Blocked Off

Last week, my uncle (and his brother*) came for a week-long visit to help me with my kitchen renovation.  You remember the beginning of this plan, right?

The general idea was that I’d also take the week off work – to help with the planning, decision-making, and of course – payment for all of the materials.  In hindsight, this really was the right decision.  There were too many ups and downs to manage, too many trips to the store, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it as effectively from the office.  Plus, I really wanted to be there to take pictures of everything as it went down.  When he came for his last visit a few years ago, I missed out on a lot of those in-progress shots.  But not this time.

I also naively thought I would be able to write posts last week to give you guys quick (and current) updates.  But what I didn’t fully realize is how exhausted I’d feel at the end of each day.  Excitement, worry, and anticipation all got the best of me, and some of you even mentioned that you could read it in my picture frame molding post (and you were right!).  Too tired to go through the full process of writing, editing, and revealing all the drama.  And yes, there most definitely was drama.

So now that I’ve had a little bit of time to reflect on all of the many things that happened last week, let’s get to business:  Staycation Days 1 and 2 consisted mostly of planning and the molding work in the dining room.  But I’m sure some of you were thinking, “Wait – what about the kitchen?  Isn’t that the whole reason for this thing?”

Yes.  And that’s where the drama comes in.

Foolish Planning

The whole time leading up to this week, I’d been certain I would buy the NUMERAR butcher block countertops from Ikea.  I read review after review of them online, and knew that this was the way I wanted to go.  I had a plan.  I knew that we’d pick them up on Monday and probably get them installed somewhere toward the middle of the week.  Might even have time for doing other projects in the house, like finishing work in the dining room.  Sunday night, just as my aunt, uncle, and Timmy were arriving in town… I discovered the news.

Little did I realize during my little planning session that the countertops I’d been so certain of using would not only be out of stock, but (cue the dramatic music) … discontinued!  I was so sure they’d be available, I hadn’t bothered to check the site after first planning.  Up until this point, Ikea had always had them in stock, and I knew it was a popular item.  Stupid, stupid mistake.  I also tried checking out the availability of ordering online; sometimes it allowed me to go through to the estimated shipping page (which would have been $99 on top) – sometimes it errored out and would not let me order online at all.  Ikea has apparently decided to sell out of their remaining solid wood butcher block and replace it with a line called AKERBY – a version that is made primarily of particle board with hardwood veneer on the top and bottom.**  Granted, Ikea has consistently been a company that looks for ways to offer less expensive options for the public, and choosing to go that route certainly saves you some change.  It was in stock.  But my main problem?  I intended to install an undermount sink.  Cutting a hole in particle board is not the look I was envisioning!

A Night of Worry

As you can imagine, that little discovery put me in a serious panic.  How would I find a replacement for the star of the show?  Without the counters, there was no way I’d get the sink or faucet installed in time.  Ikea was the only place I knew of that wouldn’t require special order.  What would happen if I had to order them and wait?  Would I really be able to figure it out on my own if my uncle isn’t there to help?  And what other projects could I possibly have ready for him to help me complete if the only project I’d truly planned fell flat?

my “worry face stock image”

In a tearful panic, I sent a text message to an old friend Sunday evening.  He’d worked for Lumber Liquidators for several years, and he knew a friend, Caleb, who still worked there.  He was certain that butcher block wouldn’t be something they’d normally have in stock, but he would see what he could do.  Call around.  Give them my number.  And wait to hear back.  I ran over to Lowe’s just before closing to see if I could get answers from them, but no one was working toward the kitchen area.  And then I had to call my uncle with the shameful news:  I wasn’t sure how things were going to end up, and I had no answers.  My aunt sent me a text later that night, reassuring me that if anyone could come up with a creative solution to make something work, it would be my uncle.  If it came down to it, he’d find plenty of other things to do to my house on his own, countertop or no countertop.

Staycation, Day 1

Monday morning, they all showed up at my house, and me empty-handed.  I was incredibly embarrassed, but they wanted to start looking around at stores to see in-stock options.  While they weren’t ideal, and weren’t what I had planned for, they might still have something, anything, that would be an upgrade from the painted mess that currently existed in its place.  My uncle began by checking around the kitchen’s existing countertop while I fretted and waited for the phone to ring.

As we were heading out the door, it finally did.  James, calling from the Baton Rouge Lumber Liquidators location, called to let me know he was looking for butcher block options for me thanks to Caleb’s referral.  They typically have four different types:  maple, oak, cherry, and walnut.  He suggested that the walnut looked fantastic once it’s oiled up (and gets a rich, dark color), and even better – they might even have it in stock somewhere in Georgia and could possibly give me a referral discount.  Hooray!

Because we weren’t 100% sure if that would work out, we didn’t take any chances and headed off to Lowe’s and Home Depot anyway.  Unfortunately, the longest pieces they carried in stock were only ten feet.  I’d need twelve for the longest part of my counters.  Technically, this wasn’t out of the realm of possibility – even the original Ikea versions would come in only eight foot lengths, so I expected to have to piece things together to fit.  The main issue was that the options weren’t exactly pretty; nothing matched the warmth of the butcher block, and the cooler counter options had a lot of varied color that might not work with the new painted cabinets.  But again, the phone rang.  James found two sections of twelve-foot walnut butcher block in stock at a store in Kennesaw, GA.  It would be over an hour drive from my house, but they existed.  James then promised to call the store and make sure the stock was available for pickup, and it would be a simple matter of then driving over with the truck.  Relief!

Don’t Celebrate Just Yet

I did a happy dance right in the store.  We continued looking at the in-stock options just in case and began talking about what tools we’d need to really bring things to reality.  The phone rang again, and as expected, it was James – but instead of the relief I felt just a few minutes before, he had bad news:  the two pieces of walnut were damaged – split right in the middle of each piece – and were not going to be available to purchase.  They didn’t have any stock in the other Georgia locations – not even another species of wood.

Frick. Frickity-frickfrickfrickfrickfrickfrick.  I was upset.  I was embarrassed and upset.  I felt really guilty for getting myself into this mess and not having a backup plan.  For not planning well enough in the first place.  For making these incredibly helpful people in my family come all this way and then letting them down.

But, James (or maybe we’ll call him Super James? In partnership with my superhero team of DIYers for the week?) came to the rescue again:  he didn’t have all bad news; he plotted and searched, and found me two additional pieces of walnut butcher block.  In two completely separate stores.  That weren’t in Georgia.  But both were undamaged, and could be shipped to my nearest Lumber Liquidators location by Wednesday afternoon.  I’d have to pay an additional fee to cover freight costs ($90), but I’d have my butcher block in time for my uncle to install it.  Not only were these pieces in twelve foot lengths (technically, I only needed one piece at twelve feet and one at eight, but you go with what ya got), but they were a darker, richer wood than what I’d get from my original Ikea plan.  I could make these counters food-safe and still get the color I wanted (instead of staining them with a non-food-safe product to a walnut color, I’d have actual walnut that wouldn’t need to then be re-treated to be food safe – just mineral oil).  Even though it was going to be slightly more than what I originally intended to spend, in return, I’d get better quality and the length that I’d truly need.  By the numbers, I spent about $300 more than what I would have spent at Ikea.  If I’d thought ahead and ordered them online, I would have had to pay $99 for shipping at Ikea regardless, but if I’d ordered them ahead of time through Lumber Liquidators, I wouldn’t have had to pay for shipping.  Not that it helps me now, but I thought it would be nice to share with all of you.

I’ve never been so happy to give someone my credit card info.  Paid for and on their way, my butcher block dreams could still be a reality!

Today’s Lesson: Be a better planner.

There were a lot of ups & downs throughout the week, and there is still more to the story… so I think I’ll stop there.  But I want to share the whole story, including my mistakes.  I’m not an expert.  Experts plan better than I do.  I will screw up, and that will mean I learn something new to share.  I shouldn’t have been quite so confident that things would work out.  And I should have had a plan B.  Better planning could have saved me a lot of headache; but thank goodness for small blessings.  As you can probably guess, we re-arranged plans to keep ourselves busy while we waited for the counters to arrive on Wednesday, which is how we installed the picture frame molding on Day 2.  I am forever grateful for the generosity of family and friends.  And this is how a company like Lumber Liquidators (& their Baton Rouge staff) makes their way to my Christmas card list.

Do you have any roller coaster stories to share of your own?  Now’s your chance to confess your own poor planning (& maybe make me feel less guilty?).

 

Just in case you were curious, this wasn’t a sponsored post.  They found out about my blog about halfway through this whole process and never asked me to mention them in this or any subsequent posts, but I felt it was only right to share how helpful they really were.  Best result of good customer service is word-of-mouth advertising, right?

*This came up last week in a reader comment:  my uncle is related to me through marriage, so while he’s my uncle, his brother isn’t – thus why I’m referring to him this way in my posts.

**I’ve since learned from online forums that this may be only a temporary change in what Ikea will have in the future.  Europe has solid wood options, which may be coming over to the US eventually.  Not sure if this will still be the same NUMERAR line or if it will be under a different name, but that’s the story for now.  If you know of any updates yourself, feel free to leave a comment.  I’m sure other readers would love to know the info!

Comments

  1. says

    This sounds like exactly something I would do!

    I just looked and the 25″ deep one isnt in stock in Toronto either (we have two ikeas, which usually means you can find something!). The wider countertop one IS still in. I wonder if they are moving it out here too? What a shame- I looked at the new one and it 100% ugly. do not like. its like fake wood laminate.

    Im glad you got countertops after all- and they sound like they worth the extra money over ikea anyway!

  2. Thirkellgirl says

    Don’t feel too bad – I made the same boo-boo in March, when we started our Ikea kitchen redo. They ALWAYS have Numerar. The day I went to place my order (and I’d been in the store several times, spending a lot of time with the kitchen staff working out bugs in my design) they came up as unavailable. The gal in kitchen checked four stores in adjoining states and nobody had it. Not in any color. I literally picked out a countertop in two minutes. I ended up with Pragel in black “mineral effect,” which I hadn’t even considered once during my many months of planning. But, like you, I had people ready to work on it, there was a window of opportunity we had to work with (unless we wanted to delay the kitchen for months), and it was an inexpensive solution to a problem I wanted to ponder. The black countertops (they go with our white cabinets and brushed steel hardware, and my white farmhouse single sink) look great. I occasionally wonder about the birch I’d planned on, but these look brand new and are likely to stay that way for a long time. They replaced 1960s Formica that was originally white with harvest-gold sunbursts (but I’d long since rubbed out the brightest of the sunbursts with Magic Erasers). Can’t wait to see your kitchen done!

  3. says

    This totally sounds like something I would do- and not knowing what would happen next would keep me up nights. I’m glad Lumber Liquidators came through for you, even if you had to pay some extra money in the end. Can’t wait to see the end result!!

  4. Richard Tooley says

    I try not to deal with IKEA if I can help it. I know they have great prices and their products have improved but I just always seem to run into problems such as the one you encountered.

  5. says

    Can I just say how much I love that sink? And those cabinet colors? I read a ton of home bloggers, but I think your sense of style is the one that most closely matches my own. I absolutely can’t wait to see the finished room!

    • Sarah says

      I wound up not going with a farmhouse sink and opted for a stainless undermount instead. It still looks amazing, so I can’t wait to show ya!

  6. Sarah says

    Just wanted to pipe in for readers looking for solid butcher block counters, the home improvement store Menards carries solid birch butcher block in stock or ship-to-store in several sizes. I know Menards stores aren’t nationwide but it’s our go-to home improvement store. And when Menards has sales (which is pretty often) the counter tops are even cheaper than the Ikea butcher block counters.

    • Sarah says

      My aunt and uncle can’t speak highly enough of Menard’s. The don’t have them down here in Georgia, but I’m sure people will love to know that!

  7. says

    We went through something very similar with Ikea countertops. We has always planned to use them for our peninsula but noticed that stock status was sketchy and we are 3 hours from the nearest Ikea. It was the same story 2+ years ago about the possible discontinuing of Numerar, and at least the stores in the NE still have delivery dates for them and some still have it in stock. But back then, because I didn’t want to waste a day to get nothing and because we wanted something JUST a bit bigger than what they stocked, we ended up getting butcherblock online shipped to us. Lumber Liquidators was our original fall-back, but they only offered the 25″ wide and we really wanted a wider counter. Thankfully the butcherblock we ended up with was perfect and we still love it 2+ years later.

  8. Missy G. says

    I don’t really have any stories to share — well, I guess I do have a painting mishap with a lesson learned for sure — but I just wanted to give a shoutout for the Baton Rouge store. Way to represent! So glad that James was able to help you and everything worked out in the end!

  9. says

    It is good to hear from you regarding your week. Sorry it was so frustrating. I can imagine how you felt not having the job intended for the guys to do. In the end it will all look awesome. I have to think that you will be so so so much happier with your countertops in the end. Thank goodness for great customer service and friends–old and new :)

  10. says

    I love Lumber Liquidators. We ordered two completely separate batches of the same wood while being discontinued (yes, discontinued, brought back, and discontinued again) and they were so helpful making sure we got enough for our house. I also loved that they would not only tell us if their option (underpayment and unfinished stair treads)was more expensive, but would suggest where to get it cheaper! All on top of answering all my questions about installation. They are fantastic!

  11. Kendi says

    Oh man, sounds like quite the ordeal, bit I’m glad you ended up with an even better solution! I wonder where the cracks were in the first walnut butcher blocks? Wouldn’t it have been great if the cracks were right where you were going to make a cut out for a sink? (Well, I guess the sink cutout would have only been on one…) But that could have led to a nice discount haha ;D

  12. says

    Having somebody like James go the extra mile is exactly what makes customers return to a store or hire a contractor again. I’m so tired of the big box stores with workers hanging out with their hands in their pockets wearing a look of disinterest in helping a customer.
    And the frickity-frick, frick gave me a real chuckle…Can’t wait to see the pics.

  13. says

    I don’t have countertop experience with Lumber Liquidators, but they were amazing in helping match existing flooring when we bought our crazy short-sale house! The poor man at the store must have thought I was nuts, but he never let on – just continued to help and help and help.

    Side note – I got stressed just reading this post, and am SO GLAD you found a solution!

  14. Heidi says

    I’m not a stalker, I promise, but I happen to know that Lumber Liquidators – they are right around the corner from my house – and they’ve been super helpful the couple of times we’ve been in there in just to drool over the floors we’d love to have. (I’m sure we can’t be the only people who do that right?)

  15. says

    This exact situation happened to me at the start of October. We were ordering the entire kitchen at IKEA and learned about the change in “butcher block”. We went with the veneered option, and hate the look and feel of it. We will be returning them.

    I also didn’t have a plan b, so it’s been a scramble to find a different solution without arguing with my spouse because of the added stress. we finally ordered 2 12′ sections from cabinets to go (apparently started by lumber liquidators) because they said they have them “in stock”. I went to the store, and in stock to that guy meant in a warehouse in LA (im in Seattle). Rrrrrrrgggh. Should have them next Wednesday. Can’t wait to have a sink in the kitchen again!!!

  16. GG says

    I hope you do something cool w/the extra 4 feet of butcher block! I’m picturing a rolling cart or workbench of sorts. Or some really amazing cutting boards.

  17. Eric says

    Wow you sound like me!

    I was to receive some carpet for my remodel. The carpet in question was the same carpet used in the Fontainebleau remodel last year (and this year). My carpet was sent to a carpet installer, who was going to store it and then install it when I was ready. I was supposed to be ready six months ago. Last week, I found out that the carpet installer was bought out and I may not be able to get my carpet. I am heading up to the installer today to gently persuade him that he is storing MY carpet. I will pay him for delivery and install, but I won’t pay him for the actual carpet.

  18. Katie says

    AGH! We did the exact same thing with the Nuremar, it was so heartbreaking :( Drove 4 hours away (to your Ikea, in fact – we’re in Huntsville) all ready to pick up the gorgeous oak butcher block, only to find there is NONE. ANYWHERE. NATIONWIDE. So I’m continuing to loathe my crappy floor-tile counters until I can find some butcher block that is as affordable as Ikea’s! PLEASE keep us updated if you hear anything about a possible replacement!

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