I have a husband who is good with projects. He’s creative, finds solutions, puts his own spin on it and voila!, problem solved and we have this repaired/renovated/new thing we didn’t have before that looks amazing. He gets out his phone and takes a picture of this thing and then I hear it:
“I sure wish we’d take a picture of this [insert project name here] before I started….”
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve both said that exact same phrase over the last 20 years. You’d think by now we’d have caught on and learned, right? The reality is, while we are catching on, we get the before photo maybe 20% of the time. Most of the time we think about it halfway in, when we’ve either started digging, moved furniture, or have half a structure built. We do get the photos then, and at the completion too, but it’s tougher to share the change with family and friends if they a) have never visited our house or b) haven’t been here in a while and don’t recall what it looked like in the first place.
This past year, confined to home as much as we were, quite a few more projects were tackled including painting the kitchen cabinets, building an enclosure for the garbage cans, adding a stepping stone path from the patio to the shed, building shelves for our CD and record collection, painting our front door and updating a bathroom. I think we had before photos for everything except where the CD and records went, (and he may have actually done that too), so I was thinking we really might have kicked that bad habit until a few days ago. He was getting ready to begin the second part of a project when I heard “I wish we had a picture of this from before we started”.
The other part of taking the before and after however, is the ‘in-betweens’, which I define as getting the photos of all of the work that went into the project and making the magic happen, and my husband is awesome at that. I think projects are like labor pains – once you see your finished project and how great it looks, you forget all about the pain and difficulty it took to get there. But having those in-betweens? You’ll never forget. Our project photos for the front door are time and date stamped, so of course I will always know we did it over my long July 4 weekend off from work, but they also remind me of how beastly hot and humid it was, and of the fact that the damn door had 5 – FIVE – coats of paint (including the primer) on it that needed to come off because it had bubbled and cracked, and when it had been painted before they used a roller and flat paint so all of the roughness showed. Our photos show the multiple coats of citrus stripper, the mess in the garage, our open front door being taped cover with a couple of huge pieces of cardboard to keep the house air conditioned. They don’t show that we pushed the coffee table against the cardboard and stacked stuff on that, so in case anyone tried to come through the cardboard it would make a horrid racket and wake us up. Not that we would wake up anyhow, since we were sleeping 10 feet away on our sleeper sofa. I don’t need photos for that!
The project photos also help me remember how we tried to seal off the kitchen with plastic so that dust from sanding wouldn’t go everywhere in the house. I kind of felt like I was in some sort of biohazard zone, wearing my particle mask so as not to inhale microscopic varnish bits. Yeah, like I could forget THAT! (Actually I probably could, it bordered on traumatic.)
2021 is still young, maybe we’ll only forget this once.
Now that it’s all said and done, here are a few of our 2020 projects, before and after. Just don’t ask to see the ‘in-betweens’.