At Home Now: Winter Session


Well, that holiday sparkle is now over and it’s back to my old salty self and business as usual in New England.

But it’s a funny space, isn’t it, these bleak and unpopular months that land between the charms of spring and fall.  Let’s call it our Winter Session.  I know, it’s sort of a cute name to attach to the few months that are marked by such short daylight hours and often prohibitive weather.  But it’s a good time to both hunker down and to try to get something done.

So, what are you doing for your Winter Session?

Historically for me, these were do-it-yourself days on the home front.  To be fair, my ex did most of the DIY-ing.  But I’m positive he would agree I was an invaluable resource when it came to my fabulous ideas and sound recommendations.  Plus, I did take our four kids out to a lot of movies and trips to Five Below to keep them out of his hair.  But who’s counting, right?  It’s a complex tale, as you young families know, and it’s filled with unsung heroes.

Anyway, what sort of projects did we (ok, mostly he) take on?

Well, I think the Winter Session is well suited to containable projects with attainable goals.  By containable, I mean projects where you can shut a door at the end of the day to minimize the disruption to the rest of the house.  And by “attainable,” I mean a project that can be completed by the end of winter recess because come March that lawn isn’t going to fertilize itself now, is it?

So, a good candidate might be redoing a kids’ room for instance.  Sure, you may have to double the kids up during the process, but all the reno mayhem can take place in one area, and come March there is no reason your kids shouldn’t be back to their proper rooms.  Other good candidates?  You can create a mudroom, or an office, or give your bathroom a facelift with new paint, hardware, and mirrors.  In an isolated room, you can rip up that carpet and put down some hardwood, re-plaster a ceiling, or go ahead and paint, paint, paint.  Trust me, it feels so good when it’s all done.  And you’ll have at least seven to eight weeks of bliss before your kid announces that they actually HATE that new paint color you just completed. 

Sigh.  Try to ignore them.

What projects shouldn’t you take on?

Well, anything that is part of your open floor plan.  This is a tough time to refinish all your wood floors, or put in a new kitchen, or redo your only bathroom.  And let’s face it, those aren’t your typical DIY projects anyway, you’ll probably be working with a contractor or some other building specialist.  So, if you schedule that work for the warmer months, you’ll have options readily available that can help you cope.  For example, in the spring you can send your kids outside to play for hours at a time.  Also, you can set up an outdoor kitchen, take outdoor showers, go camping, even vacation while messy work is taking place.  Even with a cute name, Winter Session can be a little grueling all on its own—no need to add flame to that fire.

But guess what?  Winter Session is the perfect time to plan that larger project.

If you use someone like me, you’ll learn that the bulk of the time I spend on your project is done in the planning phase, and you can do the same thing.  By the time I’ve inconvenienced you by demolishing your kitchen, I’ve already ordered the cabinets, plumbing supplies, and tile.  My construction documents are almost complete, and I’ve even planned out where your towel bars will go.  And what better time to do all that planning?  Winter Session, of course.

But do not despair, you intrepid do-it-yourselfers.  I know you are a resourceful and scrappy bunch.  There is still plenty of room for your energy even when other building professionals are involved.  I always say to my clients, “Don’t worry, you will still be making lots and lots of decisions.”  Because it’s all a big collaboration.  Or a dance.  Or even a short-lived family in a way.  It’s a complex tale, and it’s filled with unsung heroes.

In closing, I have a final word on the humble towel bar.  I plan where they go in advance so that I can have my builders “block” the wall behind the plaster with wood.  That way the hardware gets drilled into wood instead of just plaster, because I’m pretty sure we’ve all wrestled with wiggly towel bars enough for one lifetime.  Especially in a bathroom frequented by your children. 

They probably won’t like the hook you chose, but at least you know it will stay put.

building specialist, paint color, contractor, bathroom, towel bar, renovation