Taking an Unexpected Turn

I’ve always enjoyed remodeling a home.This comes part and parcel with my passion for real estate.I don’t just sell or manage property, but I build, develop, rehab, and remodel.And while I’ve made a good living doing so, the remodeling part is more hobby and pure joy than profit motive.

As my career has evolved, I haven’t found as much time to do the “hands-on” work that I’ve always enjoyed so much.I still get to plan, design, and map out a strategy for a newly acquired rental or flip, but that’s usually where it ends as I engage a closely-held group of talented contractors who I pay handsomely to effect the needed repairs.And I miss it sometimes.

So, when my wife and I planned a week at our place in Palm Springs for our anniversary, I knew I wanted to get my hands dirty.Seven solid days in our condo, sans children, to just be together, relax, sleep in, you name it.We’ve owned it for about five years and it’s needed work from time to time like any property.While I’ve made small repairs and improvements here and there, the interior paint has been waiting patiently to be updated.My plan was simple:tell Priscilla to take the day and go to the gym, shop, have a cocktail.Enjoy the small paradise that is Palm Springs and I’ll stay here and paint.And yes, I was looking forward to it.Like, really looking forward to it.FullSizeRender (7)

Then something happened.Something wonderful.Out of nowhere, and having expressed no interest in construction labor before, my lovely wife of 13 years tells me she wants to help.This on the day before we left.And while this might seem like a small thing, what developed out of this turned out to be the most amazing trip we’ve ever taken together.

We landed on Saturday evening, grabbed a bite to eat, then went to our place and turned in early.The next morning, Sunday, began a seven-day trek of glorious proportions that neither of us were expecting.I know that sounds weird, but stay with me as I attempt to describe how our days went.

Every day we were there began by rising early and heading straight for the gym.After a solid workout at EOS Fitness we would head into downtown for breakfast at our favorite outdoor eatery, Café Jasmin.We kept it healthy and light and went straight from there back to the condo to start work.That first day I went to Lowes to get the paint and tools we would need while Priscilla stayed back to prep the living room for paint:remove everything from the walls and push the furniture into the center of the room.When I got back I was shocked to find that, in the 45 minutes I was out, my wife had completely removed every stick of furniture and shoved it all out on the patio.

Bravo! FullSizeRender (9)

Now we were both looking at a completely empty room and a square of carpet that looked pretty beaten down.Within minutes we made the command decision to rip up the carpet (hey, as long as the room is empty, right?) and lay a hardwood floor along with the paint work.

And now the camel’s nose was under the tent.What was supposed to be me painting a room or two turned into the two of us painting the living, dining, and kitchen with a 2-tone paint job that required three coats on the trim and doors, laying a Pergo hardwood floor in the living room, replacing all the sockets and switches in the condo, replacing the living room ceiling fan and the breakfast area light fixture, and all the blinds.

The entire trip became a whirlwind of activity peppered with sweat, paint, and sawdust.During the course of what was now a full-bore impromptu remodel, we would still clean up a little at night and go out to a nice dinner.In fact, despite the fact that we were working we would still enjoy happy hour at the condo once the sun was over the yardarm (so to speak).A cocktail while applying that second coat?Don’t mind if I do…

Within the first three days the majority of the big work was complete.Yeah, in three days the paint and floor were done.We spent our actual anniversary (June 14th) on our knees laying the flooring.When Priscilla said she “wanted to help” I was still doubtful as to how much help that was going to entail.Suffice it to say she was in it as much as I was.Impressive doesn’t come close to describing what I saw in my wife for the first time in our relationship.It was a great time on a whole new level.

While we still had some of the smaller items remaining (shoe mold on the floor edge, transition strip, plugs and switches, etc.) the time was coming to bring the furniture back inside.

Right.Try putting old, cheap furniture back in your freshly remodeled living room.It’s like letting your wet dog jump on your clean sheets.So…shall we shop?

And shop we did.We kept the big stuff but smaller accent pieces were needed, things to bring light and color and pull everything together.Palm Springs is a great town for shopping.There’s more boutique furniture, accessory, and design stores than sand at the beach.We found a pair of chairs at one place, a coffee table and end table at another, then went to IKEA for the lights, pillows, area rug, and large wall hanging (yes, IKEA is great for that stuff).Of course now there’s more time needed to assemble some of these items and time was starting to run out. FullSizeRender (10)

And run out it did.It was our last night in town after a week that flew by with the afterburners on.We dressed up for one last dinner out then got back to the condo, dressed down, and put the finishing touches on the place until around midnight.

One measure of closeness I use when considering my relationship with my wife is texting, or the lack thereof.We had spent almost every minute together that week, and did so while working out, working hard, and playing hard.Looking at my phone I could see we hadn’t texted each other in days.We didn’t need to:we were talking in person.While scraping floors and vacuuming sawdust doesn’t seem like an anniversary-level activity, I left Palm Springs feeling like we had just put a fresh coat of paint on our marriage.What was unexpectedly chosen as our activity during that week had us working together on a level that we never had.And despite the sore backs and aching knees, we never stopped smiling, laughing, and stopping to share the occasional embrace.

Just a week prior I had no idea what the next seven days had in store.In retrospect I’m glad I didn’t know – the surprise of it was the best part.Being one who so carefully plans out every detail, I will forever smile at the memory of taking that unexpected turn.