My entire house is coated in a layer of dust – super thick on the bottom two floors, thinner but still gross on the top two. And this dust is different than the dust that’s usually present due to my lackluster housekeeping skills. No, this is construction dust, from a week of renovation work on our brownstone.
We’ve been here for five years, but still had an entire floor that we couldn’t use, except for storage (as long as you didn’t mind what was being stored getting covered in rubble and overrun by mice).
Why couldn’t we use it all this time? Well, it had no electricity or heat, one corner had bad water damage, and the ceilings were falling down in two out of the three rooms. There were large holes in the walls from when we’d had new plumbing put into the rest of the house. One of the rooms has a carpet so disgusting I felt bad for the mice. The other two rooms have linoleum glued over the original wood floors, and in some places contact paper had been put over the linoleum. WTF? And to top it off, the entry doors to the main room are huge and heavy and close to falling off. They’re probably just waiting for an orphan holding a puppy to stand under them.
This is what the second floor looked like just a few short months ago:
There used to be a wall there. It held up the house. We stopped them halfway through tearing down a doorway that we kinda wanted to use.
To put a cherry on top of the whole mess, different workers from the first stage of our renovation five years ago ripped out a wall by mistake. We came home one day and it was gone. The fact that it was a load-bearing wall meant that the back of the house has been held up since that day by some 2x4s.
If this wreck of a floor had been on the top or bottom of the house, we could’ve just ignored it. But, it’s the second floor, so we had to pass by it every day, dozens of times.
My husband started going through the massive piles of disorganized stuff a few months ago. It all started out neat and organized when we moved here, but after five years of frantically pawing through boxes trying to find something it was a disaster. He managed to get three rooms full of stuff down to just this. It still looks like a lot, but it fits in about a third of the biggest room (and all that stuff from the bike forward belongs to the workers).
Well, late last week the workers descended upon that floor and got down to business. If you’ve ever been through any kind of renovation, you know how messy things can get. You can tape up plastic sheets, but it won’t matter. This stuff gets everywhere. Someone other than me would probably go crazy trying to keep up with the mess, but I take a much more Zen approach: I accept that it is there, and when the work is completely done, and the dust settles, I will start cleaning.
Nobody else is home during the work but me, so I’ve been the one breathing most of the stuff in. I didn’t realize how it was affecting me until I went for a jog. I’d planned on going three miles, but after a mile I was coughing like a pack-a-day smoker.
So far, a truck load of crap has been taken out, the old carpet has been gotten rid of [I discovered this morning that it’s still there – I must’ve just been wishing hard that it was gone], and the missing wall has been turned into a load-bearing archway connecting the two rooms. One ceiling was torn down and replaced, the another repaired. Now they’re working on filling in the numerous holes that dot the walls and the hallway.
I can’t wait until this is done, for so many reasons. A more energetic, practical person would’ve just unpacked everything years ago and then adjusted as more rooms became available. But being neither energetic nor practical, I’ve just been waiting. For years. Telling myself that it would be stupid to organize everything and decorate when we’ve only been living in 3/4 of the house. Now that the day is approaching when I can actually set that floor up, I’m salivating!
My piano. Jake’s drum set. A place for the kids to do homework that’s not our dining room table. Some place to set up Rock Band where it won’t be in our way. And apparently a pool table, according to The Ass, but I’m not really on board with that one yet.
But regardless, I will no longer have to apologize for my house. Playdates can come over without being lectured about the dangers of that floor. When I have parties I won’t have to tape up the stairway so that nobody wanders upstairs and sees the disaster.
I can get organized. And finally, after all these years, we can settle in. Better late than never, right?
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