Let me be perfectly clear, as a preface, here, that not only do I love my husband to pieces, I think he’s something of a handyman savant. He has a garage full of tools and he actually knows how to use them (and often does). It’s rare that something needs fixing or tightening or modifying and he can’t take a look at it for a minute, nod, and take it out to his workbench and make it better than new.
Furthermore, unlike some other husbands (perhaps even one I was once married to), he is a patient and helpful instructor and an excellent work companion. Working on projects together is one of my favorite things, because it never ends with arguing and ruination—and I honestly never knew that was POSSIBLE, before marrying him. IT’S LOVELY.
All of this is to say, I couldn’t be blessed with a better partner when it comes to home renovation. I’m very lucky and I know it. Truly. But in spite of that, I have to say: DEAR GOD, PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.
It all started with the floor.
It seemed so simple, really. We budgeted for it when we moved in, last year, to put hardwood down in the family room. The carpet in there has seen better days (like, when disco was king). And it turns out that the hardwood in the (connected) dining room is almost as much wood putty as it is wood, so why not do the ENTIRE area? Okay, then.
And so we spent hours looking at flooring samples and poking around online and then we went and ordered some flooring and then I both told the internet about it and our contractor.
[Digression: Of course we have a contractor. Otto can't do EVERYTHING. And perhaps you recall that we closed on this house and had a crew putting on a new roof five minutes later, and there's nothing quite like a job of that magnitude to make a contractor either shine or fail. Turns out, our guy is pretty good. So we've had him back for various tasks, because we like him and our house is The Money Pit.]
Our contractor may have actually SLAPPED HIS FOREHEAD in consternation when I told him about our flooring adventure. Not that store! Not those installers! What’s this wood we’d picked? That’s 3/8″! It’s gotta be 3/4″! He was horrified. And I panicked.
I canceled our order. We started looking at flooring through the contractor’s guy.
Otto then brought up that the door out the dining room onto the deck really needs replacing. Now, sure, I was all for that on account of it’s hung crooked and only stays closed if you lock it (so if we’re outside and it’s a breezy day, it’s apt to just blow open), but then we went to look at doors and I DIED. I am pretty sure that I used to own a car that cost less than your average patio double-doors.
The contractor said we needed to install the new door before the flooring. So we ordered the door. And ordered the flooring. And scheduled him to do the door first.
Now, we’d been planning to do the dining room walls AFTER the new door and floor, because I was afraid that the floor crew would ding the walls. But the contractor (wisely) pointed out that if we did the walls FIRST, we could drip paint on the floor and it wouldn’t matter. Plus, he promised they’d be careful. Well, the floor isn’t scheduled to go in for a few more weeks, so we figured we’d start on the walls.
And as you know, that started off really well.
Three layers of wallpaper and a metric butt-ton of Googling later, last week we drove across town to Home Depot to buy the Behr Venetian Plaster because our walls were now ripped all to shit and texturing wasn’t so much an option as a necessity. Otto and I were still debating colors, but it turns out that the shiny Behr pamphlet has a dozen suggested colors, one of which was pretty darn close to what we’d been discussing. So we got that. How much did we need? Two gallons, said the Paint Guy. And a gallon of primer. And some topcoat!
Rather than the Behr Ventian Plaster Topcoat, he sold us some polyurethane. “Use this instead,” he said. “It’s fine!”
While the paint was mixing, we wandered around and picked up a bunch of other stuff, including a ceiling fan for our bedroom. The fan was selected after half an hour of serious debate, and along with it we grabbed a “universal remote” kit.
Back at home, we raced to put two coats of primer on the walls before the contractor showed up with the new door. SURPRISE! The wrong door was ordered. Whoops! Well, he’d get the right one and bring it the next week (this week). We decided to go ahead with the plaster.
The first coat of plaster was time-consuming but relatively painless. We marveled at how much less sucktastic it was than we’d feared it would be. And then Otto went to install our new ceiling fan.
Several hours and a new hole in the ceiling later, we had a gorgeous fan with a light that emitted approximately enough illumination for anyone wishing to read a book two inches directly beneath the bulb. But as an ADDED BONUS, when you used the remote to turn the light off, it converted to a STROBE! Yes, it blinked in time with the whirring fan blades, which was very… ummm… special.
The next day, the contractor was supposed to come install the door. But he called to say it still hadn’t come in. Otto took the fan down. We applied the second coat of plaster, which, oddly, was a lot harder than the first. For one thing, we’d followed the directions to not be worried about spots of bare wall on the first coat, but now we rather needed the entire wall covered, which meant we needed to put it on more thickly. Putting it on thicker began to result in tiny air bubbles which refused to be smoothed by our trowels. And we were about halfway through when we RAN OUT OF PLASTER.
(Have I mentioned that we bought two gallons? And that it’s not a very big room? And that it has a chair rail, so we were effectively only doing two-thirds of the walls, anyway?)
Otto took the fan back to Home Depot and bought another gallon of plaster. While he was there, I decided to read the back of one of the polyurethane cans, the one that said in big letters DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT OVER BEHR VENETIAN PLASTER. Of course, I had all the cans at home. While Otto was at Home Depot. I called him and told him to buy the right stuff and punch the guy who sold us the wrong stuff.
He did buy the right stuff. He did NOT punch the guy who sold us the wrong stuff, even though he was there again, because he (Otto, not the paint guy) is a gentleman.
We finished the second layer of plaster. We then stood around and looked at all the air bubbles and places where the plaster had cracked a little. We started talking about how WE ARE NOT FANCY PEOPLE and how this is RUSTIC, JUST HOW WE LIKE IT, and it will all be FINE once we do the topcoat, after everything dries.
And then Otto packed up to leave for California on a trip. He left this morning. Technically his trip was planned before all of this happened, but I think he might be running away.
In the meantime, I got up and touched up the plaster in a few places, and now I’m waiting for the contractor to show up and install the damn patio doors already. I’ve gotten a shipping notice on our flooring, which means it’s going to arrive in a couple of days—while Otto is gone. That’s FANTABULOUS, because when I was thinking about all of the things I might do while the kids are gone and Otto is gone, I was TOTALLY wishing I could have the SUBLIME EXPERIENCE of having to haul an entire pallet of hardwood into the house ALL BY MYSELF.
And yes, this is ALL because we wanted hardwood flooring in the family room. Shut it.