Like anyone in her mid-thirties, our house has been undergoing a lot of changes. In the past five years since we moved in, we’ve converted a basement garage into five rooms: bathroom/laundry room/bedroom/craft room/storage space. We had new kitchen countertops installed and had all of the wood floors re-stained. Thanks to those consistent Middle Tennessee hailstorms, we traded out our green roof, white aluminum siding and white garage doors for sage green Hardie board, a brown roof, and faux wood garage doors. While we were at it, we had a year-round sunroom built, taking up part of our patio.
In addition to all of this, figure in the extensive landscaping, front porch redo, and new carpet. And don’t even get me started on all of the interior painting we’ve done. (Paint chevron zigzags on a couple of walls and see if it doesn’t push you right up to—if not over—the edge. If chevron goes out of style—which of course it eventually will, just ask someone with a Jennifer Aniston haircut wearing stirrup pants—please, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.)
Our latest adventure has been renovating two of our existing bathrooms: the hallway bath (a.k.a.- Knox’s bathroom) and the master bath. When you move into a house that needs some updating, you find yourself making lists with column titles like: Most Urgent, Next Summer, When The Kids Are Older. The column for the master bath redo was “No One Ever Sees It But Us So Who Cares.” But the unreliable, rusted toilet, the cabinets and drawers with the “weird smell” and the mildew stained tub/shower combo finally grossed us out one too many times. It was time to say good-bye (or tear down the entire house like the Book of Leviticus advises homeowners with mold problems).
Just like the stages of grief, a homeowner experiences a series of emotions during the renovation process:
Stage 1 – The “Wouldn’t it be nice?” phase. You lie in your bed at night and dream with your husband about how your lives would be different if you had a shower stall with cream subway tiles and quartz countertops. Hmmm…maybe, someday…
Stage 2 – The Estimate. Your husband gives you the go-ahead to get a few estimates, because you have NO IDEA how much redoing your bathroom will cost. When you get the estimate, you use all of the poker face skills you can muster to make the contractor think this is exactly the price you were expecting. You fight the urge to say, “Are you sure that’s where the decimal point is supposed to go?”
Stage 3 – The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. The work begins but its progress can be measured in fits and starts. Workers don’t always show up when they’re expected and when they do they don’t bring the right _______________ (tool/pipe/trim/wire/glue) because no one told them to. At some point every day, you stare at an empty room which only a month ago gave you the privacy—even if you were a little grossed out by it—to do your business and move on with your day, but now it’s dry wall dust and dirty foot prints. All you can do is curl up in the fetal position and sing Negro spirituals about the coming of the Lord.
Stage 4 – You can see the finish line. It’s almost done. It’s been a solid month of wallpaper removal (should be a punishment for Al-Qaeda terrorists at Guantanamo Bay), scrambling for another box of tile so the shower can be finished before the tiler goes on to his next job, your kids writing their names in the dust on your dresser, and waiting for people to show up. It looks like the contents of your bathroom threw up in your bedroom and there’s a giant piece of sheetrock leaning against your wall, blocking all of the outlets. You’re itching to lay shelf paper in your drawers and start finding the perfect place for your toothpaste. Soon, little grasshopper, soon…
Stage 5 – It was all worth it! It’s done and it’s the most luxurious bathroom you’ve ever seen! (Aw, who am I kidding? I’d just settle for a place to pee, poop, and shower at this point.)
I’m not to stage five yet, but I have hope. I’m still waiting on mirrors to be hung and the gaping hole in the hall bath to be repaired so I can paint that wall. The sheetrock is still standing against my wall like it’s waiting for a bus and it has “all day, thank you very much.” The Wallpaper Removal Fiasco of 2014 has left a very literal mark on my bathroom and a metaphorical one on my psyche. After googling “wallpaper removal repair” I tried to patch the wall with drywall mud. After sanding and more mudding, it’s definitely not perfect and it makes me want to rip every hair out of my head when I run my hand along the bumpy surface but Brent tried to soothe away my frustrations last night. He said, “Who cares if it’s not perfect? No one is going to see it but us anyway.” No! I haven’t endured this month so that we can return to that column! Repeat after me: “This bathroom is beautiful and should be featured in Southern Living.Very good.” Denial is the only way to survive a renovation.