Arkham (Staying Sane)

An Unfinished Symphony

Home improvement supplies
Photo by La Miko from Pexels

For the majority of my life, I lived in “someone else’s” home. First came my parents (you know, pretty standard). Then there was the college dorm. And then I graduated to adulthood and a series of apartments. Some I preferred over others, but they all featured a common theme: white walls and beige, SHAG carpet. Not to mention that rule of not damaging walls when you hung pictures (or curtains to block annoying street lights). Oh, and painting? That was a HUGE no-no. So while I did my best to put my personality on each temporary living situation (if it comes with a renewable lease, it’s temporary), nothing felt like me or home.

But that changed four years ago.

Tired of dealing with the noise from people on the other side of the wall – and property managers who couldn’t care less – I decided I’d had enough of apartment living. I started crunching numbers. And finding out that a mortgage and utilities (which I had to pay ANYWAY) came out LESS than my rent? That was a low blow. So I started looking at houses. Some were scary, some were all right, and then there was the PERFECT house.

Maybe not to some people. Because it wasn’t new (I loathe new construction and don’t trust it). It was built back in 1949. And the den? Exposed wooden beams and covered in wood paneling, which I adore and (according to home shows) people find repulsive. Plus it came with a gorgeous stone fireplace, complete with the stone mason medallion. The kitchen was ridiculous, considering I don’t cook, but it made everyone who saw it jealous. And the size? Perfect for me and the cats. It even came with a yard large enough that I could consider a dog. And I was convinced my meager offer (which my realtor warned me was on the low side) would never get accepted.

My realtor called me two days later to tell me I had a house.

And that’s where this really begins. The moment I saw the house, I started envisioning plans. The walls (white) needed painting. I’d spent enough time with white walls, and I refused to do so a moment longer. But everything spiraled from there. And my To Do Lists kept growing. Especially once I moved in and found all of the house’s quirks. (Every house has them – old OR new) And while I know working on a house is aggravating and annoying for some people, it’s a source of sanity for me. Well, maybe not SANITY, but it’s a break from the rest of the insanity of my working life. There is therapy found in wielding a paintbrush. You can let everything else GO while you move your arm back and forth, watching color appear beneath your hand. It’s pure bliss!

I’m not one of those who believe in “starter homes.” Maybe it’s the generation I fall under. Or it could be the fact that I know the commitment that mortgage represents. This is the house I’m staying in. And that means I don’t worry about what my changes will do for “resale.” I’m making my house my HOME. So the home improvements? They’re geared toward my tastes. And now that I’m married, the preferences of the two of us. Whether anyone else thinks they’re “in” or “trendy” or any of those silly words.

I irritate people at Lowe’s and Home Depot when I complain about the lack of color in tile choices. We’re looking to add a backsplash in our master bathroom, and we refuse to use white, beige, or tan. They’re DULL color choices. (Plus, the walls are already a sandy color to break up the blues on all of the other walls) I’m glad most people want boring in their houses, but that’s not who we are. We’re looking for a splash of color to compliment the glass prints we have in there, taken from various aquariums – and they’re bright and vibrant. (And, in case you wondered, NO, our kitchen isn’t white)

Yes, the lists of work we need to do and want to do to the house (and yard) are lengthy. And each time we cross something off, we invariably need to add about five more things. But neither of us get irritated about it. This is what we do on the weekends, or when we step away from our computers. It’s time we invest into our HOME. And it’s our break from work. I’m not saying it isn’t work, but it’s different. And it calms the mind, relaxes the body (sort of – depends what we’re doing), and eases stress. Plus, it makes where we live and work more comfortable. So it’s a positive that benefits EVERYTHING we do.

How can you get angry at that?

I think that’s where people go wrong with the way they approach home improvements. They see work that HAS to get done for [insert reason here]. In reality, they should stop and look through a different lens. They’re making their house a happier home. It’s becoming more comfortable, more inviting, more workable. (At least, hopefully) And when you start approaching a change that way, it stops being a chore. You look forward to painting, to measuring, to building. You’re creating something out of your dream. And when you get to stand back and look at the result? It’s SO much more rewarding.

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