interiors | art | gardens | style | travel

Outtake from conversation with kitchen contractor:

Actual conversation.

Contractor: Are the cabinets going to be there on the 28th? If not, and if you can't confirm by tomorrow, then I'm gonna keep fishing this week.

Me: I'll confirm that for you.

Contractor: I mean, we gotta get going, because my house closes soon and I would rather work on my own place.

Me: I see. Well let me find out about those cabinets because we would like you to start earning the deposit we just paid you.

Contractors. They exemplify the new customer service, don't they?

In other news, there is nothing new to report in the world of decor.

I went to Banya5 last night (stupid name, admittedly). It's a kind of modern Russian bath located in the South Lake Union area of Seattle. You've got your sauna, your steam room, your cold plunge (properly named Really Fucking Cold Plunge), your hot tub, and your salt-water body-temp soaking pool. I am pretty sure that I steamed/soaked/beat every last bit of 2008 toxins from my body. I feel like a new person. If you're in the Seattle area, I highly recommend it.

The only problem was last night, there were tons of dudes. More than usual. The good news is that only the guys do platza, which is the art of beating the crap out of one another in the sauna with water-soaked oak leaves (called venik). And since there were so many guys, there was a lot of free entertainment there. The process is supposed to rejuvenate you and rid the body of toxins. I just think it's really a way for straight dudes to work out their sexual issues in a safe way, but that's just me. It's a good show. The added benefit is that the process of flapping the oak leaves in the air brings down all the heat from the top of the sauna, so everybody wins.

The other bad thing was the Loud Talker who seemed to be on the same circuit of steam/soak/sauna/plunge as me, and he couldn't shut up about the economy and how BAAAAAD it is. Dude, you just paid $35 to get the crap beaten out of you for two hours, how bad can it be? I would like all conversation about the economy to stop. Just wake me when it's over.

That is all. Enjoy your Monday. Happy MLK day. The dream is alive. (Except for Chinamen on walls n' stuff.)


mamacita said...

A co-ed bathhouse? Eek. I'm still getting over co-ed hair salons.

Chinamen's Revenge said...

Who does the beating: the customers? So you pay $35 and then you have to give the straight guys a beat-down?

If I am paying $35, I want the straight guy to beat ME, and I get to just lie there and release toxins.

I read Consumer's Reports. I won't be tricked.

severedgrrl said...

Pertaining to contractors-I'm finding that timelines mean nothing-even if documented; that they only seem to be able to come by at hours that coincidentally conflict with only the most un-rescheduable work related meetings; and they have a penchant for removing blue tape noting items for repair without actually doing said repair-just keeping me on my toes I suppose.

David said...

Good to know the tradesmen are keeping calm in the troubled economy. God forbid they react rashly and develop a sense of urgency or something.

Anonymous said...

I just finished a remodel on my home, and I will not use the same contractor for anything down the road. He wasn't terrible, but he just didn't have the commitment to finishing the job properly or doing the quality of work I have come to expect (I checked out his work beforehand, and it all looked good, but somehow my house fell below the bar). I should also mention I was no wallflower, and I called him out as's just really hard when he won't return your calls about finishing or fixing this or that. Anyhow, my point is I had some doubts(small, little ones, or so I thought) from the beginning, and I just brushed them under the rug. I will never do that again...if you are already having doubts/issues, I would seriously recommend you rethink your choice of contractors. It might be a pain in the a** now, but you'll be glad in the end.

scone said...

I'm surprised the contractor can get away with the slacker attitude. Either Seattle real estate still has a pulse, or this guy hasn't gotten the memo.

Carlene said...

"Dude, you just paid $35 to get the crap beaten out of you for two hours, how bad can it be?"

I am going to embroider that on a pillow.

Little Lantern said...

One of our contractor's usually doesn't show if the weather is nice because he likes to go golfing. He also likes to remind me on a regular basis that 50% of marriages end in divorce that go through a full house remodel. I politely remind him that he's shared this information with me before, but he always seems to forget...

Anonymous said...

Never threaten a contractor; they'll just blow the deposit and wait for small claims court. Instead, you must insult, reflect, lie, order, and compliment them.


Decorno: Listen, Shitdick! You'll never complete the work on your own home. You're a contractor. It's a fact. When those cabinets arrive, you WILL be here and you'll install them because you're good at what you do. I won't waste time telling people you're a miserable sack of FUCK, because you're not a sack of fuck; You're a good carpenter.

Keep this up and don't shake when you say it. Drill it into his head that he's going to show up and he's going to get the work done if it kills him.

Do this in person. Being nagged in person is the most painful experience there is.

A-M said...

Contractors - currently keeping me awake at night. Oh so I am not alone! I don't know HOW they get away with their attitude. THE CONTEMPT! A-M xx

The Bean said...

Dealing with contractors like that (and homeowners who can't possibly fathom how someone like that contractor can have a business, thus assuming it must really be your fault) are the reason I left the interior design business. I'd had enough of being the middleman of misery between two shores of insanity.

Silver Fox said...

I am crazy about The Bean's comment......"the middleman of misery between two shores of insanity."

What a useful and all-purpose phrase. It would come in handy in so many situations. I am filing under "pithy comments"


Rachel said...

Your contractor sounds like a character - LOL!! Yeah, I've run across his type before - you have to make sure everything's in place and confirmed, etc. etc. God forbid if it's a day late. Meanwhile, don't expect him to do what he says in the amount of time he says he'll do it in - cuz, you know, something "unforseen" will come up! ;-)

It's hilarious living in Texas, b/c we have a lot of contractors/carpet guys/tradesmen that are like that. Can't tell you how many times I've been called "Darlin'". Ugh.

Good luck with the cabinets and the kitchen!

Oh, and LOL about Anon's comment and suggested "insult, reflect, lie, order, and compliment"... that is hilarious. And props to you if you can actually carry it off.

Anonymous said...

First: I agree with Anon 9:07 - if you have any hesitations at all with your contractor, now's the time to act. I let our contractor get away with stuff just to keep the project moving and now when I look at the mistakes he made that I didn't force him to correct, I get really mad - at myself! So remember to speak up for yourself, speak up for your home, and speak up for the cash you are doling out to him!
Second: have you gone to the Olympyus Spa in Lynnwood? Granted, it's a bit of a hike, but it's an all-female spa and it ROCKS! They have everything - the plunge pools, the steam & sauna, along with your typical massages, manis & pedis. I usually get the full body scrub & moisturizer - after you soak for an hour or two, your clinician comes to get you and spends the next two hours scrubbing and buffing you until you are as fresh & clean as the day is new. Then, when you think it can't get any better, they do the moisturizer. It's pretty awesome. It's not for the faint of heart though - you are nekked on what is probably the type of table used for autopsies (waterproof and whatnot) while a woman who doesn't speak much English is wielding a loofah and is intent on making your butt baby-smooth. It's awesome, but it takes some guts the first time ;-).

Anonymous said...

as far as contractors go, i'm pretty sure i have stories that would blow anyone else's experiences out of the water. you haven't really had the full contractor experience until he fakes having cancer on you. oh. yes. he. did. btw- we are currently 5 months over schedule. i guess fake cancer is time consuming. after our feb 1 final deadline i hope i never see his ass again.

Ivy Lane said...

I work with builders..and yes, contractors these days are all speaking the same language! As for Banya are crackin' me up!

Too funny!

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure I have the shitty contractor award on permanent lock-down. Two, count them...two, un-related sub-contractors took a crap in our basement, on the floor. We have two working bathrooms at their complete "disposal". After the first guy dropped a deuce on the floor, I started adding questions your people understand about indoor plumbing and such, are they vindictive people, to the interview process.

Jules said...

This is exactly why I handled my own kitchen remodel. Not one of the contractors I interviewed seemed competent, and the one I settled on never showed up.

Amy said...

Hi Decorno, LOVE your blog. Your sketchy contractor is going to be a pain in your a@# if he is already acting this way. We have had a really bad one (6 week project took 9 months) but also had an AMAZING contractor this past year. And I mean AMAZING. I would email him at 9:00 p.m. and have a response by 7:30 a.m. the next morning etc. They would show up all day every day and give me an itemized accounting of all their hours at the end of each month. BEAUTIFUL craftsmanship and came in on budget and then gave US a gift certificate to a great restaurant at the end of the job. Did I mention that I am SUPER picky? Total rockstars.

We live near University Village if you wanted to see the job or if you want his name/number I can pass it along. Good Luck!!

Anonymous said...


What a great gig!

Why did I waste my prime years in college and then graduate school?

When I grow up, I want to be a contractor.

Can't be out-sourced. Flexible schedule, etc.

Why aren't more of us doing this?

S. said...

I want that yellow hat.

the quarter rat said...

anon 3:49-
the contractors on several of the projects I manage have cancer and will be on chemo until after Mardi Gras. Then they'll work for a couple of months then have a relapse in time for Jazzfest.

Anonymous said...

If I were him, I'd ask. One last week in your vacation house, cut short to rush back for nothing? I think it's okay he asked, just in case you had received some sort of news re: cabinet delivery. If you can confirm, then of course he should be there.

Lolo said...

That contractor deserves a trip to Banya 5, sans prep.

Hallie and Joe said...

I love the Russian/Polish baths. They have em all over NY. most have a certain element of skankiness and there are always lots and lots of dudes, except on women's only times which are way better.
Those felt sauna hats are hilarious though - they make all the Russian men look like sunburned, chubby fairies, and that's not a euphemism.

Anonymous said...

The problem was, he inserted all those references to HIS life, HIS preferences, as if this were an agreement between friends.

All he had to say is: "Can you confirm the cabinets will be there on the 28th?" That's professional. Making the customer feel like she's ruining his fishing trip? Not professional.

It's disrespectful to say: "I'd rather work on my own place." It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Anonymous said...

So at the risk of alienating every contractor and sub out there....I'm just gonna say it, dude do you have any brain cells in there???? I haven't met one reliable person associated with the building industry yet. One house from scratch and one remodel, scores of guys named Bill, John and Scott later and I have tile work that looks like my 11 year old did it (actually he would have done it better!), millwork that has multiple finishes (gloss on the banister going up the stairs, matte on the banister at the top), crooked sinks, off center lighting and carpet that is joined together and the knapp doesn't match. Not to mention drywall, that if you look at it during different times of the day, looks like a wave. A gas fireplace that has gail force winds coming from the vents when it isn't in use. Scott never comes at the time he promises. Bill doesn't even show!!! WTF!!!! Yah dude, I took the fucking day off!!! Sorry decorno, I think you are being given a BIG red light here. If this guy is looking for a way out and he hasn't even started yet, he's gonna make your life miserable. Get your money back and call Amy. Cut your losses and RUN NOW!!!!!

Alice said...

Ha...oh, Anon 3:49, I am incorporating your contractor interview questions into my dates from now on. "Do you understand about indoor plumbing? Are you vindictive?"

Thanking god I rent right now. Heehee.

Anonymous said...

We had a contractor who was FAMILY, and still wouldn't finish the job. Eventually he finally told us, "This is just the way it is...".

If I treated my clients that way, I would be out of work in a week. When do I get to be the client whom everyone wants to please?

Penelope Bianchi said...

Hi there!

Could "anonymous"s have a number or something?

I am a new blogosphere member...and I get confused!

I think you all will perhaps enjoy my solution to the contractor dilemma......after 39 years being a decorator!

Contractors have been essential to me in all of my business!!

remodeling......and building........all projects.........

Here are my rules.....and I hope they help!

1) to their customers.....they will tell you the truth if you ask the right questions!

2)ask really hard questions! (do you really care about the dormant wisteria vine over there boxed up in the corner? How much do you care? Would you stake your life; or your children's life on its safety? (I had this experience)

3)Call every single person they have worked for for 5 years. I know it sounds like a drag. Do it. You will be so glad you did........Maybe start backwards......the oldest job first.......and go that way! You cannot even imagine some of the stories! This is homework you need to do!

4) Do they have fans? Promotors......(not on the payroll) can tell!!!!!!!!!!

I have been in the ads for my fabulous contractors..........They hung the moon! They perfected the art of the "crooked roof"! the "ancient limewash".......all of it! I requested really strange and exotic things......

every single one our contractor found the right person to do!

You have to be REALLY PICKY!!!! and never, ever, go for the low bid A great contractor will show you where to borrow.......from Peter..........something not so pay PAUL!! (something very important!

We had the best contractor in the world!

right here in Santa Barbara!


ps with a remodel...I tell my not let one single thing happen until all......and I mean all.......tile , appliances......all things are on site!

No "we can order that is in stock"

because it won't be!

Every single screw and knob..on site....done......then start construction!

They will argue with you until the cows come home....and you will have NO DELAYS!!

They borrow from pay Paul!

Just say.......I'm Paul.....and I want every single screw.....hinge, tile appliance.....all of my garage before you even step into the space!

I hope you all read this and take it to heart.

You will avoid delays, frustrations......and heartbreak!


I hope this helps readers know how to hire contractors!

I can be the greatest experience of your life! And you will live in the Paradise of your new house...........(I am afraid that describes me and my husband) we pinch ourselves every day....... join the nightmare from who will spend their entire lives suffering and trying to get their contractors to fix stuff.........

that is not a happy ending.

Hope this helps!


Penelope Bianchi said...

Oh gosh I forgot to ask........(we have a lot of oak trees here in Montecito!) An oak leaf is 1" max by 1/2 inch max..

so how does one get beaten by an Oak leaf?

forgive me.....I am from Pasadena......and we don't even understand "beating"!

Penelope said...

contractors are such wankers.

if i told my boss that i didn't know if i would turn up, wasn't sure if that stuff i needed to do my job was around or not and that i may turn up tomorrow sometime between 9 and 1pm - i'd get the arse.

pitaprice said...

Is that a picture of your contractor in the yellow hat????

Anonymous said...

I think Kristen Wiig's next character should be Penelope Bianchi.

Your House and Life said...

You brought me right back to my summer of fun with our contractor. Would call me up while I was shacking up at my mothers/rental/friend's house with a two year old to yell at me about my responsiblities. Huh?? Oh, and that I was nickle and diming him to death. Hmmm. Be glad its only the kitchen at this point. Really, really glad.

Anonymous said...

I want to watch SNL with anon @ 5:55.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the 1" "oak leaf."

That is probably a "live oak leaf." From a scrub, semi-desert "tree" called "live oak."

That is *very* different from a traditional, if I may dare say it, "real" Oak Tree which has leave several inches long. They can be huge!

Anonymous said...

Jill said...

I keep coming back to this that dude really your contractor?! He's a bit scary and sounds like a prick too.

Anonymous said...

The punctuation is a problem. You can accomplish everything -- yes, everything -- with a dash, or some commas, or just shorter sentences. But 50 periods between subordinate clauses is unclear.
-Anonymous as not to hurt feelings

Wheelchair said...

Hey, very nice site. I came across this on Google, and I am stoked that I did. I will definitely be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just taking in as much info as I can at the moment. Thanks for sharing.
Portable Wheelchair

Keep Posting:)

Professional Blog Designs by pipdig