Renovation mood blows hot and cold

Exactly one day after agreeing to purchase our ancient wreck of a house, we discovered, as do many young marrieds, that the good Lord had a much bigger project in plan for us: our first baby.

This sped up our original “five year plan” of home renovation considerably. Indeed, we spent the next six months aiming less for House Beautiful and more for “habitable.” Trying to turn back the tide of time and tackiness, evenings and weekends were spent sawing, scraping, and sobbing dramatically “no child of mine is going to live in this DUMP!”

Perfection

When the rest of the house appeared to be close to condemned, there was one perfect room at the end of the hall: the nursery.

I would often pick my way across the hard-hat minefield that was the rest of the house and go lie down on the nursery floor. With pale, butter cream walls and silvery plush carpet, it stood as an oasis of clean and calm.

Someday, every room would look this good. Still young and stupid, I suffered the delusion that someday the entire house would be “done.”

Undone

The room served our son as a nursery and beyond. With only a fresh paint job midway through grade school to eradicate what I was told were “babyish bunnies,” the room stood the test of time.

Then, last year, the roof leaked and Rorschach-like water stains spread across the bulging ceiling. Meanwhile, a (plastic) sword fight conquered the bulwark of an old plaster wall.

Done had officially come undone.

Easy as pie

This, it should be noted, is where Mr. Wonderful truly shines.

All we had to do, he said, was put up new drywall over the old ceiling. This is what old house people with unattractive old ceilings do. This is why old houses were built with such high ceilings in the first place, I understand.

Eventually most homes will have so many layers of ceiling coming ever lower to the floor that occupants will shimmy on their bellies from room to room. Apparently squatty is always in style.

Heard that before

Now, I am wise to Mr. Wonderful’s moves. I’ve fallen for this “all we need to do” sweet talk before.

Like most testosterone-riddled humans, he simply itches to run amuck in a home improvement hangar.

This, it should be noted, is why so many men drive pick-up trucks. It’s not to impress the ladies. It’s so they can load up on power tools, 2×4′s, and wallboard at the drop of a hat. Or ceiling.

Since I have no discernible talent in the hanging of drywall, I am relegated to being a “holder.” As in, “you hold up this incredibly heavy cumbersome sheet until your arms snap clear in half while I go over here and tap this screw in with my drill.” That gets old real quick.

Projects beget projects

Still, sometimes in the midst of drywall-dust induced hallucinations, I have rare moments of lucidity whereby I offer up such gems as “once you seal up this ceiling you’ll have to hack a hole in it later when you install that vent fan for the bathroom right?”

I let that one fly as Mr. Wonderful had the joyous realization that we could do even MORE damage to yet ANOTHER room in our home AT THE SAME EXACT TIME!

Did I really just say that OUT LOUD?

Fan of fans

Now, new house people take bathroom ventilation for granted. In old houses, on the other hand, you always seem to have ventilation where you don’t want it — say the roof, and never where you do — say the bathroom where the mirror is perpetually fogged and a fine layer of mildew might be mistaken for bath towels.

In order to run ventilation to our bathroom, Mr. Wonderful had to heave himself into uncharted attic space via the bedroom ceiling.

Once there, he spent many happy hours inventing new curse words and dropping small hand tools through various nooks and crannies. At some point he also installed a fan.

Two gaping holes, buckets of dust and one bird’s nest (don’t ask) later, we have achieved a brand-new bedroom for the boy — and bathroom ventilation!

As avowed old house aficionados, we stand around the fan with the same rapt delight that people must have paid to the first incandescent light bulb.

Fan on. Fan off. Man, we could do that all day.

Our bathroom has airflow, our son has a ceiling, and I have a few dozen errant drywall screws that I seem only to find late at night with bare feet.

Dust to dust

As we clean up, I have found that we can also trace letters in the fine, white, powdery drywall dust that filtered unchecked to every surface throughout the house.

In the spirit of hope, optimism, and endless naivete, someone has written “Done!” This just proves that home renovators are hardy souls … and that drywall dust makes you stupid.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

One Comment

  1. Photos of the completed project can be found here http://kymberlys.blogspot.com/2010/03/blog-post.html

    (and when I say “completed” I mean that someday we will get around to those pesky finishing touches like hanging the curtains ;)

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