a peek inside the fishbowl

02 Oct, 2012

Reno post #42 – nearing the end. of. my rope.

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno

Psst. There’s still time to vote for my bacon and enter the Saunders Farm giveaway!

We’ve booked our movers and are now looking for someone to take over the lease of our apartment. If you know of anyone who’s looking for a recently renovated 2 bedroom apartment that’s walking distance to Westboro and all kinds of amenities (groceries, LCBO, bank, AMAZING dog park, bus route etc) please let me know! It is a very nice apartment. Truly. There is a floorplan and more info on the District Realty website if you’d like more details.

So, yes. The reno! It’s slowly winding down. The fellows are at the finishing stage more or less: painting, patching, working on the closets. Appliances are coming on Friday, and some light fixtures were hung today – like our gorgeous ceiling fan – which we bought at Northern Fan.

I am glad it’s all coming to a close because I’ve just about had it. (Related: How is it that some people ENJOY THIS STUFF?)

I had a bit of an episode last week. Shall I set the scene?

It was lunchtime and I was already weary, both physically and mentally. I’d driven halfway across the city to Lowes for the express purpose of picking out our cabinet pulls and knobs.

The selection was dizzying yet I wasn’t able to find The Perfect Pull at first. My head was starting to spin.


Sidebar: Mark and I had grand illusions of going to secondhand shops to buy vintage knobs and pulls, but as I stood there, looking, drowning, I knew there was no frickin’ way I was going to do that to myself.

I knew what I wanted. The kitchen hardware had to be dark, but not too dark. It couldn’t be too busy or fussy or ornamental, but not too simple or modern or contemporary. The questions in my head were many: Should the pulls in the kitchen match the interior door knobs and hinges we have everywhere else? How will the black look against our white cabinets and dark counters? Should I get a different colour or style for the dark island? Should I get different ones for the bathroom cabinets even though they’re the same colour… but wait, the floor is different so maybe…

Gah. I counted out the right amount of knobs and pulls and placed them in my cart. And then I went back to look at the display again – had a change of heart – and put them all back. And then I picked different knobs and pulls and counted them out again into the cart.

I agonized over geedee drawer pulls for much too long. An hour? More? Regardless, that time is forever lost to me and I don’t know if anyone will notice or care what I picked out.

THEN I went into the bathroom decor aisle where I lost the will to pick out toilet paper holders. (Satin? Chrome?)

I drove to the house and carried my bags of pulls into the unfinished kitchen. The place was full of workmen; painters, carpenters, kitchen guys. The floor was getting prepped. I was going to put the bags down somewhere and just leave but I thought better of it. I returned to the car, popped open the back, and dumped the bags out and spread them all out. I wanted to count them, again, to make sure.

Guess what, the numbers were off. I almost cried, thinking about how I’d have to go all the way back to Lowes to return the extra pulls I managed to grab by accident and buy a couple extra knobs that I somehow managed to miss.

I stared at the sorted piles in a kind of depressive paralysis/horror, and it wasn’t until a few deep breaths were inhaled and a few more were exhaled that I realized that my tally was actually correct. I had momentarily forgotten that I had indeed picked out slightly different pulls and knobs for the upstairs vanity.

Sadly, this process is revealing to all (including myself) that this whole process has turned my brain into a sieve. Will I ever recover my mental faculties?

Yesterday morning, for example, I received a phone call from our site manager asking us about lightbulbs. It seems we purchased and delivered 90% of our fixtures but FORGOT to buy bulbs.

I can’t believe it either. See? Brain. Sieve.

Lor’ help me. I can survive this. I know I can.

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6 Responses to "Reno post #42 – nearing the end. of. my rope."

1 | Deanne

October 2nd, 2012 at 2:04 pm


I can relate to the lightbulbs! You buy all these fixtures, they’re delivered and I’m like, “where are the lightbulbs?” Some of the fixtures come with, others don’t. But the lighting store was so amazing. The man calculated what we needed, went back to the store and dropped them off. Great service!

It’s so tedious picking out things like towel racks, toilet paper holders, etc, too.

By the time we got to window coverings, I was done!

Hang in there, it will all come together and look beautiful. My advice is to test as much as you can (plumbing, furnace etc.) before you move in.

2 | Marianne

October 2nd, 2012 at 2:26 pm


If it helps, Home Depot right now has a board with coupons for energy-efficient lightbulbs of various types and kinds. And it looks like the coupons would be valid at any store. I found them on a large sign board right at the head of the lightbulb section at the Kanata Home Depot today.

3 | Chantal

October 2nd, 2012 at 3:07 pm


no where near like yours but I had a melt down at lowe’s last week. We are reno’ing our bathroom ourselves and they have 6 different in stock counters. So I looked at the counter swatches and chose the counter I wanted. Chose the paint based on the colour of the counter. Painted (anc stained the cabinet). Went to lowes last week only to discover that the in stock counter we chose is only in KITCHEN SIZE. Not bathroom. ARGGGGG. How we have to chose a new counter. The only other one Lowe’s has that is sorta close to what we chose is more expensive because it looks like fake marble. FRIG!

4 | binki

October 3rd, 2012 at 1:04 pm


Stop, you’re scaring me. We haven’t started yet and now I’m already freaked out. I did note that I should stay away from Lowe’s (common denominator in your bad experiences). ;-)
But seriously, I have no problem making quick decisions about paint, knobs, lights, etc. Maybe so many decisions will be overwhelming. I hope not. :(

I’m wondering if you make all the decisions or if everything has to be vetted by your spouse? That makes things more challenging…no?

5 | Debra Huron

October 3rd, 2012 at 1:58 pm


It really is an overwhelming experience…one that requires making endless decisions, scheduling endless tasks, and then waking up the next morning and doing it all over again.
My own opinion is that it’s EASIER to be the only one making the decisions because at least you and your partner/spouse are not fighting over whether satin or shiny toilet holders and towel racks are better. It also means that you have all the responsibility.
I was in charge of a six-week reno 16 years ago and I still remember how hellish it was. Like you, I found it exhausting, especially when it came down to the final week or so.
The payoff is that I love the house I built and so do the other folks living in it day-to-day.
Hang in there: the finish line is in sight!

6 | Alasdair

October 13th, 2012 at 10:41 pm


Your experience sounds like a classic case of ‘decision fatigue’ – and no wonder, given all the decisions that have to be made when doing a reno like yours. This New York Times article is long but (I think) fascinating. Turns out you should be bringing glucose with you on these shopping trips!


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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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