Analysis paralysis (or paralysis by analysis) is the state of over-analyzing (or overthinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. To know me is to now that I am an introvert who tends to overthink EVERYTHING.
Sometimes the outcome is amazing and totally worth the time and effort to achieve the goal. This was the case with the kitchen in our New York apartment. I spent a year designing and planning our dream kitchen, and then spent a year and a half executing my plan. The result was nothing short of amazing. It was a painfully drawn out process (just ask my husband), but in hindsight it was totally worth it.
On the flip side of my successes would be when my overthinking results in being frozen with “Deer in headlights syndrome”. This would be an apt description of where I’ve been recently. We have lived in our house for three months, and other than the Lipstick on a Pig kitchen facelift and a few small quality of life tasks, I have been completely frozen with overwhelm when it comes to getting serious about not only what to focus on, but how I am going to do it. That’s not to say I haven’t done anything, but not enough to document or write about. This explains why there has been crickets here for over a month.
I of course want to do all of the pretty things for the house first. Like paint rooms, refinish floors, and create gorgeous spaces. But before I can really start any of that, I need to focus on the much less glamorous and certainly less “photo-pretty for the blog” projects in preparation for making the real fabulousness possible. Which brings me to this post. I hope you will follow along as I work through some of the high priority items as well as prioritizing where to start.
Before addressing the sources of my paralysis, I need to address neglect. Our house is a curious mix of neglect and disinterest. From talking to neighbors, exploring past building permits, and other various bits of information, I have been able to determine that our house was a rental for much of the 20th century. I also know that our neighborhood wasn’t exactly very desirable for much of the past 100 years. With many older rentals, landlords have no incentive to do anything they don’t have to. This certainly applied to our house, and has turned out to be a mixed blessing.
On the plus side, out of sheer neglect, the house retains a majority of original 19th century details which would be hard to replicate. It was neglect that caused the original interior doors to remain throughout the house, most with original hardware (as shown in the image above). It was neglect that the original floors remain in most of the house. It was neglect that the staircase was not butchered (although it is embedded in many coats of paint), and neglect has left us with character that would have been lost forever otherwise. Neglect also kept the modern trend of “open concept” from being forced on a home which was very much designed to have separate rooms.
However… Neglect also meant that nothing was done beyond what was necessary to rent it out. Because of this, a lot of things which seem ordinary and standard in most homes were never added to ours. Neglect means that there was never a laundry sink installed in the basement, nor is there an exterior vent for the dryer. (It does have laundry hook-up otherwise). Neglect means that there has never been a water spigot for the back yard. Neglect means there is also no outdoor lighting anywhere (front or back), and certainly no electric outlets. (Side note: Even the public housing a few blocks away has outdoor outlets (front and rear) and central air.) These are things most folks would consider standard for a home, regardless of age, but neglect has left them out on ours.
Of course, our house is habitable, we do have heat, plumbing, modern electric, and lightning fast Internet. But it is definitely not at the level of comfort most people would consider acceptable for living. So before we can dive in and do the pretty things I so long for, even before we can get serious about renovations, we need to address a few quality of life things first to make living here more comfortable. What follows is an overview of our first five priorities to get accomplished in the short term.
1 – Laundry vent for dryer. At some point in the past, plumbing was installed for a washer, but nothing was put in for a dryer. We had an outlet installed last year, but still need to address how to vent it. This should be a no-brainer, but because I want it to be aesthetically pleasing as possible, I have over-analyzed how to do it for weeks. I have decided to accept that I have little choice but vent it out through one of our two basement windows, and will get this done this week.
2 – Demo the powder room, replace subfloor, and reset new toilet. This is a big deal. When we had our home inspection last year, it was pointed out that the floor under the toilet in the half-bath is not in good shape. In fact, it is so rotten that the only thing holding the toilet in place is the cast iron waste pipe below it in the basement. We taped the seat and lid to the tank to stop people from sitting on it which means that for the past year, its use has been limited to men doing a number one.
Although we will be completely reconfiguring the half bath when we do the master bath renovation next year, we really need a second fully functional toilet. It’s not very fair to expect our female friends to go upstairs when we can just stand there. The plan is to basically demo the entire bathroom down to the floor joists, and then install a new subfloor followed by the toilet and, since the sink is being pulled out as well, we will look at doing a temporary sink. That said, this space will be returned to functional, but not finished by a long shot. I will be doing a post on this as we get started.
3 – Build workbench in basement. This is one of those things that just needs to be done and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about having my own custom built workbench for my projects going forward. Back in New York, I had my tool closet in the kitchen where I stored my hand tools, power tools, and related supplies. Everything had a place and I rarely had to waste time searching for things. Now that I have a basement for the first time in my life, my tools are in total disarray and I am wasting far too much time searching for the the most basic of tools when I need to work on something. Building a custom workbench with storage will make getting projects completed with much more efficiency and ease. This will of course be another future post.
4 – Replace ceiling in full bath. Once we have a fully functioning toilet on the main floor, we can tackle the issues with the main bathroom. There are two main items, the first being replacing the ceiling. Currently the plaster ceiling is covered in heavily textured gloppy crap (as seen in photo above). The gloppy crap was added to hide cracks in the plaster. Ordinarily, I would prefer to fix the plaster, but It would be too much work to scrape the glop off and fix the cracks, so I plan to remove the plaster ceiling leaving the lath in place. Once it is cleared out, I will cover the ceiling in 1/2 plywood in preparation for a future pressed tin (aluminum) ceiling. This needs to be done before we can do the next item on our list because I don’t want to deal with plaster debris making nice things not so nice. It also needs to be done soon because we want to put insulation in the attic and I don’t want to deal with loose fill insulation while replacing the ceiling.
5 – Hire out the installation of new shower. We have only one full bath in the house and the shower leaks. I discovered this a few days after we took possession of the house when, after taking my first shower in the morning, I went downstairs to make coffee only to find myself stepping in a puddle of water, then noticing water on the countertops, and then seeing it drip from the upper cabinets. Ugh… I tried to figure out where the water was leaking around the tub, but there was major caulk build-up from poor attempts to fix this leak before combined with a cracked acrylic shower enclosure. We decided immediately that the only real way to resolve this is to rip it out and replace it. In the short term, the temporary solution was to tape a plastic tarp around the tub enclosure. That was a year ago and it’s still there. Were so klassy that way!
Since this is going to be our future guest bath we don’t need to go too fancy here. We want to replace the tub/shower with just a walk in shower. A nice one, but not fancy. Also, this being our sole shower in the house, we need to get this done in a couple of days (lest we begin to smell). This folks will be hired out… I know my limitations and I do not possess the skills to do this work myself. Even if I did, it would take me weeks to get it done leaving us without a shower. I am still figuring out what we are going to do, but for now, I think I need to set aside my dream for a hand-built tile shower and just get an insert and get it done.
So there we are… All of these things have kept me in a state of overwhelm. Writing this all out has given me insight (which is the point of this blog post). Thank you CATHARSIS!
Once the these five tasks are getting wrapped up, I will post about my next five tasks which will include some convenience plumbing and electrical. I am also excited to do some posts about the pretty gorgeous things I have planned for our living room. Hopefully I haven’t bored the crap out of you, I hope you haven’t felt the need to overthink this too. But if you have, it’s fine to blame me. 🙂