Tuesday, June 24, 2008


No, I haven't mistaken the date of the Normandy invasion. It's D as in "demolition." Today marks the start of the remodel job at our cottage in Laguna Beach, and they'll be working with jackhammers down in the basement, breaking up concrete to prepare for an expansion of the "garage" area--never used, and never likely to be used as such, but required by city codes. In fact, as it stands, it would have been impossible to use as a garage for a modern car. Too narrow. It must have been built with a Model-T in mind. We park on the street. But we're opening up that basement area to allow for more storage than we presently have, and some clean working space, primarily for Ellie but perhaps, who knows, eventually for both of us.

Upstairs, the kitchen has been in serious need of attention for quite some time: we'll be reconditioning the grand old Wedgwood stove we inherited from previous owners, and likely original to the house, but adding a new refrigerator and contemporary appliances; and, at the same time, expanding the area to make it more easily workable. And then there's some work to be done in the two small bedrooms, to improve the cabinetry. The whole thing started out with thoughts of adding a bedroom and bathroom, but those both proved impractical in the course of design. It's a tiny place, and we love it as it is. We bought it more than fifteen years ago and over that time it has tripled or quadrupled in value, so it has more than earned its keep; and at some point in the future, we might want to move down there full-time. If we do, we'll have to settle for tiny--but with a brand new kitchen and more storage space down below.

In the meantime, we have months of remodel ahead of us, starting this very day. We are both excited and not a little anxious at the prospect. We have lived through two remodels before, and our marriage has survived--remarkably. Both jobs were hell. In the first, at our old house around the corner from where we now live, in a smaller place, the contractor went broke in the middle of the job and we found ourselves with liens on the house from the subcontractors. In both, the projected time and the costs had doubled before we were done, and the irritation factor between owner and contractor had blossomed into outright feud. We don't want to repeat that pattern, and have been much more thorough, this time, both in the detail of the planning and in the hiring of our contractor. Keep your fingers crossed for us! We will need to practice some of that Buddhist equanimity, if we want to keep our sanity.

Otherwise, this week, I'm preparing for my presentation at "The Painting's Edge," a two week summer workshop for--what else?--painters up in Idyllwild. It's a condensation of much of my thinking about art and artists over the years, and is giving me a good challenge to get it all down and get it, somewhat, right. If all goes well, I'll probably be posting it next week...


robin andrea said...

Roger and I have done all of our remodeling ourselves, and managed to stay married through it! One of our biggest jobs was the kitchen remodel in our Santa Cruz house. We took everything out, down to the subfloor. The hard part was figuring out how to rebuild and continue to use a "working" kitchen. The refrigerator and stove did quite a bit of moving around in the dining room, and we did the dishes in the bathtub. This went on for months!

Good luck with your remodel and the prep on the presentation. I'm sure both will go well. BTW-- I heard a radio advertisement the other day for something called Angie's List. I think it's like a craigslist, but for people to rate local service companies.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I really dislike renovations. It’s not that I don’t renovate, I just dislike everything being so screwed up.

I look forward to your post(s) on "The Painting's Edge" presentation(s).