Operation ‘Save Money on Kitchen Countertops’ was a Success!

Saving money is the name of the game when on a tight budget. First area of focus, what kind of countertop can we get that we like and won’t break the bank. With granite and other stone out of the picture, we started brain storming. Honestly, the first though that came to my head was concrete countertops. I had read some tutorials and felt this was definitely doable.  Make a mold, mix some concrete, poor concrete in mold, smooth and let dry. Not so bad. This was the plan….until I heard about a birthday celebration at one of my favorite stores….the place you can go to get nice looking stuff for less green….IKEA!!!

It was the local Ikea’s 10th birthday and part of the celebration was that countertops were going to be $10 for any length. WOW…even though not very DIY since not making it with my own 2 hands….I felt that installing it myself will count. I will get these countertops! 

Exploring their website I saw they had a bunch of laminate countertops, but they also had amazing looking solid butcher block countertops. Since butcher block was what my wife wanted, I was hoping that they would be included in the sale, but since they cost more than the laminate I assumed they wouldn’t be. Either way, I vowed to be at Ikea when they opened to get some countertops.

Upon arriving at the store, I found out they open early to let you explore prior to selling anything.  I headed upstairs to the kitchen area assuming I would need to stand in line there and place my order. I was right….I came around the corner and ran right into a line of 30 or more people. Not too long but I didn’t know how many counters they had in stock. I struck up a conversation with one of the people in line and to my surprise they tell me the butcher block countertops were part of the sale….I was now more determined than ever! I will do whatever it takes to get these countertops…..WHATEVER IT TAKES!!! 

Everything seemed under control. There was one lady taking orders in no particular hurry. Customers were walking away with papers saying what counters they bought and heading towards the pick up area to get their prize. This happens for 4 or 5 people….then, what was once a peaceful gathering of folks became CHAOS….The nice lady at the counter got an alert on her little walky-talky, says a few “uh huh”s and “oh ok”s, and then proceeds to announce to the pack of bargain hunters that “there will no longer be orders taken and that all the countertops will be in the pick up area downstairs….first come, first serve!”

All of a sudden the nice conversation I was having ended, faces became stern, and people were sprinting through Ikea like their life depended on it. At first, I wasn’t sure what to do. I was in dress shoes and nice work clothes since I was due at work around 11am… Should I run through Ikea? Then it hit me….HECK YES I SHOULD RUN THROUGH IKEA!!! 

I ran through the rest of the kitchen area, around bedroom furniture trying to find the best possible route, and zipped straight through the children area. I had made some moves and passed a few people…feeling good about myself I ran down the stairs to get to the pickup area and suddenly had to put on the brakes….there were ropes stopping everyone since the store had not “officially” opened. What a tease….my adrenaline was pumping. I was ready to run through a wall for these countertops…and I was stopped by a mob of people and some ropes….

As I stood there waiting for the flood gates to open, I started hearing some people nearby bragging about the last time they came to a sale like this at Ikea and how they knew the best path to get to the area where the countertops would be. Hmmm….were they bluffing? Why would they tell their “competition” their plan? I was happy they did…I made the decision I was going to follow them. Strategy is important when it comes to saving cash. Since I’m not a expert in Ikea navigation, following people who apparently were seemed like the best idea. 

As time counted down to releasing the hounds, more and more people showed up. Now its well over 100 people, all them crowding in the stairwell. I worked my way up and was able to get about 5 people away from the ropes…not too bad I thought. Then I saw him, an Ikea worker in his yellow, striped referee shirt…he was coming to remove the ropes. My heart started racing and I was ready to make this happen. The ropes were retracted and I start chasing after the bragging couple down a back hallway that I didn’t even know existed. The next thing I know, we are at the pickup area. I grab a cart and I’m ready to claim my bounty!!!! But there was nothing there…no countertops….no boxes…not even Ikea employees….NOTHING!!!!! WHAT IS GOING ON!?!?! 

Now we’re an angry mob. We head towards the front registers, all pushing carts and running full speed. Some are yelling now from afar…“WHERE DO WE GET THE COUNTERTOPS!??! THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!! RUBBLE RUBBLE RUBBLE!!” (because that’s what angry mods say…) We get there and the employees look shell shocked. “I don’t know about countertops. What do you mean countertops? What are countertops?”, one employee said, sort of. We stand there for a few minutes while she is radioing to her bosses to save her own life. Then, I hear some commotion behind me. I turn around and there they are…pallets of countertops be dropped off and attacked by hoards of deal finders. Now I’m angry because I was there earlier than most of these people and they are getting theirs before I am!!! I DON’T THINK SO!!!

What happens next I’m not proud of, but remember, I said I would do whatever it takes. I whip around my cart and head towards the piles of countertops. On my way, I run my cart straight into an older man…not purposely…he just got in my way and I couldn’t stop. The worst part was I didn’t stop after the fact either…just yelled “Sorry!” as I zoomed by him. Now I see them, the butcher block countertops in all their glory. Ok, they were in boxes so I didn’t really see them directly, but you get what I mean. I launch my cart off to the side and ran to the mound of them where an older woman was grabbing the top box. She goes “This one is mine.”…..Ohhhh, I don’t think so lady…. I say, ” I was here before you waiting all morning! I was all the way at the front registers since these weren’t here before. THIS ONE IS MINE!” (again…not proud). And like a super hero, I grab the top box of a solid wood, 10 foot long, 100+ lbs countertop and lift it over my head. It was sort of like those stories you hear of people lifting cars to get other people trapped out from under them…minus the possibility of death. I still don’t know how I did it. I grabbed a second one, lifted it onto my cart, and strutted to the registers like a CHAMPION!!

The satisfaction I got when the receipt said $21.20 was indescribable. I had succeeded, single handedly, in getting countertops for our kitchen at a fraction of the expected cost. Success!!! Now, if only I could get them in the SUV after the adrenaline wore off…nope wasn’t gonna happen. Thankfully, there was a man walking by that didn’t hesitate to help a sweating, panting, struggling guy get his trophy into the car…much appreciated Sir, if you’re out there!! 

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Love at First Sight

Let’s start with how the house looked when we first saw it. As you will see….there’s some work to do!!

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Welcome to DIY This House

As first time home buyers, my wife and I envisioned what our home would look like when we discussed the topic. However, once we started the process of finding the house we quickly realized that what we wanted and what we can get were 2 completely different things. After a year and a half of searching, including a month of being homeless due to a lease ending and a forecloser purchase falling through, we finally found a townhome we could call home. Just one thing….the house had not been updated since it was built! Nothing…same floors, same appliances, same old looking style….20+ years of aging….but since buying the house took most of our funds, and I’m kinda cheap, this house would be updated with a little bit of DIY hard work. Ok, maybe alot of DIY hard work. This blog will share the successes and failures of the DIY projects I tackle….let’s just hope there’s more successes than failures!!