76: A Remodeled View

76: A Remodeled View

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness

A Remodeled View

Anywhere is paradise; it’s up to you.

~Author Unknown

I was totally frustrated with the house I lived in. The structure was a “real fixer-upper” and was rumored to have been built as a high school Industrial Arts project. Plumbers, electricians and carpenters often remark at some aspect of the building: “Hmmm... never seen something like this.” Worn and rustic looking when I first purchased it, the fifteen years since had weathered it even more. Comparing my rundown dwelling with a remodeled or nicely decorated home, I would whine, “if only I had a new house like this” or “if only I had money to remodel.” It seemed impossible that I would ever have the funds or ability to live in a modern or refurbished house.

Then this winter, my friend George, having some time off between his house-painting jobs, volunteered to do some work on my house. He found leftover cans of paint in my basement and other random materials around. Every day when I came home from work I would discover holes patched and walls repainted. A broken light fixture would be fixed or a new one added, gaping spaces would be filled with planks and wooden panels stained or shellacked.

Catching his enthusiasm, I found myself cleaning out the closet in my bedroom and carrying bags of clothing and items I didn’t use anymore to be given to the Salvation Army. I started seeing areas in various rooms that needed de-cluttering, and when I tackled them nicely decorated spaces appeared. We improved many of the rooms, but the one that was the most transformed was the downstairs bathroom.

That room, just big enough for a tub, sink, and toilet and small freestanding cabinet, was unsightly. The paint on the wooden floor was worn, and the walls, a non-descript pale color, were covered with scratches and scrapes. An ugly broken light fixture that was not hooked up to any working electricity hung down from the ceiling looking like something from a haunted house movie.

George asked me why we never used the downstairs tub and shower. Did the tub have a crack or did the water not work? I didn’t remember. I didn’t know why my family only took showers and baths in the upstairs bathroom. But somehow I had gotten in the habit of storing recyclables and bags in the downstairs tub when I didn’t know where else to put them. It was a clutter nightmare.

Envisioning a new look for the room, George sanded and repainted the floor a cheerful red and patched the walls, coating them a gentle yellow. He removed the broken light fixture and re-plastered the ceiling, creating designer effects with a sponge. Inspired by these improvements, I rolled up my sleeves and removed all the bags, boxes, and recyclables (and other mystery items) from the bathtub and scrubbed it clean. I turned on the tap, and clear clean water ran from the faucet, hot and cold! I replaced the showerhead and added a new bathmat, shower curtain and bath rug. A black-framed set of nature photographs, and a black-framed mirror graced the walls.

I decided to finally try the shower in my “new” but “original” bathroom. After I stepped into the tub and turned on the water, I looked around at the refreshingly unfamiliar setting and it felt like I was away on a trip to a delightful resort or spa. When my shower ended, I pulled the curtain back and stepped into the cheerful bathroom feeling appreciation and delight.

My charming home had been here all along... it just needed the help of a benevolent friend, a little elbow grease and a fresh coat of paint. I only had to see it. And now I wonder: what other areas of my life could use a renewed look, what dormant blessings could be revived by a new perspective?

~Donna Paulson

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