When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The truth about basement renovations

We are in the process of renovating our basement. As has been the case with all of the major home improvement projects Matt and I have undertaken together, I've been alternating these past few weeks between giddy euphoria over how nice I imagine everything will look when it's all finished, and utter despair over the chaos that this project has created in our house in the interim. You know how things have to get worse before they get better during the renovation process? Let's just say I'm not very tolerant when it comes to the "worse" part. For anyone contemplating a basement redecorating project of their own, here are a few truths I've discovered that you may want to consider before diving in.

  • You will need to become a master of the real-life version of Tetris, so that you can strategically stuff every single piece of furniture and anything else that lives in your basement into the one small room that is not being redone. (In our case, this was the bathroom. Anyone care to join us for a foosball game in the loo?)
  • When your very energetic son discovers the empty basement, he will be thrilled that you have so generously provided him with a new, wide-open gym for playing sports and practising his break dance skills. You will have to break his little heart with the news that eventually there will be furniture going back in there.
  • Your neighbours will eagerly show up in your garage with shopping carts and big blue bags, thinking that an IKEA store has finally opened up in your area. They will not be impressed when you turn them away because the boxes stacked up high there are all yours, waiting to be carried inside and assembled.
  • Your husband will disappear. (It's very likely that he will be lost somewhere among the IKEA boxes.)
  • Cats have a redecorating agenda of their own. Yours will bolt down into the basement when no one is looking, brush up against the wet paint on the walls, and then roll all over the floors in other parts of the house to spread the paint around nicely.
  • You will cry over spilled milk. Literally. Someone will spill a glass of milk at dinner when you are at the worst point of the renovation process, and you will cry and launch into a 45 minute rant about how your whole life is a disaster. And then you will go to bed, to spare your poor family from any more renovation-induced drama.
  • Everything will take much, much longer than you anticipate. (On the plus side, by the time you finish changing the last light fixture and installing the last closet handle, the energetic son who wanted an empty basement gym will have moved out to go to university, and you won't have to feel bad about filling it with the finally assembled IKEA furniture.)
If all of this is scaring you off, take heart. When basement renovations start making you crazy, you can do what we did this past weekend and leave town. (Seriously, we did. We enjoyed a great little family getaway with my mom and dad in Frankenmuth and Birch Run on Sunday and Monday, and we've returned home with renewed energy to tackle the last stages of our project.)

We've moved past the most challenging parts of the process here now, I think. The painting is done, the flooring is in, and the baseboards have all been reinstalled. We have two lovely new pantries in the basement hallway that make me happy every time I look at the rows of food and overflow kitchen items so neatly organized inside them. Most of the stuff has been cleared out of the bathroom (though the foosball table still remains), and I am starting to believe that the basement may actually one day look as nice as I first imagined it would.

If you need me over the next while, I'll be in the basement with an allen key and an encyclopedic set of instruction manuals. I'll be back (much) later....

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