Monday, January 30, 2012

Home Improvement NFS--Wrap-up

At 9:00 last night, I walked through my own front door. I wanted to kneel down and kiss the tile in the entryway—the tile my husband installed a few years back without pissing, moaning, whining and non-stop know-it-all commentary. Oh my goodness. In future, the closest I will get to gifting someone with help on a home improvement project will be a $50 Home Depot gift card.

I left you on Thursday morning, looking forward to day four of (non)work on The Project (my sister’s downstairs bathroom.) In the previous three days, we had managed to purchase, cut and prime a bunch of beadboard paneling. My personal frustration was mounting, as I am not the kind of person who sidles up to a project and meekly taps away at it for a few hours every day…for weeks on end. I dive into it and do it until it’s done.

I’ll admit, I’ve had some projects sit around unfinished when I reached a point that exceeded my personal expertise. But if I start, I always finish eventually, and usually in less than a year. Sister and her husband…not so much. Particularly on this project. This bathroom remodel has been in the works for easily five years. Many months ago, my sister ripped down all the old wallpaper and some of the fixtures, in preparation for the update.

Then she made the mistake that so many DIY-ers make, fatal to any project—she designed the space to include many projects that totally exceeded her (and her husband’s) personal ability (or desire) to complete. And swore to god that she was not gonna hire somebody to do them. This is DIY, folks… and if “Y” don’t have a clue how to proceed, it shouldn’t be part of the project. Like, if you hate working with electricity, you probably shouldn’t design paneling that will require you to move every electrical box in the room. In fact, if you don’t know how to use the pneumatic nail gun that’s been sitting in your garage for ten years, maybe you shouldn’t plan on installing paneling at all. Ya think?

But, bound and determined that she was going to have it her way or not at all, my sister made plans that had no basis in the reality of what she and her husband could accomplish on their own. And so rather than having it her way, the project had fallen down on the side of “not at all” for years. Finally, as a combined anniversary/birthday gift (for the couple who has everything) husband and I offered to help. I don’t know what we were thinking; but I wasn’t expecting to step onto a passive/aggressive minefield.

We spent five days prepping the beadboard and painting the walls in this tiny bathroom. Excruciating, really…but my sister doesn’t seem to have the stamina for a brisker pace, and I personally could only stand to listen to my BIL’s haranguing for short periods. Besides, it wasn’t MY project, and I was doing my best to reduce myself to a mindless extra pair of hands. Not easy for a person like me, who is used to managing things… I swallowed my own thoughts, opinions and criticisms so much that I literally thought I was going to explode. Wouldn’t have been so hard if we had just done the thing, and gotten it over with in a couple of days. But day after day of inching the thing slowly forward, accompanied by the BIL’s yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda YADDA was a peculiar form of torture for me.

And yet, now that I’m home looking back on it, I believe I conducted myself in an acceptable manner. I kept the promise of helping my sister get a particular aspect of the project completed (we had promised to help her install the beadboard…little knowing exactly what that was going to entail.) And we are still on speaking terms. There was a time—not so long ago—when I would have made it through about a day of this, said something stupid, started a war, and fled home in tears. I have always sucked at situations that required me to hold my tongue, keep my peace, and really think about every word I let out of my mouth. From somewhere, I acquired that ability, last week. I won’t say I was always meek, gracious and amenable; but at least I didn’t say something really offensive or freak out and run away. I consider that a personal victory.

In the end, my husband had to swoop in, like the cavalry, mounted upon the dreaded nail gun. He “helped” the BIL nail up the paneling, which meant BIL mostly fluttered around the edges looking busy while the husband crawled around doing the work. Poor hubs walked like Quasimodo by the time we climbed into the van for the ride home last night. But our contract with the devil had been fulfilled. Hopefully this experience has taught us why the term is DIY (Do It Yourself)—not DIT (Do It Together.)


  1. my husband is fond of watching the DIY home remodeling show on television - some really funny, albeit not for the homeowner - programs...this might have competed? although I do have a difficult time watching the ones where someone plays the role of "know it all, haranguer and antagonizer of the process"...

    Very sorry that such was your weekend.

  2. I think some folks can see the pattern of how a job should come out, and some folks can't. It's like reading a map. Some of us will end up where we expected too and some of us wish we'd taken the "left toin at Albuquoikee."

    Hat's off You made it through and didn't burn any bridges.

  3. Your husband to the rescue. I love it.

  4. Very funny post. Making it thru without losing a sister is a huge victory, as far as I'm concerned.