The Mast-Head: This Old House

The problem with any house-renewal effort, as many of you will agree, is mission creep

    The house we live in, built for my parents more than 50 years ago, is a little tight for a family of five that includes a 4-year-old with an ample supply of Legos and dinosaur toys, as well as two dogs and a pet pig. We need more closet space. The upstairs wood floors are due to be redone. The kitchen cabinets haven’t been painted in 20 years.

    It’s not like we haven’t tried. A plumber we met with about getting better heat in a chilly bedroom has gone missing. The painting contractor we used most recently appeared to have an eyesight-challenged crew, if the sloppy job they did on the interior trim is any indication. And I’ve tried to institute a no-new-objects rule for everyone in the family to minimize clutter, to little avail.

    The problem with any house-renewal effort, as many of you will agree, is mission creep. When we had a problem deciding on paint colors for the kitchen, our attention became focused on the outdated red tile on the floor. We are now investigating options, including laying a high-tech “floating” surface on top of it, but this may involve a visit to the manufacturer’s Manhattan office.

    Selecting tile for the kids’ shower became a conflict when one of our daughters announced she simply had to have a pricey, bubble-like style we saw in a Wainscott showroom. The debate about whether to put the new television over the fireplace or next to it nearly brought the family to blows. Both these conflicts were resolved (we agreed on a more sensible tile; the TV is next to the fireplace), but it wasn’t easy.

    Warm weather, when we will open the doors and windows and spend more time outdoors, can’t come soon enough. That will take the pressure off calling in a bulldozer for this old house. At least until the fall when we all move back inside once again.