Dust to dust: A bathroom remodeling story


That old familiar smell is back again — the smell of dust. But not typical dust. Remodeling dust. Once again, I’ve found that dusting and mopping the floors are futile endeavors, so I’ve given up.

About once a year since we moved into our “fixer-upper” house six years ago, there’s been a project that’s thrown my cleanliness — and my sanity — into turmoil.

The first project — a bathroom remodel — demonstrated what I was in for since agreeing to purchase a home that needed a little work. When we moved in, the walls were tiled in a gross teal color and the floor was in pretty bad shape. But the worst part was the rotting window in the shower/tub. We thought replacing the window with glass block and pulling down the tile walls would be a quick project, until we discovered mold in the insulation and drywall. We quickly scratched our original plans and completely gutted the room. It was a messy project and took much longer than we anticipated, but when it was finally finished, it was well worth it.

But talk about dust.

Then again, the kitchen remodel takes the cake in that department, quite literally, considering the layer of dust that caked everything. Pulling down walls of 60-year-old plaster has a tendency to do that. This project tested my patience more than anything. Besides the seemingly never-ending supply of grime, six months is too long to be dependent on a microwave and electric skillet. I got quite creative with my dinner ideas, but I missed my stove terribly. But now, it’s a bathroom project again. This time, the walls aren’t coming down, but the concrete floor has to come up. I have a feeling this may just be the dirtiest project I’ve encountered.

To start laying bathroom plumbing in our old basement storage room, my husband and father-in-law (who is, by luck, a plumber) had to cut out concrete blocks from the floor and dig up some dirt. My husband warned me the night before to get our daughter out of the house for a few hours.

We went grocery shopping Saturday and came back to a haze of fine dust in the air and tracks of mud up and down the stairs and into the main bathroom.

To think I had considered mopping the floors Saturday morning before I decided the rain would make keeping them clean for more than an hour impossible. I was so glad I negated the idea as it would have unfairly put my husband in my cross hairs after I’d seen the tracks.

I am trying very hard to see the silver lining to all of this mess. I get a short reprieve from mopping and dusting (except in my daughter’s room), and having a second bathroom will be undoubtedly handy when company comes. And this bathroom project will be much more accommodating, considering we have another bathroom that is not under construction.

But it’s hard to look past the dirt, especially when getting out of bed to get a glass of water also includes washing your feet before getting back into bed.

Luckily, my husband assures me that the messiest part of the project is nearly complete. But I also know that sawdust and drywall dust awaits. And no matter how much I clean afterward, it seems like the dust just keeps coming long after the project is complete.

If I were you, I’d buy stock in dusting and cleaning products. I’ll be adding quite a boost in the sales of both very soon as I fight grime.


Deann Stumpe

In her weekly column that runs Mondays in the Hastings Tribune, Deann Stumpe gabs about relationships, movies and TV, and life with a baby. She is the Tribune’s special sections editor.

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