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How are Bathroom Remodeling and Making the perfect Cheesecake the same?

I once had a client who wanted me to finish their architectural plan set for a bathroom remodel with some key homeowner decisions incomplete. For instance, they were uncertain if they wanted a spa tub or a standard drop in tub, and were uncertain if they did want recessed medicine cabinets plus the location of lights: sconce lights on the mirror at eye level or a wall mounted fixture above the mirror. All of these things may seem trivial and not important but the devil in the details.

Details. Yes, these little annoying questions and details can make or break your remodel and your pocket book. As I thought about how to explain the significance of knowing most all your answers of material, layout, style before demolition work begins,  my best explanation was cheesecake. Yes, let me compare how making the perfect cheesecake and remodeling are similar.

1. What kind of cheesecake do you want to bake and how?

Cheesecake: Want one with cream cheese and ones made with a ricotta or cottage cheese? Do you prefer to bake the New York method or the water bath method? With any imagination there are over dozens and dozens of flavor and topping options, What’s your fancy?

Remodeling: Same types of questions of choice. What do you want? Here’s insight into the key elements to pre-determine for a successful project, anything that effecta things inside the wall (behind the sheetrock). If a sconce is located above a mirror or in a mirror will effect where an electrician pulls wires and puts the light box for mounting the fixture later. And knowing if there will need to be an access panel and electrical requirements for a spa tub will effect how a layout for that access will be.

Danger: Do not get your fork and plate out just yet. Translation: it’s early in the game. Be patient. Get through all the details and choices. You’ll be happy in the long run.


2. Read the whole recipe first

Cheesecake: Get a sense of the timing since it’s key to execution with cheesecake. Review the ingredients and tools needed, and try to recall when you last saw that spring form pan. Hate to get to the point to pour into pan and realized it’s still with Aunt Sue who borrowed it 6 months ago.

Remodeling: Have a plan. It’s your recipe. A good plan includes a scaled floor plan, elevations for all walls that will be changed or altered, a list of materials and finishes. Know where you want lights and how they will be turned on and off. If there are special notes for the perfect execution – write them on the plan. For instance, make a note that you desire programmable heated floors in part of your bathroom. Any architect or designer usually provides all of these detailed drawings, and if they are not, ask them to.

Danger: You want to shmear your bagel with the cream cheese you bought for making your cheesecake. Walk away from shmearing! Translation: You have a contractor who says he can start right now with demo and figure these things out for you while build. There’s really not a big deal in having a plan. Walk away! This will cost you more time and money. Period.

3. Get everything prepped before you begin

Cheesecake: In the food world, The French call this “mise en place,” meaning everything in its place. This means to get all your ingredients prepped and pulled together before you start. Heat your oven, separate eggs, chop what needs to be chopped, soften your cream cheese.

Remodeling: Adapt the “mise en place” approach of things that go on a wall, in the room and secure these items before the project begins. Open a corner of your garage and store: the tile, the bath fixtures, the cabinet (if pre-made), cabinet hardware, surface mounted lights, recessed medicine cabinet, any and all things that you can order and purchase. You are in essence eliminating the number one reason why construction projects stop or slow down, the lack of materials onsite or long lead times to get them. You can work with your contractor or architect/designer to identify how and what to order ahead of time.

Danger: Ugh! The milk’s expiration date was 3 weeks ago. Stop. Do not proceed, do it right. Plead with your sweetie to go grab a fresh gallon.  Translation: Your contractor gave you the tile order for needed quarter rounds as 10 pieces. The tile store says this item is getting low in stock and there’s a long backorder for new material.  Stop. Do it right. Order some additional pieces in case there are some mis-cuts or breakage during installation. Better to have a few extra than waiting months for an order to be filled.

4. Savor the fruits of your labor

Cheesecake: Dive into that first bite and savor rich creamy texture and perfectness in your mouth. Share with friends and family, or don’t. The well-executed cheesecake is beauty in action.

Remodeling: After the last subcontractor has left and everything is polished, light a candle, fill up the tub and soak for a long time. You can look at each detail and know the effort and thought that went into your masterpiece.

Danger: Serving the cheesecake right after it’s made when we all know that letting it chill for at least 6-48 hours will improve the texture and taste. Patience, please. Translation: Don’t cut corners at the end. Ensure all the components do work and were installed correctly. Put the handles on the cabinets Paint the walls now and don’t wait until you have a free weekend to get it done yourself. Hang a piece of art. Freshen in the bath towels. Finish the plan you started, all it takes is a little Patience, please.

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. Teri Z #

    Love this analogy!!!

    February 26, 2012

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