My remodel got off to a roaring start. The two site supervisors, Brian and Joe, arrived with their team one Monday morning at 9:00, as scheduled, and before lunchtime they had cleared all the fixtures and appliances from my kitchen and bathroom. All that remained to do was tear out the floor and wall tiles, and before Tuesday afternoon they had finished that.
It was startling to see these two rooms, which I had used for eight years and knew so intimately, suddenly disappear. Objects that had seemed like fixed realities of my daily life (my rusting medicine cabinet, my noisy fridge, my perpetually clogged sink) were very simply removed and discarded. It made me understand that interior design is an ephemeral art. No doubt years from now I, or someone else, will be ripping out the appliances and finishes I’m installing now for altogether newer and more fabulous ones.
After demolition was complete I expected that some fundamental character of these rooms would be revealed, that I would be able see their proportions and dimensions more clearly. But demolition made it even harder to see the rooms platonically, as empty spaces ready to be fitted out. It exposed their gritty structure and infrastructure. Behind the tile wainscot in the bathroom there were chaotic layers of cement blocks, mortar, plaster and lathe. Behind drywall in the kitchen there were overlapping plumbing, electrical and vent lines, and a rough infill of cement block and plaster. Demolition did not inspire my faith; it did not excite me. It exposed the rough, unpretty stuff that my building was made of, and the dense maze of existing utility lines. So much of the wall behind my kitchen sink had been removed to squeeze in new plumbing and drain lines that I wondered whether it might fall over. And, for just a moment, I wondered seriously why I had begun to remodel.