The new dining room set

Most of the time, home improvement logs begin on Day 1.  Not this one, and that’s because on Day 1, I didn’t realize it was Day 1.  In fact, I never thought the simple act of purchasing a new dining room set would be the catalyst for a Day 1, much less a Day 10. So I sit typing this in my makeshift office, using a footstool and my flatware drawer as a desk.  There are six strangers in my house, and my coffee pot is on the floor. 

The neighbors must be dying of curiosity.  I know that when I see construction trucks parked outside their houses for days, I look out the window with the part interested, part jealous sneer of a homeowner living in a house the same age.  

After 18 years, any upgrades we purchased through the builder have become… ancient.  What used to be very modern tile with very hip grout is now chipped and as outdated as the striped wallpaper in my laundry room or the American flag border in my office.  In one day we went from, “Gee, this house is great,” to “God help us, what is on our ceiling?”

The ceiling is covered in acoustic (or “cottage cheese” as our electrician calls it). Truthfully, I never noticed it.  I grew up with acoustic ceilings, so it never occurred to me that they were outdated or that guests might be looking up in horror with the same critical eye of my 19-year old fashion diva (who, incidentally, told me bluntly that our ceilings looked old). 

We are not the home-remodeling type of couple, but we are spontaneous and often embark on projects with absolutely no forethought or planning.  I don’t look at Home and Garden magazines; I don’t know on what channel to find HGTV.  So when upgrades do happen at my house, they often happen within a day of getting the idea.

Use this as a tale of warning (in the same vein as “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”).  Here is the story of how so much money walked out my door in so little time:

For our anniversary in December, we bought ourselves a new dining room set with a gorgeous buffet and a square table big enough to seat our growing family.  It is exquisite and deserved an expensive new ceiling fan above it, which I purchased (not knowing I'd soon be back for two more).  In preparation for delivery of the dining set, we moved everything out and cleaned the dining area, including my attempt to clean the dusty flat ceiling, resulting in broad, sweeping circles of wet dirt.  Cue the painter.  While working, the painter offered to come back and scrape the acoustic off the ceiling in the great room.

“Do you really think it’s necessary?” I asked, one hand propped on my hip as I peered skeptically at a ceiling I was seeing clearly for the first time.

Jordyn didn’t let him answer. “YES!” she said, and so it was done.  I’ve never seen as big a mess in my life.  It took a cleaning crew of one (me) seven hours and a bottle of wine to remove the white dust after the scraping, sanding, plastering and painting. 

But of course, once the great room ceiling looked so great, we needed a new ceiling fan, the windows needed new treatments, which absolutely necessitated new pillows for the sofa.  Naturally, the ceiling in the adjacent office now needed its acoustic removed and the stylish, American flag border stripped, new paint, (another) new ceiling fan—and what about those cabinets over the bar?  We took those down.  What about that old-fashioned fluorescent kitchen light—wouldn’t “can lighting” look better?  But if we were going to do that, how about granite kitchen counters, a stainless steel sink, pendant lights and a new dishwasher?  And when we were cleaning up after the last meal in the old kitchen, our garbage disposal went out.  Don't be surprised if Lowe's names me Customer of the Month.

All I’d wanted was a new dining room set.

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