Dolce Zitella's Latest Post, Home Improvements, Life Lessons

Gut Reaction

As news of my reno (which is HGTV lingo for renovation) spreads through my circle of friends and co-workers, everyone who’s ever undertaken a home improvement project has a tale to tell.  There are stories of busted water pipes and runaway contractors, damaged cabinets and monumental delays.  Considering I’m doing a total gut job on my kitchen and bathroom, this is not the kind of stuff I want to hear.

I’ve learned that “if all goes well” is code for “expect something unexpected to go wrong.”  And when dealing with vendors, apply this simple mathematical calculation: double all the numbers.  This means if you’re told your supplies will be delivered in 4 to 6 weeks, they will actually arrive in 8 to 12 weeks.  Unfortunately, the same mathematical equation applies whenever costs are being calculated.  Then, in an attempt to calm my ever-growing anxiety, these same well-intentioned friends smile as they finish their litanies with “…but in the end, it was all worth it.”


I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll be spending a month of Sundays (or Saturdays) at the cavernous brick and mortar store where everything smells like wood shavings and plaster.  Don’t show me twenty faucets, I beg.  Just show me three, and I will pick one!  As I wander, dazed and confused, like Alice in Wonderland, down aisles 9 and 10 in search of the perfect ceiling light fixture, my friends’ advice echoes in my head…

Get the towel warmer for your bathroom – it’s worth it.

Install ceiling fans in the kitchen, living room – and the bedrooms.

If you don’t get under-the-cabinet lighting in your kitchen, you’ll be sorry.

Choose what you like, not what you think some imaginary, future home buyer might want.

The paint color of the year is blush.

The paint color of the year is gray.

Gray is passé, the paint color of the year is green.

Luckily, I have a prince of a contractor who arrives every morning with a jumbo iced coffee and a cheery smile.  It only took him a couple of days to gut my kitchen and, each night when I return home, I’m delighted to see the day’s accomplishments as he rebuilds my dream kitchen from the rubble.  He – and I – can’t wait for him to get started on the bathroom…

Girl Talk, Home Improvements

The Thrill of the Chaise

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a chaise lounge.  As a young girl I must’ve seen one on television or in a movie, because I imagined myself, grown up, sitting on my own chaise just like Cleopatra on her barge.  The glamour and luxury such a piece of furniture promised…

Each time I moved to a new place, my desire was renewed.  I could see myself on a rainy Saturday, sprawled out with a book, or dreamily napping on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  But a chaise lounge is not the most practical piece of furniture when you live in a small space.  And every chaise I came upon was either too big, or too ornate, or too extravagant.   I all but gave up my search.

Even before I moved into my house, the bay window in the dining room was crying out for a chaise.  The time was right and the search was on!  There was the pink satin one that looked like it belonged in the parlor of a bordello; another, so industrial with its straight geometric lines, was well-suited for a psychiatrist’s office; and the wave-shaped style was too avant-garde for me.  I felt like Goldilocks with the three bowls of porridge.

Two weeks before Christmas, I found what I was looking for online.  But there was a catch.  Actually two catches.  The manufacturer informed me the model was to be discontinued on December 31st and the only showroom where I could go to see the chaise was located in New Jersey.  How badly did I want this chaise, and was I willing to drive 260 miles to sit in it?

It was perfect.  And the navy blue jacquard fabric I chose strikes just the right balance between classic and chic.  I handed the saleswoman my credit card – Merry Christmas to me!

My chaise is ready and waiting to be delivered, but there’s been one final catch.  Work is so crazy that I haven’t been able to take a day off.  Do you know how long it takes to get a Saturday delivery?   So I must wait a little longer…

Home Improvements

Ducks in a Row

I recently moved and all this change (read: disorder) has been jarring for a woman who inherited the cleaning gene and who’s so hyper-organized that I make a list of the lists I need to make.

This may be lost on those of you who don’t use a flat iron, but it took me four days to find mine.  Four days!  I should’ve marked the box that contained this miracle worker, magic wand “OPEN FIRST – Survival Kit” instead of “bathroom cabinet.”  Then there was the missing soap dish.  I was forced to put the slippery-when-wet bar in a zippy bag until I unearthed it.  But worst of all, when I opened the box marked “kitchen – coffee” there was the coffee maker but the filters were nowhere in sight.  Turns out they ended up as padding in a box that contained my favorite glass pitcher.

You’re probably wondering how such a list-maker extraordinaire couldn’t keep better track of what went into each of the 119 boxes that made the move.  I started out with a brand new spiral notebook, a package of fresh marker pens, bubble wrap, a mountain of newspapers, and miles of clear packing tape.  The plan was simple: number and label each box: #37 living room glass – fragile  # 38 dining room – good glass – SUPER fragile  # 39 dining room – Nanny’s stemware – EXTRA EXTRA FRAGILE.  Then I listed the contents of each numbered box in the spiral notebook.  But on that last frantic day before the move, things went terribly wrong.  Some of the boxes were numbered but not labeled and two of the boxes were labeled but not numbered.  Can you relate?

It’s been a month since the move and my ducks are finally in a row.  I’ve just about finished unpacking – for now that is.  But in a couple of months I’ll be gutting the kitchen and bathroom and, before the renovation project can begin, I’ll be packing up once more.