I returned to Rochester, NY, last week to ready our house for the market. It has six bedrooms and two garages, all of which are filled with the detritus of raising four kids, and there are some half-finished projects I’d like to complete.
Do-It-Yourself is part of the life of an artist. I think that’s only partly for financial reasons. Artists tend to have strong opinions on design, and we believe that nobody else will execute our ideas as well.
However, that project got derailed by a more pressing need. My daughter has been disabled through half of her pregnancy. I’m staying with her older child while she’s recovering from delivery. Although she and her husband have been trying to rearrange their apartment to accommodate the new baby, they simply couldn’t finish it.
Baby Grace comes home from the hospital soon and their apartment is pretty chaotic. More importantly, it’s not baby-proofed. Young Jake just started walking last week. He’s strong and inquisitive, with hands like bear paws and the mind of an engineer. He’s never met a mechanical or electronic device he didn’t want to dismantle. I’m exhausted from protecting him against hazards.
This place seemed so spacious when my daughter and son-in-law moved in. In fact, it’s about 680 square feet, and it’s bulging at the seams. In addition to the size of their family, my son-in-law works from a home office.
Occasionally I have seen redecorating reality shows. They seem to involve lots of shopping, with the goal of replacing absolutely everything. I’ve always thought the real challenge is to make the things we already own function more efficiently. It would be especially interesting to see them work around the little quirks of landlords. In this case, the kids are not allowed to drive a nail or screwdriver anywhere. That means no high shelves, no drapery treatments, and no brackets to corral all the dangling mini-blind cords. Imagine a TV show that worked around that kind of real-world constraint.
So Arthur’s office is moved to the front room, which used to be a combination box room and guest room. The futon from that moved to the living room and the bunkbeds went into the former office. That’s eventually going to be Jake’s bedroom but for now it will be where his clothing and toys stay. Grace will move into Jake’s old bedroom and somehow there has to be space for them to walk.
They’ve retired furniture as the house has gotten fuller. As autumn moves in they can use their porch to store some of the overflow. That includes their dining table and chairs, which were squeezed out a few years ago. (They are building a house, which should be done next spring.)
Did I mention that there are only three small closets, and the basement is too damp to use?
Today Jake’s other grandmother came to help me. With two people fielding the newly-walking Little King of Everything, we were able to get a lot done. There’s still—of course—a lot more to do.
Just like those decorating shows, I want have a Big Reveal when Jake’s family comes home from hospital. After all, they might want to know where I put all their stuff.