It took me 20 years, but . . .

website-header.jpgMy new kitchen will soon be done!

When Doug and I were married, I moved from my parents’ home into a brand new trailer house he’d bought.  Back then, trailers were a wonderful way for young couples to start out, and the  court where we lived was new, well-kept and respectable.  I felt privileged to begin our married life there.

Of course, I knew it wouldn’t be long-term, nor did I want it to be.  By the pam-crooks-trailer.jpgtime I was pregnant with our second daughter, we moved into a new mostly-finished house with plenty of room for the children we wanted to have.

Then, Union Pacific sent us to Omaha.  When we found out we were moving, I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with daughter #4.  Though we were so close to my due date, I dared a trip out here to house-hunt, but after an exhausting day of looking, could find nothing I liked.  Dejected, I went home to western Nebraska.

Now, I had never so much as trusted my husband to buy groceries without me, let alone buy us a house, but that’s what he had to do. Time was ticking.  He brought back a video tape with a room-by-room tour of the house he chose for us, and I watched that thing two dozen times to get acquainted with my new home.

Finally, with a 9-day-old baby in my arms, I saw the house for the first time.  One step into the kitchen, and I almost panicked.  The room was so small, could I even get a table and chairs in it?

We managed, but with one that had to be pushed against the wall to make a walkway to the patio.  Then, when it was time to eat, we pulled the table out again.  Night after night, year after year, we moved the table back and forth for extra room.

My family began to grow.  Not with more children–we stopped at four girls–but with sons-in-law and grandbabies.  During that time, I whined and complained about getting a bigger house.  Or at least adding on–darn it, I needed a new kitchen!  Doug dug in his heels.  Why should we buy a new house when our family was getting smaller?

The male mind, I swear.

Amy, our youngest, went off to college.  For the first time in 31 years, it was just Doug and me in the house.  Amazingly enough, I coaxed him into just ‘looking’ at some new houses.  Didn’t cost anything to look, right? 

What an eye-opener.  The houses that had the kitchen that I wanted–and trust me, I wasn’t being extravagant–cost upwards of a quarter million dollars.  And more.  To have a kitchen the size I felt we needed came with a house that had far too much room and way too many extras.

Worse, the housing market had stalled.  Houses far nicer than ours were sitting 9 months, 12 months and longer.  Scary stuff.  Who wants to make double mortgage payments while the first house sells?

We didn’t!

jan-17-08-email.JPGFinally, Doug began to see the light.  Maybe an addition was the way to go after all. 

Our builder broke ground in December to double the size of our kitchen.  For the past 3 months, we’ve been camping out in our own home.  My old kitchen is completely gutted.  I’m washing dishes in the bathroom sink.  Our family room is so full of boxes you can’t walk from one end to the other.  My formal dining room set is sitting in the living room, and we’ve been surviving on TV dinners, fast food, and restaurants.  We’ve been cleaning drywall dust and walking around contractor clutter for weeks.

But it’ll soon be worth it.familyroom-clutter-email.jpg

Perhaps when it’s time for me to blog again, I’ll have pictures of my spiffy new kitchen to share.  If not, the next time for sure.

When it’s all over, I’ll savor the moment when I can look my dear hubby in the eyes, smirk a little and say, “You should have listened to me years ago.”

addition-email.jpgHave you experienced anything similar?  Have you ever made a decision where you were right and your hubby was wrong?

(Mary, I just know you’ll have a story to tell.  Hee!)

Have any of you ever done a major remodel?  An addition?  Any horror stories to tell?  Any advice to pass along?

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Pam has written 30 romances, most of them historical westerns. Her newest sweet historical romance, HARRIETT, was the launch book for the popular Cupids & Cowboys series, More books are coming! Stay up on the latest at www.pamcrooks.com

42 thoughts on “It took me 20 years, but . . .”

  1. Here’s a horror story for you.

    When my daughter was born, we only had two bedrooms we could actually use. We had a spare room, but it was stuffed full of things- a full size bed, furniture, an old entertainment center.
    So for a while her bassinet and then her crib were in our room because there wasn’t room in her brother’s room and it was just easier to tend to a crying infant in the night without waking him up every time.

    When my daughter was about 6 months old we started an add-on where the carport was. We never used it for anything, so my hubby, my dad, and both hubby’s dad and stepdad and brother-in-law enclosed it.

    We’d had a leak fixed over the carport a year before, but it still leaked, but we weren’t well aware of that when they closed the carport in to make the new room. Well, I thought it was leaking and I tried to tell hubby he might want to check it before closing it in, but he didn’t listen.

    After they got the drywall up we had several days with lots of rain and it leaked- bad, and it ruined the drywall, but money was tight so we couldn’t really do anything with it. We didn’t even have a door up to that room yet. So it was left for almost a year before we could do anything else with it.

    In the meantime, before we could finish the room, we realized the wood hubby got was infested with wood fleas. My cat would go lay in the windowsill in the “new” unfinished room and I started noticing she left little bloody marks everywhere, was scratching all the time and then I started noticing my ankles were eat up, itching like crazy. I told my husband about it and he didn’t believe me until he tried to go in there to check and they ATTACKED him. I stapled a sheet over the doorway to keep the cat out and the sheet stayed up for several months, but I was still itching. We had to flea bomb our house because they had spread everywhere and we gave the cat a flea treatment. It was awful!

    When we finally got the room done it was only after we had the roof redone a 2nd time and then my dad(who works in construction) came down and he and hubby and BIL took down the damaged drywall and fixed it and my dad put in a door to the room. Hubby took an entire week off and we painted and got interlocking carpet in blue and gray squares.

    Painted the walls a light robin’s egg blue that my mom gave me and put up a pretty border with lavender/baby powder blue colored hyacinths. Moved all the stuff from the spare room we wanted to keep to the new room and then hauled off a lot of junk (seriously- a TON) to the dump.

    My dad cut a new doorway through to the spare room which was only accessible from our room, cleaned it up and moved my stepson in there and moved daughter to stepson’s old room.

    Unfortunately my new/spare room is a now the disaster zone, filled with old boxes, my Christmas decorations, old toys and clothes and I can’t hardly get in the room.

    We’re planning this year to move my stepson into the new room now that he’s getting older and move our daughter to the room he’s in at the moment and hopefully get things more organized in the center of the house with the spare bed and we’re going to get totes to fill up with the things we want to keep but aren’t using so we can store them in our basement.

    I’ll never be so glad as when we finally get around to that. The clutter and lack of real usuable space makes me crazy.

    I have other stories as well of things I was right about that hubby wasn’t, but I think I’ve written enough here! LOL

    Can’t wait to see your new kitchen!

  2. Oh, Taryn!!! Wood fleas? How awful!

    The new room sounds lovely–robin’s egg blue is so pretty. Does your town like to have rummage sales? They’re really popular here. In garage sale season, the paper has PAGES of ads for them. Might be an easy way to clear your spare room and put some cash in your pocket, too.

    Yep–a horror story. My sympathies, dear!

  3. Maybe the saga of a room would make an interesting basis for a novel–Pam and Taryn, you’ve certainly had yours.
    Pam, I, too, spent early married life in a trailer. It was TEENY, especially after our newborn son joined us. But it only cost $900!

  4. Hi Pam. Two years before I began writing, my husband and I decided to remodel the shower in the master bath. No biggie. My two girls were out of the house. One in collage and the other married, surely we deserved new tiles in the shower. So far so good, until I realized you just don’t do the shower. Now the tiles in the rest of the bathroom looked horrid. Change ‘um all out to match. Then the sink and commode looked gross and while I’m at it change the floor tile. Gotta have new lighting and medicine cabinet. New handles on cabinets. Why not new wallpaper with border, which made me need new towels. Yep, new towel racks. Even a candle to match the picture on the wall that matched the border. I stepped back. Beautiful, but dern if the master bedroom didn’t need painting. Oh yeah, new crown molding would be great. New bedding, of course! Then the hall needed painting which made the big bathroom look horrible. Had 1950’s pink and gray in bathroom, so I changed everything out except the sinks and tub. New carpet in living room, yep. New paint job. Then came the den. Before I knew it the man who was hired to do the demo work in the master bath ended up being my GC and he remodeled my kitchen, except for the cabinets, which he refurbished. Well, while we’re at it, why not build on the sunroom we’ve always wanted but couldn’t afford while the girls were in school. Yes, by all means, do a new deck, since he torn out the old one to make room for the addition. Outside paint? Sure, but I want new dental molding and railings outside to create the porch I’d always dreamed of. But the new sunroom was my favorite. Everything I ever wanted in a nice relaxing sunroom. Built in china cabinets with two desks on each end. Window seats and one whole wall of windows. A grand room. Now it’s packed to the gills with boxes, computers, research books, and not only the two desks originally built in, but my writing desk and worktables. What I didn’t know when I began remodeling one little bathroom was that I’d end up with the room of my dreams which was exactly what I needed to launch my career as a writer. Heck, at the time, I didn’t know I’d become a writer … all I wanted was a new shower! And, my husband’s only grip. The cabinet I had built over the bar to house my grandmother’s china is too low and he hits his head on a regular basis. Not many grips considering he’s a man. Enjoy your new kitchen. I’m eager to see it.

  5. I’ve been telling my husband for…yeesh… four years now, that no one can ever call me uppity as long as I’m driving a 1993 Ford Tempo to work everyday.
    What am I supposed to do? It just keeps running!
    This has GOT to be the ugliest car that ever rolled off an assembly line on Planet Earth and somehow we own it. It’s ugly enough on it’s own but it has been in a wreck (or twelve) in it’s life (we got it used) and somehow, though it’s red, every panel on the car; fenders, doors, hood, trunk are a different color of red. Like they used the same color but a different dye lot.
    It’s the only car I’ve ever owned that looks better BEFORE I wash it.
    Honest, the car is uglier than dirt.
    I’ve been telling my husband that I’m pretty sure it’s going to just die in a heap any minute and maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t drive it anymore, because the wheels are going to snap off while I’m rolling down the road.

    He nods and says, “It’s fine.”
    So this is a ‘See I Told You So’ waiting to happen.

  6. Oh Lord, don’t I understand!

    Ever since hurricane Rita tore through here in 2005 we’ve been in a state of remodeling.

    First repairs…roof, releveling house, repair 2 rooms….ceilings, walls (sheetrock also), painting, trim, etc.

    Next came changing rotten wood and repainting outside of house.

    Now, we’re in the midst of ripping out carpets and installing vynal flooring and of course, touching up paint which means sheetrock dust on top of dust from the carpets.

    But, as you say “one day it’ll be worth it!”

    Especially when we have no more carpet to trap dust and dog hair then regurgitate it back into the air with each step and every time we vacuum!

    From one Pam to another…Hang in there girl!

  7. Also, remodeling story, read between the lines here ladies: I was ‘using’ the bathroom and suddenly the ‘seat’ sort of cracked and swayed. I was about 18 months pregnant at the time. So weight could have been involved!
    I got to safety and specialists were called in.
    Follow the bouncing ball of disaster:
    A tiny leak in the drain pipe of the old cast iron tub.
    Leak is dripping into a tiny crack in decade’s old linoleum.
    Linoleum covers a rotten floor board.
    Drain Pipe of old tub qualifies as ‘antique fixtures’ quadruple the price to repair.
    Cheaper to get new tub, okay lets get a shower, too.
    New shower doesn’t fit, we have to move a window six inches to the left.

    $2000, a month with limited use of our only bathroom (a month with a pregnant woman, those are DOG YEARS people!), and a baby later, a tiny dripping pipe is fixed and it’s once again safe to use the facilities, and my car is STILL ugly.

  8. Elizabeth, I think that’s what made trailer homes so popular–their cheapness! Ours came completely furnished with a living room set, including lamps. Appliances, window treatments, and a bedroom set, too. Perfect for a newlywed couple. Our mortgage payments were cheap, and when it came time to sell, the trailer sold fast.

    (But then, well, the quality was cheap, too.)

  9. Oh, Phyliss! LOL! You’ve captured what it’s like to remodel perfectly! It just gets out of control, doesn’t it?

    Our builder commented most people don’t remodel the proper way–they do one or two things and then stop. Which gives the room a new and old look. And it–for lack of a better word–cheapens the look and purpose of the remodel.

    Sounds like you did it right. A fun post! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Mary, so glad Ivan ‘likes’ the girls now. Hee!

    And yep, this blog is for all the women out there. Y’all will know what I mean!

    Regarding your little red car, I hope the ‘I told you so’ moment doesn’t come after you’re stranded out on the highway. Or crash. Yikes!

  11. Pam–RELEVELING THE HOUSE?? Ohmigosh! That’s some major stuff there.

    So you’re getting rid of lots of carpet and going with vinyl flooring? You’ll love it.

    We have almost no carpet in our house. It began with the dog, and then we got a second one (which we didn’t keep very long. I *hated* two dogs running in the house–no offense to those of you who have multiple animals for pets).

    I detest dog hair with a passion, so after much wailing, we put laminate flooring in the house. Upkeep is more work, but the house is SO much cleaner, looks classier and we have to dust furniture less. Anyone who pulls up carpet and sees the dirt beneath can see how much gets trapped in the pile. No wonder so many children have allergies these days!

  12. Ah, yes, Mary. You’re right. Affordable.

    I loved our trailer home at the time. It’s only age and experience that tells me it was, um, affordable.

  13. Pam, you’re sure roughing it at the moment, but it’ll all be worth it when you see the new kitchen. I can’t wait for the pictures!

    My hubby and I always lived in cramped houses when the kids were little. It’s strange that we bought a new house with plenty of room after they all married and moved out. And now I have a big house and it’s just me. I feel lost. My plans are to sell it (hope, hope with fingers and toes crossed) and move to a smaller place that has no maintenance–an old folks’ home or something. lol I don’t want to have to fix things when they break or mow the lawn. I’m tired of that. And it sure cuts into my writing schedule.

    You picked a really good subject today, Pam! 🙂

  14. Yep, releveling– a tree rocked up against the house during the storm. The only thing that kept it upright was our house!

    Anyway, when it was all said and done, the house was 3 inches off center.

    So we had it re-leveled and raised 3 inches with concrete pads beneath the blocks.

    Thank God for insurance!

    PamT

  15. Linda, it’s very ironic how we live in smaller houses when we need a bigger one more imperatively–those years when all the children are still home. It’s only when they’re gone that we’re at a place in our careers financially that we can afford a bigger one!

    They have so many nice condos and townhomes for singles these days. I hope you can find one you’ll love. You’re right–that maintenance stuff is overwhelming!

  16. No remodels or additions even though the house
    has always been on the small side! Only one piece
    of advice: if you feel the need to do this type
    of project, do it while you are younger because
    when you reach our age, you just do not feel up
    to handling all the changes and the time it takes
    to make them!!

    Pat Cochran

  17. Pam — Our kitchen was completely gutted and we lived from our microwave in the living room and our refrigerator in the family room. We got very inventive in creating meals – eating out got old. And it took 8 months before they got the doors/cabinets right -I’m still upset about it, but in the end, it was all worth it. I love my new appliances and our granite top. THe best thing we bought was our Advantum 3 way microwave- it’s a speed cooker and regular oven too. For the two of us, I almost never use the big bottom oven, everything fits above. Hang in there!!

  18. Hi, Pat! Ah, yes, the older we get, the more set in our ways we get, right?

    I see that coming already. Maybe that’s another reason my hubby fought buying a new house so much. The mortgage had been whittled down over the years, and we’d put down roots. Why change a good thing, ya know?

  19. Charlene, I’d love to see pictures sometime! Did you get stainless steel appliances? I went with all black.

    Now that Advantum microwave sounds slick! I’m not familiar with 3 way cooking, but for empty-nesters, it sounds perfect. I did get a convection oven this time around–which will be something new for me to learn.

    If anyone has any convection oven tips, do pass them on!

  20. Just hang in there, Pam–I’m sure it’ll be all worth it! We did remodel our kitchen last year, and had a wonderful contractor (I think that makes all the difference in the experience). We also had some damage in the master bathroom repaired at the same time, and there was the good and the bad–the bad was that once they opened up the floor and walls, they found more things wrong; the good was that they found and fixed it all 🙂 They actually did a splendid job and finished within the time they’d estimated (despite the extra fixes and some delays that weren’t their doing). So I’m sure it’ll be great soon!!!

  21. Our house is my told you so moment. We, too, did the trailor because it’s cheaper when we first got married. Three kids and not enough room later, I decided I was tired of trailors and wanted a house.

    I started making plans to build a new house. I bought software and was designing my own home, I called the bank to make sure we could afford to finance it. I was seriously tired of five people in a trailor. Hubby realised that I was serious so we went looking for a piece of a land. We just happened to pass my grandparents old home. To me, this house was ‘home’. Almost all of my childhood memories take place in this home. I yell ‘Stop! I want that house!’

    Backstory-when my grandfather realized he was dying, he sold the house so there would be no squabbles among his children. The people who bought the house done extensive remodeling (the house was built in 1906) and we had heard from everyone how nice the house turned out.

    Hubby was frowning, ‘Terry, we can’t afford that. You know they remodeled everything in it. It’s going to be too expensive.’ I didn’t listen. I get on the internet, track down the agent representing the house, set up a date to see it (which happens to be my b-day!). Hubby complains, I turn deaf. It’s karma, seeing this house on my b-day means I was meant to have it, I tell him. I get that look, you know the one, the I wish I could argue with you but how do you argue against a feeling? look.

    When we get to the house, I am anticipating seeing all of the changes made to the house-hubby literally has sweat dripping off of his face because he knows that I want this house and he is convinced we can’t afford it. We walk in (you enter the kitchen) AND I BUST OUT LAUGHING!

    The people who bought the house off of my grandfather may have remodeled it, but when they left they took it with them. They literally stripped the house down to walls and floors. The agent is standing there with her mouth hanging open, hubby gives me this ‘Don’t even start crowing’ look, and starts negotiating with the embarrassed agent.

    Long story short, we got a two story house that holds all of my greatest memories cheaper than we could have bought a brand new trailor! And the best part? I got to plan the kitchen of my dreams-it didn’t even have a sink so I got all new everything.

    **Disclaimer-the people who remodeled didn’t do too good a job, so we’re still fixing alot of what they ‘fixed’. But I was right on being able to afford the house, which is the entire point.

  22. Hi Pam, been their and done that. We bought our house before we got married. Older house about 575 sq. feet, very small. We lived in it for 5 years with just miner remodeling and then I got pregnant with my son, guess what the house way to small. We had four rooms and a bath very small rooms at that. So we decided to add on. We added a new living room, bathroom and laundry room, about one half of a house. We hired part of the work and done part of the work ourself, what a job. Then we remodeled the old part of the house. We tore out old bathroom and made the kitchen bigger, made old living room into bedroom and so on. We lived in a mess for years and made do. Now our house is about 1200 sq ft. Still not big but a whole lot better then 575 sq.ft. By the way our kitchen started out very small you had to put our table against the wall to and the bathroom was so small you could set on the tolet and wash your hands at the same time if you know what I mean, its not that way anymore. It was many years of hard work, but it paid off in the long run. I think if we had it to do over again we would have went back behind the house and just built a new one while we lived in the old one.

  23. Fedora (what a lovely name, by the way!)–so glad your experience was a good one!

    Contractors DO make all the difference in the world, and imo, they have a somewhat unsavory reputation akin to used car salesmen. Probably our worst disappointment (and not even that bad) is when days go by and no one comes out to work.

    Contractors work on several jobs at the same time. It’s really hard not to be annoyed when they take on more work before the job they have is finished. I *know* we’d be completely done by now if they’d worked five days a week on my house.

    Ah, well. My contractor is charming and honest, so I forgive him for taking a bit longer than I think he should. 🙂

  24. Terry, I LOVE this story! Who could’ve known the turn your grandfather’s house wouldn’ve taken? It was meant to be yours!

    So did you get the chance to crow? I hope so! Hee!

    Thanks for sharing!

  25. Virginia, obviously you loved your house enough to go through the trouble of doubling its size. Do you have extra land that would allow you to build a new house behind your present one?

    Your tiny 575 sq feet original home must have been quite an experience–an apartment, really. Bet it makes you appreciate the extra room now!

  26. We re-did the kitchen a few years ago; it was pretty awful for a while but worth it. No horror stories, thankfully.

    I’m more impressed with four daughters LOL. We had just one, and what a handful. She has managed to grow up into a delightful young woman, however…

  27. Hi, Tanya! Mary had four daughters, too. We’ve been married the same length of time and our girls are close to being the same age.

    Hope your new book is doing well!

  28. Four daughters and ONE BATHROOM. I raised all of them up with only one.
    They are fast in the bathroom. I suspect that will make them good wives, but maybe I’m not measuring ‘good’ with the right yardstick.

  29. We have remodeled both of the houses we’ve owned. We’re crazy like that. Right now it’s a kitchen dining room project – took out the wall between two rooms and made one big room. This all began last MARCH – we do all the work ourselves. We’re crazy like that. We now have floors and ceiling and walls and lights. Wow! It’s actually getting to where I can see daylight. Today I bought a huge table and a hutch. Oh and an awesome mirror for a bathroom that is only a twinkle in my eye – heh heh.

  30. When we purchased the property we live on now, we had four children living at home and moved into a 1971 mobile home with rotting floors a leaky roof and barely enough room to turn around in the kitchen if two people were in there. I hated the house but loved the 70 acres. My husband promised we’d build a new house in 5 years. 8 years later we, with all the kids just about out the door, we finished our dream home. My husband and I did all the work but the foundation and frame. We enjoyed working on it together and love the exclamations when people see it and we tell them we built it!

    And my kitchen in this house- I love it! It was built to my specifications.

    Good luck with your remodel,Pam. I know you’re going to love it!

  31. When are men ever going to realize that WOMEN are the boss when it comes to the house? LOL

    Never, I guess.

    For twenty years I wanted new kitchen cabinets. Every time I’d bring up the subject, the DH would say, “Why would you want new cabinets? These are real wood, not cheap poster board like they use these days.”

    And I’d always say, “Because I want them, that’s why.”

    Well, it took twenty years, but I finally got my way. 🙂

    Just installing new cabinets was bad enough. I had dishes and pots and pans in the living room, bedroom, kitchen table and chairs in the living room, etc. What a mess, but at least it was over in a couple of days. I can’t imagine doing the whole kitchen. My thoughts are with you, Pam. 🙂

    Right now I want to take out the counter/bar we have dividing the kitchen and living room. It would open the house up sooo much! But, of course, he doesn’t want to. However, I’m determined(bet I get it this summer). 🙂

    You know, it’s not a big deal. It’s not a big, expensive project like new cabinets. That’s why I didn’t push too much with the cabinets – we really couldn’t afford it, but this is different. All he/we have to do is take out a counter! There are no supporting stud walls to worry about or deal with. Nothing. All we’d have to do is probably, worse case scenario, replace the kitchen floor tiles.

    Geez, is that too much to ask? LOL

    Best of luck with your new kitchen, Pam. Like you said, it will be worth it. Make sure you post pictures!

  32. Paty, I didn’t see your comment come in! Thanks for posting–you sound very happy in your custom home. Well worth waiting for–and yes, ironic that the kids are just about gone when you finally get all the room you need!

  33. Carol, you sound like a woman with my kind of thinking! Keep fighting to get that counter out. We took ours out, as well as the cupboards above, and it made a world of difference. Makes me think *why didn’t we do this SOONER!?!*

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