Growing during challenges.

Demo. Day One

Demo. Day One

For the last few weeks hammers were flying, trips to the local big box hardware store were daily occurrences, and we were hard at work in the little, green bungalow.

And at the time I was putting a bit of pressure behind a pry bar, and slowly the bathroom tiles were slipping off the wall. That ease being proof those four-by-four ceramic squares had been hung for, well, maybe too long.

As we got down to the drywall, Kylie looked over at me, smiled, and said matter-of-factly, “We’re going to have to take this down to the studs.”

Returning a nervous smile, I nodded and agreed, because I knew just what she was talking about. The sheetrock was in rough condition in most places, plus, there were spots of mold. I knew it had to go.bath4

It was all part of our remodel plan for the bathroom. Yeah, I just said our. I have never talked about my significant other, Kylie, in a blogpost before. In fact, a while ago, she asked me nicely never to include her in a story.

I respect her privacy obviously, but I also think it’s important enough to write about what we have accomplished. And especially what she means to me.

About mid-afternoon on a Monday, I was watching Kylie whacking a blue pry bar with a hickory handled hammer, she was knocking out the ancient floor tile.

Clang! Clang!

Down to the studs.

Down to the studs.

The sound was loud and real. Every time she smashed the business end of the hammer against the curve of the pry bar, it made a crashing metal clang as it slid under the tile. And it rang for a second, like when you smack a tuning fork. For whatever reason I liked it. And I enjoyed seeing Kylie working hard at achieving results.

What we were doing was a total gut job of our master bathroom. In the last decade the green bungalow has had a multitude of owners. But it seems as though a bathroom update, circa 1970s, never crossed anyones minds but ours.

So the plan was to take out the old ceramic tile, a hideous green and grey combination, replace it with new four-by-eight subway tile in the shower. And honed, marble-pebble mosaic tile on the floor. We were adding wainscoting around the new bamboo vanity and toilet. And we were installing a sink, faucet, new plumbing and giving the bathroom a new paint job.bath6

Quite a task for some weekend-warrior DIYers. But we were up to it. And at every turn of the project Kylie and I would count on each other to be able to perform certain tasks. And we also relied on one another to each bring our A-game.

There was never a prearranged agreement about who would handle each duty, I knew Kylie’s strong points as she knew mine. So I would run the power tools, she has a keen eye for detail, so Kylie would do a lot of the measuring. And we would meet in the middle.

Sometimes bickering, sometimes flatout fighting. But always ready to put in the sweat, work through the headaches and stick with the plan and with each other.


Shower with cement backer board installed.

We knew that neither of us are mind-readers. Neither of us knows exactly what the other is thinking, but oddly enough we kind of half anticipated and half knew what the other was thinking. I chalk it up to communication. Talking with each other, not just to stay on task, but to have an idea of the end result and how to get there is very important.

There were times like when we were wiring up the new vanity light. Kylie was holding it up, while I was connecting the wires. It was too far of a vertical reach and her arms were close to giving out. I could see the struggle on her face, and her arms were shaking. A split second before I told her we need to figure out a way to hold the fixture up, that’s when she said she couldn’t hold it any longer and needed to prop it up. Being observant, caring and willing to work with each other not against one another really helped this remodel move forward.


Kylie’s mudding job.

Working alongside Kylie I always notice she has vision and passion, she’s driven. Kylie continually impresses and inspires me.

Why? Well, she is a woman who’s not afraid to get dirty. She’s not worried about ripping insulation out of the wall with her bare hands. Not afraid of breaking a fingernail or blasting in brad nails with an airgun. I’m lucky to share my life with a woman like her.

During a typical project day it was about 89 degrees outside, probably close to that in the bathroom, which, at the time, didn’t much resemble a bathroom. Looking over to Kylie, above the exposed floor, on a stepladder, I could see little beads of perspiration at her hairline. I could tell, mentally, she was focused. Her mind and hand working in harmony and grace as she was mudding the new sheetrock.

Finished subway tile.

Finished subway tile.

Mudding. Basically scooping up drywall compound or mortar with a taping knife, and filling in the crevices between the sheetrock seams is something I trust in her doing. Just like she can trust me in installing the new light, switches and GFI outlet, sink, faucet and trap. Something we gained from this experience; trust.

So with the remodel eventually being complete. We came to love our bathroom, and we appreciate the fact we learned so much about construction, old houses, and, well, each other. This was not an easy task, but we’re proud. Proud of our journey and proud of one another.

I saw Kylie work so hard. I saw her become so driven. I saw us become driven. Throughout the remodel project I saw us grow as individuals and as a couple.

One of my favorite pics.

Doing this crazy life together!

Things like this try your patience, attitude and stress level. Which also indirectly test your relationship. There were moments when we couldn’t work with each other. But there were times it felt great working alongside Kylie.

When we started the remodel I don’t think either of us saw it taking more than three weeks to complete. But we stuck with it and most importantly each other. Learning, growing and loving.


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