…More Than Sweet Potatoes

The Agonizing Stages of Home Improvement

My family has a history of building shit.  My parents owned a closet organization company for decades.  My brother and dad used to do the installations.  My mom and dad did all the designing.  All of the closets in my house were home-made.  Same with my sister’s and my brother’s closet.  Headboards, desks and tables were all made by my parents.  My dad and I built my loft for my freshman year of college in the dorms.  My dad and I also built a bed (with a set of dressers underneath it) for the rest of my collegiate years.

You get it.  We build stuff.  I’m MODERATELY handy…

I actually have a bunch more tools than this...and they're not pink.  Believe it.

I actually have a bunch more tools than this…and they’re not pink. Believe it.

My dad is a “project” guy.  He gets really giddy over the idea of picking up a new project.  Even in his retirement he resides on the architecture committee for his community.  So when I got it in my head that I wanted a functional bar for my apartment, I knew he’d be interested in helping.  So I waited for them to come visit.

In hindsight, I could NEVER have done this project without them.

This is super cool, by the way.

This is super cool, by the way.

I COULD have bought a new bar table for $100-$150 and been perfectly happy, but it just seemed so boring and generic.  I wanted to re-purpose something.  I wanted to get my hands dirty.  I wanted the pride of something that was both creative and MINE.  I wanted to do a fun family project with my family…so we set out to make my IKEA table (originally intended as a baby changing table) into a grown up bar.

THIS is the table we started with.  Exactly.

THIS is the table we started with. Exactly.

Here are the 6 Agonizing Stages of Home Improvement, or the 6 C’s of Home Improvement – however you want to look at it (as experienced by my weekend project with my parents):

1) Conception: I had this brilliant vision in my head of what I wanted, but putting that vision into a reality is difficult when you don’t even know if each of the parts exist.  Example: I knew I wanted a checker board pattern on the shelves, but had no clue how to painter’s tape it to make it work.  I also knew I wanted to display my glass and stem ware, however, no store bought idea seemed good enough.



2) Communication: The finished product I had in my brain was a mish-mosh of different pieces of items that may or may not have ever existed in the real world.  That meant telling my parents what the plan was took about six thousand hours.  I cried once during this portion of the project.

3) Cooperation: I have been living alone for over a year at this point.  I’ve been out of my parents house for 4.5 years.  I am used to doing things on my own.  I’m also used to handing projects over to boys and sitting down and doing nothing.  What I am not used to is working with people on something.  Worse is that when I am frustrated, I can’t exactly just yell at them, tell them I’m more right and walk away…they’re my PARENTS.

4) Circumlocution: When we ran into problems with the glass and stemware display we did a LOT of brainstorming.  What I wanted changed about 5 times.  Every idea was awesome and then completely unworkable (from some people’s perspective) and then we’d go back to brainstorming.  There was a lot of interrupting and shutting down ideas.  I cried a LOT during this portion.

These are the boxes we found that we re-purposed as glass and stemware shelving.

These are the boxes we found that we re-purposed as glass and stemware shelving.

5) Criticism:  No, I did not criticize my parents – that I recall.  I did start to criticize myself a lot.  There came a point when we had used all of Saturday to work on the project and we were no closer to a complete product (I thought for sure this’d be a 4 hour project at BEST) when I wondered if any of it was worth it at all and if I should have dragged my parents into my inane decision of wanting a bar in the first place.

6) Closing in: As I JUST mentioned, this 4 hour max project took all of Saturday and part of Sunday.  After visiting with family friends (and a yummy brunch) we went to The Container Store – the family drug of choice – and Home Depot to get some more storage inspiration and tools.  We returned home about 7pm and got back to work.  At this point I could see the light at the end of the tunnel (the shelves were done, the bar was standing, and the shelving was looking like it would work.)  But the light wasn’t getting any closer and my anxiety kicked in HARDCORE.

Ultimately we finished everything by 11pm (with a quick dinner break in there) and it looks AMAZING.  My dad’s sheer skill and handiwork, my mom’s creative genius and impressive ability to somehow see what is in my head that I can’t express, and my goals created something wonderful.  The bar is gorgeous.  It is creative and unique and everything is re-purposed or used for something for which it was never intended.  And I could not be happier.  See pictures below.


Bottom "Liquor" Shelf

Bottom “Liquor” Shelf

Top "Wine" Shelf

Top “Wine” Shelf

Glass and Stemware Storage/Display

Glass and Stemware Storage/Display

FINAL product.  SWOON.

FINAL product. SWOON.


2 comments on “The Agonizing Stages of Home Improvement

  1. ST
    March 10, 2014

    I keep thinking those glasses will fall and shatter in a million pieces. But otherwise, it looks awesome.


    • Deborah Ilene
      March 11, 2014

      Thank you. I feel confident that won’t be a problem. They’re very secure. I hope.


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