A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

The Pitfalls of DIY

Practically another week has gone by, and while we’re nearing one finish line, there are still more and more things to do before we can start to enjoy our new remodeled attic space. It’s really starting to wear thin.

With the October chill in the air, all I want to do is “nest” in my new space. I see the birds in the garden getting ready for winter. I see the chipmunks stuffing their cheeks with bird seed that has fallen to the ground, and the squirrels rushing around burying nuts that they’ll probably never find.

And I think, dammit, I want to get ready for winter too! I want to move my winter clothes to the new closet, nicely organized and all to myself. I want to wake up in a cozy new bedroom where I can look out the window and see the sunrise. I want to relax or create in a serene space filled with sunlight from the roof windows. I want to cook soup and bake bread in a well-organized kitchen.

But no, we have other things to do first. While the contractor finished the plumbing and the other little things that still needed to be done, there are still some things that we have to wrap up ourselves, like build a countertop for the bathroom sink.

While it was our choice, and is gratifying to do ourselves, sometimes DIY projects really suck if you want something NOW.

Originally I planned to go with a solid surface, like Corian or Quartz, but once all the costs kept adding, and adding, and adding up, we decided we could build a very nice counter ourselves using 12″ travertine tiles (similar to our floor but with less variation). Instead of costing $500 or more, it would cost more like $150. I’m beginning to wonder if it was worth the savings, but it is what it is.

So, the schedule for this weekend continues to be jam-packed:

  • cut plywood for counter base, top with backerboard and set tile
  • grout tile and seal stone
  • install sink and faucet
  • install upper bathroom cabinet on counter
  • lay plywood underlayment in laundry room
  • install laundry room tile
  • paint laundry room
  • schedule delivery of washer/dryer(?)

On the plus side, the master bathroom shower and toilet work. Then I look around, see all the other things that still need to be done and start to get irritated. At least those tasks won’t prevent us from moving our things upstairs, but it’s still a loooooong To-Do list.

I know I need to make peace with it, take a break from it once in a while, and chip away at it little by little.

Patience, Denise. Deep breath. Carry on.


  1. Nicole on October 8, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    SO hearing you! I asked the question recently “Is it possible to live IN a house instead of FOR it?” And it seems like every time I plan to start devoting time to a project I might actually FINISH, up pops some other project that has to be dealt with NOW. And so the whole schedule and plan get thrown off course.

    Welcome to home ownership on the DIY circuit.

    You know what though? There’s just something about being able to say “I did that,” that makes your house your HOME. No amount of saved money or spared inconvenience can quite measure up.

    Keep the faith and keep on keepin’ on. 🙂

  2. denise on October 8, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Nicole–yes, I feel your pain too. I have been keeping up with your projects, and you do have a lot of balls in the air! True, it is really gratifying when someone looks at our tile and says, YOU did that??! (in a positive way, that is). I will keep on going, because I have to–and, we’re not planning on going anywhere else, that’s for sure. Thanks for your continued support and encouragement!

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