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Who needs a contractor when you have a hot wife with a crowbar?

For the last couple weeks we have been “pregnant” with the house of our dreams! Like eager first time parents we have played all over the internet painting our imaginary rooms on behr.com, researching eco-friendly flooring, and connecting with local companies. We’ve been bouncing with the joy of it…oooing and ahhhing over our shared love for the “french” style sink and the double slipper claw foot tub we imagine sinking into together, stars twinkling over our 11 acres of forest, orchard, and garden.

This is what we have: a gift of a childhood home, just 30 years old, beautiful, and in need of new floors, paint, a massive clearing out, and a deep cleaning. We don’t need it fancy, but we do need $15,000.

Today as we were driving home Gree says, “I’m just worried about the money, about paying out money we don’t have, about us wanting to camp on the Cape this summer, and me needing to work more, or you needing to go back to work. I’m just worried we won’t be able to pay our bills.” Her face was quite still as she spoke, the way she gets when she’s nervous. I felt a little twinge of sadness…however selfish…

She went to work the night shift and after the children were asleep I discovered that maybe…maybe we don’t need $15,000. Flooring is one of the most expensive things… because we have 1,000 square feet of dusty moldy carpet to contend with. Here’s what I found.

  • We can do the “rip-up-and removal” and we may even be able to recycle the carpet.
  • There are awesome things one can do with plywood floors for about $1 a square foot, or less, depending on if you can work with your existing subfloors or if you want to lay down an additional layer of plywood.
  • Instead of paying $500 for the tile we had planned to install in the bathroom (not to mention the installation fees) we can have a copper floor for $50…or 5,000 pennies!
  • Who knew you could make paint out of milk!! Or flour?!

Feeling revived and pompously optimistic (we can make a bathtub out of recycled stones!) we descended on the house today extremely caffeinated and overtired and proceeded to dive right into renovating. Kamikaze-style.

With dull X-acto knives we ripped and shredded the grass green commercial carpet of my youth. We grunted and pulled and rolled that rug into dusty carpet burritos, throwing them out the front door with excessive flourish. We filled eight trash bags full of curious clutter; mouse-shredded Barbie clothes, a derelict dollhouse, forty-five faded stuffed animals, jars of shells from long-ago Florida vacations, dusty bottles of perfume, middle school journals, and a hat adorned with various buttons that betrayed my ill-concealed nerdiness. No, really, who has a button that says “I love Latin”. In Latin.

Bedroom. De-carpeted.

This is the point when we realized painting the sub floor really wasn’t an option.

Next we tackled the bathroom, where our ninja like precision suddenly morphed into Neanderthal brutality. We dismantled closet doors, stripped the walls of sagging towel bars and ancient cabinets, unceremoniously dumped out bottles of shampoo from 1982, and teetering on the edge of the rusting clawfoot bathtub ripped out shower enclosures with a miter saw and a crowbar. We both swiftly came to the realization that it is incredibly satisfying to destroy things.

This bathroom tile has got to go.

We spent the remainder of the day wandering through H*me D*pot, eyes as big as saucers. We waded through flooring choices; carpet, plywood, vinyl that looks like wood, laminate that looks like wood but really isn’t…or actual real wood. Like, from trees. We chose faucets and sinks and lamented over the lack of affordable clawfoot tubs. I was momentarily hypnotized by a fancy tub with jets, on display with the misty sort of backlighting that makes you believe that tub might actually be heaven…if heaven were a tub (and I am often convinced it might be). It took us an extraordinary amount of time to choose a toilet. I say this because really they all look the same, but somehow manage to have a gazillion different features, or so it seems. We picked out dishwashers, drooled over countertops and finally stumbled home with Frankie chanting “eat pease, ‘nacks pease, chex? chex with milk? EAT PEASE!”. Frankie munched his pizza while I whipped up a salad and now here we are…collapsed side by side on the couch, and still shopping for tubs.

At least we have a toilet.

The finished salad with braised greens, rice and beans, and a ginger sesame vinaigrette. Then we ate some ice cream.

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