It's time to be brutally honest and talk about the dirty details of a home renovation - more specifically, what it's like living right in the middle of one. Up until now we've shared progress updates for the most part, with a few lessons-learned thrown in along the way. We have tried to consciously appreciate each moment and every project - big and small - but reflecting can be challenging in the whirlwind of jumping from one dust pile to the next can of paint. Today is a reflection on some of the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of living in a house while tearing it apart and putting it back together again.
Con: The mess.
Let's start with that dirty little four-letter "D" word...dust. When you are living in the house you are renovating, there is no escaping it. Dust finds its way everywhere. Shelves, cabinets, furniture, clothes, pets - all are fair game. We were lucky enough to always have at least one designated space in our house that was not being worked on, providing a safe haven when we needed a retreat from the grime. But that didn't completely eliminate the need for daily rounds of vacuuming as each layer of dust settled from the air. Let me tell you from someone who finds cleaning therapeutically satisfying, vacuuming plywood just isn't that rewarding, and actually seems mind-numbingly senseless at times.
Con: Feng Shui has to be put on hold.
This is particularly challenging for a couple who enjoys modern style for its visual cleanliness and minimalism. Relaxation and comfort can be difficult to find when your living room is doubling as the kitchen and dining room, you have to walk over power tools to get to the bathroom, and your bedroom is being moved for the third time so you can finally tackle the one room that hasn't been touched yet. Forget "form follows function" - function had to take all precedence.
Con: Space is limited.
We've lived out of our suitcases, slept on mattresses on the floor, and lived with all of our stuff packed into a 150 square foot first-floor office. Things got packed and unpacked and repacked to be moved all based on the project of the week. The not-so-distant experience of college dorm life prepared us for this way of living, but the demolition of interior walls and floors put a new spin on its challenges.
As terrible as this all may sound, we learned to live and laugh through it all. In the end, I promise you the benefits of this experience have completely outweighed the negatives.
Pro: The creative juices start flowing.
Kitchen utensil or power tool? The lines blur. You get creative. When you can't find the hand blender, you use the hand drill (clean of course!). When you can't fit all your stuff in the one livable bedroom, you use your boxed-up books as a nightstand. When life hands you lemons and you can't find the juicer, you grab a clamp and squeeze the heck out of them! And then add some honey and lavender for sweetness and serenity. You'd be surprised at what you can adjust to.
Pro: You know exactly what you want.
Taking our time gave us the opportunity to change our minds...and then change our minds again until we settled on what we really wanted and needed. None of our projects turned out to be our first design, and most of the changes came from testing out layouts and living with the rough changes first before finalizing anything. This also gave us the time to find the materials we wanted at much lower prices. Because we weren't on any hard timeline, we were able to hunt for the best deals, which saved us a ton of money without having to sacrifice what we envisioned for our home.
Pro: It's all yours.
We've learned to appreciate every single detail that goes into building a house and creating a home. We know what is behind every wall and under every floor board in our house. We know how many screws it took to put together each kitchen cabinet and how they are secured to the walls. We know because we built it. We have a great sense of accomplishment and pride in the work and love we've put into this house. And the best part is that every single detail reflects our combined styles, interests, and passions.
We'd love to hear about your own experiences - please feel free to share in the comments below!