Lessons Learned While Remodeling

Every time I hear the words, “Welcome back,” I invariably think of the 1970’s sitcom, “Welcome Back, Kotter.” I was pretty young, but I still remember the ‘Sweathogs,’ including John Travolta’s star-making role as Vinnie Barbarino, and I believe I had a ‘Horshack” T-shirt at some point during first grade. Still, the theme song is what sticks out most in my mind these days. I am sure anyone under the age of 40 likely has no idea what I am talking about, so here is a link to the Welcome Back, Kotter Intro and Theme Song. At any rate, I thought I could share just a little bit of what occupied my time the last few years instead of writing on my blog.

Hermana Olsen returning from Peru, November 2014

Elder Olsen returning from Nicaragua,  August 2016

First, I spent a fair amount of time blogging, not for myself, but for my two oldest children who were serving LDS missions. Our oldest daughter served in Peru Lima West and our oldest son served in Nicaragua Managua South. Although some missions allow the missionaries time to do some limited proselyting in a blog or on Facebook, this was not an option in Peru or Nicaragua. In fact, very few people even have home computers or internet connection in Peru or Nicaragua. Every Monday, our children would email events and pictures of the previous week, usually from internet cafes, and then I would edit and upload the stories and images onto their blogs. And since they were both speaking Spanish, let’s just say their English skills were a little rusty. Now they are both home and off to college in Provo, so I have a little more time these days to return to my own blog (but with a slightly different focus now as I shared on my Home page).

Second, we remodeled the interior of our entire house over the past 16 months or so. Every room upstairs and downstairs received a fresh coat of paint (including all the ceilings). All the carpet on the main floor was removed and replaced with laminate flooring. We also completely remodeled our kitchen.

Here are the Top 5 lessons I learned along the way:

Chutes and Ladders

1 — No matter how many children try to hold the bottom steady, never climb a ladder while it is sitting atop a scaffold. It costs a lot less to rent a second scaffold than to pay for a trip to the Emergency Room or a funeral.

Shake It Up!

2 —  Jackhammers are great for removing old tile, but horrible for breathing. After 4 hours of jackhammering all of the old tile from our kitchen floor, the house was filled with a thick cloud of dust that was somewhat reminscint of 9-11. Three days later, we were still cleaning up dust.

Barn Doors in the Kitchen

Surfin’ Safari

3 — ‘HGTV’ is a four-letter word. I can relate to the pain that Chip Gaines goes through every week on Fixer Upper, but he seems to keep a much better sense of humor than I do. My wife calls shows such as Flip or Flop and Love It or List It inspirational, wheras I see them more as perspirational. Also, ‘Ikea’ is another four-letter word that still makes me wince a little.

Before…

4 — My father used to always say, “Measure twice and cut once.” I found this to be true, but I would also recommend lots of wood putty, silicone caulk, and a dark stain to really conceal all the flaws.

5 — Remodeling your home is really a series of negotiations and compromises. It is amazing what my wife could get me to do simply by giving me permission to go get a new tool for the project.

After….

Bonus lesson: 6 — You never really “finish” remodeling your home when you are doing it yourself. I can understand how George Lucas felt with the original Star Wars movies — he just couldn’t leave them alone, but had to keep tinkering on them over the years. Same with your home — you just kind of move from one project to the next until you start over again. That’s OK, because I can always use a few more new tools.

© Copyright 2017 Jeff, All rights Reserved. Written For: Jeffrey Olsen
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1 comment


  1. Brad Jensen

    I wondered where you disappeared to the last couple years. 😉

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