Challenges give way to creativity
At least that's what we're telling ourselves
My wise mother, who also survived a roller-coaster of a home renovation, gave me this counsel when we were last together:
“You’ll come up against frustrating limitations when working on an old house. But approach each of those challenges as an opportunity for creativity. You may find that those areas become some of your favorite features of the house.”
We are taking this advice to heart, after recently learning that the structural engineer has recommended another beam on the top floor, dropping the ceiling a few inches in the kids’ bathroom and jutting out in a weird way in our bedroom and the guest bedroom. This was initially received as a bummer.
But after talking with our clever architect, we think we’ve arrived at an interesting solution that doesn’t look as random: Adding some wood-wrapped faux beams in the bedrooms, to partner with the necessary one, thus creating more of an intentional effect (rather than a single beam hanging out, all alone, in a funky place in the ceiling).
The master bedroom opens up to a vaulted ceiling, so entering the room under these new beams creates a feeling of “compression and release,” as our architect described it. I like this concept a lot, and I am running with it, especially in the upstairs of the house, where there are many challenges and thus ample places to exercise creativity.
All of this makes me grateful to be building on an existing house with history, even though it certainly means more quirks and problems and wrenches thrown.
I think I’d feel an immense amount of pressure to get everything perfect if we were building a new house from the ground up. Instead, we have to work within these constraints, even (especially) the unpleasant ones. As ever, all of this is a further opportunity to give thanks, that we even have the chance to embark on this project at all. These are the lessons and mantras we’ll surely be repeating to ourselves for the next six to eight months.
Simple mantras are helpful, I suppose, in the gleeful wreckage of our pandemic lives.
Meanwhile, demolition is under way, and this is the view from the kitchen into the dining room:
The wall to the left will be coming down and opening up into the new family room. On the right, we’ve planned for a wall of built-in cabinets with bookshelves and a bench seat under the window (which I am very excited about, even though it’s quite the handsome sum of money; cabinetry is apparently quite complex and important to get right). I can already envision Moses and Felix squabbling over books in the bench seat, and the vision fills me with delight.
I’m overflowing with anticipation and yet also feel like I’m walking underwater most of the time. Is it still January? How.
What You Have Heard Is True, Carolyn Forché
Our Country Friends, Gary Shteyngart