Truth! And top 10 Lessons from a Renovation

Hello, it’s been awhile. I got lost in reno world, then the holidays then sickness for the last month and a half or so. I have a post about the top 10 things I learned from my home improvement adventure, which I will share with you after I’m done chatting.

Also I almost decided to quit this blog, because I thought, what’s the point, I feel like I’m forcing this and like I’m sharing nonsense. I’m not helping other  nor am I giving an honest expression of myself. And honesty is what I am about this year, not honestly like “I think your face is ugly”, that honestly is selfish in my opinion, but sharing myself without ego and without caring that that you think I’m a total dope. Being  vulnerable, which is a prerequisite for being real.  I want to share what is going well and what is going terribly wrong in my project. That’s all I’m going to do with this blog in 2013. You won’t learn anything useful or want to hire me after reading the blog from now on out.  But this isn’t about making  myself look good for whatever reason, its about honestly assessing how things are going and expressing myself .


Girl…I could tell you so much now! but I’ll wait until Friday.  for now here’s a top ten…written before I decided on becoming a truth teller only…though it is pretty true.

Lessons from a renovation.

  1. Demo is fun…and then everything goes downhill. I know I complained a lot about wall paper removal but looking back that was the most “fun” part of the renovation. Why? Because generally breaking things down is easier than building things up. You have the force of entropy with you! Same thing with removing the carpet, yeah it was sweaty and rough but considering at how hard the carpet guys worked installing the new carpet I did the easy part. This reflects human nature too. It’s much easier to cut down other people’s creations than actually create something yourself. Heck it’s easier break down your own life rather than creating something with it. Demo isn’t so existential, enjoy it, it might be the last fun you’ll have in a long time, but remember that the creating is going to be a whole lot harder.
  2. Things will break unexpectedly: Our realtor warned us that we should expect things to break at the most inconvenient moment. He was correct. For example, I successfully broke our one good looking faucet on Sunday at 1 am. It then proceeded to leak all over the floor and was almost impossible to turn off because of corroded bolts. Or the clogged drain that had to be plunged for an hour straight. One can see why people used to believe that evil spirits and mischievous/mallvioent house elves (nisse!) were breaking things and making their lives miserable, because it does almost feel sometimes like some malignant force is out to get you. The fact that you have almost no control over when these unexpected breaks will occur is even more scary. Makes you nostalgic got the days when you could just sacrifice a few chickens and your life would be OK.
  3. The more projects you complete the more projects you create. Its annoying but true. You put up tape on the ceiling to protect them while painting the walls and when you peel off the tape you peel off part of the ceiling paint too…congrats you have a new project: touching up the ceiling  Almost every project we have done has a little mini projects attached to it. New wood floor? New shoe molding. New shoe molding? You have to paint it. Eventually these little spawn projects stop hatching (hopefully) but in the mean time you have all these little loose ends.
  4. You will always end up over budget thanks to things like unexpected breakdowns and complications and spawn projects. This is one thing you can plan for- add 10%-20% to your budget for these events…and it will make unexpected problems less financially taxing, if not less taxing on your time and sanity.
  5. Details suck! Some people probably love doing the details, I don’t. If you are like me you want to cry when you have spend three hours carefully applying two coast of paint to a door and it still looks like hell. I like big things where I can see big results. Laboring for hours and making tiny improvements is painful for me. But they have to get done so sometimes…
  6. Its OK to cry. When you are stuck alone having to do things you hate you will probably want to cry. Go ahead. No one is there to hear you, except for your dog and the malevolent house elves (they are probably laughing at you). Cry, go outside to get some fresh air and go back to work. Pretend you are in a prison camp and if you don’t do this you will be shot. Pretend you are a professional and you love this stuff. Try to practice mindfulness and just try to concentrate on what you are doing in the moment…Do whatever you have to do to to get yourself to sit down (or stand up) and finish that gruesome task.
  7. Be grateful for any help you can get. Its amazing when you can get help from someone who enjoys different tasks and its great if you can get any help at all. Be very grateful  Reward your volunteers with cookies, pizza, hugs, whatever they value. I find difficult work (like details) to go much faster and be more enjoyable when I do it with someone else, so for me any company is valuable. My husband on the other hand prefers working alone. As you can see we are set up for conflict when we try to work on a project together. If you are in a situation like mine realize that neither of you will have an ideal working environment all of the time, and get ready to compromise.
  8. Be happy when you get to relative normal. If you wait for perfection you will never be happy or it will take you a very very long time. Instead celebrate the day when things look normal. Yeah you still might not have a kitchen floor most of your clothes are in plastic garbage bags but you can cook, sleep, shower, and sit in relative comfort. You have created a functioning demo. Congratulations you have made a home!!!
  9. The finishing details take the longest time. After you celebrated realitive normal you still have a lot of work to do. Relax. This doesn’t mean relax and ignore the finishing details for the next 10 years you own the house, but instead relax and get into a mode of consistent small improvements rather than the full throttle all encompassing renovation mode you have been in. Think of it this way, every time you have a boring Sunday afternoon ahead of you there is always a little project waiting for you!
  10. What you learn on the project opens up a whole new world. You start noticing and enjoying things you used to pass right over. A friend’s excellent paint job. An interesting molding in a shop. The wall paper and room color in Downton Abby. The different ways carpet is installed around stairs. The world is suddenly more colorful and interesting. Enjoy your new knowledge and experiences. Besides a renovated home or other completed project this is the true reward of learning.

2 thoughts on “Truth! And top 10 Lessons from a Renovation

  1. Francesca says:

    Great points! I’m about to start a big project i our home and will try to keep your list in mind :) Thank you so much for sharing this! Hopefully I’ll survive the renovation!

  2. Avz says:

    Thanks for the comment! I’m glad you enjoyed my list and I’m sure you will survive your renovation. It all feels worth it when it’s over :)

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