Sep 13th, 2006

Things Fall Apart, It’s Scientific

The closet rehab is a real-life example of Murphy's Law in action. It started out so easily, and quickly descended into a domino fall of small annoyances, work stoppages and but firsts.

The demolition went smoothly, with lots and lots of bang hammering and prybar work. FUN! But the DYIers who owned this house before always did things the easy way, so when I pulled the shelves out, great gobs of concrete wall came out too. They used nails into concrete rather than drilling and using concrete mollys.

So. Off to Home Depot for spackle, and new paint (gotta paint over the big gaps where previously there hung wooden shelves and shelf supports) (also: the big patches of spackle), and a concrete drill bit, and a level, and what girl doesn't want a plumb line? and then there in the back of the tool corral was a 100-piece accessory kit for my Dremel, and maybe a little light for the closet? Yes. That was the HD run.

Did you know that at Home Depot, in the paint section, there are usually cans of rejected colors or extra cans of stuff that people brought back and it's all marked at $5 a gallon? I've bought Ralph Lauren there, in the exact color I would have had mixed, had it not been sitting in the reject pile for cheap. This weekend, I found what looked like an exact match for the shallow-end-of-the-swimming-pool aqua that is my bedroom. Once it dried, however, it's more of a robin's egg blue. A little more grayish/blueish/lavenderish color. Who cares, it's in the closet. And feel free to make your own jokes about that.

Back home, where I spackle and sand, rinse and repeat, wait for the spackle to dry and then paint the closet. It is now 10:30 at night and the end of day 2 of the closet project.

On Monday, the RLA hunts and gathers dinner for us, and after we eat, the RLA puts on the safety glasses and filter mask and has at the rear wall with the concrete drill. It is slow and painful, only partly because he is attempting to drill into 53-year old concrete, and he finally sucks it up and uses the old, 1950's drill with a cord, as opposed to the sleek, battery-powered model he loves. Whaddaya know? The old drill with a cord has way more torque and the rest of the job goes smoothly. On to the side wall, where we discover that: at the height we need to drill, it is NOT concrete, but drywall. The only thing we can figure is that the walls are concrete up to the level of the eaves, and the sloping part of the wall, where it goes to the roof peak, is drywall. Why? Ask the guy who built this dump house in 1954.

It's now 10:30 on Monday night, and we are done in. Back to the trundle bed in the living room, which is getting more comfortable every night.

On Tuesday, after his morning class, the RLA heads off to the Home Depot/Container Store for the correct anchors for drywall and the correct drill bit for same. No extra Dremel toys, boohoo. Once I get home from work, the next phase of the operation begins. We measure, level and drill. It's going well, too well. Sure enough, we hit another snag: there is a block of Dade County Pine behind the wall on the RLA's side of the closet. NOTHING drills through Dade County Pine. NOTHING. Nada. Zip. Forget it, it's only one screw, and it's not on the end of the rail. I manage to break not one, but two lamps in the closet during this portion of the evening.

Finally, I break out the wet vac and a mop, and I clean, clean, and re-clean all the plaster dust and random dog fur and regular dust from all surfaces in the closet. We wait for it to dry. We go back in. We begin to hang the vertical supports, and. There is a 4x4 cross beam that extends from side wall to side wall. We don't know why. We think it may be a weight-bearing structure, sort of like a flying buttress, but we're not sure, and we sure as hell are not going to take it down. It's in the middle of the closet, depth-wise. It, of course, interferes with installing the vertical supports.

Out comes the Dremel (I LOVE that tool) and the RLA carves out another set of notches. We hang the vertical supports. All that's left is to hang the actual shelves and clothes rods, and build and install the drawers. But, you know what? It's now 10:30pm and the RLA and I don't even have enough energy left to argue about whether or not we should continue. I'm asleep on the trundle, dog at my side (or head. or feet.) by the time he finishes brushing his teeth.

Tonight is the final push, and if my clothes aren't hung up in the closet by the time Project Runway starts, I'm just going to give up, call the trundle my bedroom and accept the fact that when I say closet, what I really mean is the pile of clothes on what used to be my bed.