July 5, 2014

Decision Fatigue – The Great Kitchen Remodel

I’ve long considered SB and I to be expert decision makers. We come to agreement quickly and can be very decisive, with few post-decision regrets. However, remodeling the kitchen broke our decision making skills and left me with moments of great indecision and doubt.

I could make ten, strong, clear decisions and then the next choice would leave me floundering. The decisions that caught me up were not necessarily the biggest or the smallest, but followed a fatigue curve, like running a marathon of choices.

Of course we could have had fewer decisions if we had brought in a professional to act as the general contractor and if we had let our kitchen designer make more of the decisions for us. I assume this is what happens when people build whole homes, they let other people sweat the details. Not us though, we needed to be down in the weeds, searching for the perfect tadpole.

Kitchen Tile Choices

One of the big decisions that caused me sleepless nights, honestly, was the color white. I had a clear vision of what I wanted the kitchen to look like and what I didn’t want it to look like. I had seen plenty of bad white kitchens and did not want to end up with any of those, including the 1980’s white office look, the farm-house off-white kitchen or the cheap apartment white kitchen.

After studying all the bad, I determined that a key to making it look good was to have the cabinets and appliances be the same white. Since we purchased our appliances early, I was able to test different colors of white against the appliance color to find the right tone. As the weeks of purchasing paint, painting test boards and wringing my hands, marched on, I could tell our kitchen designer thought I was becoming a little obsessive.

I felt that if I didn’t get the right white for the cabinets the whole room would fall apart. I finally settled on a white color, but until I saw a full sample, I continued to doubt the color decision. How would I know for certain that the tone of the cabinets would meld with the appliance tone? To add to the difficulty, we were also planning for white tiles and white trim, both of which were different whites from the appliance color. Maybe this whole white plan was a terrible idea!!!

Vent Hood

Right after buying our house, we researched and bought a cabinet mount vent hood, thinking we could pop it in on a cabinet or shelf, as a temporary solution until the kitchen remodel happened. Creating a new cabinet and getting it all installed proved more difficult than we thought and the plan never came together. For three years we had this vent hood in our basement.

When it came to picking out and purchasing all the appliances, we decided we should use the vent hood we already owned. Our kitchen designer worked it into all the specs, measuring it down to the tenth of the inch so that it would fit perfectly into the new cabinets. A week before the cabinets were scheduled to arrive, we pulled the hood out and brought it upstairs, into the light.

Suddenly it was the ugliest vent hood we had ever seen. We had failed to think about the cheap, black plastic front and strange, slider controls. Ugh! This could not go into our kitchen. We called our designer in a panic and set to researching a replacement with the exact same dimensions. This turned out to be much more challenging than we thought. It turns out that vent hoods come in many different sizes and have so many different features. The kitchen designer said we needed to have the new hood selected and purchased within 24 hours to keep everything on track.

In the end, the white paint color matched the fridge and we found a new vent hood that looks and works great. I think all the extra attention and consideration resulted in a better kitchen than we would have had otherwise, but I’m not sure about building a whole house. Any more decisions than those for the kitchen may have turned me into a crumpled heap of whimpering indecision.


  1. Ah – Marijka – welcome to the world of home remodel/design. If we hadn’t had a designer for our new home build to get us through picking out every single item in the house – I fear I would have lost my mind or gotten a divorce – more than likely both!

    On a happy note – it looks marvelous Lady! Good job.

    Comment by Susan Hullum — July 7, 2014 @ 10:16 am

  2. Love that subway tile design! Looks wonderful!

    Comment by Mo — July 7, 2014 @ 10:29 am

  3. Thanks Susan and Mo!

    Yes, if I did a whole house I’d have to let go of many of the details and trust the process! It still sounds overwhelming.

    Comment by Marijka — July 8, 2014 @ 11:09 am

  4. It looks great! Glad to see you’ve resurfaced from the cave of decision-making into the summer sunlight. The picture with the cabinet mount vent hood makes me hungry for more.

    A mantra to counter a prevalent societal myth: More choices do not necessarily equal greater happiness.

    Comment by M. — July 10, 2014 @ 2:00 am

  5. Thanks M. I’ll be posting more kitchen stuff soon. I totally agree, too many choices can lead to unhappiness, but not enough choices is also not ideal.

    Comment by Marijka — July 10, 2014 @ 10:37 am

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