It is often said that boredom is the birthplace of creativity and productivity. During the first few weeks of Covid captivity, my family and I worked on superficial, cosmetic chores like organizing our rooms, closets and cars to pass the time. During the next phase of monotony, my household was divided. Teens went into their own digital zombie world, while my husband and I went a little stir crazy. After being cooped up in the confines of our home, the 1970s Brady Bunch stairs and smokey mirrors that we’d been ignoring for years finally screamed at us. After falling down the Pinterest rabbit hole of design images, we picked up the phone, met with a recommended contractor and put our vision into motion. One creative idea led to the next and we were set to remodel an entire floor of our home.
As with any new interest, it was all exciting at first. Being our family’s designated foreman, I wanted to connect with the workmen, considering we’d be sharing the house for the next “four weeks or so.” We told stories, laughed a ton and discovered we had similar tastes in music; we’d often bust out a sing-along to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” I felt good about this crew and their efficiency. No doubt they were going to be done in the time frame they provided. Not the case.
When all was said and done, our home was completed only three weeks past our contractor’s estimation. However, by that sixth week, the music quieted—both literally and figuratively. My thoughts were not matching the smile I continued to plaster on my face and there were certainly no more sing-alongs. I found the energy of my home to be nothing better than antsy/frustrating, kind of like waiting in a ridiculously long line at a theme park on a hot summer day with hungry kids in tow.
Fortunately, the final product was everything we envisioned and more—all head banging and anticipation was worth it. In an effort to enlighten (warn) the next brave soul willing to undertake a renovation, I’ve created a list with a few helpful tips.
The ABCs of Renovating
- A: Always choose a contractor you like right off the bat; you’ll be doing a ton of conversing, problem solving and decision making together. If that contractor is you—good luck. You may not like yourself afterward.
- B: Be kind to the workmen. They know where you live (wink).
- Care for yourself during the chaos. Take lots of nature walks. Commune with the squirrels.
- Do not believe that your home will be finished in two weeks or even two months.
- Enjoy early morning peace.
- Find a place to hide when your home is descended upon by workers.
- Get your life in order before construction begins.
- Have lots of alcohol on tap as the project progresses. I’ve heard a bottle a day keeps the stress away.
- Imagine the end product when you’re in the thick of it.
- Just get rid of the old crap you’ve harbored to one day give to your kids. They don’t/won’t want it.
- Keep smiling, even when you want to rip your hair out.
- Let your kids eat whatever they want during the tumult—you know they could care less about the healthy squash casserole recipe you were considering.
- Muffle your screams of frustration into your pillow… no need to frighten the neighbors.
- Never make coffee in your underwear during work hours. It’s best to put a coffee maker in your bedroom to avoid such an embarrassing occasion. Not that I would know or anything.
- Opt for the better quality materials. If the $150 dollar faucet makes you happier than eating chips and queso, do it and cut a corner somewhere else.
- Plan on something going sideways and learn to meditate.
- Quit complaining about how long the work is taking… it will always last longer than expected.
- Rely on your intuition. If you don’t have any, you’re in trouble.
- Surprise your workers with breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- The microwave is your friend. Buy Stouffer’s in bulk; they make a killer mac ‘n’ cheese.
- Utilize ear muffs or headphones. The constant noise can send you off the deep end.
- Vacate the house whenever possible.
- Wait until at least noon to begin drinking.
- Xerosis: Abnormal dryness, especially of the skin, eyes or mucous membranes. See? You’ve learned a new word.
- You should really host a household meeting to decide if it’s the right time for everyone to be totally disrupted. Note: Kids will most always say “not now,” but it’s nice to pretend to give them a vote.
- Zeroes add up when you love everything. Try to stick to a budget.