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We had to take out the toilet, but we have cabinets now so... progress?
This is part… I wanna sayyy 10(?) of The Renovation Diaries, a week-by-week(ish) chronicle of Western Living‘s editor-at-large as she tackles a fixer-upper. View all Reno Diary entries here.
Renovations: one minute you’re making a double-suicide pact with your partner and the next you’re sending your plumbing supplier an email that is just 400 heart emojis. It’s a ride!
Things have changed a lot in old Stink Haus in the past week. As of last Saturday morning, it was still the depressing construction wasteland we’ve come to know and hate. I was experiencing a fun new stage of Renovation Brain that I like to call “Full-Tilt Regret.” Sleeping and working in my mom’s guest bedroom surrounded by boxes of light fixtures and doorknobs has very much lost its charm, but thinking about going to the new apartment still filled me with dread. I was convinced I could smell the paint fumes in the sheets of our bed 40 kilometres away in Surrey. When we found out the EQ3 sofa we ordered would be 12 to 16 weeks to deliver, Max and I agreed, confidently and without hesitation, that if we were not done the renovation by then it was probably for the best that we just put ourselves out of our misery.
I admire my superhuman in-laws so so much, as I say every edition of this column, but beyond their actual home-improvement skill, their resilience of spirit deserves its own round of applause. They are working some long days and seem to mostly be having a good time. (Are we taking advantage of them or are we offering them a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hide from their obligations to their other son? Perhaps this is a win-win situation.) (Pure speculation, Alex!) (As if he reads this.)
My mother-in-law, Susan, has a knack for showing up when I’m at my most despondent about whether we picked the wrong shade of white for the kitchen (we DID, do NOT let Max tell you otherwise) to gently guide me out the door and cheerfully finish up the flex room. But they do have some limits: Max stepped on his dad’s hands four times this week as they were laying the floor and now suddenly they’re going to Powell River for the week — I do not think this is a coincidence.
Anyways, I am hopeful this period of deep despair is now behind me forever, because when the cabinetry delivery (courtesy of the great Sofo Kitchens) arrived on Saturday afternoon, I felt a small, foreign spark of hope in my chest. Maybe… there was hope? (Or was that flicker just a reaction to breathing in too much Kilz primer?)
As the sleek olive-green cupboards and drawers were drilled into place, as the frame for the polished-to-a-sheen plywood bench was mounted to the wall, it was if a fog had lifted. Oh yeah! This was an apartment! A place to live! It was in front of us the whole time! It won’t be a Stink Haus forever — soon it will be a Stink Home. Our Stink Home.
And the wins just kept on coming throughout a very long but productive week. Max and Paul started the laminate floors and even let me help a little bit. Our tile guy, Dan at Eurostar Ceramics, showed up to do his thing; the mustard yellow bathroom vanity and plywood backsplash are looking damn fresh; Paragon popped in to do the final countertop measurements and are now toiling away (night and day one can only presume) to finish up our order.
I’m trying to focus on the positives to keep myself out of the renovation gloom spiral, but it would be an outright lie to say that this has been smooth sailing, even in this week of victories. I got a text on Thursday from Max, for example, that was the equivalent of receiving a thumb in the mail: a photo of a dramatic shard from an obviously broken Mutino floor tile. Yes, that is the ultra-delicate 4×4 tile we had to wait 10 weeks to have specially delivered, great memory!
Do we now have to wait another 10 weeks and live with a big blank square on the bathroom floor? We do. But accidents happen, no one is to blame, except for us, I suppose, for not asking any tile-related professionals if it was a wise idea to install a deeply cumbersome, 1mm thin porcelain sliver on the floor. If we had, they might have said “Maybe don’t use a tile that has the ceramic equivalent of Brittle Bone Disease or whatever?”
Other infuriating issues: through a series of miscommunications, the living room bench got installed before the flooring, so now we have to somehow bend the laws of physics to slide planks beneath it. Additionally, I’ve been unwillingly dragged into a game with the countertop and cabinetmaker that I like to call, “Who’s Lying?” Team Countertop claims that the Caesarstone counter will be too heavy for the overhanging section of the island; Team Cabinets says, no it won’t. Both great points! I hope I win!
But at this point, I have learned to accept the fact that having a bumpy road is just part of the process with renovations. Why be mad at the universe that things aren’t going smoothly, when the very idea of things going smoothly is a fantasy that you concocted? It’s like I am Joseph Gordon Levitt in 500 Days of Summer, expecting my apartment, Zooey Deschanel, to be something she has explicitly said she is not! Apartment has been very clear it is not ready for a committed relationship! If I’m disappointed that’s my problem and I should just put my little vest on and go find an apartment that’s already built for living in, oh wait, too late, we made a huge mistake uh oh.
In the midst of writing this at a coffee shop where I have spent $80 this week thanks to the frequency in which I need to use it as my renovation-adjacent office, a string of good news is trickling into my inbox. Our faucets are finally ready for pickup, and the countertops will be ready for install in just 10 days from now. Ten! And I’ve booked our sink and toilet install for the 23rd. Which means… we may actually (I don’t want to jinx it) be able to pinpoint a real, true, move-in date. It also means that we only have two weeks left for finishing painting, installing baseboards, installing lighting, touching up the ceiling, figuring out how draping works, exchanging the broken vintage novelty phone for a functioning novelty phone, installing closet shelving, visiting Ikea 14 more times, and convincing Max that seriously it’s the wrong shade of white I don’t know why you can’t see it.
Is the countdown… on? Is this hope still in my chest, or panic?
Follow along on Instagram and come back next week for more Renovation Diary updates!
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