Will I survive my renovation?

April 6, 2015

We are zipped in or they are zipped in, not sure which. You can just make out the dog gate.

Surviving renovation.

Maybe we should have noticed that our kitchen/family room renovation was to begin on April 1.  Maybe I should have purged more of the junk I have in the garage.  Maybe I should have been more educated on the process of renovation.

And maybe I should have taken seriously the cautionary tales of friends, who all agreed that one thing is certain: ShiZ will happen. I should expect it.


Original window extended lower, see those little rectangles? Yeah, that low. Sigh. Eating bar going across that wall with cabinets either end.

The shiz began with the window in the kitchen. It was a big window. “Was” is the operative word, because it got smaller. It had to get smaller so we could put an eating bar in front of it. But I was sort of talked into having a couple inches of backsplash when I really wanted a couple inches more of light coming in.  I am not thrilled with the window, which is now in. But by the time I knew how small it would really be, my choices were to stick with what we had ordered or delay the project 3 weeks or more. We stuck.

There is plenty of light in the room. But I can tell you that every single day I am going to notice that window is smaller than I wanted it.  It’s my fault, 100 percent, too. I let myself be talked into what I didn’t want because of “aesthetics.” That backsplash is just paint, too. And I know better.  When the designer tried to make me feel better by giving me justification and rationale, I gave her the stink eye. It’s not her fault. But it’s done and no amount of rationalization is going to make me like it. And it’s just a window.  Of course, here I am, beating it to death….

And then, my beautiful, turquoise backpainted glass backsplash on the other side of the kitchen. For some reason, I envisioned each glass panel without any seams. But when the drawing came back from the glass vendor, there were seams. There was also glass specified in strange places where we didn’t want it. Like above a window. Huh?  Not only that, but the cost was three times what we expected.

We corrected the errors. But then I quickly drove to the tile store to see if I could find another, cheaper solution that would suit us.  I could not.  You’d think I could, right? But my goal was to avoid grouted seams that we’d have to clean. And there is that beautiful countertop that has so much going on that we had to carefully pick the backsplash so as not to compete. Plus I do have some corded glass in a couple of cabinets that also could compete. Right now, it’s just right, at least to me.

I wanted no other patterns, not even in the pendant lights. I wanted to avoid an out-of-control over-design. What I wanted was the backpainted glass at half the estimate. I visited two other glass vendors locally and they could not do the backplash.  So we stuck with our San Francisco vendor.  We then entered a negotiation with the vendor about the number of seams and where. Fortunately, nothing happens until the cabinets and countertops are in. Only then will the glass people measure and cut.

You can’t even see the 2nd sink on the right.

I’m not sure why we thought turning our (sanitized) hall bathroom into a kitchen station with coffee maker and cutting boards was something we could live with for a month. Oh, and don’t get all shook up when you notice the syringe. We’re not shooting meth; it’s a needle-less syringe for Riley’s fish oil supplement.  This is like camping. Only without the bugs.

20150404_144226One smart thing was that we covered everything and I do mean everything in the adjacent rooms, because the dust is flying. We have two zip doors and one completely plasticized one in our open floor plan. But boxing and covering everything, including what was on our living room shelves and the dining room furniture, was a good idea. Brilliant, even.


You can see how much I love light. This is our living room. Part of it. Yes, that’s a new TV. No TV in the LR though.


That meant, though, we have no clean working surfaces and no space to even put up a card table and chairs. Every square inch of space was filled with boxes. For the most part, I am living in my cluttered office and our bedroom. And I am counting the days and hoping for no serious snafus.


The new 50-inch TV goes to the left of the fireplace on an articulated arm and will be framed as the bookcases are. The mantle will be simple, a little chunky like the shelves. I’m going to like this room. I’ve waited 4 years to furnish it.

We can already see how reducing the size of the fireplace will make the room feel more in proportion. Sorry, that paint color is going away but instead, whitish shelves with burnt orange inside backs are going in.

Our custom cabinets are due next Monday. I am a little nervous. Our cabinetmaker and his crew are meticulous craftsmen and he told me they look beautiful. But my fantasy does not always match reality, I’m finding. That lesson is the most important part of surviving renovation.

As this is going on, the safest place is in my head, where I am considering how we will furnish our apartment on the Monterey peninsula. The chief benefit in my fantasy is moving some of the stuff out of the San Jose house and freeing up some space, in my effort to be more minimalist in San Jose going forward. We’ll definitely be minimalist in Pacific Grove.  Of course, we had planned to sell or donate some of that stuff and it should have been gone already, but once we committed to the second home, we decided to keep most of the furniture that we’d planned to get rid of and bring it south, along with household goods we’d planned to jettison.  Thinking about that place, which we’ll rent in the new year a ways from now, is a safe haven from this mess.

Maybe this project will still have snafus.  Probably.

But maybe — just maybe– I’ll be surviving renovation. Maybe I’m going to like the results. That’s a possibility, too.  It’s a probability, really.

Except for that window….

Hey, I’d love to hear what you think or if you have some advice at this late stage.

38 comments on “Will I survive my renovation?
  1. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    Hang in there – it’s almost done. Just think of all the happy memories you will make in that room once it is done.

  2. Becky Blades says:

    I truly don’t know how you’re doing it. I would go mad. (And yes, I would expect snafus. Eeeks.)

  3. pia says:

    It sounds great!
    This was my first complete renovation—mostly finished on April 1, 2009. I learned so much and constantly think “if I were doing it now….” But I’m not and I’m the only person who looks at it with a completely critical eye. Most people love it.
    When I let myself relax I’m very proud.
    I understand the want not to have a seam on the incredible sounding backsplash. Hopefully it can be corrected. If not take at least five pictures of the seam. I only have tile in the bathrooms and sunroom and found myself one day attacking the grout to make it white. Then I remembered it had been painted the color I now found to be the color of dirt on purpose.

  4. I’ve survived a few renovations. They are never fun and shiz happens! When it’s all said and done, you will probably be very happy Carol. Best of luck!

  5. Kim Tackett says:

    When we did our kitchen reno, Steve set up dishwashing outside, and cooked on a camping stove in the dining room. He was thrilled. I was less thrilled. Everything in our kitchen turned out differently than I had envisioned (I started out with a large art wall behind the nook, that’s now where Steve’s bike lives). By the time we got to the backsplash decision I was done…which is why we have a chalkboard backsplash, with art that hasn’t been changed in 2 1/2 years. No words of advice, except for wine (not whine). And if something is important to you, let the others figure a way to make it happen, vs. you figuring out a way to solve it for others.

  6. I know your pain. When we made our big move to Cape May last Sept. we knew how much work was ahead of us, and we couldn’t wait to get it done. My husband is very handy and worked with our contractor through most of the kitchen reno.
    I couldn’t wait to design our new kitchen. We chose quartz for our counters and until 90% was completed we worked with plywood counters because they can’t install until everything is in place. When the counters were delivered I was expecting 2 pieces, one on each side of the stove. When I saw them bring in 3 pieces I stopped them in their tracks. They designed a seam right in the middle of the sink!
    Long story a little shorter, we refused to pay the balance until they corrected the problem. They took us to court. Through mediation we settled with having to pay them a little less than half the balance. Reason being, if it had gone before a judge we ‘probably’ wouldn’t have gotten everything we wanted, and it would show as a judgement on our credit rating.
    Be VERY specific with everything!

  7. I lived through this once in KY and it was so hard. The confusion and the chaos almost did me in. We considered it when we recently purchased our SC home but with mom we decided that it just wasn’t worth it right now. I hope it ends soon and turns out just how you want it (besides the window). I can’t wait to see the finished project!

  8. Sandy says:

    No advice from me–as we haven’t tackled anything like this yet. 😉 Looks like a lot of work, but it looks like it can also be a lot of fun as well! 🙂

  9. Kathy Harter says:

    There is always “the next right answer” if you hit a wall on something. I understand your unhappiness with the window but when you step away from it, its 4 inches and beating yourself up over it is wasted emotion. Even with the most meticulous planning, renovation and home building for that matter, is not 100% controllable. It’s how you overcome those obstacles that will make the finished product spectacular. I love what your planning and having to make adjustments is part of the process whether we like it or not. We had to make some major adjustments when we built the house in NC like adding a door to the house from the basement apartment after drywall was complete. The plans clearly showed this was a separate living space with a full kitchen and separate exterior entrance and the plans were approved. They red tagged the job until we added a door and they wanted us to separate the utilities in order to rent. Our poor builder experienced my hair on fire and begged me not to go to the City. We found a way around the matter to get what we wanted but it was a hectic few days. So, one never knows what will happen….

  10. Remodeling is always a nightmare, but so worth it when it’s done. I’m sure it will all look beautiful when finished, can’t wait to see the “after”photos.

  11. Wow. That’s some serious remodeling you’ve got going there. I don’t feel comfortable offering advice. I have extremely poor spatial relationship skills. People who can do carpentry, interior design, and decorating seem like magicians to me. All my best to you!

  12. You are in it now! Buckle down, batten the hatches, and sail through the storm.

  13. This too shall pass. I remember living behind those plastic covered doorways with the zipper when my boiler bit the dust, water was everywhere, and my hardwood floors were partly ruined. I was advised to go to a hotel while the reno was going on but I just couldn’t see myself in a hotel room with three dogs. So I stayed home with the dogs. Old floor torn up, huge fans running to dry out the floor, sanding (the dust was everywhere), staining and sealing…the smell was enough to make me higher than a kite. When it was all done, I hated it. The floor guy sealed it with a matte finish and I wanted to see my old face in those floors. I was verbal…this wasn’t what I wanted, and I held my ground. It was done over to my satisfaction and I love it. My advice: This is not only your home it is where you live your life. Hold out for what you want. I didn’t like spending an extra week holed up to get the floors I wanted but it was one week compared to looking at the floors I love for almost three years now. Hang in there, Carol.

  14. Mary says:

    I’m sure it will be just what you love when it is all said and done. The colors you have chosen are beautiful!

  15. Speak positive over the project and will it to be exactly what you envisioned and then give me the same advice in August when our reno gets underway.

  16. harriet says:

    That does sound really exciting. I would love to do some work to my house.

  17. I understand your feelings yet you will get wonderful results I am sure. Doing renovations at home is painful but worth it =)

  18. You will survive and thrive, Carol. Think of the light at the end of the tunnel, dear friend.

  19. Liz Mays says:

    Wow, now this sounds like a huge project. I’d love to have some work done on my living room area. Most of my rooms need more light.

  20. That really does sound like quite the undertaking. The only major project we’ll have on hand soon is painting the living room and kitchen.

  21. Carolann says:

    It will be done before you know it and so very worth it! I can’t wait to see the after pics! You will be so glad when it’s done! That dust would have made me leave the building that’s for sure!

  22. Britney says:

    My dad loved to DIY everything and it took years for things to get finished! I felt like we lived half done a lot.

  23. I survived a renovation at my parent’s house when I was growing up. Fun times.

  24. Hang in there!! I’ve survived several renovations where the outcomes have completely made me forget the waiting to get there process. Seriously, once the place is done, you would be so glad that you went thru this today..

  25. Estelle says:

    It’s going to look beautiful when it’s done. My favorite is also the room where you are going to put the 50 inch TV. Love the fireplace.

  26. I think you are approaching this well! LOL Living through a reno can be long, anxiety-filled, and seriously hard. But, I’ve found it’s worth all of it in the end! I think you’ll be really happy with the end result!

  27. This is not helping me to make the leap into the renovation process we keep talking about. We both know the end result is worth it … but oh, the process of getting there. Ugh. Hang in there!

  28. Lisa Froman says:

    Can I just say how beautiful your floors are? Reallty lovely. Your renovations will be perfect– or near so. Hang in there.

  29. Agata says:

    Living on the boxes is hard but stay positive and think how lovely your house will look like once all work is done 🙂

  30. Happy Hiller says:

    Can’t wait to see the final result!

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