The kitchen turned out to be a painful but ultimately rewarding process. It was seriously ambitious, since it involved milling 100-year-old oak floor joists with walnut accents into new, handcrafted cabinets. Several contractors said they just couldn't do them; others quoted us prices that would have bought us a luxury car. We finally hired someone who was inexperienced at custom cabinets but seemed eager to learn. Halfway through, none of us were happy, so we found a cabinetmaker who said he lived for a challenge. He turned out great, and now we work with him often.