Buy a fixer-upper as our first house. Rip down walls with no experience whatsoever. Whitewash brand new exotic hardwood floors. Do every project ourselves. Hang onto Ian’s legs while he dangles out a window installing a vent.
There have been plenty of times during this renovation where I’ve thought, seriously, we must be insane, but never so much as this past weekend. Six months into a whole-house renovation and in the middle of at least 4 different projects – we decided to have a party. A house party. With all of our friends, family, and neighbors.
Literally everyone was coming over to see the work we’d done, to see us (we’re semi-anit-social these days) and, of course, to have a few cocktails. But what seemed like a good idea (umm, when was that?!) quickly snowballed into an exorbitant amount of pressure and frustration. We were mid-paininting the kitchen, mid-updating our electrical system, mid-finishing the master bedroom… We had no furniture. No TVs. No walls or flooring in some rooms!
And, oh my god, our place was a MESS. An absolute, no-holding-back natural disaster. Cavemen lived more organized lives than us. I thought about taking pictures of our half-project/half-lived-in house, but I chose to save myself the embarrassment. I’m glad I did. Just imagine a pile of building rubble, stacks and stacks of boxes containing a hundred coats, sweaters and a billion cooking utensils – all covered in drywall dust and paint splatter. And that was just the living room.
It took us two full days to clean the house and organize all of our stuff. We got our furniture (some of it), set up drinking game stations (I never said this was a classy party), covered holes in floors, installed a built-in bench in the kitchen, finished priming and painting in two rooms and hooked up the TV (and installed cable). And we cleaned. For hours. And hours. And hours. Our poor basement took a beating – anything that couldn’t find a real home got tossed down the stairs. I’m afraid to go down there.
But on the bright side, our home is quasi-functional now. No longer will people confuse our dining room for our kitchen (it’s happened). And this forced me to put away my cooking items so I can actually use my new appliances. We still can’t find our silverware, but I did find a spoon…signs of life! The living room has furniture so we can sit in there and have a conversation like civilized people. I’m looking forward to getting rid of the horrible overhead light, but the room at least operates as it should. Walking downstairs now makes me happy, not terrified of what I’ll find (or never find).
Another bonus of having a house party was getting to see my home through other people’s eyes. We don’t think about projects much once they are finished, we just move on and focus on the next task. But talking about and getting compliments on our past projects felt really good. People loved our hardwood floors, kitchen counters, refrigerator build-in, 3rd floor den, mini bathroom, etc. And everyone was surprised with the amount of work we’d done. “You had to do WHAT to your walls?!” I’m not going to lie, comments like those definitely made me feel like we were doing okay and headed in the right direction. It all served as motivation to keep up the good/hard work.
And that alone was worth two and a half days of backbreaking cleaning.
Big thanks to everyone who came – it was a blast! We will do it again once we’re all done…whenever that is!