It’s Gonna Get Worse Before It Gets Better

April 30, 2012

We’re heavily into the restoration of 1110 W. Washington and lo and behold, Steve, the all-knowing heating/air conditioning/plumbing expert’s words of wisdom have come true. Steve has been around the proverbial house-restoration block and knew exactly what to expect. Me, not so much.

Flash back to the early days, bundled up in a cold, lonely house, with its paint peeling off the walls, but its potential quite visible if you looked really hard and long with your eyes unfocused and your head cocked about 30 degrees to the right. I had just met Steve and we were walking around the place to share our vision and see how he could help us. At that moment I was still giddy with anticipation. Still seeing the gas fireplaces restored and softly lighting the dining room. Still envisioning where the first really tall Christmas tree we’ve ever had would stand.

Steve said, “You know, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

OK, whatever. I know there’s a lot of work to be done.

“Seriously. It’s going to get a LOT worse before it gets better.”

Well, of course it will. Did you see this little nook here…I’m thinking of putting some pretty plates on some built-in shelves there someday. What do you think, Steve?

“What do I think? I think it’s going to get a WHOLE LOT worse before it gets better!”

I’m listening now. I look Steve in the eyes which are twinkling just a little as his half hidden mouth (serious beard) forms a mischievous grin. He knows he has a greenhorn in his midst and he’s not going to let it pass. What exactly does that mean, Steve?

“It means you won’t be able to walk through here without a mask when we’re working. It means all of these paint-peeling walls and most of the ceilings will be torn down for ducts and wiring. It means we just aren’t sure what we’ll find each step of the way and so will probably need to break down even more than anticipated now.”

So then I can’t live here while the work is being done?

“No, ma’am.” (Steve’s very polite with my endearing ignorance.)

Not even in the upstairs apartment which is totally finished?

This is where I learn about Certificates of Occupancy. Huh. Who knew?

So, for this installment, I’m putting up a few before and during photos. Many of you have asked for before and after photos, but it’d be a shame if we skipped over the photos of this ‘during’ aspect and frankly ‘after’ feels pretty far off right now. So sit back and get a glimpse of what “a whole lot worse” means in ancient home restoration lingo and remind yourselves why you have chosen to live this experience vicariously through us rather than as part of your own daily life.

This is one view of the kitchen before, during stage one, and during stage 2. (Note the foyer door in the background re-opened!!)

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These are another view of the kitchen in before, during stage one, and during stage two phases. (Note the doorway to the back staircase re-opened!)

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Visit my YouTube channel to see Leith Rice using his handy sawzall to open up the dining room ceiling.

And catch a glimpse of Joel doing some tear down himself. Fun!! This link brings you to the first of six short videos with Joel as action figure. Go Joel!!

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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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