with my roommate involving Champagne and a lot of cleaning.


  5. Mary S.

    Omigod. I have so been there with a contractor friend of mine who also happened to be in my husband’s band so we couldn’t just cut him loose and never see him again. The time turning into forever, the needing more and more money and not keeping track of it, the shorter and shorter days, and in our case the disappearing for weeks leaving everything unfinished.



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