Seeking Sanity Amid Chaos

6a00d8341c630a53ef00e54f8f48958834-800wiAs far as I can tell, half the battle in remodeling is maintaining some semblance of sanity during the chaos.

In a tragic coincidence, the people most likely to remodel are the very people who most need their homes for sanctuary, serenity and sanity. Unless you’re flipping a house, that is, and then never mind.

But for those of us for whom home is everything, remodeling must be done, and sanity must be sought.

In the living room shown here, Betty Frazier of Leisure World, who was in her 80s when she undertook a whole-condo redo, had a few tricks to maintain her composure while her home was asunder:

• She went to Starbucks often to enjoy a latte.
• She brought home design magazines with her to keep her inspired and hopeful that this mess would become her haven. (And don’t you just love what she did with the place?)
• Lots of driving around to find deals on stuff. When her friend asked if she was afraid of getting lost on her forays, Betty said no, in fact that’s how you find tucked-away upholstery and tile and woodworking shops, by getting lost.
• And finally, Betty kept in mind her life philosophy, which is embroidered on a towel in her guest bath:

Life’s journey is not to arrive safely at the grave in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting “Holy Cow . . . What a ride!”

How do you stay sane during a remodel? Or do you?

3 Comments on Seeking Sanity Amid Chaos

  1. BAM

    Hi Kathy –
    Thanks for the praise. I haven’t decided on whether the half bath will have a shower. Odds are that it will: The space is big enough for a small stall. However, I’m worried that the space might lose graciousness with a shower. I have to admit that since this is downstream a ways, I haven’t looked with too hard a critical eye.
    One option I’ve toyed with might be to install an outdoor shower. They were all the rage two summers ago and my planned re-pipe calls for both hot and cold . If the project goes down in summer this could work out just fine – the backyard is fenced and no neighbors have a view unless they’re peeking through the fence. If they’re willing to do that then they get what they deserve, I suppose.

  2. Kathy Price-Robinson

    Hey, BAM, I liike your plan! Messing up one room at a time makes good sense, and that’s more possible when you’re doing the work yourself, or hiring minimal help. A nice patio with a good barbecue helps substitute for a kitchen in good weather.
    When you say you’re adding a half-bath before you gut and remodel the original bath, would you have a shower in the new bath? Otherwise, I guess you’d have to shower at the neighbor’s house or at the gym.

  3. BAM

    There’s a logical progression to my remodel (I’m doing it myself) that I hope will allow my family and I to live on site with minimal disruption. The drawback is that it’ll take far longer than doing it all at once. That’s OK since it’s more therapy and hobby than investment.
    The gist of the plan is that like the “15 Puzzle” (see, for example,, I’ll always have one empty space to work with, since renovation is planned for only one functional area at a time.
    Here’s the ideal progression:
    Re-piping the house, with the eventual final configuration in mind won’t be incredibly disruptive. Power upgrades in the garage area don’t affect the rest of the house, but once complete they allow the garage to be used as a staging area for the next phase. Upgrading a patio area will turn it into an outdoor workspace. Combined, the garage and patio is an effective staging / work area for removing an interior wall in the kitchen and putting in half of the new cabinetry. (Some old cabinetry, with sink, will remain in order to keep a semi-functional kitchen.) Finally, the remaining old cabinets get replaced with new.
    There’s one extra bedroom, so we play musical bedrooms while upgrading a window to a French door, repainting, and doing some basic wiring upgrades in the bedrooms. The kitchen remodel will create space for a half bath, so that gets installed, allowing the original bathroom to be gutted and redone.
    Ta Da! At my current rate of progress, it’s only years away. That might drive someone else insane, but I think that the steady progress with observable goals as each segment is complete will be my ticket to sanity.