Is there anything more exciting than renovations? Yes, plenty, but not when you’re in your mid-forties, a point in your life when any real excitement could spark a cardiac episode. For us, there is no greater thrill than staging our own budget version of Room To Improve, where we wander around light shops squinting at LEDs and arguing loudly about whether chandeliers are so awful that they are chic again.
The most recent project was the bathrooms, none of which had been updated or improved in some time, as evidenced by their green porcelain stylings. Now they are all grey stone and LED strips, a level of luxury and peace befitting a hotel spa. It’s only right, as the jacks is the only place in the house that any of us ever get to be on our own. All we need is some soothing panpipe music piped in to drown out the muffled sound of children attempting to kill each other.
There have been hiccups in our grand redesign, like when the wrong tiles arrived and work stopped for three weeks while we waited for the proper ones to come in, but it is all part of the fun. It left us with only one functioning jacks among six people, which was like playing a game of Russian roulette with your digestive system. The renovations have also been a pleasant change for the kids, who got to see plumbers and tilers engage in shouting matches rather than their parents. See kids, all relationships have their challenges, even those between tradesmen who don’t speak the same language.
Room-by-room we are slowly erasing all that once was. The living room is being purged as we speak, carpets gone, lights removed, radiators replaced, walls being sanded and painted. After that it will be our bedroom, which we have great plans to transform into a kind of bunker, as we prepare for the coming storm of gaffies (what we used to call house parties, or just seshes), which my daughter promises me are long overdue. Then once she has outgrown gaffies (does anyone ever really grow out of gaffies?) it will be our son’s turn to throw them, and so on for the next 20 years or so.
We are basically doomsday prepping, except with drunken teenagers in lieu of a zombie apocalypse; we want to be almost entirely self sufficient in our little space so we can stage a live-in Home Alone – we shut the door and leave them all to their own devices. There’s even talk of a mini-fridge in our room, which is exciting, but also heading into the territory of one of those people you see on Channel 5 who live in burrows under mounds of newspapers.
Once our room is done, that will be it – all trace of the decor I grew up with will be gone. There have been so many battles over minor details because of my unwillingness to let go, but in the end even a shameless sentimentalist like me has to admit that forcing loved ones to live in the gloriously ugly 1970s isn’t really fair. Once our room is done all will be different and new – the house will be ours, and not theirs.
I still have boxes and boxes of papers, photos, and my dad’s collection of clocks, all of which I have been whittling away at. Some things I kept in boxes I now find myself trying to recall why they were special – the memories are slipping. Like the set change in a play, all goes dark and you see the dark-clad figures removing pieces, then the lights go back up and everything is different. Some day off in the post-gaffie future, the lights will go down, and the set will change. Our renovations will be undone, and redone, and our home’s endless loop of one-act plays will roll ever onwards.
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