You see that simple little light fixture in the top left corner? If you only knew what a triumph it is…
Why? Because it’s the fourth one to have occupied that space during the course of the last three weeks.
I got it into my head about a month ago that the cheap boob-light that’s been hanging in our sunroom since well before we bought this house wasn’t going to cut it anymore. It was going to happen eventually, I guess.
When we started renovations, I was so overwhelmed by the big-picture things, I didn’t even notice many of the little things like ugly light fixtures, just as long as they were working. Or, heck, maybe I did notice them — but I didn’t focus on them because there were more important things vying for attention. But then, after the emergencies and the big-picture problems resolved, the things we were just living with started to jump out at me like four-alarm fires that begged to be put out *IMMEDIATELY*!!! That’s what happened to me with the boob fixture. I mean, one day I just woke up and thought: For crying out loud, who’s putting boobs on the ceiling in the first place?!
I started with an IKEA flush mount. I’ve purchased IKEA light fixtures before and really liked them. But it looked totally wrong in this quaint little space with its pretty bead board ceiling. I had totally struck out. Whenever this happens, I feel so weirdly embarrassed that I can’t bring myself to photograph it. So no pictures.
Then I realized that I had been violating my own advice to stick to schoolhouse semi-flush mounts when in doubt or when all else fails. So I ordered one. BUT… the company accidentally sent me the fixture I wanted with the wrong finish. Crying shame, I know… I wanted brushed nickel and got polished chrome. We installed it because we had company coming to the house the next day. But I couldn’t deal with the fact that it wasn’t what I had ordered. So once the company was gone I took the chrome fixture down and sent it back and arranged to have the right one sent.
All of this rigamarole… and for what? Did I really believe anyone would come into the house, see the chrome light, and think, “Oof, they should have gone with brushed nickel.” Of course not! So I ask myself in times like this, “Are you a CRAZY lady?!” Because who has the energy and wherewithal to obsess about something so seemingly inconsequential?
(Um, me. The answer is apparently ‘me.’)
This calls to mind an exchange Manny and I had a few months back. We hadn’t even started on the kitchen yet, but already I was in decorator-overdrive. I would order something or make a decision, and then change my mind — either because I realized I’d made a mistake, or it didn’t turn out the way I wanted. This likely sounds familiar if you read any of the recent posts about my penchant for changing paint colors. Long story short, I sent back shower curtains that didn’t “wow” me (and, seriously, who is ever “wowed” by a shower curtain?); lamp shades that weren’t the right color; rugs that didn’t match my expectations. I swear, it seemed like I exchanged or returned half of the stuff I bought for the bungalow — some of it two or three times.
Anyway, I had asked Manny to help me re-do some thankless task. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but we were probably re-boxing something I was planning to return. “I’m really sorry,” I told him. “I know I’ve been asking you to help me do things like this so often lately.”
In his calm and magnanimous way, he said, “It’s okay.”
“No really,” I insisted. “I’m glad you’re willing to help me.”
“It’s okay,” he reiterated. “I know you’re a perfectionist. We’ll just keep trying until we get it right.”
Please note that his tone was completely supportive. I point this out because it would be easy to read sarcasm into it — like, “It’s ‘okay’ — you’re a perfectionist” — when that’s not at all how he meant it. And his earnestness totally stopped me in my tracks. Like, WAIT, WHAT?!
“I’m not a perfectionist!” I protested.
He stared at me. “Are you serious?”
And then it occurred to me, perhaps for the first time in my life:
I. Am. A. Perfectionist.
This exchange has sort of haunted me since. Because I don’t know what to do with this knowledge. I think, sadly, if anything it’s empowered me to just be my obsessive, sweat-the-infinitesimal self. For example, when I realized the sunroom light fixture was chrome and not nickel, a quiet voice in my head said, “It’s fine. What difference does it make?” But then the louder voice inside said, “Of course it’s NOT FINE… That light fixture could be here for a decade, or two, or three. Are we really going to live with something we don’t like or want because it’s ‘close’ to what we wanted?”
It points to a larger question for me: Objectively speaking, isn’t it better to just make something right and then move on and be happy, rather than give up (because it’s annoying to ship things back, for instance), only to be reminded day after day after day that it was a mistake?
I think I will miss parts of our renovation, strangely enough. In fact, I know I will, because I keep eyeing fixer-uppers in town and thinking, wistfully, “one day!” or “if only!” — as though getting my hands on them would be the best thing ever. But it’s probably really, really good for me — and, by extension, for Manny and for Tilly — that I just calm the you-know-what down and lay low and stop endlessly buying and returning light fixtures for a while. Because apparently I can be a little bit obsessive. It’s… a quirk. I’ll call it a product of my perfectionist-tendencies.
What about you? Any personal quirks sneaking up on you during a remodel?