Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Home renovations

We’ve all been there—home renovations—never-ending home renovations. You start on one room, and by the time that room is done, you see that it puts all the other rooms to shame. So then it’s time to start on the others too. One at a time, of course, or should I say unfortunately. Because one at a time means we’re looking at years of renovations ahead of us. That’s how it’s been for us since 2005; one bathroom underwent renovations in 2005, two bathrooms at the same time in 2007 (a re-renovation of the one done in 2005 was included), our kitchen in 2008, and the guest room and entrance hallway in 2009. When we renovated the first bathroom in 2005, it took several months because the electrically-warmed floor under the ceramic tiles had to be laid carefully and tested, and so on. And then came the decisions about what kind of shower to install, what sink looked best, and what types of tiles should be used for flooring and for the walls. The design part of it was fun, but I’m glad we didn’t have to do the work ourselves. As our luck would have it, our co-op decided that it would undertake a large bathroom renovation project in 2007 that started in January, and this meant that the newly-renovated bathroom was to be newly-renovated again in order to conform to co-op standards (standard design). Luckily for us, the bathroom renovations in our building (there are ten buildings in all) started in April so that our daily trip down to the provisional bathroom in the basement of our building was not an exercise in freezing to death on the way down and up again. Other co-op residents were not so lucky, especially those who lost their bathroom to renovations in mid-December. But it was no fun to lose two bathrooms at the same time, because we also lost our kitchen privileges since all water to the apartment was shut off. Most people in our building moved out to live with friends or family during the four to six weeks it took for the bathrooms to be finished, because all bathrooms in one apartment building were renovated at the same time because new water pipes had to be installed from basement to attic. We stayed put and roughed it—using the bathroom in the basement, getting water to cook and wash dishes from the faucet in the building’s hallway, and cooking on an electric hot plate or going out to eat. Every now and then I would go to my gym and train and shower there. On the plus side, we got to know all the workers, who took over all floors of the apartment building as they worked with their tools and materials, boom box radio blaring out rap and disco music as they worked.

We are now re-doing our dining room, and have removed several layers of wallpaper from the walls (some of which are brick) and all floor and ceiling moldings. We have help with most of the prep work from the same guys who helped us with previous renovations. So the walls have been stripped bare, the ceiling also, there is spackling of cracks and crevices, wall-papering, painting, gluing, you name it. I forget from one project to another just how much work is involved when you first start to work on a room and aim to do it thoroughly and correctly. There is dust everywhere, a fine white grit that wears its way into all wooden surfaces. We are eating dust, breathing dust, dusting dust, vacuuming dust. And if we ‘dust’ it all away it just settles again somewhere else. I keep telling myself that it’s worth it because the end result will look nice, but with each renovation project, I am ever more determined to never undertake another one. And in truth, we really only have one more room, our living room, and that doesn’t look too bad these days. I’ll live with it. I want my life back, I want all the different pieces of furniture returned to their rightful places, I don’t want to see layers of dust everywhere, and I don’t want to clean anymore. Mostly I don’t want to clean anymore.

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