Remodeling My Bathroom Reminds Me of Our Catskills House: The House Which Always Changed

30 May

I am in the process of having a little half bath remodeled. The old pedestal sink is gone. The old linoleum tiles are gone. The distressed paint is gone. In their place are a new cabinet sink, ceramic tile floor and new paint. The process has taken three days. And the entire time it has been in progress, I have been going back into time to our home in the Catskills.

My grandparents bought the ‘big house’ in the early 1960s. The home had been divided into four little apartments. Three were rented out during the summers, and the owner stayed in the one that was slightly bigger. My grandparents bought the house with the intention of reuniting it into one home. It became a forever process.

It slowly took shape. First they stopped renting out two of the three other apartments. They took down the wall that separated the upstairs from the living room. We now had two rooms upstairs and another bathroom. Of course there was a kitchen along one wall as well!

The fireplace in the center of the living room.

The fireplace in the center of the living room.

Downstairs they removed the kitchen and teeny bathroom that had been built behind the fireplace. They left the room on, but made it part of the living room. The children loved to sleep back there on the trundle bed. It was also a great hiding place. And the fireplace is a magnificent stone edifice. We love it. Originally it was at the end of the house. But now it stands in the living room.

They opened the doorway between the two sections of the house. Putting in a pocket door to close the living room off in the winter. Each room of the house was slowly redone.

They built a garage, since they started spending the winters up there. At first there was just a flagstone patio that led from the kitchen door to the across to the garage. But eventually walls were put up to keep the snow from blowing. At first my grandfather just put up some old windows and plywood to keep the wind out. But eventually real walls were built and a roof put on and another door creating what we all called stone room.

The kitchen was remodeled and remodeled several times over the years by my grandparents and then my parents.

The fourth apartment was changed. The bedroom that originally belonged to the main house was reunited, and a true apartment was built. This was rented during the summer.

The upstairs was remodeled. The kitchen came out and two bedrooms were created. And when a dining room was built onto the downstairs kitchen, a large attic area was created. This empty storage space became a bone of contention between my grandparents. My grandmother wanted a dormer put in so the room could be used. My grandfather could not. This debate created one of my favorite Grandpa memories.

I was a senior in high school and I was explaining parapsychology to my European grandparents. I explain how some people believed they could foresee the future. My grandfather looked at me and said, “I can foresee the future.”

“Really,” I naively responded.

“Yes,” he said. “In two minutes your grandmother is going to be screaming.” He walked passed me into the kitchen, and said two words: “No Dormer!”

He was right, my grandmother started to scream.

And my grandfather and I started to laugh. It was a great example of my Grandpa’s sense of humor, as well as an indication of my grandparents’ house remodeling issues.

The screened porch.

The screened porch.

When my grandparents passed away, and the big house passed to my parents, more remodeling occurred. My parents redid the kitchen and modernized it. They added a screened in porch, which we love. I think we spend most of our time there! They put in French doors that lead from the porch into the dining area. And they created a master suite with a small en suite bathroom.

The difference from my grandparents’ experience is that my parents hired an architect to plan and oversea the work. This meant that work was actually done to code. And so as they worked they opened walls and replaced all the electric wiring and much of the plumbing.   They also remodeled the upstairs bathroom, adding a small dormer to enable to addition of a shower. I will never forget the first time I saw the little dormer area. I could not help but think of my Grandpa Nat and his glorious sense of humor.

All the remodeling did not just stay in the house. I have not even mention all the changes that were made on the small bungalow that sat behind the home.   My parents, siblings and I stayed there. And over time it also got another bedroom, a real living room and a redone kitchen. A screened in porch was also added, while we stayed there.

The outside also underwent many changes over the years.  With four acres, my grandfather and dad had a lot to work with, and they did.  We had gardens and vegetable gardens; sitting areas and patios; trees put in and tress removed.  New wells were dug  and landscaping redone.

Over a 50-year period “change” was the word, and remodeling was the main entertainment! But now it is complete. My siblings and I own the house. Although we work to keep it maintained, we have no remodeling planned in the near future!

My little bathroom is not such a big deal as a house. But it did bring back the wonder of the house that always changed.

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