Monthly Archives: May 2008

strike two

I am pretty sure this renovation is doomed. At least the bathroom, anyway. We picked up the vanity on Wednesday, and, still scarred by the countertop fiasco, Joe and I were both prepared to inspect every inch of it. But it was all packed in a box, so the best we could do was open the top and look in. All seemed to be in order, even though I paranoidly asked him, “What do we do if there’s a huge scratch down the front or something? Will they take it back?”

Well, today I’ll find out. There’s no scratch, but when Joe and his dad went over last night to make the template for our countertop (a piece of plywood marked with the dimensions and sink and fixture placement; doing it ourselves is saving us a fat $500), they discovered the cabinet is too big. It’s 21 inches deep instead of 18. We couldn’t fit it in the room if we wanted to. Plus, both sides are unfinished, not just the one going against the wall.

At least I still have the receipt with a diagram clearly showing the dimensions we asked for. But still, this is another 3-week minimum delay. Not to mention the stress of doing everything in the bathroom twice. Joe finally told me I could order our tile, but now I’m terrified to. Of course, Roy can’t install the toilet until I do, and our old crapper was downgraded this week from leaking to gone.

So, capping off an evening of cursing and ruing the day we bid on this house was a discussion of where the guys can pee from now on: in the kitchen sink, the new tub, or in the backyard. (Us ladies are wisely boycotting any work at the house until there’s a functional commode.) This just gets better and better.


the big to-do

I long for the days when I had a normal to-do list: “Buy bread” or “pick up dry-cleaning.” These days, all these normal everyday activities have been crowded out with “order paint samples,” “resolve countertop” and a few thousand “call Roy abouts.”

Actually, I’d be happy with just one list. About a year ago, coinciding with the purchase of this house, I started carrying a small spiral notebook everywhere because I just couldn’t kept track of everything I had to do. Now the lists stretch on for pages, interrupted with diagrams of our hallway or bathroom or attic, nonsensical scribbles and jottings that only make sense to me, and emergency contact phone numbers: our contractor, Lowe’s, and whatever granite place I’ve talked to most recently (I called at least 15 in the last 24 hours looking for a ¾-inch remnant of Azul Aran granite for our backsplash).

It doesn’t help that I’ve developed renovation-related dementia. All these details about countertops and tile and paint chips have crowded out other, non-essential brain functions, which is why last week I put salt in my coffee, and why I keep asking Joe the same questions even though the answers are written down in my notebook.

less progress

After Friday’s progress, I was psyched about all we’d get done in the three-day weekend. I didn’t know we’d be taking Saturday and Monday off. I did manage to prime my office closet, discovering in the process that painting is not as easy as it looks on HGTV, and also that latex primer will eventually dry and come right out of your hair should you accidentally back your ponytail into it.

My next job was to stuff the bathroom cracks full of insulation. I hate that job, so I instigated a shopping trip to Lowe’s. We set a new record of almost two and a half hours this time, but I managed to use three coupons so I was happy.

I wasn’t so happy to discover the toilet leaks when flushed. We won’t be able to install the new one until we get the tile in, and who knows when Joe will ever even let me order it. So from here on out, I have to monitor my fluid intake carefully unless I want to pee in the bushes. I swear this renovation’s going to give me kidney problems later in life.


I had taken today off work to watch Izabelle, but in a stunning move, her mother offered to watch her for us. So I took advantage by running tons of errands. I was going to mow the lawn while waiting for our tub and toilet to arrive, but my darling husband took the only shed key with him to work. So I sat in the driveway until the delivery guy showed up and lugged the tiniest cast-iron tub I’ve ever seen into our garage. We have to store it there until Roy can install it next week. He and his plumber finished up in the bathroom, so we’ve got all new shiny copper pipes, a new water heater, and a new floor.

When Joe told me about it and how much I was going to like it, I just pouted, “Yeah, big deal, a floor. Great.” (In my defense, this was after the second week of not picking up our vanity when he promised me he would). But he was right; I can’t even describe the difference it makes. The bathroom finally resembles a room again.

Next I hit the granite place and got the tour de slab of a huge hunk of Azul Aran. I brought my camera and methodically photographed each corner to show Joe. The sales associate helping me acted like nothing was unusual about this. When I asked her if she had granite countertops at home, she replied, “No way—I can’t afford them!” I like her. I liked her even more when she called and told me that not only could they beat the price we had been getting (around $500), she also offered to sell us a show model top for $200!

I thought I was done for the day but then Joe called and suggested I buy a new sink since we returned ours with the countertop. Score—we got that cheaper too. I am not so depressed about that granite setback anymore. I did a little more faucet research while I was at Lavish, the world’s best plumbing showroom, and ended the day feeling very accomplished.

highs and lows

Like the weather, today had its ups and downs. Here are the highlights:

1. my paint samples arrive

Aren’t they cute? Each sample comes with a mini-roller and plastic paint tray. Adorable. Everyone loved Spring Hill, the green for the master bedroom. Pismo Dunes, a sandy yellow I was trying for my office, was less of a hit. I’m gravitating more toward a pale blue in there now.

2. we have no indoor plumbing
Working at the house has taken a new, unpleasant twist. I actually found this out Friday night when I used the toilet first and asked questions later, a mistake I shall not repeat. Our contractor and his plumber have been refitting pipes so the only source of water is a spigot jutting out of one bathroom wall. This is even more annoying than it sounds. It has made the simple act of taking a pee into a multistep process fraught with danger.

3. we pick up our countertop
Usually, Joe is the one who inspects everything with a fine-tooth comb, to the point of embarrassment for me. I’ll grant that maybe 20 percent of the time, I’m glad he’s so anal because it saves us some headaches. But this time, it was me who zeroed in on the problem. There was a huge dark flaw in the countertop, the same one we specifically asked them to cut around. I pointed it out with alarm, but Joe pooh-poohed me and we took it home.

4. we return our countertop
It was all over the second Joe’s dad took a look. He pointed out that the backsplash had been broken in half and then repaired, among a bunch of other flaws. He kept asking, “Why’d you even bring it home?” That was enough for Joe. We drove back to the granite place to return it. The good news is, they didn’t argue with us. The machinist just looked at the broken piece and said, “Yeah, that happens,” a phrase Joe kept muttering angrily the rest of the weekend. The bad news is, we seem to be going backward in the progress department.

putting the pain in paint

For once, I am aggravated and it has nothing to do with Joe.

I’ve waited seven long months to paint, and have been carrying swatches around with me for about that long. I’m the opposite of color-phobic, but my choices do tend to be, well, exuberant. Growing up, my bedroom was first turquoise (not my fault) and then pink (totally my fault). It may even be genetic: My mother twice painted her dining room what ended up being the bright, artificial neon green of a Baskin Robbins mint cone.

So you can understand my resolve to use paint samples. I even staked out scrap pieces of drywall and primed them, so we can paint them, prop them up and examine the colors in all kinds of light, just like shelter magazines tell you to.

The problem is getting the samples. I figured the little ounce jars would be two or three bucks, tops, but when I investigated, I discovered Behr samples were $7 each, and could only be ordered online, which means the added cost of shipping. When you’re as indecisive as I am, that adds up.

Fine, I thought, there’s always Benjamin Moore. They sell their (slightly cheaper) samples right in the paint store—I could pick them up on my lunch hour. But after weeks of painstakingly narrowing the selection to four colors, I’m told that Benjamin Moore doesn’t offer samples of all its paints, just certain ones. Naturally, none of the colors I wanted. I’d have to buy a quart.

Okay, back to Behr. Despite the cardiac-arrest inducing cost, Joe had insisted on the green he picked out for the bedroom, so I had already placed an order and swallowed the $9 shipping cost. I quickly called the customer service line to see if I could add more paints to my order so I wouldn’t get double-whammied with freight charges. I got only minimal satisfaction: They had already shipped my order, but promised to add one paint sample free to my next order. Still hardly worth it, plus I’d have to wait for that order to ship, plus I have to try to find similar shades to the BM paints I’d picked out. Color me annoyed.

tile and error

We made our second trip to Expo, which normally would make me happy, except that this time we took Izabelle. She is usually really good in stores, but not today. She started crying on the ride up because it was taking too long and she wanted to be at home, watching tv. I love her with all my heart, but nothing has been able to get her remotely interested in the house or anything to do with it, which concerns me a little. I want her to like living there.

Anyway, by the time we got to the tile, and after walking around for way longer than necessary, to the point where Izabelle was really being awful and whiny, and I almost was too, I was just in a total daze and didn’t really care about tile one way or the other. We finally ended up deciding on a gray marble called Silver Shadow. It comes with a finished edge piece, but it’s much more expensive than the tile we had settled on before. We decided that pattern, while it matched our countertop perfectly, was just a little too crazy to cover more than half the bathroom with.

I like the gray, I think. I hope. Not only because I may have to rob a bank to pay for it, but also because at that price, I’ll be chiseling it off the wall when we sell the place and taking it with us.