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Remodeling for the holidays

If you really want your kitchen installed by Thanksgiving or Christmas, plan at least 4-6 months ahead.

My rule of thumb is if you haven’t  ordered the cabinets by  September, you’re already cutting it close for Thanksgiving. Why? Because everyone else is also rushing for the holidays and the typical 4-6 lead time for cabinet orders can be another 2 weeks. This year, it felt like every homeowner couldn’t delay any longer, which meant that cabinet orders for the entire year jumped to 6-9 weeks. This was before the holiday rush.

If you’re thinking, “Oh, but Kelly, that would still get our cabinets in by mid-October. We’ve lots of time!” Remember that every homeowner is also hiring the sub-trades as well — the cabinet installers,  the tilesetters, the plumbers, and the electricians. After the cabinets are installed, there may be a week or so delay for stone counter templates and installation. Then the appliances and plumbing, electrical, floor installation and/or refinish, and painting still need to occur.  Let’s allow one month because scheduling is crazy. Then YOU have to clean, and put everything back, and still prepare for the celebrations. That’s not so much time after all.

If you haven’t signed the contract in August for Thanksgiving and September for Christmas, then be prepared for the next observation. (Dear readers, if you have a stock plan and you’re not relocating appliances or plumbing, you’re adding laminate counters and a vinyl floor, you are mostly exempt from this timeline. Check with your local suppliers.)

Kitchen before meal

If you’re planning a party during the holiday season, Murphy’s Law will jump in with both feet and a Mack truck.

Seriously. I don’t know what it is, but as soon as the planning sets in, there will be a combination of factors determined to make sure we all need buckets of antacid tablets. Here’s a list of events that I’ve seen over the years:

  • Freak snowstorm delaying all deliveries from the East Coast until who knows when.
  • The driver hits the only major pot hole west of the Rockies and the resulting thump causes the cabinets to fall over. Result: 3 cabinets smashed to pieces.
  • Your designer/contractor/sub-trade discovers themselves making stupid newbie mistakes that they never made in their entire lives, even when they were newbies. Such as ordering a counter top in green, but forgetting to add a number that would make it a different green than the counter that shows up.
  • You will find that you asked the designer/contractor/sub-trade to order handles that you didn’t want,  because they were the only ones on your mind. You lose your temper with the contractor until he shows you the email pointing out that you had indeed asked for product 1234-pq.
  • The granite will mysteriously disappear.
  • Columns for your island will come a different color, even though there is absolutely nothing on the order that indicates the designer ordered it that way.

Really, the list could go on for a long time. I’m twitchy just thinking about it.

Do yourself a favor.

Don’t look at the start date, look at the end date. Try to establish a finish date at least 3 weeks before the celebrations. (Do NOT make it a hard requirement. Murphy loves those and everything above is now magnified 100 times.)  In order to do that, you’ll need to know what your materials and scope of work are, so that we can help you achieve your goal. If a week or two slips, you’re still good.

Stay joyous this season.

Until next time,


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  1. We had a problem with a party for my wife’s office. We picked out a date in September, leaving us lots of time to do the other work I had to do to get a very elaborate backyard in shape. One of the projects was four new bench backs. But since I’d built the first ones, the second ones shouldn’t be too bad, right? Wrong! The last few weeks of crunch time I was working eleven and twelve hour days to get it done, and I literally finished doing the last bit of detail painting on the last one the day before the party! Aaaannnnddddd, the two of us worked twelve hours Friday and Saturday to get it all done in time for the big doings at 5:00 Saturday!

    We’re making plans for a Cinco de Mayo party next year. We’ve already decided upon the one non-negotiable item: not one damned thing is to be planned for the two weeks preceding said party!

  2. Great post and absolutely true, and I can back you up on this! I’ve seen it over and over in my design business over the last 20 years. On one of my projects, the cabinet installer’s wife had a car accident and understandably, he disappeared from the job for 4 days which completely destroyed the schedule, causing not a 4 day delay, but a 2 week delay, since all the other trades had to rearrange their schedules and were then busy when we wanted them to come back. So I hope you’ve saved at least one person’s sanity with your wise counsel!

    • Thanks, Robin. I know you have more tales, but thanks for sharing that one. It’s right up there with the plumber having his tools stolen the day before he’s starting the project! O.o.

  3. excellent advice!