… on renovating and mistakes (and recovering from them)
February 11, 2016
I absolutely love renovating.
Heck, just moving things around is a lot of fun.
I know, sounds trite right?
But there is something about shifting and changing and just… playing with the spaces where I live – inside and outside – that is such a great combination of satisfaction and fun.
I love to do it.
Even as a kid, in my own bedroom, where the grain on my plywood closet doors was as good for the imagination as any clouded sky (On them lived a beautiful girl with long hair, a small dog, and a profile of Elvis Presley).
I could sit for hours, images taking the places of measurements and ratios, deciding where I wanted to place the few items I ‘owned’… my bed, a dresser, and a desk handed down to my mother by ‘Great Aunt Edith’. Also a Teen Beat poster of Leif Garrett (Stoppit, don’t judge!). What I could do with the remnants of worn sheets or towels… what if I took that gold pillow from the living room and put it on my bed? Would she really notice a missing kitchen chair? Yep.
I was lucky, in that my mother never balked when my room was changed – which was constantly. And I learned that, just like with a drawing or painting or poem or story, if I didn’t like what I did, I could just move things back… or configure things differently all over again, or erase, or start with a blank page.
A few good life lessons in there too. I wonder if they were permeating even back then.
Mistakes can be fixed…
What appears to not be working, can be worked out…
This too shall pass.
Proof of some of the world’s great philosophical pontifications and conclusions all happening as ballerinas danced along my water-stained pink and white striped walls.
And, of course, I still do it. I’m telling you, I love it. Seeing a space and thinking of how it would feel if, and if, and if…
JoHn will find me sitting in a chair in the living room with ‘that look’ on my face. He will sigh and say, “uh oh!” and sit and wonder out loud what I am thinking and what pictures are in my head.
Here is a man who has, literally, woken up to find that I’m not in bed, walked down the stairs, and found rollers and paint trays on the floor, an entire room painted anew and everything that was in one place, in another.
Why, what do you do when you can’t sleep?
I do admit that, on occasion, it can get out of hand… like the time I was sitting on a small sofa in Maine and said, off-handedly, ‘This room is really too small for more than two people to sit comfortably. Maybe we should look at taking down the wall there (and I pointed).
And one thing led to another…
And now we are in the process of renovating an area of the Maine house called an ‘el’, an addition to the house that was finished ’round about 1880. Don’t worry though, it’s not like we actually did much to it over the past ten years (so it’s not like we are spending money to adjust what we already adjusted).
All we’ve done is a nip here.
A tuck there.
So, like I said, sometimes it gets out of hand.
But, as they say, necessity is the mother of investment (or invention… or some other word that begins with ‘i-n’).
And I know the whole renovation/restoration thing really freaks some people out.
Because there are a bazillion choices and things sometimes go sideways. But, again, I figure I can deal with mistakes, and unforeseens.
Sure, sometimes the ‘fix’ isn’t as easy as changing a point color. Case in point…
On Monday, I got a call from Derek-The-Builder in Maine and he said..
“We-yal, those two walls we’re movin’? They’re load bearin’ walls.”
How does he know that? Well, Monday was demo day. Which meant he broke the walls open, that’s how. And I have done this enough to know that, when your builder says ‘load bearing walls’ you kind of want to say, “Stop right now and put everything back where you found it.”
Which was actually the first thing I said.
This was not an easy fix. The walls were broken, to put them back would still cost me a lot. But to ‘fix’ the issue – to get me the nice flat ceiling I thought I was getting in the new room, and the new hallway – would cost me far more. It involved an engineer and steel and rejigging and extra time too.
So we talked more. We need what we are doing. It will give us an important ‘just in case’ first floor bedroom, our only downstairs closet, and some much needed storage space. But I didn’t want to spend more. So…
I shifted my expectations.
I’m okay if I don’t have a flat ceiling. I’m totally okay with seeing a beam. It’s gonna be a really pretty beam, actually. I think I am going to love that beam, and kind of a lot.
Because I know that stuff that shows up as a problem? It can often end up being a feature.
And in the hundreds, if not thousands, of teeny little things and great big things that we have had to consider over the past ten years of working on this house, very few mistakes were unfixable.
But the ones that were? They may not have technically gotten fixed with hammers and nails and plumber’s tape and sweat, but they were ‘fixed’… with perspective, and attitude, and acceptance.
The philosophy of renovation… and change and life and living… continues.
Thanks for readin’.
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