How to Survive a Home Renovation Without Killing Your Family With a Reciprocating Saw

10001097_10202549951485018_7592481946737956223_oWe’ve embarked upon the most major of home renovations.  Throughout our partnership with our 120 year old home, we’ve taken on some big projects.  A second floor renovation, replacing the entire front entrance, a  new fence.  I’ve suffered through crippling painter’s hand, putting a drill through my finger, getting a crow bar to the head.  All part and parcel to the loving renewal of our home.

But, now, we’re smack dab in the middle of the big one.  The Kitchen Renovation.  The pulling down walls, knocking down chimneys, and building it all back up again project.    The demolition was rough, but certainly satisfying.  Cleaning black dust out of my ears is never pleasant.  But, the feeling of accomplishment that you get when you knock down four floors of chimney is unparalleled.  And once the dust is cleaned up, and then cleaned up again, you get to see it all come back together.

Living through a major home renovation is a challenge.  But, good friends, take out pizza, and a late afternoon beer makes everything a little better.  Keeping two young boys busy and out of the way is not easy.  They’re used to big projects.  They’ve learned to take advantage of their freedom and independence while mom and dad are working.  And, they love helping out and watching the progress.

Our tight living conditions have been an adventure.   I could do without the plastic partitions separating our living area from the rest of the house.  But, it helps if we put it all in perspective.  These aren’t even “first world problems”, these are “house owner problems.”  A majority of the world lives with less than a quarter of what we have now.  Hell, most of the middle-class urban population of this planet would dream to have the space we have now.  And, Ed’s always wanted to have a New York City apartment.  You’re welcome, honey.

Someone, when learning of our temporary condition, said, “But how do you do the dishes!?!?!?”  What?  Without a dishwasher?  When your non-disposable dishes amount to four bowls, a spatula, a sauce pan, and a coffee mug, you make do with the bathroom sink.  My daily trip down the street to the storm drain to dump the uneaten cereal is entertaining the whole neighborhood.  And, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I did do the dishes while showering earlier this week (water preservation at it’s finest).

But, we could have worse problems.  Choosing between a white or a beige countertop does not an emergency make.  We’re taking one decision at a time.  First the faucets, and then the lighting, and then the tile.  It’s a lesson in compromise and learning what are priorities for each of us.  And we pick our battles.  We know what matters (dark grout) and what really doesn’t (the placement of every outlet).  And we realize that when you’re used to an oven that doesn’t stay lit and a fridge that freezes your milk, anything is an improvement.

What’s important is that we’re building a home for ourselves, our friends, and our family.  A place we’re we can do homework, and cook dinner together, and have dance parties.  Where we can entertain our friends and our children friends, where we can live a big, full vibrant life.  So, a few hours late at night cutting out ceiling with a reciprocating saw while everyone else is watching hockey is well worth the effort.

Can we do this without the fancy new kitchen, without the stainless steel appliances and tile backsplash? Absolutely.  But, we’ve worked hard with this in mind.  We’ve done a lot of DIY and saved all of our pennies, and this is part of the master plan.  Because, as I’ve always said, this is our Forever Home.  So, a little short term discomfort is well worth the long term pleasure.

More than half-way there and we’re starting to come into the home stretch.  The skeleton of our new kitchen is coming together. The walls will go up next week, the cabinets the week after, and then we’re almost there.  And, I think we’re going to make it.

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