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When Rick and I decided to spend our lives together, we looked at each other and made a solemn promise to never do a major renovation project together.

Because we just aren’t that couple.

We realized this when we were picking our our every day china before our wedding. I returned it three times because I couldn’t decide which pattern I liked. Rick, with escalating frustration, would point to any pattern and shout phrases like, “I love it! Buy it! Book it! Let’s move on! I’ll meet you in flatware!”

Not a match made in renovation heaven.

So here we are, thanks to Hurricane Irene, completely rebuilding the first floor of our house. We have been out of our home for two months and it will be another month for sure. I’ve never had any interest in redoing a house and the learning curve has been steep.

But in case your house ever gets 10 1/2 feet of water and you’re forced to rip out and replace your entire first floor, here are some of the things I now know…

When you go to a tile store, it’s best not to bring your four kids.

Ditto on the carpet store.

I learned to google “What is a chaise?” before emailing back my decorator so she wouldn’t think I was an idiot.

I learned that I feel fancy when I say, “my decorator.”

I learned that if I forget to tell the painter the colors I want, he might just imagine a conversation where I approved colors and start painting.

I learned if your contractors are from Ireland and you can’t really understand what they are saying all the time, you’ll nod your head “yes” a lot and then it’s best to be flexible about the finished project.

I learned it really is possible for my head to explode and get in an argument with my contractor about whether the bathroom faucets should be brushed nickel, polished nickel or chrome. Despite the fact that I have never noticed the finish on my bathroom appliances or any appliances. Ever.

I learned it will seem like the painter doesn’t have a grasp of the English language. But in reality he just bares a striking resemblance to the guys I used to date in my twenties. Very cute. Not so sharp.

I learned if you’re lucky, you’ll hire the same tile guy who did Robert De Niro’s bathroom. And because he’s classy, he won’t mention that your bathroom is 1/100th of the size of De Niro’s.

I learned most carpets are ugly. And expensive.

I learned there is a “guy” for every job imaginable. The closet guy, the shower glass door guy, the kitchen guy, the granite guy, the floor guy, the neck massage guy. Wait – the neck massage guy might have been the kitchen guy.  Do they always give neck massages?

I learned it still takes me a lot longer than Rick to make decision.

And he still shouts out, “I love it! Buy it! Book it! Let’s move on! I’ll meet you in flatware!”

Which is weird because we don’t even need flatware.

mama bird notes

Are you in the NYC area this weekend? If yes, check out Sid the Science Kid at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers on Sunday, October 23rd from 11 am to 1 pm. There will be lots of Halloween fun and a planetarium show! I’ll be there so please join me. More information here.

Apparently, there is a new study that reports 8% of parents regret their baby name. Because I’ve been there and done that, I agreed to do an interview on the topic. Here’s the interview. My only upset… they gave my real age (I don’t know why they didn’t believe I was 26) and I admitted once again that Summer’s name was plucked from the “O.C.” If only I had been a “Friday Night Lights” fan back then, her name could have been Tim Riggins.

Finally, two very talented friends of mine, Laura Brownson and Beth Levison directed and produced an incredible documentary about spoken word artist Lemon Andersen. It’s premiering at New York’s Documentary Festival on November 4th. The movie is getting tons of buzz and attention.

According to NY Magazine… “Three-time felon, one-time Tony Award winner, Lemon Andersen is an acclaimed poet who broke out on Broadway in Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam. But Lemon has landed back in the projects, living with thirteen family members and desperate for a way out. He turns to the only things he has left, his pen and his story. This beautifully crafted film follows his efforts to stage a comeback at the Public Theater as he battles demons from his past.”

To see a trailer, visit the Facebook page.


18 Responses to the guide to an easy renovation!

  • Kerri says:

    Brushed nickel as it is MUCH easier to keep clean & forget the carpets & go with hardwood. I LOVE our hardwood. We built our own house…we are both still alive even though dh hung me upside down to put on the last piece of sheathing, with nothing but my belt loop & his finger stopping me from falling down 2 stories, plus the basement. Of course after that he realized we really should have a tie-off harness so he bought when for himself when he did the roof. I was not up there to hold his belt loop! I have had carpet before & when we tore it up ( a newer carpet with a VERY expensive vacuum due to my allergies) I was so disgusted with the dirt under the carpet the vacuum never got too. I use a central vac & a steam mop…tada. The bathrooms are linoleum (the real stuff made from linseed oil) and they are awesome too. We finally put floor over the painted plywood in our room. On sale, lovely redwood stained, sustainable bamboo hardwood. I LOVE it! Oh avoid gloss as it produces an optical illusion & multiplies the dust bunnies & crumbs. Semi-gloss isn’t as bad & satin is even better.

  • Jenn says:

    I love the kids! The babies have got sooo big.
    Thankfully I have never paid attention to renovations. I say, “Tiles look good. They’re cheap. We’ll take them.” and that’s about it. But my renovations have been limited to kitchens and bathrooms… and wooden floors… and wall paint colours… actually… I’ve had a hand in quite a lot of the renovations to our duplex.

  • Diane says:

    I learned after 3 14-hr days of having contractors in our house to replace all the carpet with wood floors how hard people in this profession really work. Manual labor (kind of like motherhood) is one of the hardest, thankless, sweatiest professions and I have a debt of gratitude to the people working hard for frankly not much money. I was humbled by their skills (I can barely change a light bulb) and was sure to point out the quality of their crafty and hard work to my (lazy) children.

  • Renovations are even harder to do as a couple than raise kids. Kids can get sent to their room, to school, to camp, to grandma’s, to play in traffic. But that ugly-as-sin counter that you chose when you were frustrated with EVERYTHING and your darling spouse was wondering what was taking so long? Yeah. That counter will be looking at you every.single.day. Good luck. If anyone can get through it, it’s the two of you. Well, the six of you, I guess. (Second the vote for hardwood, btw: allergies, cleaning, general easiness, even though with small kids carpet looks like a good idea to ease falls & booboos. Resist. Go bare. As it were.)

  • Tonya says:

    I agree with deborah Quinn. Raising kids is way easier than doing renovations with the spouse. When we bought our apt I was 8 months pregnant and more interested in napping and eating than picking out counter tops now I have to see the god-awful ones the hubs talked me into EVERY day! My advice: stay on your toes! No napping!

  • Leslie says:

    HILARIOUS!!! That’s me, “Book it! Buy it! Love it!” My husband: “Let me do some research.” Oh how I detest the word research!

    The photos of the kids in the stores are adorable! Love the one of your little guy on the floor. Why are floors so enticing? They always just want. to. lay. down.

    Excellent post!

  • Aunt Marcia (Guess Whose?) says:

    I’m living in the same house for over 30 years and every renovation I did was with the idea that ‘I’m doing it ONCE, and living with it till I croak’. Therefore tiles are permanent on bathroom/kitchen floors & walls. Can’t be changed, don’t want to. Wood panelling over most sheet rock is permanent and doesn’t have to be painted. Natural wood is lovely….While my home is ‘dated’….so what??? I didn’t rip out kitchen five times to replace Formica counters with tile, with Corian, with Marble, with Slate, with polished granite….just because some designer says so. My water runs, my electricity works and the roof doesn’t leak…I’m enjoying life and I’ll let the next owner bring it all up-to-date and spend the money doing it.

kelcey kintner