Does life imitate art? Not for me. For me, it’s the other way around. When life happens, I write about it. For instance, after my husband and I built our house, I wrote about home construction in the Crosslyn Rise Trilogy. When we began spending time in small New Hampshire towns, I wrote Lake News. When my aunt developed Alzheimer’s disease, I wrote Shades of Grace. When I felt overwhelmed by life’s demands, I wrote Escape.
And now? Now it’s back to construction, which is a major player in the book I’m currently writing because — drum roll, please — we’re redoing a bathroom in our house. As bathrooms go, this one is arguably our most important since it’s attached to the master bedroom. Up until now, it had a shower that was small and dark, a bathtub that was built into a large platform taking up a godawful amount of space, a toilet that wasted water, and lighting that was sparse. At the same time, there were three adjacent closets just begging to be combined into a single walk-in.
So — cymbals, please — we gutted it all, bathroom and closets. Try to imagine the mess. Imagine workers arriving at 6:30 am, hammering and drilling their way through my work day, all the while making personal use of the bathroom by my kitchen. Imagine a dumpster in the driveway, getting heavier not so much with debris from the work but with snow from this abominable winter we’ve had! Imagine a central alarm panel that had to be moved to another floor to open up one of those closets and the bellyaching of not one, not two, but three separate alarm guys who complained about the work. Imagine the framing inspector signing off on the rough framing, at the same time declaring that the window overlooking what will be a free-standing bathtub isn’t tempered glass and is therefore out of code.
Still, I’m very fortunate, and not only to be able to do this project at a time when foreclosures remain high and homelessness abounds. I get a high tech, environmentally smart, sinfully lovely bathroom out of this. Picture marble the color of streaked sand, an exhaust fan that is silent, and three separate heads in the shower-to-be pictured here.
I also get a book out of the deal. I still don’t have a title, and this new book isn’t about redoing a bathroom but about rehabbing entire houses. But the presence of a contractor, carpenters, electricians, and lumbers at my house every day doesn’t hurt. They are — trumpet flourish, here — a resource like no other, taking the edge off what might otherwise be an endlessly slow project.
How about you? Have you ever done a home improvement project? Was it a dream or a nightmare? Knowing now what you didn’t know then, would you do it again?