Home projects have a way of snowballing and spiraling. As I have explained before, much of our house had not been renovated or even redecorated since it was built in 1968. The staircase banister was starting to show its age in a terrifying manner as it was rickety and wobbly and threatening to pull away from the wall any time any of my boys leaned on it. Pretty terrifying. It, therefore, jumped up to the very top of the list of home improvement priorities. But removing and replacing a banister was going to damage the carpeting and the walls. And if we were going to repaint all the walls then we were best to replace the tiles in the downstairs hall. And if we were going to replace the floor tiles then we should do that at the same time as pulling out the old downstairs loo. So that one problem with the wobbly banister Hulked out and became a major project.
I forgot to take Before photos. However, these images show what the hallway and downstairs WC looked like when we moved in to our house in August 2014. Not much had changed since then. I was not going to miss those “crazy paving” vinyl tiles.
I don’t do well with chaos so the period of the project was something I endured rather than enjoyed. As much as I knew the final outcome would make it all worthwhile, constantly having other people in my house when I got home from work, having building materials stowed in our living room, and just the mess and disruption made it all quite stressful. There were three peak incidents of stress: the contractor ripped out the old banister early on in the project but did not install the new one until the very end which meant living for weeks without any barrier whatsoever on the staircase – and you can imagine that my sons took full advantage of that opportunity to freak out their mother; the second was that the same period coincided with some of our worst weather of the winter which led to snow days and the kids being home while the work was underway and, on one such day, the floor was retiled while the kids were trapped upstairs – with the bathrooms – while I was trapped downstairs – with no bathroom – for several hours; the third peak stress moment was the absolute worst and involved the stair carpet still being installed after 10pm – installation having started at 1.30pm – partly because the carpet fitter stapled his own finger and had to be taken to the ER by an extremely jet-lagged Mr Pict.
In the end, however, we are happy with the results. We now have a much sturdier and much more secure banister, dove grey walls, dark grey floor tiles, very plush and soft carpet for the stairs and upstairs hall, and a fresh and more modern looking downstairs WC. Now we can start to personalise the space by pulling out framed art that hasn’t been on display since we emigrated and some pieces that need to be framed and getting those up on the walls.
For the past couple of months, the Pict home has been upside down because of a major renovation project. Our bathrooms were original to the house and, while I could live with the 1960s stylings, we could no longer deal with the stressful ramifications of maintenance. When a toilet seat broke (thanks to a sleep addled child) we had to source a vintage one and even things like the washers were non-standard sizes so we had to seek those out online. We decided, therefore, that it was only a matter of time before some aspect of the plumbing failed in spectacular fashion and that it was better to get ahead of it than to have to deal with the whole process on an emergency basis. There was a point about five weeks into the project where I definitely thought and felt like we were deranged for having done so but we determined that we should have both bathrooms ripped out and reconstructed at the same time. The time efficiencies and budget savings made it worth doing but it definitely was super stressful having six of us trying to live among that degree of chaos for a couple of months.
Just to add to the mess and chaos and clutter, our formal living room was the designated set down space for all of the construction equipment and materials so a huge percentage of our home felt like a builders’ yard. And then there was all the noise and the dust and the dirt. I eventually just gave up properly cleaning the house because it was a Sisyphean task. The dust was breeding quicker than I could ever clean and it was depressing. I had no peaceful, tidy, clean space to retreat into. It was actually really stressful but – now that it is all over – I think the end results were worth it.
I did not take great before pictures. I actually entirely forgot to take some so the photos are from our moving in day three years ago. The pink bathroom was our hall bathroom, primarily used by our four sons and occasionally by guests. The turquoise bathroom was the en suite for the master bedroom. I am sure they will give some readers flashbacks.
I hope you will agree that both bathrooms were transformed. We wanted to keep things pretty neutral because we want these bathrooms to last a long time. I pretty much never want to have to rip out a bathroom ever again. The hall bathroom is the beige/brown one and the en suite is the grey one. Also my after photos suck almost as much as my before ones because the spaces are small and I wobble when taking panoramic shots.
Incidentally it turned out to be very fortunate that we chose the bathrooms as our next renovation project because, once the tiles were gone, it revealed that the floor was disintegrating in one spot and would have eventually collapsed through the ceiling and caused major damage. Of course, now that we have brand, spanking new bathrooms, it makes the hallways look even more in need of resuscitation than before and my bedroom – always the worst space in the house – looks even more wretched. Definitely way more work to be done in this do-upper of a house but I think we might take a pause before we launch into another major project. I need time to recuperate from this first.