Jan 18, 2022
8 mins read
They always say, “don’t ever live in a space while you renovate it.” And by they, I mean Chip and Joanna Gaines.
Well, actually, I think several “remodeling experts” say that. Chip and Joanna just broke their own sage advice by adding onto their home while living in it, in the midst of growing their empire no less…insert feelings of wild inspiration + feeling a little bit like a loser as I look at the mounds of laundry piled in several locations around the house because the contents of our master bedroom are everywhere but the bedroom because RENOVATIONS. We can’t all be highly functioning, down to earth millionaires with an impeccable rose garden…Can we? Is there an online class for that?
What in the actual F were we thinking anyhow? I am coming to my own defense here and saying that I am not the type of person who does things because a celebrity is doing it. Even though when I read Blake lively was pregnant before her youngest turned one I thought, “well, if she can do it…” Clearly my confidence in myself isn’t as trampled as I once thought. And even though I barely remember the days of 2 under 3, I wouldn’t change a single thing. If I can do it…
Back to having my own back…I only JUST discovered a sacred renovation rule was broken by THE renovation gods when I splurged on a monthly subscription to Magnolia Network and binged “welcome home” one night while the melodic sounds of a table saw hummed in the background.
We have been balls deep in asbestos laden demo and sheetrock for weeks. So, really, I am the trailblazer here. I said those exact same words too when suddenly, Joanna was using dark green and pink EVERYWHERE in her designs. I seethe in mouthwatering appreciation of her copycatting ways while Mariah Carey’s “Why you so obsessed with me” plays on loop in my head. Joanna is Eminem here.
(And before a Magnolia Minion threatens my life, I need you to know this is for satirical purposes only. I adolize the Gaines, truly. Like we all do. Zero knocks against them, my ego has just been going through a real ass kicking as of late and the only way to remedy that is to project and then turn it around on myself all in the name of humor. Because honestly, I’m just an empress creating her own empire but mine involves a lot of cats and candles instead of cows and silos.)
Total side note…who read their book that talks about when chip strapped their oldest kid, as a baby, to the back of the four wheeler in his car seat and took off over a hill? That image has been forever burned in my brain and has me thinking they win at marriage… Joanna hasn’t killed him yet and now I want to know all about their flaws and fights and if he still straps things to the back of four wheelers that don’t belong there.
Jesus, I really went off the beaten path here. Anywhoooooo.
Now that I’ve cleared up so many burning questions, we are turning the den into our master bedroom and the old bedroom is becoming a walk in closet + master bath. For all the charm this 100 year old house has, I mean enough that we bought it even though my husband stood outside of this house on a chilly March day as he stared at the sinking side bay window and fervently expressed with arms crossed “We are not fucking buying this house.” As our realtor gave me the side eye because he knew I was already picking out paint colors. Spoiler alert…we bought it.
All that charm, all that potential, and the layout looks like a 2 year old’s masterpiece made with macaroni. But fancy macaroni, because you guys should see the intricate AF crown molding in this bitch.
We’ve spent the last 4 years painting, praying it doesn’t catch fire before the electrical is updated and fixing what was broken…correction. The only thing I have fixed is the clogged washer…Mr. Gartin wears the duluths in this relationship. I dream it, he builds it.
So here we are. A thin layer of Sheetrock dust covers just about everything we own. The upstairs hall closet housing about 70% of both of our wardrobes couldn’t handle the weight and broke last night and I’m thinking maybe that was the houses way of saying “fuck, no one needs this many old navy button downs and floral print.” But the house is right, too many old navy button downs and closets will start revolting. The other 30% of the floral print is in the playroom and somewhere in between “this will give me a good reason to purge” and “I’m just gonna shut the door…because out of sight and out of mind” became the garment catch all and materialistic mountain that the 4 and 6 year old scale and add to because…Yes, no grand comparison here. Just because. If you need clarification, I’m basically trying to say our domesticated life is FUCKED currently.
And yet…between the meltdowns, joint compound caked on cat paws and a marital come to Jesus moment, there is peace within this chaos.
This house chose us and I knew it the second I saw it on mls. Somewhere in the depths of my soul this house called us to walk across the threshold knowing it would break us open and ask us to become new versions of ourselves. Not the picture perfect version with white walls, black windows and pristine wooden floors, but the loved and lived in versions that tell stories of epic French door throw downs (which is really just us not agreeing where the new kitchen door should go and we are both so stubborn that said throw down resulted in drawn out kitchen plans ending up in the trash and someone getting drunk and saying they’d help stain the back deck. Me. I am that person. And our back deck forever reminds us that I am the one with the visions, not the precision.) And apparently forgiveness ensued somewhere because I found those kitchen plans tucked away on top of the refrigerator with pizza stains on them.
As we inch closer, literally days away from being able to move the new bed into the new master bedroom with the dark green velvet curtains and pink accent pillows, I sit in the doorway staring at the labor of love and a life worth every ugly moment that’s transpired thus far and those to come. because let’s face it, we are not perfect even in our quest to make this home perfect. And I chose to stop drinking a couple months ago so there’s no longer a false sense of reality and just dealing with things “tomorrow”.
The boots in this hall remind me of how far we’ve come in so many ways as a family and all we’ve gotten through together. It makes me think about the oldest leaving for college in less than 2 years and how I hope she misses the chaos late at night when she’s studying and misses these creaking wooden floors and the sharpie scribbled door frames her littlest sister “creative genuised”. And I really hope she misses us more than the cats. Because I can’t even think about her leaving without weeping and wanting to slow time just a bit so we can spend more of it with her.
I snapped this picture, because in some poetic, screwed up way, this hallway leads to the rest of our lives. And I hope it’s just as wonderfully messy and diabolically beautiful as it’s been up until this moment. Because I don’t want it if it’s gonna be perfect.
La vie en rose the French say. Which is basically looking at life through rose colored glasses. There’s a camp that thinks you’re stupid for wearing those glasses because life is shit and disappointing and it’s better to view it eyes wide open. But I’m in the camp that adds a wig and has a party. Sometimes the rose colored glasses can save your life. Sometimes finding the beauty within the shit allows you to grow and makes it that much easier to leave behind what no longer serves…
Like the French door in the middle of the wall. (My idea.) Makes so much more sense to put it somewhere else. (His idea.) See…I have grown. I have compromised. I am not the same stubborn, design control freak I once was. And you know what, Joanna is actually listening to Chips input these days too.
And just for the record, after we’re done making this house perfect, we will probably say “fuck it” sell it and buy a new one with white walls, black windows, and pristine wooden doors. Because 40 is for savoring the spoils, not staining wooden decks.