Earlier this week, late one night after all the lights had been turned off--even the lamp beside our bed--Chris and I stayed up talking about the state of our life right now. It’s been a difficult year with the cabin fire (and the never-ending legal fight trying to get to the bottom of it), health complications and hauntings in our new house (really!). I think we thought moving would be an exciting and fun thing for us to focus on but has it brought on more stress than our already delicate emotional state was ready to take on? Probably.
On a positive note, it has been fun to be in a fresh space with fresh ideas. I’m a creative through and through and I’m generally happiest when I’m working on a project. But to be transparent, living in a construction site for the last five months has taken a toll on our family and mental health. It’s a sensitive subject because you save up for a renovation, and you plan for it, and you realize how lucky you are to be making these changes — in a space that you’ve dreamt of — and you don’t want to seem ungrateful, but you are going to hit a breaking point. It’s not an if, it’s a when. That is what I realized. We were naive enough to think we, as DIYers and project lovers, wouldn’t hit a threshold, that we would somehow be immuned since we’ve been doing projects the last ten years. We’re used to rooms with plastic taped up and make-shift just about anything and talking over power tools. But even for us, this has been a lot and with every message I receive asking, “How do you do it?!” I feel a pang of guilt, because I think we have been putting on a stronger, happier face then the one we wear after all the lights get turned off.
This is the side of renovating that is rarely talked about because it IS such a privilege to renovate--but even if you have the opportunity to make a home exactly yours, it’s not always fun. The constant loud noise. Constant people in your house. Decision fatigue. Make-shift living. Dust everywhere. Delayed timelines. Extended budgets. A lack of normal schedules and meals and...furniture. It can take its toll on you.
We’re feeling those emotions deeply right now and have started looking into moving out and staying in a local hotel or airbnb for a few weeks or month until we’re on the other side of this. Which is, actually, the beginning. Painting, trim work, furnishings--all of those things that we’ll take our time doing once we have our home to ourself again. I’m looking forward to those things!
So, “Would we have done it this way again? Would we have moved from our (finished) home into this under-construction home if we knew how hard and loud and messy and long it would be?” Of course we had NO IDEA the extent when we started, so it’s not a realistic question, but if we had known, we both decided — no. We’d likely wait to sell our house until this big portion of the reno was over and stay put and wait to move into our new home when these first big renovations were complete.
The good news is, I think we see the light at the end. And we’re making it work thanks to being able to have honest conversations with each other on what we need (even when what we need is to walk away for a few minutes). I share this because I don’t want anyone to feel like living through a renovation looks like laughter and fun shopping trips all the time (though we’ve had our share of those during this, too). In addition to making sure your finances and plans are in order before starting, check in on your mental and emotional state--are you feeling strong enough there, too?
We have a new kind of tool kit, an arsenal of survival necessities to get through residency in a work zone (links below!). But we’d love to hear from you: Reply to this email with tips for nesting while renovating. Or just send us some love — We’ll keep it tucked under our hard hats, with gratitude.
Invest in noise-canceling headphones and sturdy-soled slippers.
Never underestimate the snuggly soothing power of a soft fleece or a weighted blanket.
Keep the Shop Vac at the ready, and stock up on storage bins to stow away treasures at a moment’s notice. Ready the Instant Pot — you never know where your
makeshift kitchen might be!
And when you’ve had too much, book a little getaway.
You deserve a little R&R, mid-reno.
A: Sometimes! That’s a great question for your contractor and your late-night Google search. We like the idea of renovating rather than building-new because we’ve made our career out of fixing up spaces. It’s kind of our thing. Plus, we change our minds a lot! It would feel like torture to make all of our decisions up front and turn them over to a team of builders. We’d be biting our nails the whole time. Renovating has allowed us to make more decisions as we go.
Finally, we love the idea of giving something a new life.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… and Renovate!
All good things,
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