A Designer’s Renovation – Part 7 – The Chaos


Sorry, am very behind on blogging regarding the renovation. We took a 2 week hiatus from online stuff over the December holidays, and have been so busy upon our return that social media has basically been the last thing on the schedule.

But this morning, after spending the weekend unpacking boxes (our POD was returned on Friday), and organizing the main floor and the basement, it dawned on me that I been living in chaos for six months. And, although this isn’t super educational, it’s funny, and insane, and will make for some fun reading. Besides, I have zero brain power right now to write anything of a serious nature.

Before I go any further: THANK YOU! You are my outlet, my friends, my clients, my place to rant today. I don’t often rant for a whole blog. But hey, it’s my blog and at the moment, I need the therapy. I promise next week to get back to business.

The truth is, I would never ask my clients to do this. And as I have posted before, undertaking a renovation of this size, when your very handy husband is doing almost all of the work, is very stressful. So to all of you who read this:

  1. Do not try this at home: this is for you humour only, and never to be executed by another soul.
  2. Do not try this at home: always hire professionals to renovate your home in a timely manner. I have many that my clients benefit from daily.
  3. Do not try this at home: move out (holding back use of bad language). It’s not a safety issue. It’s a sanity issue.
  4. Do not try this at home: because I would then be unemployed and I love my job.  No, seriously…I love my job and I have staff to pay for.
  5. Do not try this at home: because you have read all my blogs and understand the thousands of other reasons.

The BIG move

We moved into our basement in April (I think, we should scroll back at previous blogs and check for sure). It’s about 250 square feet. It has 1 bedroom, a living area, a closet and a tiny kitchen with NO dishwasher. And a 24″ single sink. And ZERO counter space. Basically about a quarter of my old kitchen on the main floor. I brought down 4 plates, 4 bowls, a few pots and pans, and a lot of coffee mugs. Our entire counter space was filled with a coffee machine, kettle, drying rack and 2 jars of cooking utensils. And, as my mother pointed out, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a bottle of Vodka.  I use them for cooking. And sanity. But really, wine works better.

I want to say that our little niche in the basement is nicely put together. Designer-worthy and all that. But it’s not. Well, it was for about a week. But then I got too busy to keep it looking that way, and the kids got more homework to pile up, and we got more paperwork for the house, and the laundry never fully gets done, and they have so little storage that there are toys all over, and I just sat down one day, looked around and told myself that the chaos of this space was just going to have to be a part of my lifestyle for a while.

And it worked. Because I seriously don’t care. I am showing you these photos. That’s how little I care. Or cared. Now, six months later, it’s not the tight accommodations, or the small kitchen that has worn me down. It’s the total, unforgiving, all-encompassing pile of what I only see as crap, that has crawled into my once tidy space and ravaged it like an alien disease. I can’t walk without tripping. I can’t cook without washing dishes first, and 6 months no dishwasher is hell on earth. I can’t find my underwear. They were in a basket in the closet. But now that basket is behind all the laundry I just put away. My shoes are in a giant pile on the floor of the kids bedroom closet, whose doors were removed when we had to reinforce the floors. It’s psychotic.  It looks like a hoarder lives here. I was starting to finally freak out. No, yoga and meditation do not work. The only thing that helped was giving up. Giving up, with the promise that once we had a main floor again, things would go back to being normal. At least somewhat so.


Why is is that when you ask your kids to put their laundry away, they think the floor is a shelf?

The Timing

We moved downstairs in the spring. SO, I packed up all of our winter clothing and it all went into the POD (storage), believing that we would be done the main floor by September, October at the very latest.  I kept out 1 sweater. I kept out 1 jacket, not suitable for work. Everything else went into that POD. EVERYTHING. No clothing for cool weather, no winter stuff, nada.

And then we got creamed for months (read previous blogs for details), and fell grossly behind, and my husband was doing all the work because he can (previous blog), and my kids have a lot of toys, and my shoes….and the tiny closet space, well…let’s just say it’s pretty horrific. I think my eyes hurt from staring at all the ugliness for so long. I mean, I am a designer after all. It can’t be healthy for me to see this. Just grateful I have a lot of clients right now. I can take joy in their homes.


So, how is one expected to survive this without throwing their arms in the air and embracing the chaos? We lived underneath workmen, construction, drywall dust, sawdust, plaster dust, banging, drilling, digging, interesting language choices, masonry, etc. My children have had quite the education in the last six months.  As a family unit, it’s been a new normal. We don’t see my husband all that much, so when we do all spend time together we try to make it count.

In a typical day, I will lose my keys at least twice, my cell phone a few times (once on silent and that was a moment of hell). My kids have to be at the bus at exactly 7:24 am. Can you imagine what it’s like when we have no “designated” space for hats and gloves?? It’s like a monster comes in the middle of the night and moves everything around and when we wake up in the morning it’s all been hidden. At 7:15, about 3 minutes before I have to run out the door, I am literally ransacking the basement to find a neck warmer. That little stupid tube-like thing that kids wear so they won’t choke on a scarf. The thing is dark gray. And my husband is already gone for work. And I am not even sure if they brushed their teeth. And I have a meeting in 1 hour downtown and I am still wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt with a picture of Grumpy Dwarf on it.

Phew. Just got back. Time to get dressed. Where is my coffee? I just poured it. Oh my God. I put it in the bathroom cupboard. I found it at the deodorant stage of my morning. Where is my cell phone? I had it this morning when my husband was asking me about placement of the new fridge. Barreling upstairs I begin my search. I cancelled the home line when we started, so I can’t even call myself. I have no neighbor to help me as she moved away and the rest are likely sleeping or sleeping. Holy ****! Where is it? As I run back downstairs to continue my search I find my cold coffee staring at me. You need to be warmed up baby. And as I open the microwave, my cell phone laughs at me. There it is. In the microwave.

The HVAC guy is calling and it’s on silent.

“Good morning,” he says like it could possibly be true. “On our way. Be there in twenty.”

Did I book a meeting with him for this morning? Is that even possible? How did I do that when I have to be downtown in an hour??

“Ok, great. See you then.”

And then there’s dinner. Where do I cook? What do I cook? I love to cook. I really do. But it’s messy in the house, and the kids are doing homework on the one table we have, and I am chopping onions between them, and my daughter tears up and my son keeps sticking his hands to close to my knife to steal some and eat it (how gross is that?), and my husband will be home in 15 minutes and hungry and would never dream of complaining, but he works ungodly hours and I really should, at the very least, feed him.

This is my kitchen. And that table is where we eat, do crafts, science projects, homework etc

As I stir the sauteing onions, my mind wanders to the clients I have just seen, or booked and the designs I need to prepare. Then my husband comes downstairs to delivery the bad news.

“You are missing 9 handles for the kitchen cabinets.”

And it’s like I was sucker-punched. It took me a month to pick them out. Yeah, I know, first world problems and all that. But as it turns out, my handles are the most popular handles on planet earth and back-ordered for 3 months. And now I have to find something else to use so I can take pictures of this kitchen to post when it’s done, and there is nothing else available. And now, I have to spend hours on the phone with suppliers to get 9 handles. NINE HANDLES. It’s the biggest waste of time. And I have to cram that into my already crazy day. So I sit and force the tears back. Right up to the moment when he comes downstairs again and says to me:

“There is a chip in the sink.” He won’t meet my eyes. He knows.

A CHIP IN MY $1300 36″ gazillion pound white fire-clay apron front sink!! And my counters are being installed in 2 days!!!

I am lucky. My stone guys and my plumbing fixture supplier totally took over and got a new sink (same just not chipped), and arranged the installation and saved my sorry butt from a total breakdown.

“Mommy! Where is my Lego firetruck?”

Someone come over with some wine. I ran out.

Have a terrific day! And remember always; There’s No Place Like Home !

Have a terrific day!