Make This: An old house can learn new tricks — the hard way
by Deirdre Long
Dec 22, 2013 | 1053 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For the last two months, life has been busy. Time seems to pick up pace once Halloween is over anyway, with Thanksgiving and travel and all the holiday festivities. Throw in a Winter Market and my 30th birthday in between, and there hasn’t been a lot of time that I haven’t felt stressed out to some degree.

Not to mention on top of everything else, we are having renovations done on our house. Renovations are difficult to maneuver your way around at any point, but when you add in two toddlers and the fact that they included a new laundry room (i.e. no washer or dryer for about a month), things get interesting.

It’s been tough. We spent a couple days without hot water. When it got cold out, our kitchen was frigid with only a drafty interior door to block the elements. There’s been lots of dust and dirt and sawdust, and even more of me yelling “Don’t touch that!” when the kids tried to investigate the power tools/wet concrete/exposed wiring that was left at the end of the day.

I gouged my finger pretty badly this week prying quarter round from the kitchen baseboard, after deciding that if the cabinets were getting replaced, I might as well replace the warped vinyl tile floor, too. But that’s only a minor disaster compared to the plumbing problem that left construction at a standstill for two weeks.

And while it’s getting close, it’s not over yet. The laundry and a desperately needed second bathroom are finished (except for painting, which we’ll get to eventually), and the workers have moved on to the kitchen.

Let me tell you about the old kitchen. The floor was peeling up due to some unfortunate incidents with our portable dishwasher. Cabinet space was severely lacking, and the cabinets that were there were in poor condition — we removed the upper doors earlier this year, after fighting an endless battle of door-pop-open-itis. There was only one useable base cabinet (on which, of course, the childproof lock would not work) and about 2 feet of enclosed dead space. And while we couldn’t access that space, some critter could obviously. Upon removal, workers found a hole chewed through the sheetrock and an abandoned nest.

We also discovered that our sink used to be on a different wall — and whoever moved it must not have been a very good plumber because the plywood under the sink cabinet was rotted completely through and had to be replaced.

But there’s been a lot of good, too. A break in the weather the week before Thanksgiving allowed us to replace our 70-year-old windows without much problem. And now that it’s cold again, it’s nice to sit in my house and not feel a breeze. Seriously, before we replaced the windows and doors, we’d never gotten our thermostat above 71 degrees. Now I can crank it up as high as I want — although now I find anything above 70 is stifling.

My new kitchen floor is beautiful, and since it’s made of sheet vinyl, no more worrying about warped tiles when I (or a child, or a dog) inevitably spill something. The workers found some “treasures” in their excavation — a couple glass medicine bottles and a Coke bottle from the old plant here in town, which will make fun decorations in my new rooms.

So the last few months haven’t been easy… did I mention our yet-to-be-decorated Christmas tree is on the front porch, since there’s no room for it in our house?). They say if your marriage can survive a renovation, it can survive anything. But you know what really helps heal those wounds? Mommy’s own bathroom, with a locking door.

Features Editor Deirdre Long: 256-294-4152. On Twitter @star_features.
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