Renovation Schmenovation

Be Blissful

I have been watching a ridiculous amount of HGTV lately. Like, an alarming amount.

So after a rainy-day binge session of “Flip or Flop,” I was inspired. I was going to tackle a project that has been bothering me for the last decade I have lived in my house.

The stairs, with their awful, stained-green carpet, with the tread that is broken and you have to step on it just the right way. The walls that were painted so terribly and haphazardly (My fault — I did that).

It needed a makeover. And heck, if Tarek and Christina can do it with ease, then so can I. She wears heels while she works, for goodness sake! I got out a crowbar, hammer and a pair of pliers. I’ve got this.

Hi! My name is Heather, and I am the homeowner. I’m renovating my stairs and I have a budget of $36.

Bottom stair: I pulled up the carpet on that step with ease to reveal crumbly, thoroughly deteriorated padding underneath. OK, this is gross, but I can do this.

The third stair was broken, so that came off really easily. Whoa. This stair is cracked all the way across. Like someone could have gone right through this stair. I am a terrible homeowner. OK, this gets fixed immediately. Pull, pull, pull.

Fourth stair — oh boy. Whoever put in this carpet intended this seafoam green carpet to be here forever. There are about 39,000 staples. And I just stepped on the tack strips on the step below. They make this look so easy on TV.

Three hours later, all 12 stairs are free and clear of carpet and padding; rolled up and hauled out to the trash.

Part Two: tack strips.

“Those come up so easily! You just need a crowbar, and they pop right up,” claims my mother.


There were about 943 nails to each tack strip. As I worked my way up to the next step, I said a lot of bad words. It was a good thing no one was home other than myself.

Hours later, the stairs were free of tack strips. I could now clearly see the beautiful wooden stairs covered in about eight layers of old linoleums of various colors/patterns, along with four other broken stairs.

All I can hear is “cha-ching” as my meager budget started heading into the triple digits.

A trip to the building supply store to purchase new stair treads which they wouldn’t cut presented a new problem. I have to use a Skil saw myself?

After a lengthy pep talk to myself, and texting a friend (“Please come take me to the hospital if I cut my arm off with this thing”) I was ready to cut. I DID IT. I cut it by myself. It’s crooked, but dang it, I did it by myself.

Pull out more staples, sweep, pull out more staples, sweep, repeat. This went on for hours.

I stood at the bottom of the stairs. I was just a filthy, sweaty mess and I thought: How cool is this? Not only did I do this myself, but look at the history here! This home that is 120 years old — look at the wear on the treads. The hundreds of thousands of trips that have been made up and down these stairs over the years. It’s amazing.

And then I went to Lowe’s and bought new stair treads because they needed it. Now the hallway is littered with about 20 different paint samples because I can’t pick a color I like. Carpet runner swatches are splayed at random as I attempt to match a paint color to the carpets I like.

I fixed this. I did it on my own to make my house just a little bit nicer. But I am still mad at HGTV for lying to me.

Heather E. French is an English instructor at Lake Linden-Hubbell Middle/High School.