Tag Archives: Remodelling

Dream House

It all starts with a dream . . .

You or your spouse or both gather the fragments of ideas that when fashioned together build your dream home. In your mind’s eye you can see everything, the setting, the style, the garden and landscaping, even the color of the walls. So it begins, your quest for a dream home – if it could be, the term is tossed around as if any four walls could fulfill the definition. Off you roam, through the for sale listings, wandering the streets for “by owner” signs, searching for the place where you will plant your family and watch it grow.

In a very small rural town like Kemmerer, Wyoming the choices are nearly non-existent. Although the market at the time provided over a dozen properties for consideration, only half were of sufficient size and of these most were highly priced and needing improvements, the others (a couple) were true considerations. After an offer fell through, and other possibilities were looking less desirable, my husband phoned with the following news, “I have a house for us to look at while you’re here this weekend.”

“I thought we had seen everything.”

“This isn’t on the market, the bar owner here said he would like to sell his house outside of town. It has some land.” In the recesses of my mind I thought it odd . . .  it should have set off alarms and flashing lights. WARNING – your beer-buoyed husband is making deals with the local barkeeper. But in my anxiety over having a place to move our family to, I bit, “OK, I’ll look at it on Saturday when I get to town.”

The imagery that I produced for this “place in the country” developed during the four-hour drive to Kemmerer. As I approached town I could “see” the lovely sprawling brick ranch in the pines, or maybe a smart log home surrounded by golden aspen. I have to admit my heart sunk quite a bit when I finally approached the driveway of the dingy cedar-sided saltbox style house that jutted out of a sagebrush covered hill. “OK, maybe just well worn.” I thought. My husband had been waiting, chatting politely with Barkeep in the driveway. His warm smile and sparkling eyes were so missed that I’m sure I looked very happy and excited.

I didn’t get a word in before we were off on the grand tour. I followed in the rear through the back door into the garage, it was bursting with stuff – floor to ceiling, so much that I couldn’t see the walls, but I could smell the oil, grease, and dirt – all of the smells of mechanic work done at home. Up a step raggedly assembled from cinderblocks and two-by-fours to the kitchen door. We squeezed inside between the refrigerator and a too-close cabinet, over a muddy assortment of various sized shoes, and on to the 70’s patterned linoleum.

“Can you believe I have NEVER waxed this floor!?” the lady of the house chirped with pride.

My mind replied – Yes, I can. I kept my lips pressed together, terrified that I would actually blurt out the discourteous retort. She joined as we cruised from room to room, merrily chatting away every scuff and bruise evident in the house.

The tour ended in the master bedroom, where the four of us could barely negotiate our way around the furniture to peek into the bath. By this time my mind was screaming, “NO!” I attempted to move from the back of the room to follow my husband, who was now exiting at a lively pace. Chirpy cut me off at the pass, providing a soliloquy on the wonderfulness to be found in the home. I could feel the panic welling up inside as the men’s heavy footfalls counted down the stairs. Ten, nine, eight . . . I practically trampled over Chirpy getting out the door. Five, four, three . . . I had just topped the stairs when the men turned the corner into the living room. I knew, in my gut, I knew that if my husband shook Barkeep’s hand, the deal would be struck and there would be no turning back. I lunged into the living room, wild-eyed, stumbling, and stopped sharply to be rocked back at the scene.

Sure enough, they were shaking hands – my husband was closing the deal.

Looking at the Leap

We’ve all experienced it, the “holy crap” moment when we finally let loose and take a leap of faith. Maybe it was when you finally popped the marital question, or said “yes” to the same. Likely it was the day that you decided (or found out) that a baby was on the way. Buying a house, quitting or starting a job – they are all leaps into the unknown, and so we jump breathlessly into the abyss.

My husband and I took the most outrageous leap of faith when we set out to remodel our house. It started nearly the moment we moved in. The major tasks complete, buried in boxes, the kids asleep, I stood in the doorway to the master bathroom and looked. I was hit hard with the reality, (buyer’s remorse?) of the condition of our newly acquired home. The outdated cabinet falling apart under linoleum countertop left unfinished on the ends, toilet and shower smashed together on one end with nary a hair between, the shower door dangling open showing peeling paint and broken tile within. I broke down sobbing, braced within the doorframe, I couldn’t move. Certainly this breakdown was an exhausted coalescence of closing on a mortgage, packing and moving our boxes of belongings, and keeping the kids present and accounted for in school. Or maybe it was a peek into a proximate madness. My husband’s gentle arms wrapped around me, “I’ll make it beautiful for you, you’ll see.” He assured. I took a deep breath and let loose the doorway. So we planned, researched, strategized, and searched the stars and the gut to determine when to jump.

For nearly a year we stood on the precipice curling and stretching our toes over the edge, poking our noses out just far enough to peer into the deep crevasse, and would pull back – “Not yet.” But ours was not to be a calculated leap; we were forced off the edge by Mother Nature. A winter storm that froze the house solid resulting in damage to the heating system and subsequently to the walls propelled us into the uncharted depths of a DIY remodel so extensive it took nearly half a generation to complete.

So I take a new leap into a chronicle (not chronological) of the endeavor. I look back and find catharsis in seeing the project as an assemblage of humorous sketches in the taking apart and putting together of a place called home.