I grew up on a bird farm. Yes you read that right. It’s a family business and my Dad bred and sold domestic birds to pet stores, breeders and pet owners. As an adult, I’m a self proclaimed cold-hearted human who wants nothing to do with pets. How could I be so cruel as to deny my children puppies and parakeets? Well, I would counter that I’m actually the enlightened one. All I see when the issue of a pet is brought up are messes, dollar signs, and allergies. My girls each have a stuffed puppy which fills the void perfectly – complete with zero vet bills, boarding needs, or shedding. They are perfectly hypoallergenic if you will. I’ve done my time feeding, watering and cleaning, and it is no secret that animals are not allowed in my house. So with that background into my feelings regarding birds, a year ago I walked inside to a bird flying around our family room. I spent way too long trying to get it out of the house and after failing, I called Ronny and demanded he come home and help me immediately. He said no for two quite valid reasons: 1. he was working and 2. what the hell does he know about birds? If I couldn’t get it out, why would he be any better? Ok, fair enough. So I stormed around for the next several hours trying to get it out of my house and cleaning up bird crap which was both upstairs and down. Suffice it to say, I was in a terrible mood when Ronny got home. He said it was probably just a door that had been left open while I was convinced it was the monstrous gaping wall hole in the family room which connects to the garage below.
Fast forward to two weeks later. I again walk in to the bird frantically darting around the family room. I declared it was the same freaking bird. Ronny said there was no way for me to know that, and it was probably just the same type of bird (twenty years experience vs. zero…he was wrong). This time, before I could get it out of the door, it flew into the giant hole by the TV and disappeared…which was pretty damning for Ronny’s front door theory. A few more months passed and my parents were visiting for Christmas. Again, the bird got in the house. This time was the last straw but at least my dad was here and is obviously very proficient in this niche department. He asked for my bird net, which in all fairness I probably should have had by then since this was clearly a reoccurring problem. No nets here Dad; figure it out and when you do, kill it please. He caught it within 5 minutes with his bare hands but refused to do the deed. Ronny has since closed enough of the hole that our intruder hasn’t been back in the house; however I have seen her dart in and out a few times through the garage door when it’s open.
So about that hole. The family room was covered in wood paneling which had to be partially destroyed early on. Sidenote; it’s worth pointing out that wood paneling can absolutely be left and transformed with some simple paint. In fact, paneling from the 70’s and 80’s is kind of a thing now. Ronny had a client who grabbed some pieces from us for repairs as he flips a home – so don’t assume you absolutely have to take a sledgehammer to this outdated look. For us, we were moving walls and had to change electrical etc, and that stuff doesn’t come off and go back on terribly well, so it wasn’t long for the space.
The ceiling was reconstructed with new joists (since we didn’t want Saylor living in the room above where the floor may or may not hold up) and the walls were bored into to repair and change several electrical issues. A structural header was also put up where we took out a wall closing the kitchen off from the family room. This did leave a strip of flooring missing…nothing some spare laminate in the garage and some gorilla tape couldn’t fix…and the girls have enjoyed an in-house balance beam to practice their gymnastic skills on. Then it just got left that way while we have dealt with other more pressing things. We covered the holes, (ok some of the holes), haphazardly with cardboard, and the girls have taken to taping their artwork there. We have all just sort of embraced it if you will. It’s been that project that we will get to someday after we deal with other projects.
The thing with this room is that it’s the center of the house and so problems branch off of it in every direction. Since we are moving towards phase 2 of the flooring going in, we had to tackle this room recently. We have added recessed lights, Ronny insulated the ceiling (mostly for sound coming from upstairs), and Hector installed the shiplap.
Second tangent sidenote; kids are extremely adaptable. None of them have been bothered much by the constant disaster around here. Saylor has known construction chaos for about 60% of her life. “Hecca” was the first name she said outside of our immediate family as she is quite used to Hector’s presence. To her this is just normal life and one of her favorite toys is her tape measure. Brighton is starting to have opinions about how we do things, including the fact that she’s “getting sick of all the white” I’m using and “could you please paint more things like blue, pink or rainbow”. Isla doesn’t have time to notice much of it at all. Ronny is also too chill to be terribly bothered by messes. So, it’s me of course that must carry the stress burden. And full disclosure, it’s quite catalytic to the aging process if you’re a type A.
Back to this family room space. The French doors open onto the porch which used to be an enclosed glassed sunroom. When we tore that down, we lost some square footage of the house. We would like to extend the family room back out someday and reclaim that. For now, this is our back porch. Ronny replaced the drywall (taping and finishing to come) and moved some electrical stuff (masking is strictly enforced for drywall and any possible asbestos situations).
This room is by far the highest traffic area of the house since it’s right between the kitchen and the playroom. They say that after 3 kids you just sort of give up in many ways, and I feel that the fact that I’ve been living in this space is evidence that there is a lot of truth in that statement. Everyone is still alive (ok I’m barely alive at this point, but still hanging on) and now that the holes are covered by drywall, I’m pretty confident we won’t have any more avian visitors.
Renovating a home is rewarding, especially if you are doing part of the work yourself since you will appreciate the transformation even more. But it’s also completely exhausting and seemingly never ending when you bite off a chunk as big as our disaster is. At least once a week, I consider putting the house up for sale asap and moving into a condo with an HOA where everything is move-in ready, brand new, and nothing screams “paint me”. But I’m far too tired to move again (at least not til I fully process the PTSD that remains from moving cross country), that purple Rose of Sharon out back has burst into tropical beauty once again and it turns out we kind of like the place…so I guess I’ll go get back to work.