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Diary of a Fixer-Upper: The Final Post

I can’t believe it’s been only four months since I began tearing up my apartment and putting it back together. A lot has happened. Last week, it all culminated in my family’s Thanksgiving visit. In a very movie-ish way, all the loose ends seemed to tie up and bring the story to a close. So, I’m going to wrap up this blog—even if my bathroom remains one big loose end.

I have learned things that I’m sure I will call on for the rest of my life.  Overseeing a large renovation project felt like running a company that produces internal combustion engines. All I know about the product is that I want it to make cars go a certain speed, but I am supposed to be the one to keep costs down and make decisions on the spot.

I’ve learned that it’s doable. Slowly, I am figuring out how my condo is put together, how much it costs to change parts of it, and what constitutes a job well done from a contractor. I hope I am even getting a little better at fixing things on my own. In the meantime, though, I have learned to supervise a job even if I don’t understand it. A little confidence goes a long way.

Thanksgiving was a rousing success. My family loved the condo, and the kitchen performed exactly how I had dreamed it would before I started down this path. The new bar was the perfect place to set up a buffet. The cook never once felt sequestered away from the rest of the crowd, and a dozen people roamed and ate comfortably in my little condo. Plenty of home-improvement tasks were left undone, but in the presence of pecan pie, football, and out-of-towners, nobody seemed to notice the half-painted molding or the damaged floors.

The star of the show was the subway-tile backsplash. It was gratifying because that part of the process was the low point of my relationship with the contractor, when I really started to just want the renovation to be over. But I stuck to my guns and insisted that it be redone, and now I know that the kitchen was better for it.

What remains is the bathroom, for which I once had grand plans involving a new bathtub and a new linen closet. Now I have scaled back the plan to redoing the tile on the floor and walls and calling it a day.

Even though I have plotted a more modest set of goals, the bathroom renovation will include a new challenge for me: cooperation. I recently got engaged, and my days of unilateral decision-making are coming to a close. I think it will actually be more fun to take on these projects with a partner, but that doesn’t mean the future Mr. Fixer Upper won’t need to bone up on his debating skills. Our first test will be deciding on the tile for the bathroom floor.

We are also turning our eyes to the less permanent design aspects of the apartment. Much more art needs to be selected and hung, furniture needs to be bought, and we have an important discussion looming about my hatred of televisions in the living room. It’s going to be fun.

I hope that readers of this blog picked up a few lessons that I learned the hard way over the last several months. The most important one is to have a timeline. Otherwise the place will never feel fit for company, and you will miss out on the big pay off­—showing your place off to guests.

Keeping a written record and sharing it with others through this blog has been a motivator and a great way to sort out a sometimes scary process. I hope readers enjoyed it half as much as I did!

To read Daphne's renovation adventures from the beginning, click here