I know, I know. After starting this blog, I completely disappeared and have been MIA for pretty much the entire summer. Hopefully everyone has been busy enjoying the summer and nobody has noticed my absence. If you did, I apologize.
Soooooo…it has been a very long two months for me. Where do I start? I guess I’ll start by saying that the past two months didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. Nothing in life ever does, I guess. When I moved to Hong Kong in the middle of June, I thought we would be moved in to our new apartment by the end of the month, spend July cleaning and settling in, and have a healthy routine down by August. I even started this blog thinking it was the perfect time to start documenting everything. Well, none of that happened because we didn’t move in until just two weeks ago, almost two months behind schedule, due to a major delay in our renovation. I’m sighing as I’m typing this.
A renovation nightmare. That’s what I’ve been calling it. Whoever that Murphy is, I hate him. (Murphy’s law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.) What should have been the final stretch of the renovation turned into problems, followed by more problems. The brand new refrigerator arrived dented so another one had to be shipped. The new exhaust hood got installed but would not turn on so that got replaced. Our Grohe faucets came all the way from Germany with one small part missing. The first sink they installed was NOT the kind we wanted, so that had to get changed. All of these things were minor issues in comparison to the one thing that was holding up the entire project: the custom furniture.
In Hong Kong, getting custom furniture made is very common. Each apartment unit (or flat, as they call it here) is so small that space is a real issue. Unlike in Canada where custom furniture is a luxury, it is often a necessity in HK because it is the only way people can have furniture that accommodates the limited space they have. I would say about 90% of the furniture in our apartment was custom made. We had spent about two weeks at the end of May (while I was still in Toronto) going through all the furniture blueprints and getting everything right on paper, hoping it would all turn out the way we wanted it to. You can imagine how we felt on June 30th when we saw the furniture for the first time and not everything was what we wanted.
At that point, we were already a week late with the renovation. Extending our stay at my boyfriend’s rental apartment was one thing. The problem with the custom furniture was clearly another. While some of the measurements for the furniture were wrong, some got dented during shipping. Those had to get replaced by the furniture company at their cost. Fine. But what troubled us the most was the fact that the inside of almost everything was a lavender colour. Every drawer, cabinet and wardrobe. (Here’s a photo for reference.) Even the inside of our white kitchen cabinets. With most of our custom furniture being white, the lavender interiors were an eyesore. If we had known that it is common for custom furniture in HK to be made with that lavender material, which is indeed more durable and easy to clean, we would have discussed it in the blueprint stages. We eventually decided that the amount of time it would take to get all the furniture re-done would cost more than it was worth. It was a tough decision to compromise, but we got half of the furniture re-done. Things like the kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities were non-negotiable; they had to be re-done properly. The insides of all the wardrobes and drawers, however, remained a pale purple. That was the story of how we ended up with purple furniture. This unfortunate mishap resulted in another 4 week delay with our renovation because the furniture arrived, once again, dented or with wrong measurements. To this day, I can not understand how one single blueprint for two bathroom vanities of the exact same measurements produced four different sized vanities, all completely incorrect.
This renovation experience caused a lot of stress for everyone: my boyfriend and I, our contractor, as well as the furniture manufacturer. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me it was a real learning experience. I’ll be honest, there were a couple days when I almost lost it. I wanted so badly to yell at people for their incompetence that I literally had to excuse myself from people and be alone to calm down. After all, this was our home – something that is so important to me, yet I had absolutely no control over the situation. I had to learn how to deal with what I could not control. I had to learn to deal with stress in a relationship. I had to learn to communicate even more effectively. I learned that even if I did everything I could to make things right, things can still end up wrong and it is absolutely okay for them to be that way.
On August 12th, we finally moved into our new apartment. As we were busy organizing boxes, our contractor’s crew was busy putting up the frosted glass kitchen door and applying sealant in our bathrooms. It certainly was not an ideal scenario – moving into a renovation. I described it as moving into a battlefield; our contractor came everyday to work on something, which meant we had to wake up and eat lunch around his never-consistent schedule. We spent the first week in our apartment waiting for all the loose ends to get tied up. The good news is our apartment is now close to 95% complete AND we finally have a working oven…that is, after a three month wait for it to arrive from Belgium and a call for a technician to come decipher its error message, of course.
(*Sorry for the lack of photos in this post. I promise there will be more photos in the ones to come.)