February 2, 2009

The hazards of home renovations

Posted in House tagged at 9:08 am by lifebytheday

S and I bought a house in May – a little colonial built in the 1920s – and moved back to my hometown outside of Boston.  The house definitely needs some updates, so we’ve been working on it little by little, and have managed to survive the renovations  – thus far!  People tell you that renovating a house will be hard on your marriage, but they don’t tell you that some days you’ll want to throw your partner out a window! 

Last Saturday was one of those days.  I had just finished cleaning the house in preparation for some friends coming over, when S walks upstairs from the basement with a trowel in one hand, and a bucket of joint compound in the other.  For those of you who haven’t experienced the joys of plaster work, let me try to explain the dread I felt at the sight of this bucket of plaster. 

Plaster is a necessary evil when working on old houses.  Our walls are made from plaster mixed with horsehair and must be either repaired with more plaster or completely torn down and replaced with drywall.  In an effort to maintain the “charm” of our house, we try to repair what walls we can.  However, when the multiple layers of wallpaper come down in preparation for painting, the wall either comes with them, or reveals a hole previously hidden for half a century.  So “fixing” the walls entails painstakingly filling these holes, layer by layer of plaster. 

The plaster itself isn’t the problem, it’s what comes between each layer…sanding and…plaster dust.  Plaster dust is a creature unto itself.  Even when we cover and tape doorways, etc., the dust manages to cover every square inch and sneak into every little unguarded crevice.  The last time we did plaster/sanding, I found plaster dust in my closed kitchen cabinets!  And the best (worst!) part is that it takes multiple applications of plastering and sanding, so it just doesn’t make sense to clean until everything is completely done, which means you basically need to live in filth for a few days.  Not my cup of tea…

So we (…well, S) just did the walls in our entryway, stairs, and upstairs hallway during our Christmas vacation, and we just recently managed to get everything clean again.  That was after 5 or 6 separate cleaning attempts AND a full deep clean by a cleaning company!  So last Saturday, S decided he was going to do some “touch-ups.”  All I could picture was our friends arriving to a sandstorm in my living room…and I knew I had to nip it in the bud.

Picture 5’4″ me with my hands splayed across the opening to our hallway…”No! You CAN’T plaster!!  I won’t LET you!!!”  …S patiently (gritting his teeth) and telling me that if I don’t get out of his way, he WILL move me.  LOL!!  After much back and forth, I let him by, but once he put his materials down to go get the second load, I threw his trowels OUT THE WINDOW!!  …And then promptly got in my car and went to the grocery store.  Needless to say, there were some words when I returned, but since S refused to get the trowels (on principle!) the work was stalled until I returned…just long enough that he wasn’t able to plaster before our friends came over.  Crisis averted!!  …Or maybe just postponed for another day…?

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1 Comment »

  1. […] funny to go back and read my first few posts.  We were still on our break from treatments, so they were much more focused on […]


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