Monday, May 9, 2011

Find anything you want on google (with the possible exception of love)

If I wasn’t already, I’ve become a bore. I have a good reason, of course. I’m renovating. And along with the undertaking comes a one- track mindset. Basically, all my thoughts hover around one and one thing only: my kitchen.

I’m so single-minded these days, I couldn't care less how anybody’s day went at work, whether their tulips are in bloom yet, or if the kids are eating their vegetables.
I DO want to know whether IKEA cupboards’ hardware work well, whether pot or track lighting gives the best illumination, and how deep a kitchen sink should be.

Could you please stop yawning?

I’ve solicited whatever information I can from friends, and surprisingly, two actually take pleasure talking about hardware, lighting, and backsplashes. They’re willing to debate relative merits of granite and laminate countertops, though the conversation doesn’t go far.  It’s laminate hands down. Cost is a mitigating factor, and there’s no contest.

But it’s a little embarrassing to admit I lie in bed trying to decide if the sink should be 20 or 18 gauge stainless steel (18). So instead of asking friends, I google: “Which is better, 18 or 20 guage steel sinks.”  And lo and behold, Bob from Montana, Shelley in Iowa and Bruce in Beaverton were just waiting for me to ask. Go for 18, they say. The 20 will dent sooner. You’ll be glad you spent the extra few bucks.

Are convection oven options worth having?  Yes, they are say google bakers out there in cyberspace, all thrilled with the results, especially on sponge and angel food cakes.

Dare I paint our wooden floor, and if so, how do I get the hardest finish?  The sailors tell me to use epoxy urethane (available in matte finish), the kind they use on their own boats. The finish will last forever, they say. Make sure to apply a few coats.

Helen in Tofino, B.C. says IKEA has switched to new German hardware on all their kitchen cupboards, and potlights give the best all around, even lighting. Lucy in Miami swears by Moen faucets, because they offer the best guarantees in town, usually replacing anything with even a minor defect.

There’s a surfeit of reviews on dishwashers, ovens, stoves and fridges. So many, in fact, I get cross-eyed reading them. Bill in Eureka Springs says don’t go near high-end Miele or Bosche. He bought both and says they’re over-rated and overpriced. Deena in Washego says spend the extra money and go European. Everyone agrees: stay away, at all costs, from IKEA dishwashers. Too bad, they’re cheap.  Samsung gets 4 star ratings from Sears customers, fewer stars from Best Buy buyers. Conflicting opinions abound.

What about KitchenAid, Frigidaire, Maytag or GE? All I have to do to find the model number of a product I’m considering, enter it, then wade through dozens and dozens of opinion pieces on each. The problem is that each appliance company has more than a dozen models, and my eyes start to glazr by the time I’ve read what everyone wants to tell me about their experience with each. Frigidaire dishwashers don’t get your dishes clean, I’m told. Frigidaire dishwashers really get your dishes clean, I’m also told.

Who are all these people?

When I first started my online research, I was pleased to find people sharing their experiences. I can’t tell you the number of products I crossed off my list because Charlotte in Austin and Brian in Toronto told me to stay away.

Then I entered sensory overload mode and decided I had to rethink this googling-everything-in-sight thing. I didn’t know who to believe. Did Sheila in Boston get a defected Samsung Frigidaire, Model 24DL7XJ, or does Helen in Carlsbad have low standards since she believes Model 24DL7XJ is sweet perfection?

In a way, it’s very nice that everyone wants to share their experiences and help those of us in the middle of reno decision-making hell, not a nice place to be. But I’m more fascinated than thankful.

I find it fascinating to see people “connecting” with other people, even if it’s about kitchen faucets and pot lights. I see a little online community developing with to and fro between entries. “You didn’t like the IKEA lazy susan corner cupboard hardware? How come? Maybe I can help you organize it better.” “You want to paint your wood floor?  Let me know when you’re ready. I’ll walk you through it. I’ve done a few stencils.” It’s kinda charming, I guess – one more way the cyberworld “connects” people.

Maybe the IKEA lazy susan people will become Facebook friends,  and the floor painting people will eventually text message.  It’s anyone’s guess what’s next. Possibilities, endless. To paraphrase a line from an old television series, 'There are a million and one kitchen questions out there in the Naked City.'

I started this blog by saying you can find anything you want on Google with the possible exception of love.  Maybe I’m wrong.

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