renovating your home


The kitchen of the "Althuus" (meanin...

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Rob finished updating and switching over the electrical to the new kitchen today. I marvel without end at that insanely unreal breadth of that man’s basic knowledge base. As of this evening, the kitchen will be operational minus plumbing with the goal of sink and dishwasher quite soon.

Mom arrives in 27 days, and Rob assures me that kitchen, living room and a rudimentary dining area will be waiting for her.

This is optimistic of him because where the renovation is concerned, we’ve been miles off-schedule since the demolition last November. Life in the forms of work and family have screwed with us from day one, and his insistence that my help just makes more work for him has meant that he’s mostly been the lone wolf handy-dandy guy on a project of such daunting scope that anyone who’s seen it, or heard about even, cannot believe we didn’t just sell the house as it was and buy a new one.

While Rob laboured like a dwarf in the semi-darkness on the electrical panel tucked away behind a furnace and water heater that also needed updating, I zealously attacked Dee’s room – again.

I’ve lost track of the number of hoarding interventions I’ve performed on that child’s room. Over lunch, I informed her I was cleaning in there and she immediately went upstairs and rearranged in that perverse way of territory marking she’s carried over from her toddler days. But my strategy is a simple one of steady attrition. If I move with caution and at a slow pace, eventually I will rid her space of all the pointless clutter, leaving behind only what is useful and what truly matters. So far, it’s been a great success.

A tedious, time-sucking on the magnitude of a black hole success, but I’ll take it.

My basic problem continues to be the lack of finished space which in turn clogs up the user accessible space with non-related items. And it limits the comfort of the accessible spaces too. For example, we have two very plush sofas that are currently humping each other under tarps in the corner of the living room that’s blocked off by the dishwasher that can’t be installed until the plumbing is in and by the fireplace, which can’t be installed because there isn’t enough workspace to do so because of the stacked up sofas.

Rob took off two afternoons and Friday last week in order to really book on the kitchen. He lost nearly one of those afternoon and all of that same evening on a child issue and half of Saturday in the city. Life competes and our kitchen loses.

It is just a kitchen, I remind myself when my patience wears thin enough that I am in danger of letting the sanguine veneer I project on the state of the house slip. I certainly don’t want to be one of those wives because the reality is that even living in a complete state of unfinished, my life rocks and rocks again by nearly any comparison that might be applied. But at ten months of total renovation and still counting, I will allow myself this heavy sigh and to express that I am tired of trodding on sub-floor and carting the dishes from the dishwasher and sink in the old kitchen to their new homes in cabinets in the new one. And I want to be able to sit on my sofa.

 


Home Improvement (TV series)

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Because we don’t experience enough reno, Rob and I spent some evening sofa time (a sofa being something else we don’t experience these days) watching television, specifically home buying/selling and renovating shows on HGTV. There were shows about reno disasters put right. Lemon homes made right. Virgin home buyers. Jaded home buyers. Greedy, whiny home buyers and sellers. Decorating. Deck pimping. A smorgasbord of wood, plaster and tool-belts with nary an ass crack in sight.

One of Rob’s favorites is Mike Holmes, who is a contractor out east somewhere who’s built a home improvement empire. His show, Holmes Inspection, solicits home owners with issues that need correcting and these issues? Nightmarish and potentially hazardous to the unsuspecting who’ve entreated his guidance. If nothing else, this show should make even the most savvy home owner/buyer suspicious to her marrow of contractors and realtors. One poor couple called Holmes with a sewer back up problem in the basement that turned out to be termites that had eaten away the entire foundation of the side of their just purchased home. AND there was asbestos. Shudder.

Another program is all about the building of one’s dream deck because – apparently – we all lust for THE deck of decks and a London park manicured back yard in the bargain.

My favorites are the home buying shows. There is Love It or List It, which pits a renovator against a realtor. One tries to upgrade the existing home to coerce the owners to stay put while the other shows them listings in an attempt to get them to list and move away. Another show trots increasingly larger homes in front of couples looking to buy a new home, shining a white-hot spotlight on the true cause of the current housing debacle in the U.S. – greed. I watched dumbfounded as a couple argued that a 2000 sq foot home was not large enough for them and their toddler daughters. They eventually opted for a nearly 3000 sq foot home that they could barely afford and had no extra money to furnish or pony up for a lawn.

It’s all about the square footage. Two people – often – living in caverns. And everyone wants the largest master bedroom they can find. But to my mind, unless your sex life includes gymnastics and Tantric yoga, the space is wasted. Do people hold dinner parties in their bedrooms? No, they sleep. They don’t even have sex off the bed, which renders the master baths with separate showers and swimming pool like tubs a waste as well.

We are entering month six of the kitchen/living room reno. Rob simply doesn’t have time enough to progress any faster than he has, and between work, family and a winter of the child bringing home every disease under the sky, progress at times has been snail-like in movement.

“You know,” Rob said as we were watching the Deck Pimp, “maybe we could write in and get him to come and build us a deck.”

But if we are going whore our lives out (more than I do blogging anyway), I think we should think bigger and send a plea to Mr.Holmes.

I know what you are thinking though. They spent their holiday watching television?

We got to the Villa late Sunday because Dee came home from school the Friday before with a raging fever. It’s still going around up here and you luck out with a 24hr virus or one that lingers for a week. She was right as rain by Sunday morning, but the late start and the cold weather kept us indoors mostly Sunday evening and Monday. Rob brought his computer along because he had to check his work e-mail. No, really. He had to and I can’t say much more. And though I brought my netbook, I can’t say I really cared if I logged on or not. In fact, I was off-line until about Thursday and even then, I had no enthusiasm, barely checking the blogs.

So, it was television. And tv is awful. How do you people stand it? Reality and terrible drama and sometimes both at once.

There is a channel that’s devoted to hooking up, staying hooked, hooking. One centered on a matchmaker in NYC who actually schools ordinary folk in the art of landing millionaires. It’s like some awful Marilyn Monroe movie on Botox and pretension.

Anymore I am as bad as Dee, staring at flat screens as though I have never in my life seen one or didn’t spend most of my childhood glued to the tube.

But we always came back to the home based reality shows. I don’t know what that says about us. Boring things, no doubt. A sofa, a snuggle and a roaring fire is more holiday for us than you know and a little television a couple of times a year is less a brain rot than most people inflict on themselves.