I have a hovel, my home, from which I have been pulling the carpets. The wood floors, surely after decades of carpets, are now exposed, and I’m beginning to wonder how one lives with wood floors. I’m thinking of my clumsy propensity to spill and the daily need for dust mopping. I’m wondering about rugs. Most men would turn to their . . . to their designer? their house-cleaner? . . . for help in understanding the needs of wood floors and world of rugs, whereas I picked up instead a book on antique Caucausian prayer rugs that offers neither affordability nor instruction. I need something more fundamental.
The wood floors are only part of the problem. I’ve decided to remodel. It’s a decision brought on by problems with the bathroom while I was away for the year, but it’s essential if the house is to avoid ruin rather than simply teetering in the style category known as “academic shabby.” My aesthetic sense has been directed more toward art hung on walls rather than on the walls themselves. I had never—until this spring—even picked-up to flip the pages of a “life style” or “renovation” magazine, but they became my basic leads in trying—a thousand miles from my house these past months—to understand one’s remodeling choices. My 6 by 8 bungalow bath resists much change but has pushed me to thoughts of tiles and fixtures I would have considered unimaginable just weeks ago. The old bathroom was demolished last week; its pipes and studs are now exposed, and I began to re-imagine the kitchen. My contractor seemed skeptical when I made an appointment to talk about the kitchen, but, with good spirit, he met with me. As we talked, he turned his head only a few times to mumble discreetly, and then he would say things like “that gets expensive” and “it’s holding up your house.”
Meanwhile, I’ve taken down the curtains in the library (once a small bedroom); I’ve always preferred light to curtains.