Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wall Eyed

Joshua fit de battle of Jericho, and the walls came a tumbalin' down
Traditional American spiritual song

Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
Ronald Reagan, 1987

We'd really open up this room if we could knock down this wall.
Linda Kennedy, 2010

5 years ago


"Something there is that does not like a wall," wrote the great New England poet, Robert Frost. Well LK and I have figured out what that "something" is. It's called Andrew, and he is the designer for the company building our kitchen.

With all the posts I've written about this new kitchen, I haven't adequately acknowledged Andrew's role in our decision-making. Perhaps the easiest way to explain it is to tell you what was said when we first booked an appointment to have him come out and quote on our renovation work.

"Should I decide the things I want in the kitchen before he comes out?" LK asked the woman making the appointment.

"Sure," she said, "that would be a good idea. You can tell Andrew what you want, and then he will tell you what you're going to get."

If you think that makes Andrew sound precious, you are sharing our concerns before we met him. But once he arrived, Andrew turned out to be funny, intelligent and quite likeable. He had some great ideas about how to design the kitchen. His first - and undoubtedly best - idea was to stand in the kitchen area for a short time and suggest that we would have a dramatically better space if we were to knock out the wall in the middle of the room.

No arguments from us on that since we had already noted that it really closed the room in. And once that seed of an idea was planted in our minds, it was impossible to go back to Plan A. Even though we later discovered that this was a load-bearing wall and it would add about 10% to the renovation to add new support to the roof so the wall could be taken down.

That didn't phase my bride. "Surely we have a 10% contingency plan in our budget," LK said, forgetting briefly that we are now retired and are no longer the budget-obsessive people we were while working.

I reminded her that this notion of a renovation budget was something she was picking up from watching too many home improvement TV shows. Our "budget" was pretty much whatever everything was going to cost once we added them up. So who needs a contingency line when their budget is already a moveable feast? Or when Andrew says something is a good idea.

And so it came that yesterday the house changed dramatically as Justin and Nick, the builders, came in and did their stuff.

Bracing the ceiling, lifting the roof and then doing mysterious builder stuff in the attic, they came down after a few hours and Nick began removing the offending wall.

You can get a sense from the pictures at the top what a difference it makes.

Justin is back today for a little bit of plastering work, and then tomorrow the new flooring comes. After that it's kickers, painting, tiling, plumbing, appliances and electricals. It's close enough to see what it's going to be like. And, I must say, we're feeling really good about it. Especially because so far it's all coming in on budget.

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