How I survived a mini renovation when it could’ve gone so, so wrong.
I am not one to make light of the situation that our nation is in at this time, as we face so many unknowns in so much change in such a short amount of time.
However, I am not going to stop looking for the sun shining, the silver linings, and the opportunities for goodness just because the world can look very dim right now.
So when I tell you that my laundry room got a makeover that I still cannot believe, in the middle of all the chaos and confusion out in the world, I mean that with the most excitement of my life, in the best sort of way.
Let me show you some before pictures to give you an idea where we started.
Now, I was definitely raised to not air my dirty laundry in public, so I wanted to be very careful to not show ALL the things you probably don’t want to see, and also all the things my mama would not want me showing. But in the words of my teenage daughter Abby, it definitely needed “a major glow up.”
All that aside, our washer and dryer came in this house over fourteen years ago when we built the house. I did a quick blitz paint job late at night before the appliance guys were coming the next day, installed a cheap Lowe’s cabinet to hide all the clutter, hung a few framed prints I had been storing for months in anticipation…
And there they sat. All these years.
So faithful for all the loads and years and babies and seasons. Rocks, candy wrappers, pens, gum and self-tapping screws, the washer and dryer bore it all. Hide and seek spaces, craft project dyeing and memories of teaching each of my kids how to wash their clothes all happened there.
We never imagined having such a large family, but here we are, fourteen years later, with nine people living in our home. Now with the quarantine, our 30 x 30’ foundation seems to be bursting at the seams… and our well is having trouble keeping up as well.
Over the years, when the well would have trouble at times, whether the pump got fried an electrical storm, or we lost power for days from a hurricane, if we ever ran out of water, I would just head to the laundromat. In a few short hours, I would have washed and dried and folded all the laundry from the entire house in one trip. It was a long and very exhausting trip, but so rewarding just the same. For less than $30 and some ibuprofen for my back the next day, I would have accomplished so much in such little time.
It was the way we were making things work, and I had found peace with that. Tim hated the fact that I had to go through such a big ordeal just to get our laundry done, but he could not fix the well in his own strength, and I could not let the laundry pile up without another solution regardless.
So that’s how we survived. Until quarantine. Our faithful dryer had been visited by the repair man probably three times over the last 14 years, always to repair the belt that makes the squeakiest noise every time it rotates. We had now gotten to the point that the heat was not enough to dry the clothes anymore. So on top of the super squeak every time the dryer rotated, we also planned on running the dryer about three times per load. The noise combined with the multiplication factor for just one single load was deafening, to say the least.
We were falling behind, fast. And this time, I wasn’t arguing very loudly with him when he said he felt like the laundromat was not an option at this time.
With so much change happening so quickly in our world, beginning to homeschool six kids and putting safe practices in place for all of our staff and family, the whirlwind was too much to address the laundry situation for a couple weeks. I dropped a hint or two, but the look on Tim‘s face with the overwhelm of SBA loans and shortened working hours and exposure practices and policies, I knew I needed to let it slide as long as possible.
When we finally got down to the last pair of shorts, and none were left to recycle that were not “quite” as dirty… and finally when the tears fell from the Littles not having any jammies or even comfy clothes anymore to take their place, I knew it was time to have the talk.
I laid it all out for Tim, and he listened to it all. He finally took a deep breath and said it was time to replace the washer and dryer, so just order what I wanted, and we would make it work. I had already researched a few, wondering what was new out there and what all the new features and choices I had, but I still could not honestly find exactly what I wanted. I was thinking more of a commercial washer, and none still seemed big enough.
I loved the idea of the front load washers, because they had been a dream of an upgrade for so many years. I mostly loved that they were energy efficient and used less water. My hope was that we would be able to maintain our well supply better than ever, if it truly was that energy efficient. I finally got on the phone with a few local stores, first trying to figure out if they were still open, then trying to figure out how they are practicing safe distancing… and, after all that trying to figure out who had the washer and dryer that I needed and dreamed of.
When I called one of our local stores, I was able to speak directly with the owner, who knew so much about his products. When I explained a little bit of our family situation, he figured out which commercial appliances he had in stock that would work for our family. Over the course of a half an hour phone conversation, he walked me through measurements and spacing, electrical outlet placing and door swing. As a sidenote, I just want to share that he was so incredibly busy, it made my heart happy. He told me that business sales were through the roof, and people were just spending money left and right, investing in their homes and appliances. Even when I called back to actually order my machines, he had filled all the delivery slots for the day that I had initially wanted, explaining that just that morning he had gotten sales for two more complete swingsets and two super large refrigerators. I thought of the families that were taking this time investing in their homes and their children, of all the children that were going to enjoy these amazing new swing sets, and I was just so grateful to hear this bit of good news in the middle of the heavy media reports.
Then came the challenge: my dream front loaders were about 2 inches too forward. They would extend past the closet that we had originally designed as our laundry room when we built the house, and the doors would not be able to close. He had another set of a washer and dryer in stock that was also commercial, it was top loading and water efficient, and less expensive than my front loaders…. but it wasn’t my dream.
I tried to keep an open mind, and I made peace with where we were at both in life and in renovations. They were just appliances, after all. It wasn’t the end of the world, and if I truly hated them, what was the worst that could happen? I could buy another after things calmed down. So I took it all to Tim, asking him what he thought we should do, and he just told me to get what I wanted, and he would make it work.
This is the part where I’m telling you, ladies. We can make this season work for us. I stared at him for the longest minute and finally was able to say: “Just so we’re clear, you mean to tell me that you would rather spend two to three thousand dollars on a laundry room renovation, and upgrade our entire laundry room, and do some unknown amounts of construction rather than have me go to the laundromat right now?”
He said yes, and wisdom told me to shush my mouth and just get going. So I ordered the washer and dryer of my dreams and got to work. I found a roller cover left over in our paint supplies and found the gallon of extra paint that my parents bought for me last time they visited and we did a quick update in my main room.
I took a deep breath, and went to cleaning and prepping and painting, with only one day off at home in between the order and the delivery. Thank God for my husband who was on board with this whole thing, and my teenage son who loves his mama and is also stuck at home looking for jobs to do to keep him sane. We never went through homeschooling so fast that day so I could jump straight into the painting process. We may or may not have eaten hot pockets and corndogs for lunch that day, and we may or may not have played on electronics a little longer than we should have. I may or may not have hidden in the bathroom for a time out and a cup of coffee in between the cutting in and the rolling. But I threw some bleach and some soap in the sink to soak all the outlet covers and greasy plastic I could find, and we got it done.
The installers were amazing and they were in and out of the house in less than an hour. Once we saw our gorgeous new appliances sitting in that closet, we knew that shimming out the doors a little bit was not going to be enough to fix the problem. They were huge. And they were gorgeous. And I thought of one of the doors hitting my gorgeous new set was horrifying.
So the next day, Tim got to work. Out came the door frame and out came the power tools. As the kids played outside and I organized and sorted all the bins and garbage that used to be in the laundry room, he’s sawed and banged and hammered and drilled. Thank God for teenagers with energy and strength and free time. because if Drew was not in our life at this point in time, I’m pretty sure Tim would still be nailing wood into the walls…
When I heard Tim’s disappointed muttering, I knew I had to go see what the problem was. The depth of one 2 x 4 was not going to be enough to bump out the wall. He said he had an idea of how to fix it, but he wasn’t sure if I would like it. There are very few times in my life that he has said that, and each time I have heard those words, my stomach turns upside down and heat comes creeping into the back of my neck. They are words that I don’t think any wife ever wants to hear, and with the added stress of quarantine and six kids buzzing around the house, my ears were hot and roaring to the point that I could not understand what he was trying to say. Granted, that can happen a lot in marriage, but he started using words like “shiplap” and “two by fours” and “hacksaw” and “moldings” to the point that I could not wrap my brain around any of it, no matter how hard I tried.
My husband is a man’s man. He is strong and often bulldozers his way through the problems that come his way. I keep him around and keep falling in love with him because he does have the kindest heart, and he does have a funny and creative side that we laugh about together in the moments we are not running wide-open.
We were running wide-open at that point, and I had no solution. He was determined to do this project without a single trip to Lowe’s, and I was too fuzzy to argue with him.
He finally told me as nicely as possible that I was not allowed in the bathroom for the next hour, and he was going to do something to fix the problem. I took one look at the sink full of all the things that were making my brain hurt, and I knew it was best if I would listen to him. There was nothing more I could offer to the situation. Throughout the next hour, I literally prayed, “Lord, please don’t make me have to fake liking whatever he does. Please don’t let this be an epic fail. Please give me the words to be kind and supportive. Thank you for a husband that is trying so hard to make our family run smoothly.”
I don’t remember the last time I prayed so sincerely for so long.
The banging and banging and banging for the next hour or so was bad. Abby and I had tried to sit down to watch the last half an hour of Emma, the movie we had started earlier in the week and we’re not able to finish.
We ended up having to watch it again later that weekend because it was just so ruined with the sound of construction. But when Tim called me in to close my eyes and look in the bathroom, I knew it was the moment of truth. How was God going to answer my prayers this time???
Even though it was still in the construction process, when I saw the pallet wood on the walls, my heart skipped a beat. It blended so perfectly with the colors on the walls already, and it gave such a finished interest to the room, I was in love all over again. I could not believe this was the same bathroom.
He finished the whole project that afternoon, and I washed the floors and vacuumed up the last bits of drywall dust by dinner time.
Once it was completely clean and clutter free, both the washer and dryer running, cleaning and giving me some fresh clothes so my house did not smell like sweaty seven-year-old boys anymore, it looked even more beautiful than ever.
I felt like Martha Stewart, the Pioneer Woman, and Joanna Gaines all at the same time. Putting the bathroom back together again, and taking beautiful pictures of my newly renovated space, I felt like the luckiest woman on the planet. Here we were in the middle of quarantine and a national emergency, and I had the opportunity to make my house more beautiful and make a dream come true right within the walls of my home.
I knew that in another day and another time, we would have made a list over coffee, sent Tim to Lowe’s, and $200 later would’ve come home with all the supplies that we needed, and then some extra. Knowing that we had done this entire project with only things that we had on hand made me feel so overwhelmingly complete.
I know that things are hard right now. They are very, very hard for some more than others. But I find that the more that I fix my eyes on what is good and beautiful and right, the less dark and hard things may seem.