New to list and need support

lisepomeroyOctober 30, 2007

Here are the facts and maybe this is an old story that has been told many times before. I just need someone to understand and to offer support.

Married 30 years. 2 grown sons, students, not quite moved out. Too many hobbies! (mechanics, renovations, model airplanes) We live in the country and have too much space. A huge basement, garage, and workshop. They don't throw stuff out. Renovations to this 125 year old farmhouse are taking too long. We moved in 5 years ago. The kitchen is fantastic, but little things aren't finished. We have a dumpster out front because DH is putting in a new bathroom. That reno started last March. Dumpster has been here for 2 months because the old bathroom has to come out. (change in bathroom location). I am so tired of living in a half done house. Tools in every room. Projects started. Reno dust on everything. I have already filled the dumpster once with stuff, to show that I am serious about cleaning out. I would like to feel that we be ready to move if we had to. When we moved here and didn't do a purge or sort because we didn't have time. We both work long hours at our careers and my husband enjoys renovating to relax. It has the opposite affect on me. I also travel a lot so I don't complain too often, because I can escape. I have asked that everything be finished by spring "or else." I am trying to do my bit, like painting, cleaning up after him, organizing the tools, but I just want to put my head down on the desk and cry. It just feels hopeless right now. I bought a label maker - maybe that will cheer me up. Okay, I need a marriage counselor, not new pair of rubber gloves. Help!!! Tell me there is hope.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Manor --

Welcome -

The first thing that jumps out at me as that you need a part of your house you can call "your own" - even if it is the master bedroom... declare it a "project-free" zone, then clean it and decorate it the way you want to, so that you have a place in your home to escape to.

Your home is currently a work-in-progress. But the thing about homes is that they are always "in-progress". Even when we are caught up with household tasks they are cylical.

It sounds as if you are overwhelmed by the chaos around you. It helps to focus on one space at a time. Even at that, you may need to break things down into smaller tasks.

When you have some time, read through some older posts and you will soon learn you are not alone. You will get very specific responses from the posters here, keep visiting.

And take a deep breath. You've come to the right place - this is a supportive bunch!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 6:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Also, it sounds like there are many hands--just not, perhaps, dedicated time.

Would you feel more in control if you could pick a weekend that EVERYONE (even college-student sons, or young-adults-on-their-own sons) dedicates the entire weekend to work on the bathroom?

Even if the room is too small for more than one person to stand in it, the others can pass tools over, fetch supplies, etc.--which can have a more powerful effect than you think.

One bonus you might find--I did: working on a project like this, in such a concerted, dedicated way, is actually a great "togetherness" builder.

The other thing to do is, perhaps, have a talk w/ sons about too much stuff. Invite them for a great dinner 2x a month or whatever works, and the "price" is that they have to "toss ten" or something--either take it with them, or put it in the dumpster.

And, ratchet down the pressure a little--or focus it, maybe? I get the feeling that you're feeling overwhelmed bcs there are so many places that you wish were different. But you can't fix them all at once.

There's a reason they put blinders on horses.

It sounds like the bathroom & dumpster is the crazy-making part. Can you focus on that, and simply ignore the "too much stuff in the garage" concept for a while?

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 7:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I am sorry I have no answer for you Tally Sue is the greatest with solutions. I do feel for you and can understand your frustration.I hope you get the jobs done soon.


    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 8:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Another thought on that "plan ahead for it / dedicate the time" weekend:

You CAN plan ahead for it, and lay in supplies, equipment, etc., and thereby make it way more effective.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 8:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Welcome to the forum, Manor. A couple of items in your post caught my eye:

I would like to feel that we be ready to move if we had to.

While I and everyone else here probably would agree that getting rid of the clutter is best, why is this a criterion for you? Is it likely you will have to finish renovation and sell the house on short notice? Is this a perception that is shared by the others in the house?

We both work long hours at our careers and my husband enjoys renovating to relax. It has the opposite affect on me.

Understandable (on both counts). But it indicates to me that there must be some limits on renovation that you both agree to. You promise to "look the other way" for a period of time and DH agrees to some consideration to the "spread" of tools and dust throughout the house. Maybe this is where that "room of your own" comes in -- someplace inviolate where you can get away from the noise and the mess, at least for a while.

I have asked that everything be finished by spring "or else." I am trying to do my bit, like painting, cleaning up after him, organizing the tools, but I just want to put my head down on the desk and cry. It just feels hopeless right now.

Or else ... what? Not to be harsh, but speaking as one of the few guys on this forum, what are you prepared to do if the renovation isn't finished? Hire someone to finish it? Move out? Does DH perceive whatever you will do as something you will do -- and is it something he's willing to work to avoid? And have you asked him what it would take to get the job done? Maybe he doesn't want you to be cleaning up after him and organizing.

Maybe you two have already discussed this and there's something else that's the problem. But it really sounds like you two need to talk about this. I understand how depressing it can be to look at the mess and undone work day after day (I eventually ended up hiring out my own remodel because I wasn't getting to it). It depletes a huge amount of emotional energy. But so does quiet resentment of a situation that really needs to be negotiated to make sure everyone's interests are met. Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 9:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks everyone. I know I was going a bit deeper than the just the mess here. I am totally overwhelmed and it is taking its toll on our marriage. This is the 4th house in our marriage that we have renovated. Each previous house was only finished for the brief period just before we sold it. It wasn't every why we started renovating, just the reason we finished. Also, I was reading the "Wabi-Sabi House", and that inspired me enough to stop turning a blind eye and start participating in getting the end of renovating, so we could actually enjoy what we have. One of the suggestions was living as if you were ready to move. I liked that. I want to be a minimalist. We have accumulated too many things. I am not sure what the "or else" means. I have never actually used those words aloud. It was just how I felt.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 10:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Courage--we finished our total remodel, most of the tools are up and away, and we are entertaining. But I do recall being overwhelmed and panic stricken that it would never be done. But think of your husband--he is doing this and since he has a career--being a carpenter/contractor/organizer is probably not his favorite thing. My husband thinks I like doing dishes because it is relaxing. Dream on! So maybe your husband isn't really doing this stuff to relax. Hang in there--they finished building the Pyramids eventually.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 12:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Maybe another message you are sending yourself is that you want something out of your marriage/family life you haven't had before--to NOT be renovating.

4 times, every house you've owned--that's a lot.

But if DH truly does relax w/ this sort of stuff, that's an area that needs negotiation. Maybe he doesn't realize exactly how despairing you feel sometimes (if so, you need to share, but kindly). Maybe there's a way he can get his "jollies" that won't disrupt your home. He can help a neighbor, or deal w/ the basement.

And be sure you're talking about that book you read, and what resonated--guys aren't oblivious; they can understand things; and they nearly all of them want their life partners to be comfortable and happy.

So in terms of philosophy, time to share.

But for right now, for immediate progress, can you pick one thing you think will be most powerful? (it's OK if you guess wrong; just pick SOMETHING) Clearing off the kitchen counters, or getting a cheapo bookcase w/ some extra shelves, and putting his tools on it near the bathroom?

Just ONE thing.

Do it, and come back and tell us how you feel.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 9:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If it's that bad, and nobody else seems to care, I suggest you move out. Go to a motel, even for a couple of days. Don't tell anyone where you're going but let them know you're okay. That's what i would do. Tell him. "I'm okay. Please clean up some of the mess and I'll come home." Then hang up. Don't negotiate. Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 9:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi manor. Does DH have a respected friend or family member that you could recruit to help DH see that you can't live like this? This worked with my DH. We had different visions of a renovation - actually moving the kitchen. DH just thought my idea was crazy. But when we brought in a friend of his that does construction that he respects and also brought in his sister, and they both agreed with me, he came around, and that is how we did the renovation. And he likes it now. Maybe DH can't see how hard it is for you to live like this. I assume you have told him what you have told us.

Also, I know when I was renovating that house with DH last year, he would just think differently from me. He was mudding the walls and then I was painting afterwards. I had to finally point out (nicely) that if he would completely finish a ceiling and go room by room, that I could paint while he was then doing the walls. Then if he finished a whole room, I could paint the whole room. I was really surprised that it just hadn't occurred to him. Here I was mad at him that he was wasting my time, when all I had to do was point out what was obvious to me. He just saw it as we had to do the whole house and saw bits to do here and there, while I really wanted to finish specific rooms and see some progress. I think it really helps to talk things out, give the other person the benefit of the doubt, don't blame, yell or threaten, but explain what bothers you, why, and how he can go about things to make it less stressful for both of you and how it might make it easier for you to help out. Or even explain that you WANT to help out (the house belongs to both of you, right?)

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 12:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you again for all of your support and ideas.
Maura63 - I do have one place of my own - my own bathroom - a guy free zone. It was one of the first rooms that we added when we moved in. The view from my bath is very relaxing and I can see rolling hills for miles. I spend a lot of time there, reading, making lists, talking on phone, and catching up on work with my BlackBerry. (I have drowned a few.)

I have also, almost, reclaimed the living room. Besides the fireplace, furniture, TV, stereo, etc, the LR has been home to industrial shelving with tools, and bits and pieces of the kitchen reno, and an old kitchen table/workbench. Last night we worked hard at it, and it was almost all sorted, binned and labeled and moved to the basement. DH found a lot of missing drill bits, router bits, staples etc. He helped sort and purge. We filled 3 garbage bags that made it to the dumpster.

I also painted the wall that had been primed a year ago after closing off a doorway to the kitchen. It was blocked by the satellite workshop. I just need the baseboard installed. I should be able to do a second coat tonight and actually wash the floor of the reno dust that has been collecting forever. It will be the first time in 5 years that the living room has no tools hanging about. I can wait for the door frame to be installed.

My new strategy is to invite a friend over each weekend so we have some incentive to keep working. We have both become complacent because we live in an isolated area and rarely have guests - esp now that the boys are back at school.

Getting rid of stuff is not so easy out here. Beside having too much space, somehow paying $3 a bag for garbage removal has been a stumbling block. We don't have a local dump, so the dumpster has been good for us. I just don't want it to become part of the landscaping. It is hard to throw out good stuff.

My son visited and got his old car fixed and took it home. (That only left his motorcycle, canoe, and old sailboat).

We are making progress. I spent my summer evenings working in the garden and ignoring the inside of the house.

The new (guy) bathroom (shower, no bath) is coming along, and we actually hired someone to do the taping. He should be complete within the week.

The next area is the bedroom, but that involves removing the ugly stucco ceiling, and all the bat guano soiled insulation in the attic, reinsulating, and reinstalling a new ceiling. Not to mention patching and replastering all the walls etc. The incentive is new bedroom furniture. After 30 years of marriage it is time for our own stuff.

Talley Sue, the boys are helpful when they are around and I do let them know when I am getting rid of their stuff. They are handy and have done some of the plumbing and drywall work. My husband knows how I feel, and understands that living in a "work in progress" house has become a way of life for us. I want to break the cycle. I want to be able to relax and not see all the work that still needs to be done. I think he does too.

Jannie, nice idea, but I already do enough escaping with my work travel.

Thanks again for your support and I will keep you posted on my progress.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 5:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Maybe it was the support.
Maybe it was the fact that DH read my post.
Maybe it was the Halloween chocolate.
But whatever it was, I am pleased to update that this evening I got the second coat on the living room wall, all the tools are out of the living room, and as a bonus I painted one wall of the hallway that was primed last year. It looks great. I hope we can keep up the momentum.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 9:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't know how YOU feel, but *I* am greatly heartened by your living room progress! I feel lighter already, LOL, knowing that you've gotten the tools out of there, and painted that wall.

Honestly, I don't think a bathroom, no matter how much time you spend in it, is enough to make you feel that there's an "oasis" in your home. For one thing, you can't sit and enjoy DH's company. And there's the whole "drowned Blackberry" thing.

So I encourage you to "inoculate" that living room. (There is a decluttering technique for the rest of us, who don't have the excuse of renovations, called "innoculating"--you clear off a trouble spot, and then consider it off-limits to REcluttering) Keep it a work-free zone, somewhere nice you can both always go. Can you get DH to stay with you on that room until it's completely done? Baseboard, and even, yes, doorframe--DON'T wait on that; get it done within the next 2 weeks?

I think, based on what you've said about the two of you, that you both might really find that a boon, this one room all done.

That said....

Can you find a way to set up DH's satellite workshop in a more pre-though, organized manner. I'm thinking that it developed bcs it really WOULD be much easier to have the tools nearby, and not down in the basement; accessible by grabbing them off a shelf, and not buried in a big plastic bin.

I have this fantasy of a basic unpainted bookcase:
-w/ a back and sides, so stuff can't fall off
-not too terribly deep, so maybe it would fit in the hallway
-w/ three or four extra shelves, so some of them are spaced only wide enough for a hammer or box of nails to fit
-w/ a shoebox labeled "screws" and one labeled "stuff I took out and need to put back in" and one labeled "drill bits & other parts" to corral the sort of stuff that gets lost.
-positioned right outside the bathroom he's working on.

How great that your boys are helpful. That might make it even easier to look ahead, w/ DH and them, and schedule a big "everybody all together, HEAVE!" sort of weekend. Discuss what sort of task would benefit the most by that combined & concerted effort, and schedule it way in advance. Setting that sort of deadline would give you a deadline to meet w/ all the prep work, and make everybody plan around it (plus plan food so you don't have to cook, etc).

Just maybe, all the ceiling & insulation work in the bedroom? That sounds like a "many hands make fast & light work" sort of thing--one person rips down, the other 3 carry stuff out, lift stuff up to him, etc. And it also sounds like the sort of job you don't want to have dragging on while one or two people do it. Something to think about, anyway.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 9:14PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Please recommend a good paper shredder
I have a little one that can shred two sheets (max)...
What to do with hundreds of CDs
I have nice storage boxes filled with hundreds of CDs...
How to get your kid (young, or young adult, or adult) to declutter
On one of the other threads (the "madwoman"...
How do you let go of stuff that's worth money?
On the "share your success" thread, taft...
Can I get rid of my wedding gown?
Hi everyone. We went to spend the weekend with my parents...
Sponsored Products
New Amazing Floral Persian Balouch Runner 3'x9' Hand Knotted Blue Wool Rug P901
BH Sun Inc
Peonies Linen Napkins
The City Farm
Lucy Rug 5' x 8' - TAUPE
$1,099.00 | Horchow
Soho Foyer Pendant - Three Lights - Vintage Black
Signature Hardware
Accent Rug: Siesta Key Green 1' 9" x 3' 9"
$19.97 | Home Depot
Sydnee Satin Eggplant Drum Lamp Shade 14x16x11 (Spider)
$39.99 | Lamps Plus
Set of 2 Eames Style DSW Light Gray Plastic Bar Stool with Wood Eiffel Legs
eModern Decor
Brazilian Nights Copa Cabana Copper Black Five-Light Chandelier
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™