Kristi's Studio

Studio Back Entry Progress (And Why I Yelled At A Contractor)

Well, y’all, I’ve been struggling with motivation lately, and I have no idea why. I think I had one good day the other day (that I’m pretty sure I mentioned in my last post) where I really felt motivated and got things done, but the next morning, my motivation had completely fizzled.

I honestly don’t know why I’m having such a hard time. In all of my time blogging and working on projects, I’ve certainly gone through periods of time where I just needed a break. But this feels like something else. I feel like I’m at the point now that if I had the money to just hire out every single thing, I’d probably do it.

I’d also probably be really disappointed in myself in hindsight, though. I didn’t want to buy a fixer upper so that I could hire out everything. I wanted to buy a fixer upper to challenge myself and see what I could do with it. So I’m hoping my motivation will return soon, because forcing myself to work on things that I feel completely unmotivated to do is torture.

But that’s exactly what I did yesterday. I forced myself, and I made some really good progress on the back entry of the studio. Perhaps if I can get that one small area completely finished, that will bring back my motivation. Hopefully.

Anyway, here’s how it looks as of this morning…

The cased opening and all of the doors are trimmed out, and I got most of the baseboards and half of the base cap installed. I just need to finish installing the rest of the baseboards, base cap, and all of the shoe molding, then I’ll start on the wood filling, sanding, caulking and painting.

It’s getting there! And realistically, if I can stay focused and not get distracted, this area could be done this weekend. But that’s a big IF.

Anyway, speaking of hiring things out, over the last week, I have had two dealings with probably the worst contractor I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting. I mean, it culminated in me getting so angry at him that I yelled at him yesterday morning.

Now let me be clear. When I get angry, I’m a yeller. BUT, I never, ever yell at the person who angers me. I always stuff my frustration and anger until I get home, and then I unload on Matt and he gets to hear me yell. 😀 And don’t worry. After almost 17 years of marriage, Matt can handle me. He generally just listens until I’m finished, and then laughs at me and/or makes fun of me somehow, which softens my mood and makes me laugh, and we go on with our lives.

But this is a very rare case where I actually yelled at the person who angered me. Y’all, I was fuming.

So just to clarify, this has nothing to do with my contractor. My contractor is fantastic. If you’re in the Waco area and need a contractor, just email me. Seriously.

And y’all, if you find a good contractor who is knowledgeable, stays on top of things, is honest, etc., you hold onto him (or her!) with a death grip. Those contractors are rare, and worth their weight in gold.

In fact, you might need to dig up some dirt on him (or her!) that you can threaten to release to the public in the event that he (or she!) begins talking nonsense about retiring.


Okay, well, maybe not that last part. But the “death grip” part…yes. And the “worth their weight in gold” part…yes.

Anyway, in my friend’s house, she had a wall completely separating her kitchen/dining room area from her living room. So she wanted an opening cut in one end of the wall to open the kitchen/dining area to the living room. And then she wanted part of the remaining wall cut down into a half wall with a countertop placed on top to use as a bar with some lights installed above the bar.

Not too hard, right? I mean, even if it’s a load-bearing wall (which it was), any contractor should know how to do this. Heck, I know how to do it!

But she contacted me one day last week absolutely frustrated because she knows nothing about building, and she said at every turn, he was adding extra charges on top of his original quote, and she didn’t know if these charges were valid, or if she was being taken advantage of. So I headed over there to see what was going on.

First, she had told the contractor that she wanted the half wall with the countertop to be “a bar.” She wanted to use some cute bar stools and have seating for four people (two on each side). Well, they had cut the wall down to countertop height without confirming with her if she wanted bar height or countertop height.

She made it known that it was too short and not what she had in mind, so they extended the height to make it bar height by adding some flimsy framing. But the wall was so unstable that it wobbled back and forth with the slightest pressure (and probably even with a stiff breeze).

In the meantime, the granite guy came to measure for granite, and the contractor wasn’t there to meet him. So he basically leaves it to my friend, the homeowner, to deal with the granite guy, answer the questions, give the information, etc. But again, she knows nothing about building, and this is precisely why she hired a contractor in the first place!

The granite guy came in, saw the flimsy wall, and said to my friend, “There’s no way this wall will hold granite. This needs to be built out of 2 x 6 or 2 x 8 lumber to be strong enough.”

Well, my friend, not really knowing what this means, relayed this information to the contractor and the guys working at her house, so they tore the half wall out and built it with 2 x 6 lumber.

And somewhere along the way, the contractor informed her that this will incur an upcharge of $200 — probably the second or third upcharge of the project so far.

So this is where I entered the picture. I walked into her house to see this half wall, built out of 2 x 6 lumber, butted up against the original wall that was framed with 2 x 4 lumber. So on each side of this half wall that will be turned into a bar, there was this weird jut out because, of course, 2 x 6’s are wider than 2 x 4’s.

And of course, the contractor isn’t there and hasn’t seen this ridiculous half wall.

So I started asking the guys working, “Why is this built out of 2 x 6’s? Can you not see this weird area that juts out on either side? That’s not going to look good at all when it’s finished! This should have been built out of 2 x 4’s just like the rest of the wall!”

They went on to tell me that they were just going what the homeowner wanted.

Well, no. The homeowner didn’t want a wall built out of 2 x 6’s. She was simply relaying information from the granite guy because the contractor evidently didn’t think it was important to be present (or to send a knowledgeable, trustworthy, reliable employee) when the granite guy came to take measurements.

So I asked them to call the contractor and tell him to come to the house. He got there pretty quickly, and I explained to him that this 2 x 6 half wall butted up against a 2 x 4 wall was unacceptable, and it needed to be redone.

His response? “Well, the granite guy said he needed it built with 2 x 6’s.”

I was like, “The granite guy? Why are you — the contractor — letting a granite guy tell you how to build a wall? You’re the contractor. You should know how to build a wall. You let the granite guy take care of GRANITE. And this needs to be redone without an upcharge, because you should have known how to do this in the first place! You don’t pass off upcharges to homeowners because you don’t know how to do your job!”

I mean, honestly, what’s next? Was he going to let the granite guy tell him how to install the tile? How to do the electrical work? No! Granite guys take care of granite.

So I literally had to walk these guys through how to build a half wall out of 2 x 4s in such a way that it wouldn’t wobble back and forth when you breathe on it, and so that it would be sturdy enough to hold granite.

He did agree to redo the wall with no upcharge, so that was good. And then I spent about two hours there, going over every single minute detail of how the finished bar would look — the granite measurements, how much it would extend on the sides and on the end, how the granite would be notched to wrap around the full wall, how far it would extend on the full wall, exactly where the corbels would be placed, and how everything would be trimmed out.

There was no detail left to question. I covered every single thing, wrote down the details, and left nothing out.

So by the time I left last week, the new 2 x 4 wall had already been rebuilt according to my instructions (for the most part. but not exactly). It was incredibly sturdy, and barely budged even when I tried to move it back and forth.

And I thought the project was back on track.

But then my friend called me again yesterday morning to say that she felt that some things still weren’t quite right, so I headed over there.

The half wall had been sheathed with paneling to match the rest of the walls, and had been primed. It was ready for paint and looked really good.

But the corbels. *Sigh* I had instructed them to use a total of six corbels and to screw them into place. After all, they had to hold granite, which is very heavy. Well, one of the corbels was visibly crooked. and every single corbel had been nailed on. As in, nailed on with a nail gun using 16-gauge (or maybe even 18-gauge) finishing nails. You could literally move them back and forth with your hand.

I mean, seriously?! Finishing nails to install corbels that are supposed to support a granite countertop?

So somehow the information was relayed to the contractor that this wasn’t sufficient, and he sent someone over with some screws. And while the guy was working on the first corbel, the granite guy showed up to deliver and install the granite countertop.

So once again, a major part of this job was being done, and the contractor was nowhere on site.

And not only that, but the granite was cut to the wrong size. And the granite guy was confused, and he was asking the homeowner questions, and she had no idea how to solve this problem or where to go from there. And she shouldn’t have even had to deal with it because…


Y’all, I was furious. After all of the details we had gone over in excruciating detail, how in the world did we end up with granite that was cut the wrong size? So I started saying (and no, I wasn’t using my inside voice), “WHERE IS JOSE? WHY IS HE NOT HERE? This granite is cut the wrong size, and he needs to be here!!”

So they called the contractor, and he showed up pretty quickly. I had stepped out when he arrived, so I walked in, said hello, made a little joke to try to ease any tension, and he says to me, “First of all, you won’t yell at my guys. AND you won’t yell at me either.”

For the record, I hadn’t intended to yell at him. But oh my gosh, that just made me angrier.

I told him that I wouldn’t be angry if he would be present and stop making the homeowner deal with the problems he should be taking care of, and he said, “You realize I have other customers, right? I can’t be here all the time. And I don’t work for you.”

Y’all!! I was like a volcano about to erupt.

No, he didn’t work for me, but he works for my friend who felt the need to call me in for reinforcement because he’s doing a crappy job and upcharging her at every turn.

So I said, “Ummm, yes, Jose, I WILL yell at you, and let me tell you why!”

And then I proceeded to tell him how he should be doing his job while his guys stood around watching and listening in stunned silence.

I told him…

  • YOU are the contractor. You do NOT leave major construction decisions to the homeowner when she knows nothing about construction. That’s why she hired a contractor in the first place!
  • You do NOT make the homeowner deal with subcontractors and deal with issues that come up.
  • You do NOT make the homeowner relay information from subcontractors to you when YOU should be the one dealing with them, and you DO NOT rely on this second hand information to make major decisions about the job.
  • You do NOT let subcontractors tell you how to do things when they’re talking about parts of the project that are outside the scope of their expertise.
  • You do NOT let someone tell you how to do the basics of your job when you should know how to do these things in the first place. And you certainly DO NOT pass on the cost of your incompetence to the homeowner.
  • You SHOW UP when people like granite guys are scheduled to come and when major decisions are being made.
  • You SHOW UP when major deliveries are being made so that YOU can deal with any problems that arise.
  • YOU are the contractor. This is literally the whole point of YOUR job. This is what homeowners PAY you for.

Y’all, I went off. I don’t think this guy knew what hit him.

So he said he would send the granite guy back to cut another piece. Fine. But then he and the granite guy and two or three more of his workers stood over there talking, measuring, planning, scheming, etc. for about another 30-45 minutes.

They came up with a way to make the original piece of granite work. It was an okay plan, but solving that problem created a new one, because the lights above the bar were no longer centered and had to be moved.

He said he would move them, and mentioned nothing about an upcharge. And that’s where I left things yesterday.

And my friend was stressed beyond belief. This project was supposed to be done by now because she’s leaving on vacation today. And yet, they still had to trim the wall around the bar, paint the walls, move the lights, patch the ceiling, mud the drywall on the ceiling, prime and paint the ceiling. I just don’t see any possible way they could get it done on time.

Anyway, all that to say that I’ll stick with DIY as much as I can, and rely on my amazing contractor for the rest. I’ve never been so thankful in my life to have found a good contractor. Bad contractors can make your life stressful and hellish, and if they don’t care about the quality of their work, they’ll leave you with areas in your home that look like a bad DIY project gone wrong anyway.

So I’m going to start digging up dirt on my contractor that I can use if he ever threatens to retire.

I’M JOKING, of course! 😀 (Or am I? Muahahahaha.) 😀

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 11:15 am

    Oh my God! I was mad right along with you reading this! You were correct on all points! And there should be online reviews about this guy AFTER the job is completed! The public wants to know!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      July 17, 2019 at 1:44 pm

      I’m with you Jayme…..! What a dunderhead….! He probably thought that she’s “just a woman” and would know the difference….! He’s not even my Contractor and I’d like to leave a review!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Oh Kristi, I think your lack of motivation is only natural. You have been working on your house for years now. Consider all you’ve been through to get where you are, plus all that’s left to do. It’s beyond overwhelming for the average person. At some point it had to affect you. You have done so well so far. Do what you feel you need to do recuperate. Take a break; step back; go on vacation; whatever you need. We’ll be here waiting. I have to say that I love, love, love, the back entry! I just love that green with the white and the chevron, all of it. 🙂
    I got all angry along with you! I got all worked up! Ha, ha, ha!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Patti Buser
      July 18, 2019 at 8:54 am

      I too am feeling that total lack of motivation! I have 2 rooms 90% wallpapered yet I cannot move to finish! I sit here looking at the walls and listening to my brain say “Get going” yet nothing happens…hahaaa! My body is a rebel!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Nicki J
    July 17, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    OH MY GOD!!!! I’m so glad you yelled at him because you better believe I was yelling at my computer, lol. That whole situation is INFURIATING!!! I’m so glad your friend has you to stand up for her.

    Also, I was thinking about what you said about your lack of motivation…I know you’ve said before that you’ve noticed that you feel a lack of motivation when you’re not fully on board with a design decision you’ve made…could that be happening?

    We’re all pulling for you 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    Good for standing up for your friend. And telling this guy off. I wonder if he is even licensed…or do they have to be in Texas?

    I want to tell him off.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    dian Iron Feather
    July 17, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Well I, for one, am upset. You are showing us your back entry. That means your clients will come into the studio from outside, and be facing your wall with the beautiful wallpaper. I love that wallpaper, I do. BUT, that entrance, the black and the white and the green..OMG. It is so striking that, if they were my clients, when they came in I would be tempted to say “Please turn around and look at that gorgeous entry.” Honestly, you haven’t even finished it and it’s fantastic. I find myself revisiting the articles, over and over, that show your stenciled “rug”. Just stand for a few moments, Kristi, and look at what you’ve created so far. It would certainly motivate me.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Becky Johnson
      July 17, 2019 at 12:49 pm

      She has the side entry door for clients to come and go from.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        dian Iron Feather
        July 17, 2019 at 1:46 pm

        Oh, so cool! Thank you. I just love that entry. For them to see that as they are entering would be fab. LOL! Kristi never ceases to amaze me.d

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Colleen F
      July 17, 2019 at 2:12 pm

      They don’t have to be licensed in Texas. That’s part of the problem.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        July 18, 2019 at 10:49 am

        They are licensed where I live and even then, some of them are useless, and so over schedule themselves that it takes away from their competency. Plus, they are only as good as their sub-contractors, which can be a another entire layer of issues. We had some work done after an earthquake via our HOA. The HOA employed the contractor. I will comment here that my husband was on the BOARD of the HOA and the contractor knew that. I was very cooperative in that was summer and I took my kids out of the house for the whole day every day to allow them to work. I left soft drinks in the refrigerator and snacks (chips/cookies) for the workers. I waited every day until the contractor got there in case there were questions (this was before cell phones), and was told by the contractor when he would be there, which meant keeping my kids occupied outside. He was NEVER there on time, and I called him on it every time. When I complained to my husband, he said I wasn’t being “nice enough” to the contractor. Of course, this lit me up and turned me around. I asked my husband to meet with the contractor to set him straight, since I simply could not work with him the way things were. He contacted the contractor, asking for a 5PM meeting. Nope, the guy could ONLY meet at 3PM. Annoyed, my husband came home from work early for that meeting and waited until 6PM for the contractor to show up. Perfect example of what I had been dealing with. Livid, but under control, my husband’s first comment to the contractor was to note the time versus the scheduled time and to calmly ask, “What makes you think that your time is more valuable than mine?” Things got a little better, but not much, after that and when we took a week long vacation so they could finish up without us (and were assured it would be done in the time frame), we arrived home to find the kitchen still incomplete and tools and dangerous things all over the house. Just great to worry about the safety of my 3 year old after a long travel day (my other was old enough to stay out of trouble). So, no, a license does not mean a good job. Every time someone asks for a recommendation, I say NOT to use this guy. I know a LOT of people, and I told him so. I will say, too, that if you don’t seem to get good service BEFORE you hire, it won’t get better from there. I was right there, mentally clapping and hooting as Kristi let him have it! GO KRISTI! (And thank you for being such a good friend!)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    So after reading all of this, I’m a bit befuddled as to why YOU are not a contractor. It seems like you have the makings of one–you know your stuff, you’re not afraid to do what it takes to make sure a homeowner is satisfied, you can identify the problem AND come up with a solution that works to resolve it. Personally, I think a lot of homeowners (especially women) would love to have you as their contractor.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      July 17, 2019 at 5:02 pm

      Mostly at this point because she has a seriously disabled hubby at home who needs her to be there for him, which is why she began to work at home. She doesn’t have the freedom to be overseeing projects in other places where she would have to be no matter what is going on at home.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    We are subcontractors. We only work with certain contractors in our area because of the reasons you stated.
    He needed to hear what you said, unfortunately, his next client won’t be lucky enough to have you as a friend 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    No, he probably didn’t know what hit him. (Ha.Ha.) To encounter a woman who knows about construction was the last thing he expected. He deserved to be told off. By the way, the subcontractor who cut the quartz for my cabinet cut it too short. They wanted to make it work, but I refused. I got my way.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Theresa P
    July 17, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    Aw! You’re an awesome friend! I’m so glad that you were able to help her. You shouldn’t have had to help her, but I’m glad that you could. I’m glad that you told that guy off, too.

    Re: motivation. Maybe you need to just schedule in a summer vacation similar to how you take a break over the holidays. I’ve been following you for a while and I seem to remember you hitting similar lulls in other years.

    We’re all rooting for you, so do whatever you need to to keep going!

    That back entry looks amazing!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    I hate working with contractors!! My dad was a contractor & he was THERE for his customers! Not to mention how much I depended on him. I want someone I can depend on for my little projects…that sometimes morph into big projects!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    I have found fantastic contractors to work with on two houses. They were very collaborative, available and present. If you don’t have that, the project(s) will be miserable. And I know a little about construction, but not a ton. With regards to your burnout: since I have been following you for around 6 years, I’ve noticed that when you aren’t thrilled about the way some design or colors are working out, but have not figured out the issues (or admitted it yet), you lose motivation. Step away and be ready to rethink.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Kristi please take a break. As Nicky J said, go on vacation, try to relax…away from the house…it’ll still be there when you return. And maybe on vacation something will spark your interest and before you know it, your ready to go! What does Matt and your brother say? God bless

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      July 18, 2019 at 11:30 am

      totally agree. GET AWAY from it, if only for a few days. Everyone needs a breather. And reading the contractor rant (he totally deserved it. I agree he was probably thinking, woman- what does she know? Now he knows) if you get tired of working on your house, you should do contracting. Homeowners want the contractor to be as invested as they are, and you’ve demonstrated you have a passion for this.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    You’re an awesome friend to your neighbor. Thanks for using your knowledge and experience to call out this worthless contractor. The reason I got into doing home improvement jobs myself is because of incompetent contractors like him. I’ve loved your blog since the condo years, but now I love it even more since you used your girl power to help others.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    That’s a good thing your friend had someone she could call on to help her out! I would be lost in that situation!

    I hear you on the lack of motivation. I wonder if it’s because you’re installing the same trim that you’ve installed every where else in the house (which is obviously required for consistency)? It’s just a run of the mill thing for you now, not a new project to get excited over! Once you’re over the mundane house projects, you can get back to fun ones and use your creativity! You’re almost there!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Olivia S.
    July 17, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Wow! My friend’s husband is the most knowledgeable person I know regarding electrical, plumbing, brick work, etc. He went to some school in Europe and had a formal education and did his apprenticeship. I have never had him do brick work but his designs are amazing. So I absolutely trust this man to do stuff I can’t do. I will save up money to hire him to do odd jobs for me. He has also his completed his journeyman license. Anyway, my friend is divorcing her husband and I emailed her to see if she would have any problems with me still using him to continue to work on jobs in my house. She is fine with it. If she had said she wasn’t I don’t know if I was willing to lose a friendship to have him work on my house. 😊 YouTube and Kristi have helped me complete a lot of things around the house, but I am short and not as young as I once was and don’t have all the upper body strength and sometimes need help. Geez, where was YouTube when I was in my 20s?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Colette J.
    July 17, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    Your friend is very lucky to have you! So many people get ripped off by contractors (and sub contractors) who do a sub-standard job because they just don’t know enough about construction to know how things should be done correctly. My husband and I do as much as we possibly can ourselves because we’ve been bitten before.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    I need a few minutes to get my blood pressure down…that just pisses me off!

    “Bad contractors can make your life stressful and hellish, and if they don’t care about the quality of their work, they’ll leave you with areas that look like a bad DIY project anyway.” This has been my fear and my reality, and is the reason I am so often stuck in limbo because finding the time to do major DIY seems to be almost as hard for me as finding a reliable contractor 🙁


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Carla from Kansas
    July 17, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    You need a challenge and this same old, same old is not a challenge. Hire someone for the grunt work and move on. Just my opinion.😁

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Girl, I hear you. .We remodeled last year and got the worst contractor in the world.. He was horrible and on top of that, he was never there and sent his 23 year son who had just graduated from college with a degree from God knows what and was our subcontractor. We fired them a week before they should have finished.. they left us with half work and it looks horrible.. Now our money is exhausted to fix it.. so I feel ya on this one..

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    Lord have mercy, thank goodness you are there to help your friend, but stories like that are exactly why I don’t want to buy a house that needs work. Which is terrible because I hate modern built houses, they have no soul, no character, I love old houses I am just terrified of updating them.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Vicky Henson
    July 17, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    I am livid just reading this. You GO girl! Your friend is so lucky to have you. I think taking a break just enjoying Matt and everything you’ve already accomplished as well as doing something creative that you love will fix you right up! You got this!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Brenda Pawloski
    July 17, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Kristi this reminds me of the time you taught some carpenters how to properly flash Hardie Plank joints. They had no idea and were going to leave empty joints for you to caulk and recaulk over the years. These guys don’t keep up! They obviously don’t get continuing education! It’s so sad because they are in our homes to create Beauty and Order and they don’t seem to have a sense of it at all. You would be such a good contractor!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Contractors are worth their weight in gold! You’ve got to do a ton of research on them to make sure you know what they’re capable of, otherwise you can end up with a mess. I’m sorry to your friend!
    It can be a lot of work to research someone. This is why my husband insists on doing everything himself. He gets tired of the oil guy stripping the lid to our oil pan or not putting the lid on and oil spilling all over the engine. No way will he let someone near our house.
    I’ll share a story for the sake of maybe saving one of your readers a nightmare. My cousin is from a small town and hired a contractor to help build her dream home. He was well-known and had been in business for a long time. It was a nightmare from the beginning. He would start doing things to the home before they had even fully finalize the plan. For example, one day she went to check in and they were installing tile she had never seen before. She had mentioned she wanted a gray tile but they have never even gone over different options and made a choice. The worst was when he insisted that she purchased her cabinets from a local cabinet maker. That would’ve been fine, but the cabinet maker did not have the cabinets that she liked. Not only that, but they cost $20,000 more than the cabinets that she wanted to get from a cabinet maker that was 80 miles away. Her contractor basically told her “if you don’t buy local, everyone in town will find out about it. They won’t support your local business if you don’t support them.“ She owns a little hamburger and shake restaurant in town. He basically threatened to ruin her business if she didn’t get the unwanted, expensive cabinets. He threatened to sue if she broke the contract. He became so nasty and vile she just thought if they did it his way it could get done and the nightmare would end without legal drama and all the gossip that could’ve come of it.
    Now her home is about five years old and it’s a mess. The foundation wasn’t done properly and there are cracks in the walls everywhere. Cupboards and cabinets have gaps in them and her doors don’t close properly. The tile is coming up in some areas and there’s leaks.
    So as you said, a good contractor is worth their weight in gold!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    janice J dinse
    July 17, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    Oh My! Guess she should have hired your contractor.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Marianne in Mo.
    July 17, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    You had a valid reason for yelling at that guy, and had I been you, I would have done the same. HOWEVER, (and don’t get mad at me!) I can also see why he was not happy to be yelled at by someone he does not work for. If anyone should have done the reprimanding, it should have come from your friend, but being that she didn’t know what you knew, it was good that you were there for her. I hope if she has to have work done in the future, she will call you for it, or ask you for your contractors’ info! Our last builder was kind of like this guy too, but only after (I think) he got tired of hearing from us almost daily! The last month of our house build, we never saw him. He sent his wife/office manager for the granite install and final walk thru. Of course we would never recommend him, even though we are overall happy with his work. There were little things he screwed up but nothing we can’t live with. And a full two years later when we had a tiny roof leak, he sent someone over within an hour to find a shingle had flipped up in winds. I hope you get your mojo back soon! I would tell you to work on the porch, but it’s way too hot for that now! Take a staycation for a few days!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      July 17, 2019 at 2:32 pm

      I have to respectfully disagree with you. If I am a customer who has called in a knowledgeable advocate as backup because I don’t know anything, that person is representing me, they are my agent. It would be different if a stranger from the sidewalk was yelling at him without my license, but that isn’t what happened here. The customer should not be silenced or ignored simply because they have neither the knowledge nor the personality to handle this kind of conflict, and don’t happen to be married to a person who does. I am sure you would not have said this if her husband had done the yelling, because we naturally accept that husband and wife count as one entity. In this instance, Kristi was representing the customer. She wasn’t just there for tea and butted into a conversation she wasn’t invited to. If Kristi had gone further than her friend liked on the first instance, she surely would not have called her back for the second.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Good for you!! I’m generally very even tempered and, if necessary, an after-the-fact yeller, like you. I think the tipping point for people like us is seeing a friend, family member or other innocent person get treated badly. In fact, I have half a mind to go yell at that contractor myself, lol!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Let me first say I think everything you said and the manner in which you said it to your friends contractor was just what was needed…she is very blessed to have such a friend. and for the motivational problem…I can understand after all the construction you have done in these last years. And this is only a suggestion….but are you going through menopause 🙂 🙂 Not really asking just being funny!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    First, I love the hallway/entrance. Second, don’t take this the wrong way, but I think you need to see your primary care physician. With the ups and downs, lack of motivation, etc…….you may have a hormonal imbalance or have some depression issues going on. Seriously, I have noticed a change in the last year with your posts. You used to be so excited to share everything with us and you were a fast worker. PS – the anger was warranted with the contractor.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      July 17, 2019 at 11:24 pm


    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Rebecca Neustel
      July 17, 2019 at 11:43 pm

      I agree. It never hurts to have a checkup when you have physical changes from your baseline normal, and may very well help.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Colleen F
    July 17, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    Oh my. I have a Facebook friend who has been through contractor Hell recently. Maybe you should be a contractor? I know, you don’t want to be one and you are busy with your own stuff but I swear you would be leaps and bounds better than most of them out there.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    Two things, one about you and one about me.

    1-you need to read the book “How to Be An Imperfectionist”. It isn’t about how to do sloppy work, it’s about how to stop being overwhelmed or unmotivated. It’s been lifechanging for certain points of my life.

    2-this contractor mess is why I don’t have anything done. I KNOW it’ll end up like the above scenario, and whatever I get will be less well-done than I would do it myself even though I’m an accountant not a tradesman, and I’ll just end up having to “fix” it, so I don’t hire it out BUT see point 1, I’m easily overwhelmed. I’m in a no-win situation. Ask your Waco contractor if he travels.

    But for your motivation dilemma, what is the SMALLEST thing you could do today on your project. Think of it in your mind. No, even smaller than that. Think of the tiniest piece of your project you could work on, not even finish, just work on. Just go do that thing.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    Kristi, You just have the DIY blues. Don’t fret! Everyone gets them. We lived in a 100+ year old hotel that we were restoring. It was totally a labor of love. Everything excited me, but after four years I hit a slump. Living in it day-to-day can sneak up on you. Take a total break. Spend a week doing nothing to do with your house. Take a mini-break with Matt. Go look at some model homes or open houses. Take a day and visit a museum. Anything! Trust me, you will come back all jazzed up and ready to tackle the world. Who knows, you may find inspiration in some odd places. You are doing an amazing job. The “feels” will come back.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    Why didn’t she just use your contractor?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Kristi I think you need a break and need to take a step back a bit. When you’ve felt this lack of motivation in the past it’s always been because you weren’t happy with how something was going. Step back and see if something isn’t sitting right.

    The next thing I’d suggest is to maybe work on some other things than the studio for a while. You have several items from each “finished” room that are still sitting there undone. Although you’ve crossed those rooms off your list it’s been with asterisks since they aren’t complete. Living in an undone space like that for so long gets very very tiring. Perhaps finishing all of those small details will bring back your motivation?

    Of course maybe you just need a good old fashioned vacation too!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    That is so sad and frustrating what your friend went through for a relatively simple project! My husband is a contractor and I can’t tell you the number of times that he gets called to “fix” a bad job or because another contractor starts ghosting the client. Lots of times you get what you pay for- don’t just go for the cheapest quote! Sometimes certain contractors will give you an incredible quote just to nickel and dime you to death with “upcharges.” You’ll end up spending much more in time, money and frustration! I hope all ends well with your friend!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    That is why I build everything myself, and if I don’t know how to do it I watch a youtube video on it. I avoid contractors at all costs now because for every ONE good guy, I’ve had 6 that sucked so bad and wasted so much of my money I was ready to KILL. It is true, that if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself!!
    I’ve even considered building a new house completely on my own without anyone’s input, but I know that would be a nightmare too for other reasons.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    I am currently working with a fantastic licensed semi retired contractor her in SoCal. We specifically went with him after seeing how he worked on our neighbors remodel. Is he the cheapest? Not by a long shot, but he knows his stuff and his pride of work shows in the work done so far.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 6:38 pm


    Sounds like a real vacation rather than a staycation might be needed. You are “on” all the time whether you are working on your house, your blog, art, or assisting Matt plus taking care of the needs of living. When do you get a break?

    I recently cared for my grandson 24/7 for his first thirteen months of life. I don’t know what I would have done without my sister and her husband taking care of him in their home for a few days every six to eight weeks. It gave me the space to breathe and recharge, something we all need. Just because we love something or someone doesn’t mean we don’t need a break occasionally. I am so happy they stepped in to help, it allowed me to be fully present for my grandson and shower him with love.

    Just a break in routine and work can recharge our spirits. Try something fun that you have never done before. Go in a day trip to someplace new. Step out of your comfort zone. Focus on something completely different to give your brain time to expand and rejuvenate.

    I know you will figure it out. We all support you!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      July 18, 2019 at 11:39 am

      I totally agree with Diana, you are “on” 24/7 twelve months a year. If I have this figured right you have been going full blast on your house since the 1st of the year, after your one week staycation. Personally, I think you are really tired. You never mention Matt’s doctor appointments or all the personal care he needs on top of the house remodel. Which is as it should be, that’s personal, but people should realize you have a personal, demanding life as a caregiver, which factors into your overall stress load. A good checkup with your primary care physician might be in order, too. Just some thoughts about why you may be going thru a “down” spell. And of course we can’t forget the “poop volcano”, lol. That alone would have taken 5 years off of my life. Best wishes to you and Matt and know you have lots and lots of us rooting for you guys!!!😀

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Alta Craig
    July 17, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    Wow! what an experience with that contractor! So glad you could be there for your friend, and give that contractor a much-needed education as to just what his job really is! Maybe in future he’ll do a better job.
    The back entry foyer is looking fan-tas-tic! I’m not particularly fond of the green, black and white color scheme, but with the painted rug and some future colorful art on the walls, I bet it will look great. Keep up the good work!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    Girl, preach on!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Suzy K.
    July 17, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    You are an amazing friend, gifted contractor, and super creative interior designer! Love your decorating style and ability to tell someone how the “cow ate the cabbage.” You go girl!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    Sorry, I didn’t read all the comments. YOU NEED A VACATION, A REAL GO-AWAY-AND-RECHARGE VACATION. If you can get someone in to stay with Matt and the critters…even for four days…you will feel SO much better.
    I know you are Superwoman…but even he had to visit the Fortress of Solitude occasionally.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    Kristi – I’m so gladd you yelled at him! He needed to be put in his place and you were absolutely right.

    That said. I agree with Chilflipper. YOU NEED A VACATION. Seriously girl. I love your posts and have learned so much from you. I hope you continue doing this because of that. And because I’ve grown to like you and think of you as a friend after all these years (weird, I know). Anyway, please, I beg you, take a break and refresh & renew yourself. I need you 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Rachel Richardson
    July 17, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    When I read your post as someone who works in the mental health sector I hear perhaps some signs of burnout. I’m referring to your motivation and they way you expressed your anger that you wouldn’t normally do. If you google the signs you might find a correlation with what u are experiencing or maybe not. Either way I love your spunk with the contractor ! Take care.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 17, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    When designing kitchens we don’t actually use corbels to support the weight of the countertop. We use them for decorative purposes. Instead, brackets are used, like the ones from this company.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      July 17, 2019 at 10:44 pm

      The corbels were chosen by the contractor, not by me. 🙂 I would have chosen brackets myself, and I told him that brackets would have been more appropriate, but he didn’t seem like he cared. I had to choose my battles with him. I think the corbels are plenty strong (especially with the 2.5-inch screws) for such a small countertop. I would have put up a much bigger fight if I thought for a second that they wouldn’t hold the countertop. But it was only 24 inches wide, resting on top of a 4-inch-wide wall right in the center, so only 10 inches of overhang on each side. And I’m also aware that’s not the right amount of overhang for knee space, but that’s another thing he wasn’t willing to budge on. The man was just infuriating all around, and shouldn’t be working as a contractor.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sharon W
    July 17, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    Oh how I wish you lived in Atlanta. I had this happen to me about 4 years ago on an enormous home renovation. He lowballed me to get the job and then the up charges were killing me. We did end up suing him and got a little back. Where he swindled us was by doing a great job the first time and then ripping us off on the second. Anyway I wish I’d had you to step in and save us. 🤑

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Rebecca Neustel
    July 17, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    Why don’t you do something fun to finish up one of your rooms—like upholstering those two chairs you wanted for your music room—that’s if you actually enjoy upholstering furniture! 😂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 18, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    Ha ha ha ha! LOL! Love it! I would (obviously) be like your friend. Good for you for standing up for her. Too bad most of us would be clueless.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 19, 2019 at 5:05 am

    I think this contractor is more the rule than the exception. We have used 2 contractors so far on our fixer upper. Never again. We will be our own contractor from now on. We usually DIY everything, but our last job included raising the ceiling and some plumbing that we couldn’t do. It was really irritating that I had to go out and redo a lot of their work because it was subpar. So disappointing, that we finally asked them to just leave and we are finishing the last of what they were supposed to do.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Rebecca B
    July 20, 2019 at 7:52 am

    Thanks Kristi this was a good article. I will have to bookmark this one in case I have to deal with a contractor. I do think that this behavior is more common than not.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 20, 2019 at 11:32 am

    I won’t waste words about this very common kind of moron you describe – I’m just glad you were able to save your friend!

    About feeling unwilling to go on though, I do have some things to say. When I feel something strongly, but I’m not sure why, I try to break the situation down to its’ components. And I ask myself how I’d feel if only one or the other applied. In your case:
    1) If you were able to live in a finished home, would you want to be doing what you do for a living? Work on DIY from 8 to 4 for example (or whatever hours you like to work), in a place separate from your home, then go to a finished, cozy home and rest? Or in scenario format: Suppose a reality show comes and finishes everything in your house (PROPERLY); would you be willing to work on your fans’ houses (people who admire you and listen to you, no intra-personal fuss)?
    2) As a follow up to 1: If you could do the above, but you also have assistants who do the handy parts, and you get to plan and instruct (and again, they do things properly). How would that change your answer? How would that make you feel about working in your home if you had these people (and you are their boss, not the house owner that needs to make lemonade for them or something).
    3) Forgetting the house for a while, how would you feel if you switched your work to only blogging for a while, or something entirely different? Would you feel motivated to go to work every day? Suppose a company or something offered you a temporary home, pretty and suitable for you and Matt, and asked you to live there and work for them for six months – would you like that? Would you feel it as a break and jump at the opportunity, or would you feel you don’t want to go away from home (the comfort of one’s own place)?
    4a) Suppose you close the door on the studio and it no longer exists, you do no DIY at all, so you no longer need those spaces. And you have enough income by some source undefined – let’s say you win a lottery where they pay your living expenses for life, or for some time anyway. Would you feel happy to take some vacation and just live in your home? Or would you feel bad about all the things that are still old and in serious need of renovation?
    4b) How about asking the above, but after your contractor comes and the bedroom and bathroom are done, and you have no urgent needs or huge eyesores. Would you THEN feel happy to be a housewife IN THIS HOUSE for a while, if you had an income?
    You don’t need to share any answers with us of course (though it would be lovely if you did), but the point is to find which part of the whole situation is the one that is really getting to you. I hope this helps – it’s how I solve my issues, but not all people are, of course, the same!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 20, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    Well hey, nothing like a lack of motivation. Maybe an out of state vacation would be a nice mental break from all the DYI stresses. Could always travel to Oregon to see relatives and hang out at the beautiful coast a bit. PNW coast is always beautiful no matter the weather.
    Just a different suggestion.

    God bless your week.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Betsy Nickel
    July 21, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    We just finished a four year renovation of a 4 plex mom left us. I feel your lack of motivation! I found that if I just ignore that missing feeling and get on with the jobs that don’t require a lot of imagination and creativity it is ok not to be super motivated every day. You just show up and do the job. Motivation comes back and gets fun again if you give it time. And those jobs you do when you shine, well they are priceless. Oh yeah, not very often do I hire a contractor. I know I will have to fix stuff they manage to screw up but I need them for the permit work.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 11, 2019 at 7:27 am

    I fell into your blog thanks to recommendations of my follower. And damn I am hooked ! I love how you document your life and your work in progress. It is so inspiring. My dream is to renovate a house one day. So reading about what you are going through helps me a lot about what to expect.
    Cheers from Sweden !