There are a number of renovation-type tasks that need to be done in our house and I am afraid of almost all of them. I am not afraid of the renovations themselves – no! – I’m afraid, to be honest, of what we’ll find when we start.
My feeling on renovations has always been that, barring some more complex tasks, almost anything I fuck up royally can either be undone, re-fixed, or professionally redone. The more complex tasks are better left to the professionals in the first place, so you’ll never see me installing new windows or moving a load-bearing wall or whatever. I’m a little quirky; I’m not crazy.
Let me give you an example. The front porch of our house is covered in indoor/outdoor carpeting that has seen its better days (1982?). There’s a tear/rip in one area and it’s frayed in another area and it’s just kind of gross looking. Ideally, we’d remove this carpeting and paint the concrete underneath with that gritty outdoor stuff that adds a bit of traction but can still be (gently) shoveled when winter arrives.
This should not be a terrifying project. Except.. I have no idea what’s underneath that carpeting. What if the concrete is in bad shape – cracking and crumbling – and we need to make bigger repairs? What if that awful carpeting is the only thing keeping the entire porch from collapsing? WHAT THEN?
The simple answer is that I then freak out because.. then we’re out of the realm of my comfort. I’m okay with projects that I choose – less okay with projects that choose me. It means a bigger expense. It means that my simple weekend (or two) project becomes a month-long extravagaza of crap. It means that there’s a possibility of needing to hire someone to come and fix this.
So, I continue to live with the shabby carpeting on the front porch. I pretend to be okay with it. It’s wabi-sabi! It’s shabby-chic!
In our dining room, we’d like to paint the walls. This will require us to remove the textured wallpaper, on two walls, that the cats/kids have destroyed. Again, doesn’t sound overly complex (but it does sound messy and time-consuming) until I start to think about the condition of the walls underneath the papering.
I already know there’s a weird hole in one section (where, I think, there used to be a light switch) and there are some lumpy areas. That’s just what I know is lurking underneath. There is a lot being left up to my imagination.
The idea of peeling wallpaper, cleaning walls, lightly sanding any remaining paste.. well, these things feel okay. I’m great with filling in a few nail holes and priming the surface and even reasonably okay with taping the trim.
But.. I imagine myself peeling down that wallpaper and finding a ridiculously lumpy set of walls that I have to sand and spackle (I am awful at spackling and I admit it). I picture myself starting, getting frustrated, and leaving it. Spackle stuck to everything and walls half-primed.
Seven months later, I’ll be daydreaming about the good old days when I just had shitty looking wallpaper and some chipped paint.
Alternately, I can pretend that my textured wallpaper includes those shredded bits – intentionally.
There are a few other tasks like this. None of them are anything we can afford to have someone else do from start to finish and none of them are projects where I feel comfortable. I don’t understand why you don’t live closer, Dave. I feel like you’d have some really good advice for us on all of it.