We Are As Far Away From Soft Furnishings As We Were Six Years Ago – The Living Room

Ahhhh. The living room. Where it all began. The renovation, I mean.  All journeys start somewhere, right? For us, the entire renovation began with this Italianate kick to the wall in the living room:


This was done before we had even heard back as to whether our offer had been accepted.  Why such zeal, such confidence? Although it was obvious to me that nobody in their right mind would purchase this place, the real story is that laying the boots to the wall wouldn’t be noticed by either the real estate agent or future lookey-loos, because the other side of the wall lookey-loo’ed like this:

Do you remember this? It was called the animal room in the sales pitch. It had everything an animal would need, including coma enhancing knotty-pine wood-paneling for those animals prone to hibernation or forced solitude.  I’ve posted about the animal room elsewhere, so I won’t go into that again. But, for those of you who are often spatially disoriented by my vaguely renovation-tinged postings, know that the animal room actually became a genuine part of the living room with the complete removal of the already kicked at wall.  This wall:

Joining the animal room with the bigger room created this:

While I’d almost be tempted to say “we’re done here” –  we decided to press on. We cleaned up the gunk and then discovered that we now had a great place to store my collection of salvaged doors and sad assed furniture (i.e. better gunk):

Notice that the chair is doing that literary thing where the weather stands in for the prevailing mood being attempted by the author.  It has the word pathetic in it. And also fallacy.

Those doors did not last long in the new storage area because the man had a fit and MADE me get rid of them. So this happened:

A big mistake. Now they are mouldering in someone’s yard down the street. I go by at night and yell up to their flickering blue television light,  “They are solid wood you assholes. Take them inside before I kill you.”  The man has advised me to put an end to that kind of welcome wagon action.  This picture still breaks my heart.

Okay. Back to the living room.

No wait.

Here’s another picture of the doors with slightly different exposure and after I was forced to add in one more door:

It’s the saddest thing. Those three white flowers above the doors are the twisting of the dagger.

So. The living room.  Here is an image taken from the pet room side:

It has promise, yes? Dappled light, lots of space. The ceiling, however, is visually pressing in on all of that potential. Turns out that it was also literally pressing in – for two reasons.

  1. This part of the house was an addition put on some time in the 1950s. There was no foundation put under the addition, so the ceiling and the whole front of the house was attempting to return to ground. Significant was the sag.
  2. Although it is hard to believe, the ceiling was also weighted down by insulation. Not just by any insulation. By wet insulation. Rain wet. Rat urine wet. My bitter tears wet.

So, we ripped down the ceiling, bagged up the rats, the rat fibreglass, the rat urine and the rat faeces. That was my job. That is also detailed elsewhere in a post about me and some Baptists.

At the end of that shitshow this is what we were left with:

Exposed rafters!  Jesus. My dream come true. For those who don’t know me well, exposed rafters are the only things that can pull me back from the despair of watching a neighbour slowly kill six perfectly good solid wood doors. These rafters need to stay. The man says they can’t because of insulation. I say they need to stay because they remind me of churches in The Bahamas. The man says it’s hot in The Bahamas and they don’t need insulation like we do here in Canada. This “The Bahamas vs The Canada” fight goes on for a while because it is always good and right to fight for truth and beauty:

And I won.



Sort of:

This is the current incarnation of our aerie. We had rat-free soy-based foam insulation sprayed in. And as much as that conchy colour is very much The Bahamas, it will one day be covered by old wood.   And even though this blog says that we are doing this renovation with zero dollars, the insulation was closer to $4,000 of those zero dollars and the ceiling fan that is to go into his coral apex, is really close to, if not exactly, 229 and 99/100ths of those same zero dollars:


It is so beautiful that it deserves its own close up:


Thank you designers and builders and globalization.

When the “The Bahamas/The Canada” fight was in full swing, the man took a hammer to the interior walls of the living room for all sorts of reasons – one of which was that there was ample evidence that the rats also loved vertical insulation. So, in the spirit of channeling anger and moving forward on the project we (and by we, I mean he) ripped down all the dry wall and even one of the primary walls dividing the living room from one of the old bedrooms:

Don’t worry. Precautions for removing a structural wall were dealt with. Then, we (meaning, not me) put a hole in the floor for the stairs, as there was no interior connection between the above ground basement and the main floor:

A quasi-wall was built to keep our small child from death by falling:

(You can just make out the pony wall at the bottom right of the image.)  The really sweet, but quite possibly not that safe wood-stove – which is the only heating source in the whole house – was swapped out and this is now where we are at:

A fireplace/wood stove that can heat 1500 square feet. It’s so fancy that it can and will blow warm or skin-burning hot air throughout the house. I have read all of its enclosed literature and it never explicitly states how it turns magma to comfort. MAGIC, I suppose. It cost more than zero dollars. Way more.

One entire wall insulated. (Sixty dollars)

A shabby but commodious chair that wasn’t thrown to the curb by the other person. (Zero dollars)

A thrift store lamp with fluorescent pink price tag still attached. (One dollar)

The omnipotent and omnipresent shop-vac. (Zero dollars. Found in alley.)

And a whole lot of no rats or their urine. (Priceless.)









10 thoughts on “We Are As Far Away From Soft Furnishings As We Were Six Years Ago – The Living Room

  1. Brilliant on every level. Please come and advise me on rat-soaked insulation and making things happen with zero dollars/many dollars. I can’t believe we are now in the same boat. I hate it.

    1. We are so lucky. I know it’s hard to remember that when you are in the middle of muddle. I am coming over to help you or mock you or take picture of you or …. I’ll just help. No mocking. xo

  2. I don’t actually hate it. I more hate the thought of it, and take much comfort in your forged trail ahead of me, lighting the way. Please bless me, oh goddess of shit-hole renovations. I am your humble servant….

  3. We/the Man is brilliant. You’re brilliant for winning the rafter war. The entire project is brilliant…and mad…as in Werner Herzog mad, recreating the transportation of a luxury liner over a range of South American mountains to an inland sea. I love it! I love the recreation of it. I love your documentation of the recreation. Totally f…ing brilliant.

    1. Yaana! Thank you. I love it, too. It makes me happy to get at a shitty thing and make it less shitty. I won’t tell the Man about Herzog because I think he mentioned once that he was feeling a bit like Fitzcarraldo. But, rest assured – I only make it seem like I do nothing with the reno. Both the Man and the Woman (me) are actually working really hard dragging this boat. Love you.

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