It seemed perfect at the time. Moving into our first home. A renovated 3 bedroom semi in East Riverdale. The bones were good, the home inspection acceptable, even the price. We moved into a home we thought would be ours for 2 maybe 3 years. It was everything first time home buyers could hope for: Renovated kitchen, up to date bathroom and wiring. The furnace was a middle aged 14 years old. A neighbourhood that had been somewhat dodgy at one time but now friendly and gentrifying in a quick and favourable manner. We knew it was for us the moment we walked through the front door. So, deciding to put an offer on the property and discovering it was sold conditional on financing, we felt like our dream had been taken from us. It turned out that the Sellers were negotiating, and had settled on a conditional sale as we were touring our future home for the first time. To top the cake, our realtor was going on vacation the next day. Thank god he left our business in capable hands. We explicetly instructed him that should the deal fall through, we wanted to submit an offer. Fortunately for us the deal did fall through and we found ourselves the proud new owners of a fantastic home.
I still remember the first day we took possession. Everything seemed perfect. We sat on the floor in the empty living room admiring the gleaming hardwood and the openess of our new space. Even the stair case looked spectacular with it’s rustic worn treads.
Moving day came and went. Weeks turned into months and months turned into years, five and a half years to be precise. Those five years were spent productively. Both of us focusing on our careers and even a few new ones along the way. Our home throughout it became more of a sanctuary. The quirks of living in a hundred year old home made it all the more endearing. New drains, a stretch of water pipes replaced, new pot lights, and replacement of contaminated soil. Yes… we bought a house with a small rear section of contaminated soil. No problem. Already mandated to be cleaned up which it was about 3 years after we moved in. Non the less, it was ours and it was perfect for a couple of young professionals.
Over the next five and a half years little things we thought were endearing and gave the home charm started to become annoying and run of the mill. The squeaky second level pine plank flooring, the pitch and squeak of the treads on the worn rustics stairs, the bathroom still looked good but was starting to show it’s age and we noticed the main level of our dream home was somewhat dark during the day. Wait a minute. We had actually improved upon our home by some of the small projects we had done. It still looked great and we received many compliments from guests but for us, although special, it was losing it’s lustre.
What happened to two or three years then moving? It had been almost six years and we were living in the same home. It is quite simple. We fell in love with the neighbourhood and it’s close proximity to everything. Not to mention that real estate prices in our pocket had almost doubled in value in that short period. Still, we couldn’t ignore that perhaps our tastes and needs had changed and maybe it was time to move to another home. Like anyone in this position we started kicking tires… or in our case…. front doors. The homes and condos we looked at came in many shapes, sizes, and prices. Big, small, run down, renovated, excellent neighbourhood, so so neighbourhood, and the list went on. We found nothing. So what next?
The only logical course of action was to renovate our home to suit our present needs and tastes. For the next two months we planned. We hired a designer, a contractor, and also determined what we wanted to do. It seemed so easy and smooth. Expanded parking, second level hardwood, a new staircase, quartz counter tops in the kitchen, a new bathroom, a skylight, new roof, and new furnace and air conditioner. After the renovation we were not going any where in a hurry. Finally by November the renovations started. What was to be three weeks turned into three months of inconvenient hell. The end result worth it looking back in hindsight.
When the renovations were complete I was not pleased with the finishing details of the bathroom. The grout was fragmenting in spots, the pot lights seemed too tight in the ceiling, some of the tiles were uneven… although only by a mere millimetre I noticed. To top the cake, the pocket door in the bathroom was installed crooked. Off by a bit. Only noticeable to a trained eye. Still being the type A personality that I am, it drove me crazy at first. So, I stewed for a few months after completion. Liking the over all picture and renovation but not liking the small finishing details in the bathroom. Wanting it repaired but not wanting to go through renovation hell again nor willing to spend another dime.
It wasn’t until a few months later when we were at a friends dinner party that it hit me like a ton of bricks. I am a perfectionist for small details and perhaps my expectations were too high. I expect perfection and in this case, it is near impossible to get perfection from a 100 year old house. I talked to a couple of people at the party who had had the same contractor do work on their older homes. They were very happy with his work. It is then I realized that all of my professional training and experience were working against me while our own renovations were taking place. OUCH. I started to think about homes I have seen during my career. Homes that were in the million dollar price range which I realized weren’t perfect either. Some of the homes which had designer baths and kitchens had more crooked mill, tile, and finishing work then mine did.
The following day I looked at our new bathroom for the first time in a different light and I fell in love. It really is beautiful and everything I dreamt it would be. In fact it turned out better than expected. Perfectionism isn’t a bad thing. In my mind it’s what makes us strive to be better at what we do but no longer will I fall victim to it. Fretting over the insignificant small details (such as a tile being off by a fraction of an inch or slight brush strokes in ceiling paint) only makes a renovation experience stressful and takes from the overall experience and end result.