Renovation fugue

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Every major home improvement project I’ve ever worked on has a despair phase. Last week, I hit the despair period in the new house renovation: things I needed to order took twice as long to deliver as expected. Projects such as paint and wallpaper stripping took on a distinctly Sisyphean air. I sliced a finger with a razor blade. Everything smelled bad, from the wet carpet in the bathroom (YES, carpet in the bathroom) to the floral fabric softener I was using to strip wallpaper, which, Pavlov-style, is now linked to vile misery in my psyche.

It’s too early to say that we’ve turned a corner, but at least I started priming and painting things yesterday. Painting is cathartic. It’s visual proof of progress. Yesterday I started painting the kitchen cabinet interiors and decided that hell no, I would not go, until they were complete. In the bright light of morning, I saw that they need a second coat, but that’s nothing! Look. The interiors of these kitchen cabinets were a bright, streaky blood-red. Now they are white. It’s as if a minor miracle has occurred.

One thing we learned from the complete top-to-bottom renovation of our first house is that certain projects just require more precision and expertise than we have at our disposal. We can improvise solutions to just about anything, but that does not mean that we will be happy in the long run. Thus, a bowl-cutted fellow called Hans came over this morning to bid on a slew of things, from countertop installation to ventilating the over-the-range microwave we’re installing to installing new outlets and moving the gas line to accommodate the range. Also, apparently, the entire south wall cabinet needs to be rebuilt, because it’s jacked up.

On Tuesday, when we expect to get the bid, I anticipate a second round of despair. But these are investments that will be well worth it. We know our limits now.


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