Monday, October 19, 2009

With A Little Help From Our Friends (Part I)

Do you ever over think things just a little too much so that you never actually act on your original intentions, but in the end you've spent more energy thinking than you would have had you just acted quickly in the first place?

Welcome to my life, especially anything that falls under “home décor & improvements”. As I mentioned last week, I live in quite a tiny apartment that Keith and I moved into just over a year ago. Since the day we moved in we have gone back and forth on whether to move to any other apartment that isn't this one (a first-hand lease in this city is about as elusive as the Fountain of Youth), or to invest in this one despite its limitations (student housing, built in the Sixties, walls of concrete and floors of dirty, grimy, revolting linoleum) and claim it as “ours”. For ten months we did next to nothing except think about these two choices from time to time when we got frustrated with being here, and then stopped thinking when that, too, made us frustrated. Not so productive.

In August, our dear friend Jess - who just happens to be an artistic genius and loves to redecorate - came to visit. I had told her beforehand that I wouldn't mind just a little help in our place, and she wasted no time. Jess has way more of the “just do it” cards in her deck then I could ever dream of having, and she willingly shared her hand with me. She whisked through IKEA, picking out this and that (a rug, the decals you saw in last week's kitchen photos, a new lamp), things she knew would brighten things up a bit. Her instincts were right, and when she left we had a great start on our apartment.

A couple months had gone by, and we had become complacent in advancing the great Decorating Initiative. We were traveling, there were other projects (like Operation Get Ready for Baby!), and our priorities shifted. But then, I started nesting, and the nesting led to thinking, and thinking led to that familiar frustration. A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with my friend Clara who had just moved into a new place with her husband and gorgeous baby. She mentioned how they had redone the floors in the bedrooms with laminate flooring to match the living room. My impression of laminate flooring had always been that it's the modern ugly step-sister of that terrible wood paneling everyone crucified their kitchens with in the Seventies. But, Clara's place looked pretty nice to me, and I was shocked that she and her husband had done it themselves! It's easy, she assured me, it just snaps together, you trim it to fit your nooks and crannies, and voilà! I mentioned this to some other friends of ours, Nikola and Marija, who are total DIY junkies. Nikola, an architect, redesigned their entire apartment, and together they knocked down walls, refinished hardwood floors, and transformed an average apartment into an artistic masterpiece.

Last week Marija told me that Saturday was the day to get our laminate flooring. Keith and I looked at each other and knew it was now or never, so we'd better go for it. In a matter of hours, we'd visited two Home Depot-like stores, selected our laminate (at about 7$/sq. meter) and trim, and were back at our place. Were it just us, the laminate would have sat in our apartment for weeks, maybe even months, waiting for us to spring into action on a task that just continued to feel a bit overwhelming. (See? We would have been thinking again!) Fortunately, our friends had alternative plans for us and our really crappy, junky, old, perpetually dirty linoleum floors.

Come back next Monday to see how laminate flooring – and great friends – dramatically changed the feel of our apartment and the way I think about “projects”.

1 comment:

Val said...

The floors in my brother's house are laminate and they're beautiful. Can't wait to see the finished product! What would the world's homes look like without help from friends & family, eh?