Confessions of a home renovation junkie


I am a renovation junkie. I have never met a room that I couldn’t make just a little bit better by first making a big mess. You would never know from my propensity to propose new and ever-more-involved projects for home and property that I am actually a very calm person. I seek order and boredom the way other people chase adrenaline-fueled thrills.

Just as some people are psyched to leap out of perfectly good airplanes, I thrill for that magical moment when all the clean laundry is put away at the same time. A span of time where nothing much happens, nothing goes wrong and everything is as it should be is just about nirvana for me. Yet, leave me alone with a drill or a hammer and all heck breaks loose.

As a wordsmith, I struggle to define myself when it comes to my love of a good, messy, DIY home project. Am I a “provocateur” or an “instigator?” The former is a person who secretly chooses to disrupt a group’s activities from within the group; the latter is a troublemaker.

Honestly, both fit. If by “group” we mean “family,” and “activities” are defined as “any semblance of a normal life,” I cannot argue with either point of view.

New mess

As promised in my “brick wall” rantings of last week, I rang in the New Year happily ankle-deep in home projects that effectively made the entire first floor of our home unlivable. Even on the level of a normal Seabolt Project, tackling all the crown molding in the kitchen at the same time that we decided to create a brick wall in the living room was an ambitious undertaking.

The various saws, air nailers, multiple ladders and flotsam and jetsam of the undertaking was a sight to see. Sawdust and mortar floated in a thick cloud. Girlwonder’s Cute Boyfriend stepped deftly over the air hose and extension cords snaking across the floor. He’s an athlete, so his natural grace comes in very handy around here.

“I love what you’ve done with the place” he said, wryly. The loveseat in the dining room is really inspired.”

He gets us. He’s been around for five years now. I long ago gave up apologizing for the state of the house and the piles of building debris and materials on the porch.

In the midst of all this, GirlWonder breezed in with one of her best friends, a model, perfect and wholesomely-elegant young woman whom we will call Zoe.


Zoe moved to Florida when the girls were in middle school, but their friendship has endured and grown. GirlWonder earned her frequent flyer miles visiting Zoe in Florida over the years from her early teens. Zoe, for her part, returns annually to visit family from our area.

In this way the girls travel back and forth between their respective states to bond and, as near as I can tell, drink gallons of smoothies on either coast. Sweet, gorgeous, glamorous Zoe, fresh from a jaunt around New York City and looking every bit the super model, stepped into our dusty debris field with her impeccable sense of style and wheeled luggage to join us for a five day sleep over.

All I could think as I hugged her tightly was “I hope you like sawdust with your coffee.”

I apologized to her, repeatedly, for the sad state of affairs at our place. She replied, cheerily, that she was pretty much used to it. Judging by the fact that our home is usually under renovation when she visits, this is fair.

While I apologized as if this was an unusual state of affairs, she may have been struggling to notice any difference. As long as she has known us, we (okay, I) have been tearing things up.


I don’t know what it is about me that makes me a project junkie. I get the house set back to rights and swear that, with Bob Vila as my witness, I will not advocate to tear things up again.

Then, I catch a glimpse of something cool on Pinterest, or simply have a thought about how something could be changed to be more to my liking, and the gloves come off (or on, in the case of work gloves). There is, I think, a certain level of control in the disarray. I create a project so I can, in turn, complete a project.

For Mr. Wonderful and I, it’s a lot of togetherness and working on details, riding to the hardware store for supplies and sitting on buckets awaiting solutions. I honestly do not know what we would do if our home is ever “done.” To us, chaos is just another word for fun.


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