A Renovation Escapade

Phyllis Décor, Inspiration 27 Comments

There was a little mishap with the title of my last e-mail. Oops! This post is not about the Victoria Stationery set (but I’ll be choosing a winner soon!) 

My husband and I are renovating an older home for our “final resting spot” as we call it. When I think back on it, I have been renovating my whole life and I get this from my Mother. She is the queen of redoing, reusing, and upgrading homes.

I recall one of the escapades that we  had one week when Dad was away on a business trip. We got the brilliant idea that the ceramic towel bar was in the wrong place in the “girl” bathroom that my sister and I shared with Mom. If you are old enough to recall, ceramic towel bars were literally mounted in the wall, then the sheetrock surrounded it. Our small, seemingly useless towel bar was going away! And we were going to accomplish this while Dad was gone and have our newly painted bathroom ready when he returned.

Our first step was to remove the towel bar. Sounds simple doesn’t it? We cut a hole in the sheetrock around the ceramic brackets and proceeded to lift it from the wall. It was a lot more difficult than we had anticipated and, in fact, I think we resorted to using a crowbar to pry it loose. All of a sudden we heard a loud crunching sound and the towel bar was out, along with about 8 inches of the sheetrock all around it. Oh my goodness! What were we going to do?

Mom got the idea we would stuff the hole with paper, but soon realized that every piece we put in the holes dropped to the bottom inside the wall. This was a “Lucy and Ethel” moment in our lives. I remembered a college professor of mine telling of a similar dilemma and how he solved it.

So here is what we did next. Using the “Dr. Bryant method” of wall repair, we cut a piece of cardboard for the two sections of the wall that had the cavernous opening. In the center of the cardboard, we cut a hole and inserted a balloon. Then we put the cardboard inside the wall, holding it in place by the balloon.

Now is the tricky part. We had to blow up the balloon (that was now inside the wall) with the mouthpiece right up against the wall and tie it off so that the pressure from the inflated balloon held the cardboard tight up against the sheetrock. It worked beautifully after many tries. It is hard to blow up a balloon and tie it off when you are laughing. The cardboard covered the hole from the backside of the sheetrock leaving the front to be filled in.

We decided next to put spackle this area and that should do it. And we thought it would spread like cake batter. Hum, not that simple. After many cans of spackle, we finally got it covered. A good sanding, a fresh coat of paint, and no one would be the wiser.

Dad came home and we showed off our work. The look on his face was priceless and he asked the convicting question, “How did you get the towel bar off the wall without ruining the wall?” I am not sure how we wormed our way out of that, but judging from his laughter he knew we had made a colossal mess. Mom told him it was a snap!

I can only imagine many years from now the house will be remodeled and what a surprise there will be. Inside the bathroom wall are two red balloons attached to cardboard with a pile of newspaper below. I hope they call in an archeologist to solve this one.

Have you remodeled? Do you have enough courage to share your disasters with us?

Comments 27

  1. Phyllis…your story is too funny…..I could actually imagine yall blowing the balloon up and tying the knot!! Happy you have started your reno….I know it will be fabulous….cant wait to see your new home!

  2. My Dad and uncle reshingled our two story home in the sixties..you know,a diy project ..Things were progressing well until 85 year old grandpa climbed up ( full basement and attic too) to make sure those guys knew what they were doing… He was fine but the guys still talk about the scare……

  3. Thank you for the laughter. That was a wonderful story and I am sure brought laughter every time you thought of that time.

  4. Thanks for a good laugh Phyllis! It reminded me of a family project. Ten years ago , we tore down our little swiss cottage to replace it by a four bedroom country house ( 4 seasons, very important in Canada). The fun we had, how scared we were sometimes, 3 teachers and a financial advisor plus 2 young grand-children. You have to be ready for adventure ssss!

    I really enjoyed “Le fabuleux destin d`Amélie Poulin“ I also think its a wonderful movie!

  5. Aunt Anna and Uncle George were living in the double drawing rooms on the right downstairs at Bluff Hall in Demopolis, Alabama during the Second World War and for a short while afterward. Mrs. Smith, a direct descendant of Sara Serena Glover, the original owner, had had a window in the side of the front drawing exchanged for a door cut into the wall for a private entrance to the apartment. A few steps led down into the garden, which was filled with flowers, most of which were sweet- scented along with the tea olive and crepe myrtle tree. She had added a tiny kitchen and an even tinier bath room at the back of the back drawing room and part of a back hall.

    In the summer and on school holidays I spent weeks or weekends visiting cousin Wessie there and came to love the old place and to know Mrs. Smith, who lived in the remainder of the first floor. When I went to visit family nearby I always stopped in from of Bluff Hall, then empty, to recall wonderful memories of my early teen years visiting there.

    When Bluff Hall was declared an Historic house by the city, the walls were returned to their original state and the outdoor steps removed. Decades later I went to visit Bluff Hall as a paying visitor touring like the rest of a small group. The young docent, bright and full of herself, conducted us into the front drawing room on the right and proceeded to tell us the history of the lovely old house. When she concluded her remarks about the two drawing rooms, each of which had a white marble fireplace with mantel, I asked about the old door that had been in the front drawing room. “Oh, no!” she said adamantly.
    “There has never been a door there.” I told her of my experiences in the old house and she again said that I was wrong. No door. Ever.

    After the tour I went outside. The side garden was sadly run down and partly paved over. In the wall where the door had been, the patching in of the bricks and the painting over were obvious. A small pile of identical, unused house-bricks lay, just a bit back on the earth beneath their wall.

    1. Our clients are infested with idiots who attempt to impress by utilizing pretentious jargon.To believe the new economy has ended is much like somebody working in london in 1830 saying the whole industrial revolution is over because some textile manufacturers in Manchester went broke.

    2. Hi Michele, thanks for the feedback and the stumble There are always things we can improve and it’s a constant learning journey – I’m sure there’s a lot that you’ll be picking up and absorbing as you read and visit other blogs, and you’ll implement what’s right for you and your readers all in your own good time Joanna

    3. …liked as Cat H Adams on FB and left a comment saying we love the Union Jack Kiddimoto Kurve ….but we also love the Kiddimoto Superbike Red, my 2 year old loves watching superbikes so he would be WOW’d by the fab design, but it is also FAB to be patriotic too! I love England there are a lot worse places to be and think we forget that sometimes.. we should be proud of hosting the Olympics (and pray it doesn’t go poop!)

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  6. I too thought your story was hilarious! I’m still laughing. Both my grandfather and father had their share of “oops” moments over the years while fixing things around the house. But one funny renovating moment was when my husband finished putting tiles up on the walls around the bath tub. It was our first house and a major undertaking for him. Everything looked beautiful, but as we lay our heads down for the night we started hearing intermittent clangs etc. My husband finally went to investigate and saw that the tiles were slowly starting to fall off, one by one until only a few were left. Our initial horror was soon relplaced by laughing so hard we couldn’t stop. By the way, your living room looks lovely Phtyllis and I love the light fixture and the art work.

  7. What a delightful memory you have of the family working together! Laughter and a lot of determination! Thank you for sharing!

  8. I don’t have a story to tell, but yours was hilarious! Thanks for sharing. And the room is very comfortable looking. Very nice.

  9. Phyllis,

    I LOVE your story.

    Bet your parents and mine would have been friends. Your stories of childhood are filled with the same sense of family love as mine. Aren’t we very fortunate!!

    When my parents added a den and completely redid their 1920’s home (that was built by a carpenter for his only daughter’s marriage gift) in about 1956, metallic shapes on the Sheetrock was in vogue. After the Sheetrock was painted, a paint-roller very much like today’s stamping-rollers was dipped in metallic paint and rolled over the surface

    As an only child, I had to have that in my room. My gold stars were beautiful; I loved them and thought I was just about “it” to have them on my ceiling. Surprisingly, they didn’t fade much and I contined to enjoy them for many years — a few more than expected as it turns out.

    The next time that ceiling was painted, they peaked through the paint! Mother and Daddy wanted to do a third coat; but, I convinced them I rather liked the subtle effect.

    While I still enjoy sleeping in that room from time to time, my stars are long gone — or is that one over there valiantly still shining through?

    Sweet memories…

    In today’s world amidst so much sadness, your Ribbon is a bright bit of happiness for those of us who are priviledged to commingle our memories with yours. Thank you for bringing a sense of the personal to this business of publishing…


  10. I absolutely LOVE the colors in your room!! I am a big fan of yellow walls and have them used with blue in one room, dark red and green in one and pastels in the last one. They are all so cheery and each is different. I have a yellow floral sofa very much like your chairs. I can hardly wait to see your other rooms when you are done. Thanks for much for sharing. Sincerely, Sandy B.

  11. When we remodel our kitchen, we found a penny from 1953, we left it along with a 2007 penny, so if someone remodels the kitchen, again they will know when they were remodel. It was the second and third done since our house was built in 1925. It’s a craftsman home so we did a very sweet job, and it fits the time frame of our home.

  12. Renovation is fun and a huge challenge for most. My husband is a very talented man and can do a lot of different DIY projects. Once he did puncture a gas line really wasn’t funny of course dangerous. But it is a part of the project we will ales remember.

  13. That is hilarious!
    Did you ever see “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain”–I think it’s just “Amelie” in English? She finds a treasure hidden in a wall, which sets off the huge adventure in the movie. A darling film. Very feel-good.
    I am not a DIYer, so I don’t have many tales to tell beyond filling holes in rentals with toothpaste. But we are renovating some 17th century apartments where a chunk of plaster fell off to reveal the innards of the wall: fist-size stones piled between the timbers and STRAW. Amazing. Most of the walls are made of stones the size of a carryon bag.

    1. Thank you for a fun link party. I have been following your blog and getting the emails but today is the first day I have linked up. I hope you like the 2 recipes I added to the party:-) Have a great weekend.

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