Renovation: Small Steps

In a few weeks will have lived at our current home for a year. Before this we've lived in San Francisco walk-up flats and then did a stint in a huge Santa Monica apartment complex. When we saw this house it fit all of our needs, it had a room for me to use as an office, a office nook off the bedroom for the husband, two bathrooms and a fairly open living plan--the kitchen, dinning and living area all are, essentially, on side of the house. It also had a yard and decent schools.

Besides the husband hanging his monster flat screen over the fireplace (how guy is that?) and some painting, we've left the place woefully as is. I watch a lot of design shows on that TV and one favorite is HGTV's Small Space, Big Style. My kid, who was playing knight battle or something stopped, looked up at the TV and then at his surroundings and said to me, "Our house is big space, small style." And the other day he asked me to turn it off because it depressed him to see homes so nicely put together when ours is decidedly not.

After almost a year I can now say with all confidence, this place looks dumpy. Last night, I looked around, and said to the husband, "We live like college students."

Not good.

Now I'll take my fair share of the blame. I'm just not a shopper or knickknack aficionado. Just like with the way I dress, I like to keep things simple and easy. So with this philosophy, I arranged for the kid to have a birthday party, here, this weekend. Part of the reason things haven't gotten done is the unwillingness to dedicate the time, energy and expense. I'd rather devote my time to writing books about people who don't have to worry about fixtures and wall textures and the husband likes to count his pennies like a miser.

But we have two things working in our favor.

One is, once I've decided on something, it's going to get done and I have a pretty clear vision of what I want--a inside and outside living environment that looks neat and tidy, easy to clean and isn't fussy. Second, the husband, a classic example of what peer pressure can do to a person. He's freaking out (just as I knew he would) about having strangers see how we exist.

He's calling out the landscaper and we're going to get that new drive way, rip out the unused deck off the bedroom and kitchen, add pavers and move the walkway to the front. Nothing will be done in time for the party, but like I said, he's all about peer pressure. He wants to spiffy up the outside first to at least give the impression we are living like adults inside. Fine with me. I've learned that to get him to do something it's best to distract him with something he thinks he wants. So if he thinks redoing the outside is where we need to start, we will and then we move on to...

Redoing both bathrooms (one at a time), replacing all the windows/doors, gut the kitchen, etc.. (And by etc I mean a whole lot of things.) But I'm not unreasonable and I've decided to start with the washer/dryer nook first. It's in the hallway that leads to the second bathroom, right off our bedroom and it sucks. I hate it and the issue won't be remedied with a new washer and dryer (which we've needed since day one.) The way I figure it, this project is small enough (and I can sneak a pocket door in for the bathroom) that myself, the husband and my family (my parents' house has been one long renovation project in process since the mid-1980s) we can tackle it ourselves. (The husband is a visual person and I'm always looking for ways to develop my creative procrastination skills so I've upgraded from my line drawings (below is an example the washer/dryer nook) to full fledged home design software, Better Homes & Gardens Home Designer Suite 7.0 (oodles of illustrations of my evil plans to come soon).

I'm willing to devote the time to picking out the stuff that would go into it, like cabinets, counter tops and such and all I expect of the husband is for him not to bitch too much about the cost and the work. The inconvenience of it, well, that's going to drive all us bonkers but it's one of the joys of home ownership we've put off for far too long.

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