Pink House Chronicles – Part 2



You know your house is a bona fide construction zone when it has a porta potty on the front yard, and when subcontractors hang their signs from your palm tree, and when your contractors’ trucks are there nearly every day. Eventually, it stops looking like a house and becomes a remodeling project. That’s when you just give up and and stop mowing the lawn, because after all, why bother.

Allow me to pause here a moment and apologize to the neighbors for the toilet on my lawn. It’s for the construction crew.  Is it any consolation to know that by Christmas the Pink House will look better than ever? No? Well, if you squint really hard the aqua porta potty kind of looks like a phone booth.

Much has happened since my last Pink House Chronicle. For one thing, twin Shelly and I abandoned contractors Ron and Dave and left for a two-week trip to Europe where we visited my son Joe in Ostrava, in the Czech Republic, and Doug Cushman, friend and anewscafe.com writer, in Paris. Perhaps you read about it on my travel blog. (I’m a lousy travel blogger. I spent more time visiting places like the Eiffel Tower and little Paris cafes and less time trying to fix my uncooperative Internet connection.)

But even while in Ostrava, we remained in contact with the guys. One evening we scheduled a Skype conversation so Ron and Dave could carry the laptop around my Redding living room while Shelly, I, Joe and Marie crowded around a laptop in Ostrava as the guys wiggled the web cam toward wall openings and dangling wires and exposed beams. It was kind of like careening over Buckhorn Summit in the back of a pickup, but without the promise of an ocean at the end of the trip.

I’m back in Redding, where I can keep up with the remodeling, and continue meeting with the Pink House team: Shelly Shively Designs, interior stager and designer (twin disclosure), and contractors Ron Goniwicha and Dave Christensen of Best Choice Home Improvements, and architect James Theimer, owner of Trilogy ArchitectureE&S Electric, Royal Plumbing and Karen McGrath Landscape Design.

Apparently it takes a construction village to remodel.

Initially, I planned to just do the basics, like paint, replace the single-pane windows, remodel the kitchen, and cover up the ugly living room flooring.  But then I started rationalizing, or justifying, or whatever you want to call it.

I’ll be in this house probably forever. May as well bite the bullet and get everything done now. Plus, my marriage button was blown to smithereens, which means that from here on out, I’m a single-bathroom sink kind of gal.

Even so, I wanted a house open enough to hold large gatherings of friends and family. I wanted a house where, when I’m cooking, I can see straight through to where all the fun is happening. I wanted a house that was safely rewired, so it wouldn’t burn to the ground when I tried to use the air conditioner.

Cha ching.

The guys cut a square in one wall so I could see into the living room when I cooked. And the whole house is being rewired by E&S Electric, brave men unafraid to crawl under the house and not need a change of pants after one guy came nose to nose with the neighborhood stray black cat under the house.

You could not pay me a million dollars or a million skylights to crawl under my house.

Not to get totally off track, but have you ever noticed how much black cats, in the dark, look like skunks?

The guys recently removed a living room closet to make the room feel larger. And they installed a trio of windows in the living room, right about where the former front door was located.


It’s a more open house now. It’s been stripped down to its 1956 underboards. I barely recognize it.

To cut costs, I’m using a bunch of left-over materials from the Igo house project, such as bamboo flooring, some tile, a huge window that will go in my office, and a bunch of metal scraps from my welding class that are on stand-by for some yet-to-be-created project. (Cue neighbors calling code enforcement.)

I’ve learned to look for bargains in scratch-and-dent sections, or close-outs, or “bone piles,” as some places so affectionately refer to them.

For example, I bought all the interior (white) paint half off when Sears closed its paint section. And I scored a set of double front doors for $300 (formerly $1,300) because someone ordered them and later didn’t like them. And the guys found a beautiful glass patio door for $60 (previously $600), and just yesterday I found a cool sliding door at Moule’s Glass for $300, formerly $1,300 (it the frame had a crack in it), and a red kitchen sink for $65, formerly $254. All of these items were either special-order returns, or have some minor flaw. I especially love those returned special orders. (I know stores hate them.)

Even so, I try not to be freaked out about the money, which is why I recently returned a pair of skylights because I knew they required cutting into the roof, and all kinds of extra work. (Time. Money.)

But I still have plenty of ideas. And ideas are free, right?

… Hey, as long as you guys are cutting a little hole in that wall, can you add a closet, and, oh, can you put some shelves where we removed the closet, and can you move the front door to the front … and can you make that window opening larger, and that one smaller.

Ron? Dave? Hello? Hello?

doni-new-mugIndependent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007, Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments