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Hearts And Hammers


While spring may turn a young man’s fancy to love, it turns the rest of us to . . . Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menard’s.

Actually, remodeling has a lot in common with love. It requires a major mindset shift, particularly when tackling it with your significant other. Both processes call on us to be unselfish, patient, and respectful, demanding teamwork, cooperation, and effective communication–primarily when it comes to listening.

Family therapists rate remodeling as a 6 out of 10 points in producing relationship stress. According to one attorney, remodeling projects result in more divorces than extramarital affairs. (We’re not advocating for either.) And the biggest battle zone? Paint color. (See Family Handyman website, https://www.familyhandyman.com.)

Planning what you hope to achieve starts with creating sketches, making lists, and lots of compromise. Write out what you require in your completed project, then add extras you’d like to include if the budget allows. Gather your tools, apply for any necessary permits, and know that there will be surprises as you progress.

When working out your budget together, experts suggest adding about 20% to cover issues like breakage, unexpected costs, the slightly more expensive molding you like, etc.


Set up a realistic timeline, allowing for a little more time to finish than you expect. Planning for delays can reduce the stress level and keep your relationships with suppliers, contractors, and your partner a little sweeter. So too, your disposition.

With your partner, figure out which of you does what best. Is he/she better at painting trim, while you like to splash big color on the walls? Are you more patient about running back to the store when necessary? Divvying up the work load at the start, and then being faithful about following through on your end will contribute to a smoother operation.

Certain portions of the job may require both of you to work together, while other sections are better handled individually. Perhaps the rule here should be: You’re not the boss . . . but neither am I. You may want to test your compatibility on a simpler project first, like painting a small room.

Choose your battles, and if a thing is less important to you than to your partner, you may just want to yield on that item. Know what sets your partner off and avoid those scenes whenever possible.

A sense of humor is essential to the project and, more importantly, to your relationship. Save your “whoopsie!” stories for humorous anecdotes with friends afterwards. You don’t want to obsess over mistakes in the middle of the job. This often leads to naughty words, hand tools flying through the air, and someone storming out, leaving you to finish their work.

Here’s hoping your finished project is a source of pride and joy—and a happy reminder of a time you shared teamwork, patience, humor and mutual respect; in other words, love.

Constance Watkins