Prior to buying my house last year, I couldn’t put an anchor in a wall to hang a picture. Seriously. If I had pictures of my failed attempts, you would see the plastic mangled into the wall–and the frame shattered on the ground.
Fast forward 14 months. I’ve since learned how to put those anchors in (trick is to drill bigger holes than I realized) AND I’ve learned a thing or two about some other stuff such as jackhammering crawl space access points, hanging light fixtures, texturing walls (I’m so not offering to help anyone on that one. Yuck!) and even refinishing cabinets and countertops. I could write tomes about what these experiences have taught me, but I’ll save you most of it and condense it to the following:
- Things look chaotic and disorderly during a renovation
My bathroom has been under construction for the past month. If a stranger came into my house during that time and saw it (more appropriately, if they saw the apothecary jars filled with cotton balls and Q-tips on the floor and ladders and drop cloths in the bathroom), they would have thought I was a complete slob. Someone who definitely didn’t have their stuff together (okay, probably right on that one, but hear me out nonetheless). They wouldn’t know what I did: change was in the process and that chaos was about to bring something gorgeous.
I’ve been like that stranger all too often, living in the chaos and seeing it for nothing more than that. I didn’t realize at the time that sometimes the only way to get to the best finished project is to strip some stuff bare and stir things up a bit.
2. Sometimes it takes multiple rounds
Many of you have heard me ask/write, “Seriously? Do I need to go through another round of trials? Haven’t you built enough character in me yet, God?”
Home renovations taught me an answer for that one, too. After transforming my kitchen countertops last weekend, I put a patch of gel stain on a nearby cabinet to see how the color matched the new granite-like counters.
“I don’t like it,” my Girlie announced, crushing my aspiring DIY dreams until she gave her explanation. “It doesn’t look as red as you said it would be.”
This non-crafty person had just gel stained the bathroom cabinets the week before and knew too well that the first coat barely gives a glimpse as to what the final product will be. Coat one brought improvement. Read: it was better than before. Kinda. In a grainy, streaky sort of way, but by coat 3 (okay, 4 on some areas), my cabinets looked brand new and you couldn’t even see the scrape marks where the old lady who used to live here banged them up with her power chair.
3. Something not done 100% perfectly right still looks a whole lot better than not done at all
This is for you, my fellow perfectionists. I used to stop dead in my tracks, fearful that I wouldn’t get something just right. Correction: I didn’t stop, for that would require pre-existing motion. Now, I go. Need to hang hardware on the cabinets and never done it before? Well, now’s the time to learn! So what if one is millimeters higher than another. No one other than you will notice.
You get the life lesson, right? I’ve also learned that many of my oopses are more easily remedied than I would have guessed and that mistakes definitely aren’t the end of anything important.
4. Rely on others you who have gone before you
YouTube and Pinterest have become my new friends. I’d never painted a counter to look like granite before, but I have some mean fingers that can type up the instructional video. Same with hanging said crooked-ish cabinet knobs. I thought I could pull it off, but two non-level knobs taught me otherwise, so I went to visit my trusted friends on YouTube and they told me about this little template that does the dirty work (aka doesn’t make me calculate what half of 52.6 inches or whatever that little line on the measuring tape represents is equal to).
In my non-DIY world, my trusted others include my wise sages that surround me and bless me with their wisdom. There are also those that let me glean from them, even though I’ll never meet them in person, like Corrie TenBoom or even those that have passed, like Brother Lawrence. And of course, the Good Book is filled with incredible lessons of those who forged a path for us.
5. It’s easy to forget the change you’ve already done
The first month of homeownership was a blur, with carpets being ripped out, wallpaper torn down (yes, that stuff really does still exist) and so much more. I can tell you definitively that we did a lot of work, but honestly I became too tired to truly remember all those pieces. I could look at a remodeled room and know it looked better but with time, I came to forget what the original measuring rod was, as in better than …
I got that reminded when the bathroom remodel started. My Dad pulled down the long, ode-de-80’s box that “hid” the fluorescent lightbulbs looming over the vanity. And that’s when I saw it, that not-so-glorious boxy pattern that was once plastered to my bedroom walls.
Okay, so some things are worth forgetting, especially the Strawberry Shortcake throwback wallpaper in the kitchen. I digress.
Once the big light fixture box was removed, I caught a glimpse of what it once was. How easily I forgot that original sight just a year later.
We, too, go through radical changes, but then we hit those plateau periods. I told a friend today I’d do snow angels in a plateau life-stage for it sounds rather blissful, but let’s be real: my life can change as quickly as the things in my house and it only takes a few breaths before the doldrums have me screaming. I forget the many coats that have already been applied in my life, or get frustrated at myself for not being somewhere I’m not.
But sometimes, there’s that thing that makes me step back and remember yet again where I’ve been. Like peeking at the old wallpaper that I no longer see, I can step back and remember that it wasn’t that long ago that this mama fled with kids in tow.
It isn’t pride when I let myself see the journey of pain and growth. It is sheer praise when I say, “you’ve come a long ways” to my inner me. Ultimately, its a song of praise to the One who has carried me. And created the chaotic-looking renovations. And added multiple layers, even when I thought one was more than enough.
6. Success breeds success
Let’s start at the beginning and remember that we’re still talking about the girl that just 12 months ago couldn’t anchor a wall hanging. When my parents started this major renovation project with me called “De-Cat the Litterbox-less House,” I didn’t have a clue how to do pretty much any of the things I’ve since done. Dad showed me how to use most of the tools along the way. I slowly came to realize I could do more than I thought.
And from that I began dabbling in other areas I hadn’t tried before. Like when I decided the coffee table my parents gave me years ago from the house they had been renting out (read: scratched and beat up) needed an upgrade, I started chalk painting it. I was clueless on chalk paint, but the table was in such bad shape, I really couldn’t make it any worse. And then I fell in love with it, so then I painted the matching end table. And then the lamp. And then I switched to the gel paint and started on the cabinets. Those looked great, so I tried my hand at the granite-look-alike paint kit.
Okay, I possibly got addicted along the way and might need to start a support group on Pinterest but here’s the point: I think we’ve convinced ourselves of so much less. We think we either need to be perfect or drop out of the game. We say we don’t know how to do something so therefore we don’t try.
And most times we’re wrong.
So my friend, here’s our question: what are we going to say in a year that we’ve learned? What’s something we’ve felt God prompting us to do that we’ve been too scared to follow through on? I’ll be the first to admit that painting and renovations and working out at boot camp and so many other things have fueled changes in other areas of my life, too!