Video: Split the Difference

This is Nathan Harrison for

So, what is splitting the difference? Is it like splitting hairs? Well, sort of. If anyone is splitting hairs or splitting the difference on your remodel project, you can feel sort of honored because most of the time stuff just gets slapped in there. So be glad if somebody is sweating it a little bit.

So what is splitting the difference? Well, it’s trying to accomplish multiple objectives in a way that honors how important each objective is. So we’re going to talk about how that is happening in this crazy installation your looking at.

But first let me take you over here and look at this one. (next frame with white cabinets)

What’s happening: The crown is being fitted to the ceiling which is cool but it presents problems for the installer, because it may mean that the cabinets have to be run out of level. It also may mean a lot of heartache in putting in the crown.

As you can see, there is a gap right there (blue drawing on picture.) I’m not happy about that. The fact is, there was really no getting around it. In fact, let’s take a closer look. (next frame: close up of crown)

Here, you can actually see that down on this end [the left side] the crown was actually ground away so that it would fit better to this spot where the ceiling is dipping low. And yet there is still a large gap – a very noticeable one, and too large to caulk. The only way to fix this would have been to do it proactively by fixing the ceiling joists. Now, back to our difficult kitchen. [room view again]

A bunch of different things are having to be satisfied in this little situation we’re looking at here.

#1. This opening has to be kept at exactly 36″ [pink drawing] to allow the refrigerator to fit here.

#2 The face frames of these cabinets [blue circles] have to be tight and flush. I will never accept anything less than that.

But now there are some things that need to be compromised to make each other happy. This first most important of them is the crown. [blue oval at top] We talked about that on the other kitchen. Same situation here. We’ve got to fit the crown to the ceiling, it’s going to be rally noticeable. It’s got to be really good.

But also, we want the kitchen to be level [pink line across cabinets].

Also, we’ve got base going in here [bottom blue ovals] rather than kick. You can see it’s a little weird what’s going on here at the bottom. That base is going to be pretty noticeable; we want it to be good. Also, we concerned about how it looks against the wall here and here [blue ovals on far sides].

So, all of these things have to be balanced against each other in the order I stated them. That’s what splitting the difference is, and it means you can’t just walk into a kitchen, put a level on something – especially something as complicated as this, and say “Oh it’s out of level; it’s no good” because you don’t know all the other things that might have been balanced against that.

So, you need a good installer, and you need to just trust him. That’s really the bottom line.

Splitting the difference: accomplishing multiple objectives while giving honor to their priority.