The Corner Cabinet Capers.
And the truth behind Reality TV.

If you don’t want the illusion of reality  television shattered, stop reading now. Because I’m going to let you in on the truth behind reality television and if you’d like to continue believing it’s real … you’d best not read these first paragraphs.

I’ve worked as a television host and writer for close to 20 years. I’ve been a commentator, entertainment reporter, competition show host, lifestyle show host and reality show host.

What I’m about to tell you has been a closely guarded secret in the television industry since the beginning of reality tv.

The most honest, most believable, most REAL reality shows … are documentaries.

Everything else is manufactured reality. There’s a little bit of reality in shows like The Little Couple, The Real Housewives of Fishlips and all of those decorating shows, but for the most part the shows are highly produced and scripted.

That cute little Jenn Arnold from The Little Couple? She’s actually 6’2″. And a drug lord.

It’s the miracle of television and script writers and producers and highly contrived realism.

The people you’re watching on most reality shows don’t have to memorize lines, but what they do have to do is follow a general storyline outlined by the producers. In other words, Jim and Carol may actually be getting a new kitchen installed  but the hijinx that ensue are scripted.

The producers tell the couple that they’re to argue over what kind of counters they want. The producers then hope hilarity or drama will ensue. It’s like improv, only even more cringe inducing.

Reality type shows have the “disasters” that will happen worked out well in advance of even taping the show.  Then, when actual disasters occur, they  go unnoticed and untaped by the production team.  They don’t need real disasters on their reality show, you see, they have BETTER disasters scripted out and ready to go.

The problem is, real life disasters are always better than made up ones.

Like the corner cabinet caper.

I got my cabinets delivered to my house almost 2 months ago.  They have been sitting patiently in my dining room waiting to be installed.  The delivery guys marched them in the front door, through the foyer and into the dining room where they sat until last week.

Grant and I got to work taking out the last of my kitchen and then bringing in the new cabinets.

The Martha Stewart cabinets from Home Depot are pre-assembled.  So there’s no need to put them together like an Ikea cabinet for example.  Great, right?

Not always.

A preassembled corner cabinet you see is … big.  Large.  Gargantuan.  Whereas my doorways are not big, large, gargantuan.  They’re what you’d call tiny.  Hobbit sized really.

So when we heaved up the corner cabinet to bring it from the dining room into the kitchen … it wouldn’t fit.  We did everything normal people would do at that point.  We flipped it around, turned it up side down, tried it sideways, swore a little bit, put it down, picked it up again and tried everything we already tried once more.  Then we swore a lot.

As you can see below, we eventually got the cabinet in.


So how did we do it?

Montage A

We had to carry the cabinet out of the dining room, back through the front door, down the street and through my side gate. Only it wouldn’t fit through my side gate. It almost fit. But it didn’t fit. Like the jeans you bought last summer.

Once we realized what were were about to have to do, I ran inside for what we needed. A step ladder, a tripod, camera and my lunatic cabinet throwing grin.

We had no other option than to heave it over my fence and in the back door which is slightly wider than my dining room door opening. It wasn’t pretty but we got the job done.

Things will not go smoothly with your renovation. They just won’t. Things will not go smoothly in life.

The strangest things will pop up and you’ll think, how am I EVER going to deal with this? But you’ll find a way because you have to.

That’s the reality of it.

(If you entered to win the Pink Suede Tool Belt this time last week, the winner will be announced in Friday’s post)

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  1. Ella says:

    Whoa! Cool!

  2. victoria says:

    fishlips!!!!!!!! hohohahaha-Thanks for that! I’ve been looking for a perfect word for that phenomenon!

  3. KiwiKat says:

    Is it wrong that I looked at the picture of you hiffing the cabinet over the wall and thought that you looked like a slender Santa Claus?? Nothing like a bit of ingenuity and at least the cabinet didn’t have to be hacked into pieces to get it into place. Although that would be an all new level of Ikea hack.


  4. Laura says:

    It’s true!! There is always a way! Good job, Karen!

  5. Stefanie says:

    Hilarious! I’m more intrigued to see what you’re going to do with the corner cabinet because I HATE mine! Practically have to get in it to get anything out. How do we fix that?!

    • Karen says:

      I knew the corner cabinet was going to be a beast in terms of putting stuff in. I opted not to get the lazy susan that came with it, and instead decided on two large shelves. I also plan to only put big things I rarely use in there. Like my canoe. ~ karen

  6. Marti says:

    Hmmm, at least you know when you look like a lunatic.
    And thank you for answering my question about reality shows, which is why does every young couple (sidestepping Ozzie and Sharon) with their own reality show end up in divorce court. Prescripted drama. Like celebrities need an excuse to be selfish. Hahaha.

  7. Stefanie says:

    That’s what I’m missing… A canoe!

  8. Valerie says:

    Where there is will, there is a way. Once we ordered a large shower stall to put in our renovated basement. While these usually are created in pieces, this particular cabinet was one large plastic piece. After losing the battle with the door opening it was brought in the dining room window which fortunately had a slider and just accommodated its dimensions. Now it was in the dining room. Next a large piece of gyproc was cut out of the dining room wall and the shower stall was lowered down onto the basement stairs. Then the dining room wall was repaired. Each and every renovation is simply nuts….keep taking pictures as many modifications throughout would not be believed without them.
    Once you have retreated to the choir invisible if anyone wants to remove that corner cabinet just imagine how stymied they will be as to how it possibly arrived in your kitchen.

  9. Oh. My. I seriously thought crap like that happened only to me. Oh, the annoyance I’ve caused people who’ve had to help me through the years….
    Awesome that you and Grant managed that without killing each other. High Five!

  10. Stephanie Hobson says:

    I just want to know if you changed your clothes while fetching the tripod and camera, or if you were already decked out in to-die-for red

  11. Janet says:

    Regarding the thing that is not going smoothly in my life right now: I so wish I could simply heave it over a wall…. just sayin…..

  12. judy says:

    I need 2 corner cabinets and I am surprised about the “they don’t work?” doesn’t the thing swing all of the way around thus making all items readily accessible? and how do I measure for this – do I measure front to back or side to side or do they only come in one configuration? and does anybody know how to kill mice? I just spent 70 bucks on electrocution traps and not one mouse and it’s already time to replace 12 AA batteries. I have taken everything out of my drawers and cabinets 9 bazillion times and double washed in DW and I actually met -in person- one of the little @#$%& over a stray crumb in the top of my stove yesterday! tried snap traps with every possible bait etc. have they evolved to a superior intelligence? are they aliens? HELP! P.S. Great blog-I like it as much as and that is high praise indeed.

    • Pam'a says:

      I have three suggestions:

      1) Invest in some rechargeable batteries. They initially cost more, but at the rate you’re burning through them, they’ll pay for themselves in no time!

      2) Have you considered glue traps?

      3) Meow?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Judy –

      Well thank you! I wanted to use my corner cabinet for big things like the toaster, deep fryer, huge stock pots, etc. So I decided not to get the lazy susan. But most people would indeed install a lazy susan in this type of cabinet making most everything in it accessible. As far as the mice go, the fastest, most humane way to kill mice is to use old fashioned wood snap traps. Not even the fancy wood traps. The oldest, least advanced looking you can find. They can be baited with peanut butter and placed according to directions (which is pushed up against a wall so the mice can only come at it from the side. This ensures they’re killed instantly. ~ karen!

      • Grammy says:

        Good luck with that, Karen. I have a corner cabinet that looks to be exactly the same size as yours and, while there is certainly plenty of room INSIDE the cabinet, I don’t think you’re going to get your huge stockpots or probably even your deep fryer in there. Because: same problem you had with getting the cabinet into your kitchen — they won’t fit through the door.

        Maybe your door opening is actually bigger than it appears to me, but I found that my big stockpot (I don’t think it’s as big as yours, though) and canning pot and several other things I planned on putting there would probably rest nicely inside but I’ll never know because there’s no way to get them inside. So I have a lazy susan installed and keep pots and pans (but not the real big ones) in my corner cabinet. Not an efficient use of space, but better than none at all.

    • gabrielle says:

      I live in an 1872 stone farmhouse, which is also a hangout for bats, shrews and mice. And cats. I tell you this to lend credibility to what I am about to tell you. Traditional mouse traps, baited with peanut butter, is THE way to go. The “ick” factor of a dead mouse is much offset by the fact that the death is sudden and complete, unlike glue traps which are incredibly horrible – like “cement shoes” without finish of the deep blue sea! You can pre-dig your burial plot, set the trap in a paperbag and turn a blind eye to the gore if your sensibilities dictate.

      Warfarin is also cheap and effective; is drives the mouse outside in search of water as it dies of dehydration. I personally feel that if you want something to die, you have to “man up” and make it as humane as possible. Also, with Warfarin, you are never really sure where that mouse ended up, which feels a little gross to me!

      There are “catch alive” traps; it’s the little mousie version of an alien abduction where the abductee winds up in someone else’s bedroom, losing his nest and community that he worked so hard all fall to build.

      Yes, you don’t have just one mouse, you have a community, hanging out for breeding season. Now you know what to do!

    • Irene says:

      Hi Judy!
      I had a mouse living in my then pantry cupboard, which had the gas pipe running in through the wall from outside, thus creating the teeniest tiniest of gaps for the mouse to get in.
      After trying all sorts of things, I phoned a local herb expert, a brilliant woman who has published many many books.
      She recommended lavender! She said that mice hate the smell.
      So, I laid loads of fresh lavender in the cupboard as well as wiping the shelves down with lavender oil; between me and the mouse, at least one of us thought it smelt devine! 😀
      I took even more precautions, however. I decanted ALL the food that came in cardboard or paper, like sugar packets for instance, into plastic icecream tubs, thus removing the easy access to food.
      Sure enough, one very disgruntled mouse packed it’s bags and moved home.
      So, job done with no killing. Excellent!

    • kate-v says:

      we had problems with roof rats and couldn’t catch a one – they eat our oranges off the tree. called the extension service and they advised to just rub the little bait holder with the bait – not to actually put a piece of the bait on it. evidently, the buggers are so fast they can grab the bait an be out of there before the wire snaps, but if they have to fuss with the bait holder they are goners. that worked; caught 7 rats in 2 days. the 6 year old grandson was visiting with us at the time and every time the trap snapped he and grampa went out to dispose of the rat – then through out the day he’d go back to the trash can and peer inside and count (again) the dead rats. he still talks about it.

    • Sheri says:

      What bait are you using? I find that chocolate works the best. Also, you need to have all other food in mouse proof containers.

  13. Debbie says:

    Hubby and I still laughing hysterically. Thanks for making my night! Now I can go to sleep happy and count corner cabinets jumping over fences to help me sleep.

  14. Grammy says:

    We have to have every new thing — appliances, furniture, bathtub, everything! — brought up the driveway, along the side yard next to the garage, through the large gate, across the lower patio, up the steps to the upper patio (or very large porch), and through the French doors into the living room. There the various dismantling and disassembling, of either the item or the doorways, or both, takes place. Delivery people aren’t crazy about us.

  15. Pam'a says:

    Ah, brings back memories…

    …of buying a sofa after taking copious measurements, only to have to send it back to the store with the delivery guys because it *still* didn’t fit through my idiot back door.

    …of having to remove two windows in my upstairs sleeping porch and use ropes to get a queen mattress and box springs into the bedroom.

    I also have a couple of corner cabinets. I love my lazy susans! (But I don’t own a canoe.)

  16. Tara says:

    Okay…. love this! This is SO something that would happen to me.

    And you kept your sense of humour throughout the whole thing. Very admirable. I’d probably be swearing my head off at this point.

  17. Carolyn says:

    Love it!! Not just the fish lips part either…

    Your solution was much more interesting than what we had to do for our corner kitchen cabinet. They took off the moulding and door jamb of the doorway to the kitchen through the dining room. It gave us the extra few inches to squeeze the cabinet through.
    Btw, I can’t imagine my corner cabinet without the lazy susans. It would become the black hole where things go to die otherwise. Lol
    I have my pots and pans in there.

  18. Su says:

    I like the ingenuity! you do what you gotta do…. 🙂

  19. Jack says:

    Basically, “reality” television is the psychological version of the WWF and, like wrestling, there are those out there who believe every word spoken is the truth.

  20. CBuffy says:

    My parents solved the “corner cabinet black hole” issue by walking into the dining room and poking a giant hole in the wall. Put an “invisible” cabinet door on the hole and voila, they now have access to everything in the deep dark recesses! (However, with yours butting up to a brick wall, that is clearly NOT an option…)

  21. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    You sure looked good fighting with the corner cabinet! My contractor broke his arm and his wrist…Yes, things to do come up while renovating! Or in my contractor’s case, things come down, like him falling 10 feet onWednesday!

  22. Tigersmom says:

    Ho Ho Ho! Nice grin. It only looks a little lunatic-ish. ; )

  23. Wendy says:

    You always wear your red jeans when you’re doing cool outdoorsy things. I love your red jeans. Maybe it’s because I have a pair that I bought at Joe Fresh (I know, cheap and globally irresponsible–maybe that’s what they’ll write on my gravestone).
    I saw them, and didn’t buy them. I bought the grey ones instead. And then I thought about the red ones for a week . . . and then I got caught in a rainstorm right across the street from the Joe Fresh, so I went in and traded my wet pants for the red ones and was so happy I did.
    Considering how cheap they were, they’re holding up well (on second thought, maybe that’s what they’ll write on my gravestone).
    I’m sorry about the corner cabinet. I guess what they’ll write on yours is “tenacious in vermilion” or something like that. One day you’ll look at your amazing kitchen with the island you never knew you wanted, and the pendant light you deliberated over and you’ll be happily making those jalapeno poppers or roasting your poo-shaped yams!

  24. Doesn’t something always seem to have to go the hard way? Everytime we start a new project in our old house, something just has to creep its ugly little head in and cause all kinds of grief, like the previous tenants removing a support wall. LOL Anyways looks like you got your problem solved and it added some nice reality flavor to the mix, although now I am wondering how much of that was scripted????

  25. kelliblue says:

    Talk about ingenious. Hoisting a cabinet over your fence. CRAZY, but ingenious. Which I guess pretty much sums up everything you do anyway. 🙂

    So this: Things will not go smoothly in life. Um…daylight savings? Less sleep? Monday morning? Pitch dark? Being abruptly awoken out of a very sound and (GOOD) dream-filled sleep? Yeah, definitely one way to make sure this mid-March Monday will not go smoothly.

    Coffee, stat!

  26. cbblue says:

    Great visuals Karen! One question. Do you have a matching upper corner cabinet. No wait…..that will be smaller. I hope.

  27. Ev says:

    Your over-the-fence story will be added to all our stories of remodeling woe and success! Can’t wait to see your finished kitchen in all it’s glory! Red pants all around!

  28. Vicky says:

    Oh dear. My husband is ripping out the top cabinets in our kitchen as I write this. I know nothing goes smoothly but I hope we don’t have issues like that! Besides we’re getting our cabinets from Ikea so they come in boxes with a thousand pieces.

  29. Bols says:

    I envy you the corner cabinet. My kitchen will be from Ikea and the corner cabinet is too big; if I put it in, the sink will not be centered under the window. So I will have to lose the space in the corner, and it really bothers me, but there is no way around it.

  30. Stella Mac says:

    Very funny, glad you got it to work out in the end.

    As for reality shows, our home was on House Hunters International, and that is somewhat fake. The “House Hunters” had already purchased the home they ultimately chose and the other two houses were just fillers after the fact.

    • Oh that is so interesting..>I always wondered about that because where I live you cannot take your time looking at houses…you have to make an offer right away or it will be gone. Thakn you for clearing that up…I still love the show:)

    • Cathy Reeves says:

      Yea, I get tire dog the bitchy women whining:” this is mMY closet I might give you that little one down that way”… makes me want to bitch slap them down them steps. Just saying…

  31. Natika says:

    ha ha! That’s awesome. I’m glad you didn’t have to hack it to bits to get it to fit. And I love the all red outfit. Other people said you looked like Santa, but I immediately thought you looked like an elf, especially with all this talk recently of your tiny head. Please don’t hate me now!

    (Especially love the Canada Goose jacket. Must get one of those one of these years.)

  32. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I have always been a firm believer in Murphy’s Law..(“If anything can go wrong, it will”) you go..also..I have two lazy susans and I love them..

  33. Mel says:

    Hold on! Reality shows are scripted you say? What are you going to tell me next? Not to believe everything I read on the internet?

  34. Susan says:

    My husband is our carpenter, when tearing out our kitchen ceiling, he called me in…
    Looking into the support beams, black, charred beams are holding up our bedroom. He takes ahold of one, and it breaks off and turns to dust around him. He looks at me and says….this is going to set us back alittle bit. Several thousand dollars later….beautiful kitchen. Set backs happen. We have a 125 yr old farm house, lots of stuff happens.

    • theresa says:

      I had to laugh that your husband used the exact same verbage with you as he would with a customer–this is gonna cost you a bit, ma’am–whereas my husband the IT guy would be swearing and crying and trying to reach my father the handy man for direction.

  35. Rondina Muncy says:

    I hope you are supplying Grant with good food or money. When you’re single and doing this type of thing having that one person help you is priceless. Love the coat.

  36. Leslie says:

    I see by your outfit you’ve been on the Canadian National Corner Cabinet Heaving Team. Did you medal?

  37. Julie says:

    Unbelievable! Has no one ever sawed a boxspiring in half to get it upstairs in a house with a small staircase and a sloping ceiling? I helped my daughter do it – just cut throught the wooden part and fold in half. Once you’re up there, unfold and bolt back together – good as new!

  38. Barbie says:

    I love the look on your face and the fact that you are looking at the camera using only ONE hand to balance that monolith! LOLOL LOVE IT! More please!

  39. Rondina Muncy says:

    Karen, this is off-topic, but I have always loved your fence and these pictures show the other side. There are very few horizontal-slat fences down here. The nice thing about them is that they are burglar-proof. We have alleys with “activity.” Last week they finally caught the garage-thief pushing a grocery cart full of tools around. I’d like to know the type of wood; if they are tongue and groove, and if you have any tips to share. I don’t think you built them, but you can see the details and may even know a blog that covers this. Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rondina,

      I designed the fence and had it built to my specifications so I can probably tell you all you need to know. The fence is pressure treated which means it’s probably pine or fir. They are not tongue and groove. Each board was nailed close together ( no gap) so when the wood dried and shrunk there’d be very little in terms of gaps.

      It’s finished the same on both sides (in the backyard and on the sidewalk side of the fence) which means twice as much money for materials. All the boards are just nailed to 4x4s inserted in the ground with trim running from top to bottom to hide the seams where the boards butt up against each other.

      There are also extra 2x4s in between the posts (hidden inside the fence) that the boards are screwed to in order to help prevent them from warping.

      I had the posts left high so I could add a bit of interest at the top of the fence with lengths of 2x4s laid on their side at the top.

      Let me know if you need any more information. And by the way, this type of horizontal fence is also uncommon around here. It took some convincing to get my fence maker to build it, lol.

  40. rktrixy says:

    So a friend of mine, also an architect, put a child lock on the remote to keep his wife from watching HGTV. She’d get unrealistic expectations about how long it would take to do anything. I mean they show a whole remodel in 1/2 an hour, right? Meanwhile, in a half hour in reality, you’ve searched your garage for the right drill bit.

  41. Linda S. in NE says:

    That Jenn Arnold comment will insure that I will make it through yet another stress filled week. Thanks!

  42. Laura Bee says:

    “The most honest, most believable, most REAL reality shows … are documentaries.”
    Truest words I have read all day.
    Love that last shot. I thought the next would be you throwing your hat up in the air!

  43. Stephbo says:

    I used to have a big, scary corner cabinet when I lived in the country. I was always afraid of what I might find in it, especially since the mice really loved it. Blech!!

    • Janet says:

      Corner cabinet…ouch! You are correct, nothing ever works according to plan. One day I should tell you about our Griswold Wedding…it set the tone for the last 29 years of our married lives…oi! I put my garbage pail, recycle bin and plastic bag holder in there…it is the black hole……full of garbage! Love the red outfit, I had my red bathing suit on today…it was 78 degrees in sarasota, Florida…got burned…sorry.

  44. You are amazing!!!! Love your cabinet chucking grin. You could start a new sport?

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