Home renovations in progress do not exactly delight me. The finished product is a different story. My Facebook friends will know that we recently had both bathrooms renovated. I discovered I have a lot more to say on the subject. This post is a reflection on how disruption of my domestic space unsettles me at a visceral level.

Beautiful new bahroom
Beautiful new bathroom

I enjoyed the planning stage. All those wonderful pictures in glossy magazines that I had to read for inspiration. A good excuse, also, to play on Pinterest. (My Pinterest boards can be found here). I  created a secret bathroom board with ideas and colours. I loved daydreaming about the finished house. Then the excitement of organising people to do the work.

Waiting  for work to start made me impatient. Organising. Rearranging rooms so the renovators had enough space. Buying materials. Choosing tiles and trims and grout. Taps. Cupboards. Mirrors. All to be piled and stored on the patio. An integral part of our living space became unusable.

Before home renovations
Before home renovations

Home renovations meant major upheavals. The whole house was involved. Our work  included relocating from several rooms to other parts of the house.

Our possessions, usually loved and orderly, suddenly reappeared as junk piled everywhere. Nothing was where I expected to find it.

One bathroom can only be accessed through two bedrooms. Dust in the adjoining rooms was inevitable. We taped one door shut.  I gathered a few clothes. Bathers, check. Something to wear if we went out, check. Old clothes. Sandals. A handbag. Then we taped the wardrobe closed.

The minute the blue masking tape was in place, I needed things from that cupboard. Desperately. I resisted the urge to pull the tape away. By then our home renovations had begun. It would be a few weeks before I could get back to my clothes. I laundered and recycled. I who always travel light could barely manage with limited clothes at home.

The actual work involved chipping, scraping and grinding as old tiles were removed. The vanity was thrown into the skip bin that was killing the grass on the verge. Tiles were ripped up. John lugged heavy loads of rubbish outside. The floor and walls were ground. Then built again with cement.

Garage as workshop
Garage as workshop
Grinding and chipping
Grinding and chipping
Walls and floor in progress
Walls and floor in progress









Bedroom floor
Bedroom floor

The double garage that opens into the hall at the front of the house turned into a work-shed. Dust piled up in corners. The door was left open so people could access the bathroom. The temperature soared. 40C degrees plus for days in a row. A record breaking heat-wave. Our evaporative air-conditioning  was hard pushed to keep the house cool with so much activity. We gave up trying.

Grit in my mouth. Grit in my eyes. On bench-tops and bookcases. Dirty old clothes. Dirty feet. We discovered that wrapping furniture in plastic cling-wrap and tarpaulins had not provided enough protection.

With so much disorder, it was easy for other things to be misplaced on top of existing mounds. My need for basic tidiness, cleanliness and order was seriously challenged. For me, home renovations and nesting dislocation syndrome go together.

Then, one day, as suddenly as it started, it was all over. Our renovators moved out, taking their equipment with them.

The Perth Writers Festival started the next day. The festival is an institution with us. We haven’t missed one since we married almost nine years ago. A messy house wasn’t going to stop us this year. We closed our eyes (and the doors) against the mess and went.

Three days later, refreshed and inspired, John and I began to put our lives together.

Bit by bit, order has been restored. We’ve  cleaned high shelves. Dusted walls. Washed and polished surfaces. Moved every bit of moveable furniture. Even the pantry has not escaped. The result is amazing.

Things I’ve learnt about home renovations

  • I am a terrible candidate for home renovations
  • My nesting disruption syndrome goes into overdrive
  • Once the work begins, there is no way to stop it
  • The only way to escape is to run away. Bangkok sounds good. Or Busselton. Or Bridgetown. Now, who do we know in those places? I hope they are reading this!
  • We should have engaged professional cleaners with no investment in our house to restore order.

I knew before we started that there would be mess. I even had a fair idea how much.

The renovators, lovely people, were amazing. Thanks, Peter and Chris. The bathrooms seem much bigger now they’ve been rearranged. The tiles and fixtures sparkle. The bathrooms have been personalised and  ‘age-proofed’. We no longer have to step up into the shower. We don’t wrap ourselves in wet shower curtains. Cleaning is a breeze.

Was the process worth it? Yes. A thousand times, yes. Would I do it again? A resounding yes to that, too.


6 replies on “Home renovations horrors and rewards”

  1. Renovating… It’s messy business. I’m intrigued but not entirely surprised you find it so disrupting. I think my tolerance is a little higher…. Maybe I just like the thrill of the end result- so rewarding!!!!
    So much so that Bhen and I looked seriously at a house on the weekend (even though we’ve not finished where we are!). All I see is potential
    The updated bathrooms were a much needed, and will be much loved change to your home. Enjoy!

    1. My bathrooms are beautiful! As you have seen. So clean and fresh and light. And shiny. And the kitchen will be nice, too. But I’ve given up holding my breath on that front. Don’t know what the hold up is.

      I can’t believe you and Bhen looked at another house!!! Yours is so lovely, and getting better all the time. You have both done so much work.

  2. I share your horror of the chaos involved …… but don’t you just love the finished product??!! You’ll find yourself just standing by the bathroom door …..looking in …..and loving it! However you may find that you begin to do that ‘comparison’ thing and find that you want to renovate other areas in your home …it’s a bit of a drug I’m afraid.

    1. Thanks, Rachel. It’s comforting that you share your horror of renovation chaos. I keep looking into the bathrooms and going, Oh, Ah! How beautiful. It’s great the have the before, during and after pictures. I can do that for ever. This was the second bathroom we’ve renovated, and the kitchen is half-done. What is left to do will not even be an inconvenience, or so I tell myself. I really do think, never again. But who knows. Thanks for the warning.

  3. Well, Maureen, our friend, you managed to look very cool, calm and collected – and smart! – when we saw you, so perhaps the challenge might have been actually good for you :).

    1. We did enjoy another lovely book club meeting, didn’t we, Coral? I thought I did talk ( complain) a bit, but by then the house and its inhabitants were almost back to ‘normal’.

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