It is hard "not" to draw a living metaphor with the mending of a hundred-year-old house. When we purchased the house in May, we studied an inspection report from the previous owner and did another inspection during the escrow. So we knew that some things needed to be updated even though the interior of the house looked livable. By now, what started with a modest renovation of our house has become more of a fixer-upper project. We are about two and half months into the process, and every square inch of our house has been exposed except Coco’s small bedroom that is currently serving as girls’ and Mango’s sleeping quarters. The downstairs bathroom is also kept as-is for now despite the fact it probably needs the most remodeling. For practicality, we need at least one functioning bathroom for our family to use while we live through the renovation of the upstairs bathroom.
Well, let’s talk about the upstairs bathroom. We were aware that we wanted to update the bathroom. It’s a tiny bathroom. Based on our experience of remodeling the bathroom in Pasadena, we imagined it would be pretty straightforward.
Oh, boy. How we were so wrong.
Underneath the built-in tub, we found a rodent nest; then, when we took the veneer floor with a plan to replace it with a tile floor, we discovered that the subfloor needed to be fixed. Our contractor took the subfloor out, only to find out that framing was done poorly (well. It was probably up to standard in the 1920s), and dirt enough to fill a bathtub needed to be removed from underneath the bathroom frames because some frames had ground contacts. Last week, when I opened the bathroom door, I literally fell into a hole where the dirt met the house. It looked dismayed and uninhabitable. If our bathroom presented all of these issues all at once, I would have felt dizzy just thinking about it. Thankfully, it has been a gradual reveal and more of a journey to get to know our house intimately. When I visit our upstairs bathroom, I feel tender empathy for how vulnerable they must be feeling to be so open and exposed.
How is our bathroom renovation a metaphor for life? Because perhaps we are much like a bathroom in the 100-year-old house. We might feel and look as if we are ready to get through another decade ahead. Sturdy and functional. Still, perhaps we might benefit from checking in with the structural integrity of our foundation underneath the layers of built-in cabinets, floor, and sub-floor. As we open one layer at a time, if something is not fitting quite right, perhaps time is now.
A few days ago, the last faulty beam was taken out of our tiny upstairs bathroom. When the contractor headed home, and all was quiet, I opened the door and soothed them. I let them know that we were going to build their framework thoughtfully with the help of our contractor. So they could withstand the duration of time we plan to share and hopefully even more and that they would be strong and beautiful. Not just from outside but from both inside and out. I also reassured them that everything from now on would be towards their healing.
I hope you have a moment to immerse yourself in this month’s stories from Baum-kuchen. A.C. shared a story about the cactus on their desk. Trina wrote about her favorite organizer. If your curiosity is peeking up, I urge you to read their actual stories to grasp the core of their messages. Trust me. It's more than I just mentioned.
When I checked on our upstairs bathroom this morning, I noticed newly installed copper plumbing pipes and the bathtub faucets. Without the actual bathtub, they looked comical and incomplete. I assured them that they were where they needed to be.
This love letter is not at all about an organizer, a cactus, or a bathroom:)
always a work in progress...
On the deck of our Topanga house, California // August 3rd, 2021
**This is from our BK Love Letter for July 2021. If you would like to see the entire love letter we sent to our community, you can browse it via this link.