Renovating can be stressful, so how do you renovate while ensuring your relationship doesn’t suffer?
My husband is called “The Builder” for good reason. Firstly, he’s a builder. Secondly… well, the firstly is probably enough. Being married to a builder brings its own specific set of challenges. But those challenges can go either way.
Set one: you live in a house that is constantly on the verge of falling down because your husband is busy building other people’s houses.
Set two: you move into a house that is falling down, live in a building site for a few years as the place is renovated and then, when it is finally looking fabulous – with Caesarstone benchtops and open-plan everything – you move house. Back to a house that’s falling down so that you can begin the whole process over again.
In my particular case, the challenges come under the set two heading. Each house that we’ve lived in as a couple has been transformed from ugly duckling to beautiful swan – and then left for some other lucky couple to live in. In the process, we’ve learned a lot about renovating – and how to weather the process without destroying our relationship.
For me, it comes down to three main rules:
Do you know your partner’s preference in door handles? You’re about to find out. Even if you didn’t realise they had one. When you find yourself poring over colour charts and arguing about whether to go for the Tahitian Sand, Hog Bristle or Magnolia (all of which are essentially beige), you know you’re in for some surprise discoveries.
While some couples on the recent series of The Block showed us that a dictatorial style can work, I believe compromise is a better choice. After all, you both have to live there. (If in doubt, paint it all white – assuming you can decide between the 400+ shades of white available…)
Before you pick up a hammer or a paintbrush, do the groundwork. Specifically, collect pictures of things you like. This is what interior design magazines and advertisements are for. It’s much easier to show your partner what you mean by ‘pinky brown’ than expect him or her to imagine it from your description. Colours are very, very hard to describe – and your idea of a simple timber bed may be quite different from your partner’s.
Create a haven
One thing that never fails to surprise me about renovating is the dust. So. Much. Dust. Create one space in your home that is dust and renovation-free and retire to it when you need to escape the mayhem. Of course, if you can afford it, an entirely different residence is the best answer, particularly if your renovations are major. But even just a bedroom, carefully taped up and kept clutter-free can make all the difference.
The Builder and I have just moved house again. It’s a lovely old weatherboard in pretty good nick. I can’t see that it requires any work at all.
Well, maybe a kitchen update. And an expanded outdoor area. And…
I see more colour charts in my future.