Monday, October 26, 2009

See Kate Conquer: With a Little Help from Our Friends, Pt. 2

If you'll remember from last week, Keith and I – with a lot of help from our amazing friends Nikola and Marija – were in the middle of covering our crappy linoleum floors with laminate flooring. Admittedly, my involvement in redoing our floors was more concentrated on the front end of the project, the “Ideas Phase”, if you will. My dear husband and Nikola took care of the rest, while Marija and I sat back, drank tea, and made a bad-ass pot of goulash and some Serbian plum buns (a whole other post, I'm pretty sure). This is not to say that my part of mentioning the idea, choosing the color (walnut – not too light, not too dark), and helping Keith take floor measurements were not instrumental to the process. It's just that, had we stopped there, no one would even be able to tell what we started.

However, Keith and Nikola are go-getters, takers of action, men of passion! After we got back to our apartment with our laminate panels, foam padding, and an arsenal of tools, Nikola suggested they get started even though he and Marija had only an hour before they had to be somewhere that wasn't Our Apartment. Marija and I cleaned in the kitchen while the guys tackled the bedroom.

Keith was feeling pretty excited after Nikola left so he ahead and finished up the bedroom, save for a few tricky edging pieces that required Nikola's adept hand at the saw. I was amazed, to say the least! How could it be that we had woken up to a floor that made me feel like I needed to shower before making the nine-step journey to my coffee, and yet I was going to bed feeling like we had come home and HGTV had flipped our house while we were out? This, my friends, is an incredible feeling.

The next day, Keith and I cleared the living room so the guys could actually do some work. I emptied the bookshelf and put the “general mess” away; Keith took furniture into the stairwell and shoved things to the kitchen end of the room. Keith got a jump start before Nikola arrived, and by the time I left to join Marija at her place for some tea and cooking, they had finished a third of the room already. I left for Marija's with visions of returning to grandeur later in the day.

Slight tangent: As I've mentioned, two of my favorite things are cooking and eating. One thing that is so great about moving to a new country is meeting people from all over the world. I've been able to coerce a bunch of these new friends into teaching me how to cook their native foods. So, getting to learn first-hand from Marija how she makes goulash and plum buns was like the cream cheese icing on the laminate flooring cake.

Several hours later, just as we were really, really starving, Nikola and Keith showed up, their part of the project complete. We celebrated with our fabulous meal, and then Keith and I headed home to admire their handiwork.

I was amazed. Within the span of about twelve hours over two days, we had gone to the store, purchased our new flooring, and got it into place with relative ease. I kept asking myself why it took us a year to do such a simple yet dramatic face lift in our apartment.

For people like me – people with good ideas but who perhaps lack just a little bit of follow-through from time to time – at least part of the answer seems to be allow yourself to be inspired and helped by those around you. In some ways this requires vulnerability to say, Hey! I don't know what I'm doing over here! For Nikola and Marija, and my friend Jess that I mentioned last week, this lets them do something that they're really good at and enjoy. It seems pretty win-win. The flip side is that there are things that Keith and I are really good at, things that it's super easy for us to help others with, things that don't come as naturally to them. But that's for another day.

We are just finishing up some furniture rearrangement and still hope to get pictures on the walls (...someday...). For now, though, we are reveling in our “new” apartment, and letting the inspiration carry over into other minor projects with big impact. Stay tuned!

How about you? Have you tackled any home or craft projects that inspired you in other areas of creativity? I'd love to read about it in the comments section.