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Expenses, exhaustion and drywall dust aplenty in this week's Reno Diary.
This is part three of The Renovation Diaries, a week-by-week chronicle of Western Living‘s editor-at-large as she tackles a fixer-upper. View all Reno Diary entries here.
I didn’t expect renovations to make me so sleepy.
It’s not that I’m even doing any heavy lifting or anything. Max and his dad are doing the hard stuff. Most of the past week has just been on the phone with my credit card company, explaining for the third time that it’s totally normal for me to have purchased a washing machine on the internet, please just put the payment through. Or driving back into the city to let the cabinetmaker in for measurements (wishing you a speedy and creative process, Radu from Sofo Kitchens!).
But there’s also so many micro-decisions to make every day. I thought once we had the plan in place, it would just be like putting together an Ikea Expedit unit (or, in a worse-case scenario, like an Ikea Malm bed): step by step, along a clear and mutually understood plan, maybe with a few arguments about which Allen key to use, just to keep things spicy.
Instead there are so many little things that we forgot to make a decision about, that keep coming up. Have you ever thought about where baseboard heaters come from? Me neither. I feel dumb almost every day. And I guess that’s making me tired?
There are tons of tiny negotiations to moderate, as our beautiful Plaidfox renderings collide with the physical reality of a 30-year-old apartment building. Our designer, Ben Levitt, is so confident that we can shave this wall down a few inches; the plumber has other ideas about where the pipes can or can’t go; meanwhile, my father-in-law-slash-site-foreman brings his own perspective and expertise about what’s worthwhile into the mix. Max and I are in the middle, bringing neither wisdom nor vision but somehow being in charge of making the final decision. At one point, I come up with a plan to get them all on the phone together in a sneaky three-way call like a mean teenage girl so they can work it out themselves and leave us out of it, but then I decide to go to bed at 9:30 instead.
Some people warn that a renovation can put a real strain on a relationship but I think this experience so far has only brought Max and I closer together. The hours that we spend looking at the electrical map-out to try and decide how many pot lights is the right amount of pot lights (….Thirty???? Probably????): in this pandemic age, that’s as good as a Date Night really gets.
The wins of this week aren’t very visually stimulating, I’m sorry to report. We decide to change a matte black Dekton counter to a matte black Caesarstone counter and save $3,000. We celebrate — until the electrical quote comes in.
It feels like we’ve just been pouring money into a pit, but then our bathroom sconce arrives. That’s an exciting moment: the first piece of the New Stink Haus that we can hold in our hands. We unwrap it delicately and with glee, like it’s a Fabergé egg. I spend some time debating whether it would be funny to post a photo of me cradling it along with its weight and “delivery date,” like a new baby announcement, but ultimately decide I’m already leaning in too hard to my new Unstable in the Suburbs vibe and this would put me into dangerous territory. We wrap it back up and put it in its box to wait safely for installation day, which will happen sometime in the next eight to 54 weeks.
Now that I’m done spending all of our money, I’m trying to figure out other ways to be helpful as cabinetmakers and designers and in-laws are off playing their part. But I feel like I’m struggling with everything I do.
For instance, ordering trim for the door doesn’t sound like it would be too hard, so I sit down with a spreadsheet and the floor plans and a coffee, and quickly discover that, oh, ah, yes, I can’t do this. Because I have to find the right size in gigantic flatstock catalogue, one that’s the same thickness as the baseboards, but that doesn’t exist, so then I have to go back to the drawing board with the baseboards and find something that does have a half-width equivalent of the same depth, and then I realize that, wait, two closets are right next to each other so can trim even fit side by side and should it fit side by side and, wait, do closets even need trim, wait, do windows need trim, wait, were we supposed to remove the window ledges or are those strata property, wait, are we supposed to cut this trim ourselves or do I need to know the precise dimensions at this point, wait, should we have just bought an apartment that was move-in ready? Exhaustion overpowers me again.
I summon the strength to send an unhinged text to Designer Ben and go to bed, dreaming (nightmare-ing?) of mitred corners.
Follow along on Instagram and come back next week for more Renovation Diary updates!
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