5-Day Kitchen Makeover


Our story begins with lunch between two friends. Clyde Lowstuter and Steve Sorensen meet at a local sushi place to enjoy lunch and catch up. As the luncheon winds down Clyde mentions that he needs to hire Sorensen Design Group. Steve learns that Clyde wants to surprise his wife, Carolyn with a new kitchen. Clyde states that he and Carolyn will soon be celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary and a kitchen makeover would be the perfect gift. To add spice to the project Clyde also mentions that Carolyn is going to be traveling next month to visit their daughter. During that time Clyde wants the team at Sorensen to transform their dated kitchen into a showpiece with new appliances, granite countertops and a fresh coat of paint. Steve mentions that he will discuss the project with Anna and the lunch concludes.
Anna and Clyde connect the next day to discuss the project. She states Sorensen can definitely help but redoing an entire room without the knowledge and approval of the spouse is most unusual and treading on dangerous ground. Also, the 5-day turn around would require exact planning, flawless execution and a whole lot of good fortune. Clyde reassures Anna that surprising Carolyn with a new kitchen is totally acceptable and that he is ready to do whatever it takes to pull the project off as planned. Anna responds by immediately requesting that she and Clyde meet at their house to review the details. Clyde agrees and the project officially begins.
The next few weeks are filled with showroom visits, purchases, fabrication, scheduling, and staging everything for the day Carolyn would depart. Anna and Clyde ventured out to tag granite at Terrazzo and Marble. Next, Clyde was given homework that included visiting several showrooms and selecting new appliances. Clyde was immediately attracted to the Sub-Zero and Wolf stainless steel professional grade appliances showcased at The Westye Group. The beautiful 42” wide Sub-Zero with complementary Wolf double oven and cook top were later purchased at Abt electronics. The existing cabinetry was in good condition so Anna suggested only reinforcement to support the new granite countertops. Plumbing fixtures were upgraded to include a double-bowl undermount sink from Elkay and a new brushed nickel faucet from Grohe. This project was definitely not for the faint of heart. To transform the new kitchen would include alterations to all major mechanicals as well as widening an opening through a brick wall. 
The 5-day kitchen makeover began on Wednesday, August 15th, when Carolyn was scheduled to fly out of O’Hare. One day before departure the HVAC contractor began moving ductwork required to fit the new refrigerator, while Carolyn was at a meeting. Fortunately, these modifications were approached from a mechanical room common to the kitchen concealing all evidence of work being performed. On Thursday August 16th Carolyn departed for the airport. The clock was officially ticking since she was scheduled to return Tuesday August 21st at noon. That afternoon workers arrived to remove the old laminate countertops and began reinforcing the existing cabinetry. Appliances were moved to the garage to improve access to all areas during the remodel. That evening Clyde stripped the wallpaper and replaced the cabinet hardware. Anna and Steve greeted Clyde with dinner to review the status of the project – Note: At Sorensen we make it a habit to bring dinner to client’s who no longer have a refrigerator.
Friday, the granite countertops were installed by Old World Stone of Huntley, Illinois. Enlarging the brick opening that would house the new 42” Sub-Zero refrigerator also began. The existing opening was surrounded by double brick, which was once the exterior wall of the rambling ranch style house. A 6 inch section was surgically removed from the left side. Also, bricks were extracted overhead making room for the installation of a steel lentil, which would support the enlarged opening. Plumbing lines and electrical lines also needed to be moved to make room for the new refrigerator. Friday was by far the most critical, noisy and chaotic day of the entire schedule. The enlarged opening in the double brick was finalized along with alterations to the plumbing and electrical lines. Framing and drywall was installed to clad the altered double brick opening and other areas of the room we prepped for paint. Painting began on Saturday in preparation for the appliances that were scheduled to arrive on Monday. The stainless steel appliances arrived on Monday and the new refrigerator fit perfectly into the enlarged opening. The cook top and double oven were also installed along with the sink and faucet being plumbed. The painters applied the final coat of paint struggling with excessive heat and humidity common to Chicago during the summer. The humidity in the ventilated room was so elevated that the paint was slow to dry. Time was running out….tomorrow Carolyn would be returning home to view her new kitchen for the first time. The next morning, the painters finished and the kitchen was thoroughly cleaned. Finally, Anna prepared the kitchen for it’s unveiling. To view the before, during and after photos click more.
Clyde picked up Carolyn at the airport.  Needless to say he was filled with anticipation knowing he would soon be showing Carolyn their brand new kitchen. She entered the door and was overwhelmed, excited and filled with joy at upon viewing their new kitchen. She had no idea what Clyde had been up to….Carolyn marveled at the beauty of the new space as she thought fondly of all the wonderful times gathering with friends and family in this magnificent space. She was thrilled to have married such a wonderful, adventurous and thoughtful man like Clyde.
Clyde Lowstuter is President & CEO of Robertson Lowstuter a premier Executive Development coaching firm located in Bannockburn, Illinois.
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