Remodeling: Pickers and choosers

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Remodeling your house is a little like having a baby. It’s wonderful and exciting – right up until the sledgehammer smashes into the first wall. Then it becomes like childbirth itself – messy, scary and painful.

We’ve remodeled a kitchen before, but this time around we’re moving our washer and dryer out of their tiny closet and into a new room of their own. (You know you’ve been married with kids for a long time when the idea of a new laundry room gets you this excited.)

But the biggest part of the remodeling project is a new bathroom that will be used by 8-year-old Kate. She’s wildly excited about the idea of not sharing space with her two older brothers, who have no appreciation for how much time it takes a girl to shower, brush her teeth, dry her hair, apply fruit-flavored chapstick, decide on outfit accessories and then change her mind about the hairstyle and accessories at least three times. under construction2

We’ve been under construction for two weeks now, and going through the process again has reminded me just how silly my skill-sets seem when I compare them to others. An electrician and plumber have been here running pipes and wire all over the place for several days. And even though the two new rooms look like nothing but a mass of two-by-four boards and plywood floors, these guys know exactly where to put each line. Together with our contractor, they’re making a laundry room and a bathroom from nothing. It’s incredible to watch.

My professional training has taught me the difference between a dangling participle and a split infinitive, but these guys can build a working bathroom! At the end of the day, I can live with a split infinitive but I won’t make it long without a working bathroom. If our two jobs had to arm wrestle for the title of “most necessary,” I think we both know who’d win.

For me, one of the toughest parts of the remodeling process is making decisions. In the world of construction, there are two kinds of people – the pickers and the choosers. Pickers are those gifted people who can walk into a home improvement store, pick out exactly what they like and make confident decisions, even question-markthough they’re surrounded by thousands of different options for tile, paint, fixtures, drawer pulls, countertops, lights and more.

People like me – the choosers – see all those options and want to go home, curl into the fetal position and wait for the whole thing to be over. It’s not that we can’t make a decision. It’s just that we want to choose our favorite among three or four good options, not a gazillion mind-numbing possibilities.

Speaking from experience, it’s best for a chooser to take a natural-born picker along when it’s time to decide on new finishes. Otherwise, the chooser is likely to wander out of the store and into the nearest Arby’s where the menu choices aren’t nearly as intimidating.

Now that the decisions, the plumbing and the electrical work is mostly done, the new walls will start going up tomorrow. I’m excited to see all the groundwork begin to take shape into something more recognizable. All this labor will soon give birth to a brand spanking new laundry room and bathroom.

We’ll be so excited about the new additions that, in a few years, we’ll forget about the dust, the decisions and the deluge of invoices, and we’ll start talking about how awesome it would be if we knocked down that wall, replaced those countertops or put down new floors. That’s how remodeling projects are born.

gwen-headshot-2014Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of  To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

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