Saturday, July 12, 2014

Design on a Dime? How About a Nickle and a Nail!

Once again I'm in the middle of doing something that I've never done before this year. Renovating on a budget. When redoing my other house in my other life, I selected the things I wanted, sat back and waited for the magic to happen. Now? I'm the magician. When I pull a rabbit out of the hat, I'm the one who put it there. And because I've wanted granite countertops since I bought this place a little less than a year ago, some razzle dazzle had to happen first.

Like budgeting (formerly a foreign concept), saving, and negotiating my way to getting a deal. I've learned to hold my own against a retailer who was trying to charge me tax on items that fall under "capital improvements". I'm sure he'll remember the look on my face when he patted my hand and said "Missy, you must let me handle this." I'm sure he'll equally remember my short exiting salutation.

I've learned to handle salesmen who want to tell me what to buy, and those who, at some point in our conversation, will say "I hope you're getting help with this." And I am. This week on YouTube I've watched "How to remove counter tops" and "How to remove a kitchen sink."

Now, I'm not an idiot. I know my limitations (anything involving electrical work is top on that list). And, I suck at measurements. In my world, square footage is usually a guess at best. So, professionals will install my granite countertops and sink, and a couple of strong, 6'4 guys will remove and carry out the old laminate tops. All I had to do to secure their services was give birth to them and a promise to buy dinner. The price of dinner aside, removing everything before the installers come to measure is a savings of $350. Swwweeettt! And, thanks to my ongoing video education, I will have everything disconnected before my sons even get here.

And....(and here is the exciting part to me), once the granite is down, I will be installing the stone backsplash! Another $400 stays in my pocket! In a nut shell, I don't have the patience to to wait and save enough money to hire contractors for everything I want done. And I don't have the money to bring them in now, so a compromise of savings and the willingness to do some things myself is needed. Following this?

Now, my friend Pam sometimes sees a problem with my "I can do this" mantra. "When you decide to bring a man home, don't tell him you took a wall down by yourself. You might intimidate him." Aah, Pam, when I decide to bring a man home, I hope that I will have picked one smart enough to understand that if I invited him in...he should be flattered, not intimidated."

But, my friend Lynne is on board with my DIY efforts. Last week she asked to borrow my sander so she could refinish her deck. I brought it over, explained how to change the sand paper, and she was off! I didn't see her for three days. Women with and guile!

My only concern now is the time it takes for measuring, fabricating and installing the countertops. Surviving two weeks without a functional kitchen has to be done smartly. I'll still be able to cook, but washing pots in the bathroom sink could present an issue. But like so many obstacles lately, I'll figure it out.

Times have changed. So many women are on their own and doing whatever it takes to make their lives work. I am merely one of millions who've been put in a position that now requires us to follow the wise words of Gloria Steinem, the original feminist leader, who once assessed,  "Very few jobs require the genitals of either sex, and those that don't, can be done by anyone." Now Pam, that's a women  who wasn't worried about intimidating a man!


  1. Jo Ann! I love the healthy, unabashed feminism of this essay on self-reliance, self-confidence and knowing what one wants. My wife always elects to do things herself (I'm useless) and she's so proficient that now the thought of a workman/handyman coming into our home gives me a bad stomach ache. I hate the intrusion and love that Susan has pretty much solved that problem for me!

  2. Hooray for Susan! This is all new to me and I'm usually both excited and scared to death with each project I take on! But I must admit...the sense of accomplishment when I'm done is amazing! Thanks for reading!