Real Renovation

Pass the sledge hammer…

We’ve all watched renovation shows. A budget was decided. Perky hosts came up with a design. The homeowners loved it. The work was done. Then there was a reveal with granite countertops. Homeowners shed tears of joy.

            If real life renovation followed this fantasy format, my desk wouldn’t be littered with tomatoes, cereal boxes, and drill bits. The water shower in the kitchen would be ocean mist, and Snoop Dog was due to stroll past and hand me a Mexican beer with lime.

            Imagine moving everything out of half of your house including three closets. Now move it all into the rest of your two-bedroom, one bathroom house. Television renovation never shared where homeowners put all the crap from the rooms under renovation. TV homeowners moved out during the madness.

             As pipes gushed water on the freshly painted ceiling and dripped down the newly installed cabinet, I franticly searched for towels. You wouldn’t see a camera crew cut to my just as frantic search for the box that held the booze at day’s end. Real renovation is a shitshow.

            Many people renovate homes to increase space or value. The hubby and I had different reasons. The band-aid solutions we used to fix the house while raising a family now looked like thousand-year-old mummy wrappings.

            Renovation shows had laborers, carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians, and a person to run to the home improvement store at least once a day. Consider our budget. Think of the lowest renovation budget you’ve witnessed. Now minus $150,000. That’s what we had to work with. We needed to replace things before we were too freaking old to do the work ourselves to save labor costs.  

            The hubby is a carpenter by trade. On our project, he was also electrician and so-so plumber (three leaks, one gusher).

            With artist/writer to my name, I drew painter. Though quite skilled at painting happy trees, I was discouraged from channeling my inner Bob Ross. Likewise, The Starry Night wasn’t destined for any ceilings. The boredom led me to picture Edvard Munch’s The Scream everywhere.

            By default, I scored the leftover, sucky jobs which mostly consisted of using the shop vac. Use pliers as a hammer once, and lose saw privileges. I was repeatedly reminded that because a shop vac had the power to suck up a slice of peanut butter toast, it didn’t mean that I should abuse the vacuum in such a manner.

            The hubby drew much satisfaction from using a power saw to demolish the old cabinets and countertops. On big budget TV renovations, carpenters usually ripped out everything and started from scratch. There’s a reason for this. Old houses were built by men who thought floors should be slanted for marble races. The phrase hubby used for fixing old construction was “you can’t make shit shine.” In many ways, we polished a turd which increased our need for more swear words. My bonus task consisted of creating new swear words when we ran through all the known expletives.

            On TV, hosts may sweat a bit or have a smidge of sawdust on their sleeves. After a day’s work, the hubby and I not only resembled carcasses dragged behind a chariot, but also felt as if the road was paved with boulders.

            You wouldn’t see Chip and Joanna take a break from demolition to wash clothes because they couldn’t stand the stench from their laundry. It was unimaginable for TV gopher to flash an elbow at the paint counter person and say,” I need another gallon of paint to match this.” On TV, you wouldn’t see a homeowner bend over the bathtub to wash dishes. Nor would you see the generosity of neighbors or children who show up with real food out of pity and health concerns for seventeen consecutive meals containing lunchmeat.

            At our reveal, we shed tears and joyfully shouted, “Halleluiah! We’re finally done!” We celebrated a new porcelain throne and a kitchen that rocked without granite. The new pot drawer was my favorite. I no longer chanced a stint in purgatory for swearing at the cabinet to give up the mama flicking pots. Oops, sorry, real renovation.

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