Nine Things We Have Learned From Our Renovation:

It's been a month since our duct installation began, and we're starting to reach the point where the constant work on the house is starting to actually feel like ... well, work! 

I liken it to what happens when a new-ish couple goes into Ikea on a Saturday to shop for their first home together:  (I know this from experience)  When they first walk in, they're excited and happy and all hand-holdey and lovey-dovey.  At this point, they look around and wonder why on earth everyone else seems to be fighting... three hours later, they're exhausted, their feet hurt and they still haven't even lined up to pay!  They HAVE walked backwards through Ikea twice, looking for things they forgot; they're pretty convinced the place is a giant maze (like a casino) and that they may die there; the part they need isn't in the correct bin and they are pretty close to screaming about it, but they've already blown their budget on a cart full of other crap they didn't realize they needed (the house always wins!); and they're shaking their heads at all those couples by the entrance who are still holding hands and talking excitedly about storage units!  Seriously, I'll bet people actually break up at Ikea! 

So basically, that's the point we've hit with this reno.  We're pushing through but we're no longer holding hands and frolicking around, saying "This is the best EVER!"  We're pretty sure that if we push through this hump, things will get easier again but it's never going to feel quite the way it did in the beginning because RENOVATIONS ARE NOT FUN! 

Corey and I are pretty convinced that people who say they genuinely like renovations, mean they like the end result.  ... Or they're just plain crazytown!  Because the middle part isn't exactly glamorous. 

Note: When I read this post over, I actually realized that (with a few exceptions) it could have been about becoming new parents or even being pregnant and the headings would have been the same.  Weird, right?  Someone remind me to recycle this post in a few years!

So here are a few things we've learned this past month... some of which have surprised us!

1.  Things get worse before they get better.  Here's what I mean:  The photo at the beginning of this post was taken a month ago, just after our floors had been refinished.  Not too shabby, right?  If I showed you what it looks like now, you would probably laugh.. or cry for us.  There is a giant hole in the wall to the left; there is furniture everywhere; there are holes in the ceilings and exposed ducts running through the dining room and there's still construction dust on some of the furniture, which we keep forgetting to clean because it's all piled together on one side of the room and we can't use it anyway.  I think this is why they only have "before and after" pictures:  because the "during" would make people cry!

2.  There is an intense need to discuss the renovation constantly.  I know this is a social faux pas and that people are being polite when they listen to our renovation stories half the time, but I still can't seem to stop!  I feel like it's similar to when new parents mention weird stuff about their baby's poop.  They probably know it's weird to tell people about it, but they're tired and it's basically the only thing happening in their personal lives at the moment, so it's kind of expected that you nod and pretend you're actually interested in baby poop.  This is how I feel about our renovations right now.  I saw some girlfriends over the weekend and I just couldn't shut up about our trip to the dump!  By the end of the evening, I actually think that they might have been worried that they were missing out on some sort of important life experience just because they've never seen a disgusting mountain of garbage.  I am clearly a bad dinner guest.

3.  We seek out other people who are also renovating.  This goes along with point number 2.  We love swapping "war stories" with other DIYers!  My cousin and her fiance are gutting their house right now (think our renovation, multiplied by ten) and we are obsessed with their renovation.  It's actually a little weird, but it probably comes up in our conversation at home at least once a day.  It also helps us to put our own reno in perspective to see people who are even more ambitious living through even more intense renos.  It helps to be able to say things like "Yeah, it sucks that our bathtub is leaned up against a wall but at least we can use that toilet!"

4.  We live a secret life.  Some days, I feel like we live on one of those TV shows about hoarders because there is stuff everywhere in this house and we are still kind of roughing it.  It's weird to go out to work when you just showered in your family room and had to open a box to find your earrings.  At first, it sort of felt like camping, but now it's just annoying and a little strange to be living without some pretty basic stuff just because it's still packed.  And it's not like we go out and buy the things we need but can't find... Oh no, we are far too cheap for that!  We just muddle through until we can finish unpacking and find the peanut butter, or what ever it is that we're looking for at the moment.  Also, the clawfoot tub is propped up against the wall in the bathroom but it's really close to the toilet, so when you sit down, if you're not careful, your leg accidentally brushes up against it and it starts rocking and then you worry that this 200 lb cast iron monstrosity will fall on you and the paramedics will find you crushed between your bathtub and your toilet with your dog licking your face...

5.  We fight.  OMG, yes!!!  I see those couples on the home reno shows gleefully demolishing a room and laughing as their house basically crumbles around them.  I wish they showed the next day when they're getting ready for work and there's dust everywhere and she can't find her makeup and she packed his work clothes in the wrong box and they're screaming and she ends up just locking herself in the bedroom so that she can enjoy a five minute cry to start the day.  Now THAT'S a show I'd watch!  But seriously, renovations are stressful and tiring and, under those conditions, almost everyone gets a little grouchy.  It's also hard for us because I'm very "Type A" and I'll say things like "We need to have this giant list of things completed... yesterday!" whereas, Corey is more relaxed about it and wants to finish in our own time.  I think we've come up with some good compromises so far but it isn't always easy.

6.  The people at the local hardware store know all about our life.  Seriously, they have seen me cry TWICE this month.  I feel like everything comes to a head at the local Lowes and it's really hard not to look like an emotional basketcase when you're running into the store (not walking quickly, but actually running) with dust in your hair and tears in your eyes to explain that you need a better crowbar or some sort of tool to rip up all the layers of flooring in your house because the sanding guy is coming tomorrow and you're not ready and you haven't slept and this project is so much bigger than you thought.  Or how about the time you were in there at 9:00 pm because "We need a part for the pipes that nobody seems to have and plumbing speciality stores are closed already and we have to go to work in the morning and our water has been shut off all day and also, can we please use your washroom?"  Okay, that's not quite what happened but it's pretty close.  Then there was our run to Lowes at 8:00 pm last night when we were driving home from a family BBQ and we decided to continue work on our house and desperately needed some shims.  We managed to get through the doors just before they were locked and we were literally high-fiving and jumping for joy.  Wow, we're dorks... and the nice people at Lowes know it!

7.  We accept charity.  So, this one isn't new for my mom, who cooks for us on a pretty regular basis.  In fact, I almost always have something yummy that she made in my freezer.  But now, we've hit a new low of accepting charity from other family members.  You see, we are putting off a kitchen renovation until we can afford it so we are living with a kitchen that has very little storage!  Most of our cooking stuff is still packed and I just can't bring myself to buy storage shelves because it will make me feel like the state of our kitchen is permanent... which is depressing.  So, for the past month, we've been BBQ-ing all our meals.  I'm not joking and I know it's a little sad but I just can't seem to bring myself to cook in this little, depressing kitchen.  I know I'll have to get over this, but my high-strung self can only take so much at the moment.  Anyway, we were at a party at my aunt's house and (as usual) she was prepping food for people to take home.  Normally, I would say things like "No, this is too generous and too much!  We can't possibly eat all this!" but yesterday, my desperation trumped my manners and I actually found myself walking into the kitchen and pointing at things asking "Can you wrap up some of that chicken for us too?"  Embarrassing but necessary at the moment!  Family understands.

8.  We need to relax.  Yes, we do!  We both work at least six days a week at our jobs and nobody realizes that we come home and continue working every day.  I doubt we can keep this pace up forever, but we both keep feeling like we're close to being able to enjoy this new/old house a bit so we're pushing through the pain.  Seriously, there have been nights where Corey's been working on the house until after midnight and it's totally normal for me to come home after a 13 hour work day and say something ridiculous like "I'm just going to quickly sew some drapes before bed because I want to get rid of the box the fabric came in."  We're insane and we need a date so we're hoping for a mini camping weekend in a few weeks.

9.  Our "list" changes daily.  I'll post an update for you guys eventually but our priorities keep changing so rapidly that I can barely keep up.  We've already bumped enclosing the porch and found an alternative for the time being, but every so often, the upstairs bathroom climbs the list since it's just so annoying trying to do my hair and makeup without bathroom storage.  We're also kind of yearning for a dishwasher since we're not mature enough to wash our dishes after every meal like normal people.  I think Corey's also itching to work on bedside light receptacles since I tend to work in bed some nights and the ceiling light keeps him awake.  Basically, we're trying to only work on projects that will have a large impact on our day to day lives.  Although Corey has indulged me by allowing me to prioritize some purely aesthetic projects that will probably not help us to organize the house, but will give us a sense of accomplishment and maybe help our morale and motivation.

Would we do this again?  In a heartbeat!  As brutal as it is sometimes, this has been our dream for a while and we are over the moon happy that we have finally bought a house and are fixing it up together.  We know that we are adding value and making our home functional and beautiful for our future family.  Still, so many of you comment that you like reading this blog because we are honest and realistic about our challenges so we thought we'd keep it real and let it all hang out!  I hope you enjoyed the verbal tour of our new/old house in transition!
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