It was easy to avoid everything wrong with your house when you lived your life largely outside it. This year, every flaw, defect and incomplete project has been throbbing like a bruise.
Try as you might to ignore the issues, inevitably, the bathroom window makes good on its threat to never open again, and the garbage disposal dislodges itself completely from beneath the sink. It’s time to just deal with it already.
When you’re ready to tackle these problems, the first step is making The List. Some say this is the hardest step. It is not. But it is the scariest step. Making The List requires you to look long and hard at things you have spent considerable energy pretending you don’t see. The List is a tacit admission that your home is full of problems that, at best, offend your aesthetic sensibilities, and, at worst, endanger the health and safety of your loved ones. If done correctly, The List is physical proof that you suck at homeownership. But we all suck at it, so don’t feel bad.
For example, here’s my The List.
1. Have living room upholstery cleaned.
The white and red slip covers of our couch and comfy chair have not been cleaned since we bought them in 2008. But when I analyze the frequency with which we and our friends dump entire glasses of pinot noir and onion dip onto them, it calls into question the logic of cleaning them at all. We will be redecorating the living room soon, so why take the time to strip them and clean them and then wrestle those slip-covers back onto the cushions when we’re just going to get rid of them at some point? And spill more stuff on them in the interim?
Status: On hold until filth-tolerance threshold achieved.
2. Deal with the crap in back bedroom.
All but one of my older relatives, including my parents, have passed away. Their stuff, however, is alive and well and living in our back bedroom. It is begging to be organized into piles of “keep,” “donate” and “toss.” But each time I look at that pile, it reminds me of them.
Status: Suspended. It’s all staying right where it is.
3. Wash curtains.
The curtains in our living and dining room windows came with the house and have not been taken down and washed by me since… ever. Something, most likely a nest of hornets, mice, or possibly snakes, is living in at least one of them. This is why I haven’t washed them. Neither would you, if you’re being honest, which you totally are.
Status: On hold pending eviction of curtain dwellers.
4. Renovate entire second floor.
We have retained an actual professional architect who has drawn up actual professional architectural plans for a project to remodel the entire second floor of our home. So, in a way, this project is already done, theoretically. All that remains is for The Husband and I to nail down a budget, find and hire a contractor, pay them and have the work done. But aren’t things stressful enough right now without throwing that into the marriage?
Status: Rescheduled to post-pandemic 2021.
5. Renovate entire first floor.
Status:Rescheduled to whenever we financially and emotionally recover from second-floor renovation.
6. Put little rubber bumper thingy on front edge of bathroom sink to prevent glass shower door from smashing into it.
(I did this before I wrote The List so I would have one completed item. You do this too. Admit it.)
7. Sell house and buy new one.
If we sell our current home “as is,” the next owner would have to wash the curtains and change the lightbulbs and renovate the whole place, which I find very appealing. The downside is that buying a new house involves moving. I’ve stayed years, sometimes decades, longer than I should have in very bad living situations in order to avoid moving.
Status: On hold pending further pointless daydreaming.
8. Replace weird LED lightbulb over kitchen counter.
It’s hard to make time in the middle of the day to get to the hardware store to buy that hard-to-find little lightbulb, isn’t it? The closest store closes at 6pm and I’m still working then. The stores that stay open late are too far away. More crucially, when I’m done with work, it’s cocktail hour. What could be more important to our mental health right now than maintaining the rituals and customs from the Before Times? Also, after a cocktail, I don’t notice or care that the light’s out.
9. Buy gin
Actually, after a cocktail, I don’t notice or care about any of the things on The List.
Status: Always completed.
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Write to Kris Frieswick at [email protected]
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