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Renovate your kitchen this summer?  Proceed with caution.


When it comes to home improvements, I’m generally methodical and conservative, agonizing over colors, researching materials, and lining up contractors months in advance. Normally, I wouldn’t be the type of person to empty the most critical room in my home amid historic supply and labor shortages. But you haven’t seen my kitchen.

Last updated around 1980, it has faded blue floral wallpaper, Formica countertops, and vinyl tile floors which I’m sad to say are held together with wrapping tape. Most of the lighting is fluorescent, and everything just doesn’t work – which, because it’s fluorescent, isn’t entirely a bad thing. But the room is dark and the layout is miserable.

My husband and I planned to renovate the room last spring, and had already designed the space, hired a contractor, and picked out our cabinets when the country closed its doors. The kitchen has not been rejuvenated this year. The refrigerator and dishwasher gave up over the summer, and both had to be replaced. Cabinets now appear to be able to use a break, with some drawers starting to collapse.

Before recalling our entrepreneur, we considered waiting another year to avoid the pandemic frenzy. But another year would only create more problems. We could end up spending money on other interim solutions as the kitchen continues to deteriorate. Moreover, the uncertainty will not end anytime soon.

Waiting until next year could mean trading faster turnaround time for higher costs as suppliers pass the increases on to consumers, Higgins said. And here we are, joining the legions of Americans frantically ordering granite countertops and ceramic tile, hoping they show up.

Since I’m no fan of surprises, I called Liz Caan, an interior designer in Newton, Massachusetts, who remodeled her own kitchen last year, to find out how her job went. She kicked off the project in June and, since she had ordered her equipment before the pandemic, she believed she would be ahead of the curve. When she had problems, she pivoted, commanding, for example, the floor model of a Sub-Zero refrigerator when she learned that a new one wouldn’t have arrived for months.

But then came the Carrara marble counter. The equipment arrived from Atlanta without a hitch, but the manufacturer outside Boston received orders that had been delayed during the shutdown, so Ms. Caan found herself at the back of the line. For six weeks, her kitchen remained there, almost complete, but not functional because without a counter, she could not install a tap.



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