Renovation, Renovation! Why dost thou drive me crazy?

Photo above: “It ain’t a barn door, but it’s close enough.”

By Di Chapman

Heaven help me. I’m in the middle of household renovations. Again. Somebody, please, put me out of my misery. We’re all in love with renovations right now. Fess up. You’re glued to the fixer-upper shows just as much as I am. I dream of having the “big, open concept.” We lust for the barn door, even if we can’t think of one dang place to put it. We’re hanging antler chandeliers. We’re putting real wood on kitchen walls and fake wood on the floors.

But unlike on the ubiquitous reno shows, renovations are like Pandora’s box. What will you find when you start them? Rotted wood? Unknown leaks? Cockroach communities? Ant farms? Termites? Ahem. Ad nauseam. Sure, they show the demise of these in the superfast format the shows use to make us all want what they have. But, where is the true reaction to this news between two homeowners? Where is the “Bleep, bleep, bleep, and bleep!” conversation out of earshot? Where is the “Seriously? More money? Seriously?”

I know my angst about my current reno is because I thought I had mentally prepared myself for the layer upon layer of dust, on every surface, of four rooms. For the ear-splitting noise of sledge hammers, power tools, and hammers pounding the walls. For the renovation team’s paint cans, cast-off ceramic flooring pieces, and drop cloths everywhere underfoot. For the slip and slide on the drop cloths, every time I need to go from one room to another.

For trying to avoid falling, headfirst, into the power tools and open, paint buckets, when I trip over the broom and dustpan. For my clumsiness, as I accidentally kick everything of importance to the workmen, and jump around on one foot, trying to maintain composure when a toe has been whacked into said stationary objects. For trying to keep my compulsions under control, like a need to take out the garbage when I see a bulging bag. Trash bags, with 50 pounds of sledge-hammered tile, call to me. It would be a long haul dragging that bag of garbage down to the can. I let it be.

For schlepping gobs of stuff from one room to another, and back again, as work progresses. How did we collect all of this junk anyway? For telling the guys to feel free to pile all of my office furniture on top of my desk. It stood in the middle of the room, looking like bonfire material, covered with a clear tarp. “It’s not a problem,” I said. “There’s nothing on the desk I need to see right now.” One hour later, I needed something on my desk. I crawled through the plastic tarp and onto furniture and papers. Uffda!

And, finally, for the inevitable, “We’re gonna need more time.” Why doesn’t the crew say WAY more time? It’s a hair-pulling, head-banging experience, and this girl is great at foot-stomping. They’ve met their match.

The fact is, this is not my show. It belongs to the contractor, the painters, the tilers, and the floor guys. I’m trying to feign a sense of humor, but that’s a cover for losing my mind. “Why am I doing this to myself?” I wail. “Did this room really need it?” I must admit that it did and does. The late 1990s and early 2000s are just that, only without the vintage vibe. They have to go the way of avocado carpet and yellow refrigerators. I’ll bet, like me, you were happy to see them go. How do dumb trends like that get started anyway? (If you are someone who loved them, oops, my bad.)

Mental preparation for renovations anywhere is a fleeting joke, laughing at us, and certainly, not with us. I recall the master bath overhaul a few summers ago. I wanted to plunge a knife into my chest. I flailed. I threw tantrums. The shower, tile floor, and bathtub were demolished. “Di, do you need this old bathtub?” the plumber asked. Really? Why in the heck would I use that old bathtub? Perhaps for a campy piece of furniture in the living room? “Ladies and gentlemen, here we have the latest piece of furniture art! This is a lovely, neutral beige. A few pillows will give it some vibrant color. It’s perfect for leisurely reading.”

He had a special power tool and revved it up. I gave the tub last rites. With a few swipes, it was in pieces and hauled away. (P.S. Ladies, if you’re into men with big tools, I highly recommend doing a reno. To each of us our own, girls!)

The list of my renovations goes on and on. I try to space them out over time, a reno here, a reno there.

Cleaning up for a friend’s visit the day after the completion of the bedrooms and guest bathroom, I had the munchies something fierce. I did what any red-blooded, American woman does while she’s vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning floors after a bomb blast. I prowled for corn chips and found some fresh out of the bag. That would do. I chomped and chomped on chips, digging in the bag and popping the crunchy critters in my mouth. Who knew that chips could taste so good when you’re cleaning floors? From the stair landing, into the master and guest bedrooms, I swiffered and mopped the floors and dusted furniture into the night.

Morning light shimmered into the bedroom, and I arose earlier than usual to delight in my newly renovated rooms. Then I saw them. Chip crumb after chip crumb had made a trail across the floor. Like Hansel and Gretel’s trail of breadcrumbs, the straight-line of a corn chip highway took me down the road into the bedroom.

I had to laugh. In all of the madness, I might just be crazier than renovations. 

Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, and a branding consultant. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it! Contact Di at