• When a Professional Remodels Her Own Kitchen

    Add to My Luxx Living
    Gail O'Rourke
    Gail O'Rourke (founder/owner of White Wood Kitchens) provides quality cabinets, expert design and full scope project management from concept to completion for any project. Gail comes alongside you to help bring your kitchen redesign efforts those final crucial steps that help bring your home to life.
    Gail O'Rourke

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    By Gail O’Rourke

    I have been working with homeowners for 20 years as they make changes to the way they live.  When I built furniture and cabinets, I dedicated a lot of my time helping clients become more organized. Together we would partner to create a more functional space through built-ins, bookcases, home offices and storage solutions.

    My goal always has been to make a big impact in the smallest of ways by using my tools at hand and a few pieces of lumber.

    I have expanded my work in recent years to include kitchen and bath design. I try to demonstrate the positive impact of a better-designed, better-built kitchen and the ways it will improve everyday living.

    So, when I decided to remodel my own kitchen, I said to myself: ‘How bad could it be?’

    We have an older home. The kitchen didn’t suit the needs of our very busy family.  Three backpack-carrying, energetic high school kids, two big friendly dogs, my full-time job and a husband who travels for work.

    How bad could it be to eat out all the time? Or to use paper products and not have to do dishes?

    I was in for a domestic holiday and I couldn’t wait!

    As far as remodels go, mine was very typical.  We didn’t have any big surprises – no pipes in the wall I didn’t know about, no need to tear out the entire first floor of the house when it was just supposed to be one room.

    So overall, it went exactly as I planned it to. I intended to be the kitchen designer, customer, general contractor, installer and floor sweeper on my project.  I just had to hire a few more people to help me out.  Since I work in the trades, how hard could it be?

    I began by calling the people I know, a few carpenters to do tear out windows, an electrician who could only work nights because he is a tech teacher during the day. I love people who teach. So I figured if he worked on my kitchen for a week until 10 at night .it
    wouldn’t be inconvenient. Hey, I do this every day. Right?

    I contracted a plumber, a flooring company, a sidewaller and a plasterer – a friend who, of course, did not mind giving up a Sunday when I called because I was running a day behind.

    My family really rose to the challenge.  They helped out around the house by
    throwing their paper plates in the construction trash bags.  They didn’t mind doing their homework on the floor instead of the kitchen table. They even stopped asking when the remodel was going to be completed.

    My husband said it was because they were tired of asking, but I knew it was because they were so excited.  He was traveling a lot those few weeks. Business trips kept popping up on short notice, which is unusual because I had asked him to be around to help me out. But I guess work is work.

    I called my best woodworking friend who was happy to come all the way from
    New Jersey and help me install the cabinetry for the weekend.  I know how much he loves this stuff! As we worked 15 hours a day over the weekend, each on our own parts of the install -cabinets in, fillers scribed, molding installed – he liked to offer me tips on how to do it better.

    He didn’t even seem disturbed that in my fatigue I told him to mind his own business and leave me alone! He didn’t mind at all doing the six-hour ride back home  at 8 p.m. He is such a dedicated friend and craftsman.

    That reminds me. He hasn’t been returning my calls.

    Today, my new kitchen is my oasis. We still have the same hustle and bustle of a busy life; yet I have ample amounts of storage, a better layout for cooking and cleaning and a large island for my family to enjoy.

    I designed the kitchen with function in mind, while paying attention to the small details that would please the designer in me.  Carved corbels and island legs, decorative columns around the sink, new lighting to brighten up the darkest winter night and better appliances with custom panels.

    On a quiet morning, I can enjoy my coffee at the granite-topped island, plan my day and dream about the future.

    So when I meet a new client who may have reservations about a kitchen remodel, I tell them my story. While having an exciting introduction and many dramatic moments in the middle, it does have a happy ending.

    Gail O’Rourke is a professional cabinet maker and design consultant who owns Whitewood Kitchens. She can be reached at gail@whitewoodkitchens.com.



    April 25, 2014