Dust in my eyes…and throat

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:

Living Room side view

Living Room facing back room


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?

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.


  1. Jessica says

    Amy I really, really feel your pain. We are in the middle of a whole house renovation and have been camping in two rooms of our house for nine months (only two working outlets, no kitchen, one tiny bathroom).

    And I completely understand your apathy with organizing prior to your renovation. I felt the same way about my house before. Why bother hanging up this picture on a wall that is just going to be torn down? Why bother organizing a closet that is going to disappear? Why scrub that floor – we’re just going to rip it out? And this went on for a couple of years… I am embarrassed to say.

    Good luck with everything and I can’t wait to see the after pictures!

    • says

      @Jessica: Yes! YES! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

      At least for this last big phase of the renovation, we’re not living in the area they’re working on. For a year we lived on the floors they were renovating, and it was just hell. And the kids were little then. I honestly don’t know how we got through it. But it sounds like we had a better situation than you. A little more room, more outlets, and a gross and small kitchen. How much longer do you have left?

      • Jessica says

        @Amy: We are doing all (and I mean all) the work ourselves so the end date is whenever we end up finishing. We hope by the end of May to be living a more or less normal life – although we will not even be close to finishing all the trim or painting by then.

        • says

          @Jessica: If you’re anything like us, then as soon as you get done with the functional parts, you will start to totally slack. For example, we’ve had our kitchen just about done for two years, but don’t have a backsplash. Because we can use every part of the kitchen without one. Same with baseboards. So my advice is to keep the momentum going…or you will turn into us!

  2. Nicki says

    I love renovating!! Mostly because I get to design it and pick new colours! It is a pain in the process though…hang in there! :D

  3. Cara Robinson says

    Ok when you were talking about someone tryiny to keep up with the construction mess you were clearly talking about me :) My OCD really gets going during renovation. I’m pretty sure I used to stack the materials in order of size!! ha ha ha that was before having a child though. Eventually I realized it was losing battle. I’m with you on the decorating though although we have put up a few pictures and some stuff in Chloe’s room.

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