Wednesday, April 2, 2014
House of the Raising Shims
Certain things become apparent only AFTER you have moved into your new home. It comes down to this: Love is blind. When you fall in love with your new place, its character, its quaintness, its nooks and crannies - you have blinders on. With these 'in love' blinders, you can see no faults. It is only upon taking possession of the house that we realize the living room walls are covered in painted, lifting wallpaper - noticeable now, because the walls are empty. No to worry! Quick faux fesco finish and those walls become a 'feature'!
Every single floor in the new house is uneven. I swear to you that, other than the threshhold to the master ensuite, I didn't notice any floor issues the 4 times we were in the house before we took possession. None. And yet... and yet after we own the house, it quickly becomes apparent that we need to buy shims in bulk. "Quick, hand me a shim!"
David and I begin to argue about the relative nature of 'level.'
"Do you want it level to the walls? To the ceiling? To the floor?"
"What I want is to look at a piece of furniture against a wall and not think I'm in a Dali painting!!"
We planned a nice long 2 week overlap between the closing of the new place and the sale of our old place for our very small renovations. We would take March Break and turn it into a family project. WE HAD LOTS OF TIME. (Sorry, I need to stifle hysterical laughter for a moment.)
We didn't have that much to do in the new house before we moved in. We were being conservative in our renovations. We were tackling them ourselves. (With some very generous help from friends and family, and tradespeople to do the tricky bits.) We were taking a 1 bedroom with ensuite and 2nd floor loft family room and turning it into a 2 bedroom with a common bathroom...
... and we thought we'd shift where the master closet is to utilize all the space under the eaves... and we might have decided to move a cellar egress door to create a traditional door to the basement so that the cats would be able to navigate down the non-conforming-to-code stairs... and we were putting up an entire wall of upper cabinets in the kitchen... and we were laying floor... and intended to eliminate the separate 2nd floor laundry to open up a wall so that the common bathroom could have more space... and we needed to bump out a closet on the main floor to house an upright freezer, washer/dryer and treadmill... and we were going to create a wall of repurposed antique windows, which we would then frost/etch/cover with stained glass so that Rissa would have some privacy... and we were going to add custom cut angeled doors to the sloped ceilinged bedrooms, because there weren't any. No problem.
Strangely enough, in that 2 week overlap before we moved in, not one of those jobs was actually completed in full. Go figure.
The bathroom is 'mostly' done. The fixtures are in! And we can shower - so WHOO-HOO for that! We need to finish the drywall, tape and mud and put on the beadboard wainscotting and chair rail and then paint - but at least we can shower! In keeping with no floors in this house being level, the floor of the old laundry room and the floor where the new shower/tub combo resides, has about 4 inches of level disparity. Step between those different floor levels and you're in for a wild ride. It's not quite the beginning of the Leviathan, but if you've had a nightcap (or 6 - you know, to cope with living in a home during renovations), it's close. I'm just going to pretend that we're living on a houseboat. That's why nothing's level. We've even added a waterproof light fixture over the shower so that we can really immerse ourselves in our 'marine' bathroom.
The new closet in the bedroom has clothing rods, but nothing to hide them from view. The flooring in the living room and foyer is done, but not the 1/2 bath. The upper kitchen cupboards are up, but still need a coat of paint... and handles. The closet on the main floor needs to be taped, mudded - and something to cover it. The wall of windows, the privacy doors and the door to the basement? I'm thinking that will happen in the summer.
And yet, with every box that we unpack - the floor space increases. Smaller jobs are getting done. We mostly got the office area settled on Monday night, and last night David made a microwave shelf to get the appliance off the counter. We hung the curtain rod in front of the main floor closet - I have no fucking idea where the curtain rings are, but they'll turn up as soon as I buy new ones.
I'm looking out our kitchen window, towards the back yard and there's some sort of gnarly tree (which I hope will be a flowering apple) and a little group of bushes with our bench and some haphazard flower pots beside it. This morning, there are two blue jays poking around in the mostly-revealed spring grass. I couldn't see this view from our other kitchen window - it was always too high to get a good look at the backyard. I had to get on my tippy-toes to enjoy the green. And now, here I am, typing with a view. It's going to be okay.