John and I move slow. Reeeeeealllly slooooooow. I don’t mean literally – we’re known to knock over amblers on the street – I mean in life. In decision making. We like to take our time, really ponder our options. Maybe sleep on it for a night or 400 (or 4000 in the case of deciding to get married). To us, every little task in life is like docking the space station: we must approach it at just the right time, at the optimal angle, and with peak efficiency or the consequences will be dire.
We might choose wrong.
Of course, most of the time the consequences are just that we might not get the best lamp ever made, or we might be forced to pick a new paint colour, or be subjected to a movie that didn’t move us to our very core. Horrible outcomes clearly, but not dire.
The irony is that we are immobilized more by the little things than the big things that actually could have dire consequences. We bought our home within days of hiring a realtor and haven’t regretted it once. We did our research ahead of time but in the end, it was largely a decision based on our gut and one we made in about 48 hours. But ask us to pick a rug for said home? Well that took months. I have a hard time making decisions, John has a hard time acting on them; turns out we perfectly complement each other in ensuring that we never get anything done.
No surprise then that the major projects in our home remain undone nearly three years after we moved in. That’s three years into the five that we initially planned to live here (though that timeline has likely been extended – turns out five years is not that long and we’ll need at least a couple of years just to decide to move).
In that time we’ve managed to tackle the small things. Things for which the decision making was relatively simple and the first step was clear. Pick a paint colour and then slap it on the wall. Remove the old door handles and screw in shiny new ones. Rip out old crap from the closet and install new shelves.* Not that it still didn’t take us forever to do all those things but we managed to overcome the hurdles because the decisions were at least limited. And we knew which decisions were there to make.
It’s not nearly that simple when you want to gut and replace an entire bathroom and most of your kitchen. These tasks actually start to resemble that space shuttle docking a little more. We have done research, we have talked to family members with renovation experience, we have gotten ourselves a clue, but we are not builders. We have never done this before. Half the time we don’t even know the right question to ask, never mind the terminology to make the question understandable to someone who doesn’t speak in whatchamacallits and thatmetalthingamagigs?
And digging right to the heart of our reason for stalling: What if we start but don’t do things in the most, bestest way ever? Or god forbid, what if we make a mistake? We don’t do mistakes. We ponder our way out of ever having to make one.
Which is why our bathroom has been sitting half ripped apart for the last two months.
But hey, you know what that means? We ripped it apart!! And that, my friends, is progress in our
This weekend we finally tackled a home project that we intended to do within months of moving into our place. Fast forward two years and we finally
gathered the courage got fed up enough to actually tackle it: we did a complete overhaul of our bedroom closets. Our bedroom is pretty tiny, as in we have a bed against one wall and a bookcase against the opposing wall and you can just barely walk between the two. So for clothing storage we are limited to the two built-in closets, each a mere three feet wide. Three feet sounds decent, until you have to fit all of your clothing into it. They each had a couple of shelves but were terribly designed, forcing us to employ a patchwork of drawers, standing shelving units and levitating spells. They also had disgusting white brown carpets and the walls featured a bland rainbow of all the paint colours ever used in our bedroom.
So this weekend, down came the existing shelves and carpet to make room for new paint, vinyl flooring with white trim, and built-in Rubbermaid customizable shelving.
Wow, I just reduced two and a half days of back breaking labour into one sentence. Damn DIY.
It all sounds so neat and tidy doesn’t it? Well it’s only because I’m leaving one part out. Anyone notice what is missing from the “after” pictures? Yes, it’s the
devil reincarnated mirror doors.
We have disliked these mirror doors from the get-go. They are ancient, clunky, block the entry to the bathroom when open, are covered in paint stains, and generally ugly. However, we have yet to come up with a better option for this space, and new bi-fold mirror doors run about $180 each. So. Inspired by the ease with which Sherry of Young House Love spray paints all kinds of things in their house back to pristine condition, I decided I too can be awesome like her.
I am decidedly not awesome.
You guys. This project almost broke me. As in it turned me into a screaming, blubbering, scratching, foaming at the mouth lunatic who was about to smash the mirrors into a thousand pieces just so she could then use one to stab herself with.
Temper? What temper?
Taping newspaper to carefully cover every non-edge surface of two bi-fold mirror doors (which is an awkwardly configured 99% of them) is one of the single most frustrating tasks I have ever attempted. Oh it all started off smoothly enough – me in the back patio humming along to Adele and the Dirty Heads, taping and patching together the paper merrily. It was right around the 400th time I had to add more tape to keep the paper from fluttering in the wind that I started to lose it. My neighbors also probably started to get a bit scared at this point with the low growling eminating from our side of the fence. And when – hours later – I finally got to spraying, I screwed up by not following Sherry’s Number One Rule of Spray Painting: many thin coats. Many. Thin. Coats. The metallic colour I was using wasn’t providing much coverage of the old paint smudges so I got a bit trigger happy and ended up with drippy globs of paint everywhere.
And that’s when everything went white and I found myself lying face down on our bed screaming I HATE THE MIRROR DOORS!! DAMN THE FUCKING DOORS!! DIE MIRRORS DIE!!
And then John made me stop for lunch and a beer. He actually had to make me. I would have wrestled with those mirrors to the death.
This is where they are now, leaning against the wall of the office, until I regain my sanity. Or until we find something else for our closets and I get to send them where they belong.
Hell. The trash. Craigslist.
This does not bode well for the bathroom project.
From the moment we moved into our home nearly two years ago we have been wanting to renovate our en-suite bathroom. It is most definitely outdated, but more concerning than the visual assault is the strange, slightly moldy smell that emanates from there whenever the floor gets wet. It creeps us out so we don’t wash the floors much in there. (Yeah, that’s definitely the reason.)
For a long time we’ve had good excuses to put off this project. When we first moved in, we were quite depleted in funds from all that inconvenient down-payment business. Then we threw a really big party. And then we spent six uninterrupted months babbling incoherently at our adorable puppy at home while saving to pay off a family loan, which we did last month.
And just like that, we’re fresh out of excuses.
In theory we are ready to start. We’ve got a good idea of what we want to do, though nothing is set in stone as we’re not entirely sure what we’ll find under the existing fixtures (fingers crossed for no dead bodies).
This is what it looks like currently. Somehow the lighting turned out a bit too flattering – I’m looking at this thinking ‘I kinda like that bathroom’ – but trust me, it’s grungy when you get up close.
Note the beautiful blue accent tiles and the vanity detailing work of Cassie:
And here is the highly suspect shower, the floor of which is just barely hanging onto some grout. We are really scared of what we’ll find under that. In this case a dead body might be preferable to the giant, toxic, mutant mold monster that I think might come out of the drain, very Lost-like. (Note to self: get bag of ashes ready.)
Meanwhile right behind me…
The problem now is we have no idea how to actually start. We have done smaller projects around here, but this, this requires dismantling an entire room. A rather important room.* Do we literally just go in there one morning with a sledgehammer and have at it? Seems like there should be something more orchestrated going on.
Luckily we are not quite as helpless as we look; we have family with serious renovation experience. So step one is luring them with offers of drink and food to come over and tell us what to do.
Step two is getting them to help us do it.
If you have any brilliant bathroom reno-advice, please tell me! I really don’t want to have to learn my own lessons the hard way. Because it may or may not resemble this.
*Especially to me, as I have had to wake up to pee practically every night since I was like 20. Don’t worry, we do have another bathroom – bedpans are not currently under serious consideration.