My wife and I recently bought and moved into our house. It is a single story 1950’s rancher that does little to combat the idea that all post World War II architecture is crap. The location is killer, and the house was incredibly priced. After almost seven years of trying to get into the DC market, we made the plunge. Of course, the house was incredibly priced precisely because it was so run down. The previous owner had some issues with hoarding and an apparent aversion to maintenance. The listing called the house “ignored not abused”—one of those euphemisms that only a realtor could spin.
Since we closed on the house in December, our lives have been absorbed by the enormity of the projects. Every surface of every room needs to be replaced, re-covered, and re-done. The bathrooms and kitchens must be scraped down to the studs and rebuilt. The floors have to be refinished or replaced. Every window, door, and heat register must be made new again. It's not because we're perfectionists; the place was just nasty. And because we dumped all of our savings on the down payment, we are doing the entire renovation ourselves. Thanks to the epic kindness and patience of my father-in-law, who comes over almost every weekend to help us, we have been able to do things I never imagined doing myself. But the scale of the project, combined with the care of a seven-month old baby, is overwhelming.
We live in the midst of the construction. The rituals of domesticity merge with our construction projects in confusing ways. Our “kitchen table” is a piece of plywood set on two sawhorses. The other day at dinner, I reached for my fork and picked up a wrench instead. I brush my teeth and wash dishes in the same sink I clean my drywall knives and fill up the tile saw. And I’m beginning to think of our Shop-Vac as our family pet (we call him Vacu-saurus, and he’s always at my side).