Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014
Joyce Minor

Messes aren't always bad

Published:   |   Updated: May 6, 2013 at 02:02 PM

About 18 months ago, we bought a house that's 30-plus years old and began the process of renovation. It's been a challenge for several reasons.

First, we're living in the house, which means we're also living with the construction mess. Second, we're determined not to go into debt for the renovations, so we're only doing one project at a time, which means the mess is never-ending.

Large projects are even more challenging. Sometimes it means we can only do one portion of a project at a time, such as the floor. Then we have to stop and save up for the next stage, which might be cabinets, or wallboard, or appliances.

It's always exciting to launch into a new project. Currently we're working on the master bath. First comes demolition, where we get to tear out the old stuff. I love this part.

We decided to start by pulling down the six-foot plate glass mirror. It's always been way too big for the room. We crisscrossed the mirror surface with a maze of duct tape and carefully pried up the corners, just like they show on DIY Channel. Unfortunately, our mirror didn't just pop off the wall like the ones on television.

Thanks to someone who got over-zealous with the glue, our mirror shattered into a dozen large pieces and a zillion tiny shards. Good thing I'm not superstitious. Fortunately, we were able to clean it all up without getting cut. And we even recycled the glass. However, we found some "gifts" behind the mirror: globs of bumpy rock-hard glue on the wallboard, and a two-by-three-foot hole where, apparently, there used to be a medicine cabinet.

With old houses you have to anticipate some surprises so we've tried to take each new challenge in stride. However, these unexpected "fix-ups" not only add to the cost of the renovation, they also add to the duration, which is basically the length of time we're living in the middle of a mess.

We had a little mirror about 12 by 18 inches which we propped up in the hole for the first few days but that meant it was shadowed so I couldn't see a thing in it. These days, putting on makeup is challenging enough, what with aging skin, etc. But doing it in the dark is hopeless! So we went mirror shopping, only to find that most of them won't work in the space. Why? Because, to be centered over the sink, the mirror has to butt up to the corner.

Needless to say, it took forever to find a mirror we liked and could afford that also would work in the space. Fortunately, the one we found is much nicer than what we would have bought were it not for the challenges posed by the "gifts" discovered behind the old mirror combined with the awkward corner problem.

It's all sort of like life and relationships. There will always be unexpected challenges, and sometimes they're messy or even dangerous to deal with. You may feel backed into a corner, but hang in there. The time and effort "living with the mess" while you work out a solution can be well worth it.

Often, the result is far better than you ever anticipated.


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