Surviving Home Improvements

It’s 9 o’clock at night. My husband is hiding his tools as I’m frantically vacuuming this room, affectionately known as the FOREVER FIXER UPPER GUEST ROOM. The room still doesn’t have paint on the walls, or the ceiling, but it does have carpet and a bed that is staged beautifully. This poor room is the latest victim of our home improvements experiments…and of course, we have a guest coming tomorrow morning to stay for the weekend. We’ve known about this stay for over a year now, but this is how we do home improvements.

Functionality in my house is critical, and I’m constantly looking for more efficient ways to live stylishly on a dime. Updates to any house are inevitable over time, and doing the work ourselves means I have more money to spend on projects. Fortunately, my husband is handy, and thanks to YouTube, he has become my personal general contractor. He didn’t sign up for this role, I simply enlisted him. However, this does not come without a price.

Our home improvements are a test of our creativity, patience, budget, and in some cases, our marriage. No one is perfect ,which is how I know our projects will never turn out exactly on time, on budget, or how we envisioned. Home improvements bring out the best part of us and the worst part of us. My husband is easily distracted and drives me crazy with his million trips to Lowe’s for a single project, and I know I can be demanding, impatient, and have a strange gift to find something impossible to create that I set my heart on leaving my husband no choice but to deliver. So for the last 19 years, here are a few things we have learned to “make it work” when doing home improvements:

  1. Communicate. In our case, my husband’s definition of urgent is not the same as mine. We lay out our timeline and respect the possibility of life happening and something not getting done on time. Prioritizing rooms that we utilize often, logistics, functionality, color, supplies, everything should be communicated.
  2. Make arrangements. When we remodeled our laundry room, fold and go laundry from In The Bag was a lifesaver and enabled us to work without the pressure of laundry piling up. The last thing I want to do is cook after working on a project all day. I try to make sure meals are quick and easy. For larger projects, I take our kids to visit my family for the weekend. Our son does not like change, or loud sounds, so it is better to “surprise” him with updates after they are completed.
  3. Be realistic. HGTV shoots hours, days, weeks, and months to condense projects down to a 43 minute show. We also have to be realistic about our abilities. If something is beyond our expertise, we agree together to hire it out.
  4. Stick to one project at a time. When we get in over our heads it is typically because we are trying to do to much too quickly. There is great satisfaction and momentum derived from accomplishing a single task from beginning to end.
  5. Give each other grace. We are literally building a life together, not just a home. There are going to be bumps, shocks, shorts, accidents, holes, patches, floods, you name it but there is beauty in the process if you simply take time to notice.

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