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How I’ve Handled “The Process” For Nine Years (So Far)


Matt and I bought our current house in August of 2013. At that time, we were living in a little condo close to the campus of Baylor University. We didn’t move into the house immediately after we bought it. I had some big projects I wanted to tackle before we moved in, like removing all of the green carpet, sanding the original hardwood floors, and finishing the floors. If you’re new here, this is the beautiful green carpet that was in the house when we bought it…

And while that was a huge project, I was thankful that that green carpet had been hiding (and protecting) the original hardwood floors for decades. Here’s what the floors looked like after I refinished them. I was so happy to get this done before we moved in…

DIY refinished hardwood floors

There were a couple of other projects that I did during that time between buying the house and moving in, like removing the hallway closet, so altogether, I think those things took me about two months before we actually moved in.

When we moved into the house in October 2013, my work on the house had only just begun. The hallway bathroom still looked like this…

The kitchen still looked like this…

before - kitchen 2

And the room that is now the breakfast room and pantry still looked like this…

(That wall between the two doorways is where the kitchen peninsula now sits, and the room through those doors is the kitchen. The windows on the left side of the photo are the front windows of the breakfast room.)

So it’s been a long journey, and it’s one that I’m still on. Nine years later, I’m still working on this house, and still living with unfinished rooms.

I had a long-time reader ask me this a couple of days ago:

Do you ever just get tired of being in the process and want it to be done? How do you handle that (if it happens)?

The short answer is yes. I do, at times, get tired of the process and just want it done.

I especially got tired of the process when I was working on the main areas of the house, like the living room, kitchen, hallway bathroom, etc. There were years when I couldn’t invite people over because the living room looked like this…

Or the bathroom looked like this…

hallway bathroom remodel - original tile floor and subfloor being removed

Or our kitchen looked like this…

I mean, would you even want so much as a glass of water coming from a kitchen like that?

No. No, you wouldn’t. And neither would anyone else. So during those years, I didn’t invite anyone over. Our house, while we did live in it during those years, didn’t exactly feel like “home” to me. It just felt like a project.

And I’ll admit, those years started to get difficult. I cried tears from time to time. Tears of exhaustion. Tears of exasperation. Tears from thoughts that our house was never going to actually be finished. Tears from thoughts that I’m just a big fraud who has no clue what I’m doing. Tears from the idea that the people who told me that I was biting off more than I could chew were right from the beginning.

But in between those moments, I also had loads of fun. I mean, knocking down walls in your house? Have you ever tried it? It’s fun. And therapeutic.

And I also learned a ton of stuff. While I may still have my moments of doubt in my abilities, overall my confidence has grown about 1000% since the day we bought this house. I’ve done projects that I never would have dreamed of nine years ago.

And most of all, I’ve gotten a completely customized, completely “Kristi” home out of the deal. When I shared the dreadfully depressing all brown picture of the living above, did you even recognize it? Let me show it to you again, and then show you what it looks like today.

Here’s that same dreadful, drowning-in-brown living room (cropped just a bit)…

And here’s what that same view looks like today…

So was the effort worth it? Did those few years of hard work, frustration, and the occasional tears pay off?

I think so. Because I now have a home that I’m excited to share with others. I love having people over to our house now. I love seeing their reactions when they walk through the front door and see a completely unique, customized home that was mostly accomplished by my hands.

And the best thing is that the house is to the point now where the unfinished areas don’t have any effect on our daily lives at all.

We’ve never had a functional master bathroom in this house before. So the fact that the master bathroom is still unfinished doesn’t really affect the way we’ve been doing things for the past nine years. When it’s finished, it will be a great addition to our lives. But the bathroom being under construction for so long now has never been a subtraction from our lives, if that makes sense.

In other words, it’s not like we went from having a large, fully functional master bathroom, and being accustomed to using that large bathroom on a daily basis, to then having that bathroom be under construction for over a year. A large master bathroom is something we’ve never had, so we’ve never been accustomed to it. The construction is not a subtraction or an inconvenience, but the completion will be a huge addition to our lives.

The same goes for the home gym. We’ve never had a home gym before, so that room being under construction right now isn’t a subtraction, and it isn’t an inconvenience. But when it’s finished, it will be a great (and new) addition to our lives. But for now, both of those rooms hide behind a closed door and have absolutely no effect on our daily lives.

And as far as my studio goes, the only person affected by that not being finished is me. Even when it’s finished, it won’t be some great, new addition to Matt’s life. He’s excited for me to have a functional studio, but it won’t affect him or his daily life in the least (except that maybe he’ll see me less throughout each day 😀 ).

All that to say that while those few years of having the main areas of our house torn up and under construction were difficult and felt somewhat isolating (although the “isolating” part also comes with having a husband who has MS and didn’t want to leave the house for 13 years), if I had to do it all over again, I’d follow the same path. The payoff has been worth it.

And things really turned a corner once I got all of the main areas finished, i.e., the areas that guests would use when they come over. As a reminder, all of these areas in pink are completely finished. Tools and paint cans no longer accumulate in this rooms. I keep them clean. I don’t let clutter accumulate. And I have guests in my house at least once a week now, and soon to be twice a week on a regular basis.

Guests in our home are not affected in the least little bit by our unfinished home gym, our master bathroom construction, or my studio in desperate need of cabinets and storage. Those areas hide behind closed doors, and unless my guests are curious and want to see the bathroom progress (which some do, and in which case, they know they’re walking into a construction zone), they never have to see those areas that are tucked away behind closed doors.

So once we turned that corner where we had a completely finished entry, living room, music room, kitchen, hallway, hallway bathroom, breakfast room, and pantry, life became a whole lot easier.

And while biting off such a huge project isn’t something that anyone else can decide for you, I can only speak for myself and say that it was 100% worth it. I wouldn’t wish away these last nine years even if I could, and the best part is that this house doesn’t just feel like a project anymore. It truly feels like home.


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