I owe an apology to every friend I have who has undertaken a house renovation. I now understand that it really is all-consuming. When you would talk to me about counter tops or which kind of door you should put on your bathroom, I was as bored as I appeared. In my head I would be thinking that you should be grateful for the house you have and wish that you would stop talking about faucets.
I am sorry, I get it. As we undertake the never ending project of this house I find myself compulsively reading magazines with titles like “Best of Kitchen and Bath” or losing myself for hours on www.remodalista.com I am on Pinterest so much that Colin was teasing me that I needed a pintervention.
It is of course a totally escapist pursuit. We can’t help but imagine that the right flooring will lead to total familial bliss; the right arrangement of cabinetry and furniture and lifelong happiness will ensue.
Being able to organize or reorganize one’s space is a sense of control that in our chaotic always almost-slightly-out-of-control life I rarely experience. Intellectually I know that there is not a renovation under the sun that will cause my child to speak, or make any one of us better or happier people. We will just have a nicer more functional kitchen. That knowledge, however, doesn’t make the planning less consuming.
The next time a friend asks me to admire her counters, or wants to discuss faucets I will do it with enthusiasm. I will make every effort not to be impossibly bored but instead will recognize that the kitchen, living room or bathroom in question represents more than its four walls. Right or wrong, it feels like an opportunity to shape your family’s experience of their day. It is a luxury beyond measure to even dream of these things. It can feel ridiculous when many people in the world don’t have access to clean water to realize that you are falling asleep wondering if brushed nickel was the right choice for your faucet. It’s important not to lose sight of that.
Like anything it is about keeping it in perspective. It is about remembering that your fixtures are probably not a subject of universal interest, while at the same time enjoying the process of creating a space for your family. I will not miss the tangerine walls of our current family room, or the crumbling cabinetry, but when it’s over and I have created what feels like the perfect space, I know I will miss the dreaming about it. I will miss the possibility for improvement that these ugly rooms represent. They are problems with solutions. When I have solved them I may be forced to address the more complicated, less straightforward problems in our life. I will miss the conversations about oak vs. pine when I am hiring a behaviorist to potty train my 6 year-old or I am sitting through tension-filled school meetings. But every time I put my hand down on my counters I will know that there is one problem I was able to solve; every time I see my family gathered in our kitchen I will smile and know that in some small way we have won that round.