Books, Baths & Food*

Watching paint dry (to guard against paw prints).

Watching paint dry (in an effort to guard against paw prints).

As I move beyond the “must-do” in this house (taking out the 1950s walls that divided it in two, Romex to replace knob-and-tube wiring, a new roof and windows) and move on to the “want to do,” it becomes clear to me what I value most in a home – and that it hasn’t changed in my adult life.

In order of importance, it’s books, baths and cooking.

My former study (there are matching shelves on the other side of the brick fireplace bump least there were when I sold it!).

My former study, circa 2000 (there are matching shelves on the other side of the brick fireplace bump out…at least there were when I sold it!).

In my last house, the first room to get redone was what became my study; I think it was about three months after I moved in. I asked my contractor friend to design built-ins across one wall to both serve as my desk and hold all my Shakespeare and other schoolwork-related tomes. (That was a ridiculous ask; it took more than one wall of built-ins.)

That study served me well, and doubled as a hand-tool shop after 2010, when I finally built a bench for home. (Having a second-floor shop, though, that shared the room with my computer, was a major impetus for my move.)

I miss my old study most of all. So that’s what I’m working on now in the new place: A wall of built-in bookshelves and cabinets with a large worksurface that has room for my computer.

The top units aren’t quite as wide here, but they’re about 2′ taller, with two more shelves per. It doesn’t really matter…no matter how large, I’d still run out of room. Good thing I can now build more shelves myself.

The only photo I could dredge up was mid-work...which looks far better than the current bath state here.

The only photo I could dredge up from the old place was mid-work…which looks far better than the current bath state here.

The bathrooms here are pretty bad (the first and second-floor ones are functional; the one in the basement is wholly terrifying). At the old place, with a couple years of tool use under my belt, in 2008 or so I ripped out everything down to the studs, laid new tile, put up new drywall, made faux paneling, built a medicine cabinet and installed a fancy glass shower as well as new fixtures.

That’s the next project here, writ large: rip out the current second-floor bath, put a door through to my bedroom, move some walls so there’s room for a shower and soaking tub, put in a floor heating system, then start building it back out. And simultaneously rough in a guest bath, because it will be easier and less expensive that way. (We’ll see what hubris and my pocketbook have to say about that next year, which, in my defense, is only about 1 year behind schedule!).

"Old" kitchen

“Old” kitchen

At the old place, I never liked the kitchen. But I couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it until a lot of other people (potential buyers) didn’t like it either. So I decided, after 12 years of living with it, to rip it out, build new cabinets, blah blah etc. (I’ve already written about it here ad nauseam). The finish was still drying on the countertop and I installed the last built-in piece of furniture the day before I moved out. (The place sold off-listing to friends of friends, just after I’d begun the work.)

It’s a nice kitchen, with fancy, self-closing drawers and plenty of storage. Too bad I never got to cook even one meal in it.

The kitchen here is worse than the old one at the old house (a former tenant seems to have punched a hole in a cabinet front, for example). I won’t be waiting 12 years to redo this one – but it will come well after the books then the bathroom(s), again.

And no…I still haven’t finished the staircase – but I realized in moving the large cases upstairs for the study that having a wide staircase with no rails is excellent when moving, say, large casework upstairs…and that’s an excellent excuse for holding off!

* Is there a synonym for “food” or “kitchen” that starts with “b?” (Alliteration is, after all, the mark of fine literature…)

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
This entry was posted in Renovation/Restoration, Woodworking. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Books, Baths & Food*

  1. greenwooddl says:

    I had a friend in high school who said that his favorite composers were the three Bs — Beethoven, Brahms, and Brokoviev. In the same spirit, you could describe your priorities as Books, Baths, and Breparing Meals.

    Best wishes, David


  2. brentpmed says:

    You can channel your inner Julia Child and make it “Books, Baths and Bon Apetite”

    • Alex says:

      This is the correct answer. Alliteration with good cadence and a slightly PBS-crowd oriented pop-culture reference. Great title for a book too.

  3. Joseph Pritchard says:

    How about books, baths, and brasserie?

  4. Russell Pitner says:

    Lest you nit forget BAT exodus! Must be in the order of priorities.

  5. Bill Murr says:

    – Breaking Bread –

  6. Peggy Schneider says:

    I don’t know how you find the energy to do all that–again!–but I admire you. I have projects I was going to do shortly after I moved into my house in 1995. Most are still on the to-do list. Sigh.

    • fitz says:

      Oh…there are plenty of half-done projects in my house and office, and half-baked ideas in my head! (See: third floor at last house that was going to become a fabulous bathroom and tricked-out closet. It did not.)

  7. Gene ORourke says:

    Books, Bath, and Board (as in “Room and Board”)

  8. neitsdelf says:

    Bread as a metonym for food?

  9. Daniel says:

    Brinner would be my vote.

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