The Gnome and I: Adventures in First Time Home Ownership – Episode 2

Episode 2-Le Ciel Tombe!

Episode 1 is here.

Henri shouted again, “Le ciel tombe!”  My less than superior interpretation skills translated this announcement as ‘the sky is is tumbling.’  What?  ¿Que?!   Quelle?!!  Stumbling over half-unpacked boxes I raced into the bathroom to find Henri pointing at the ceiling. Whereupon I noticed several cracks in the plaster and the first crack in the veneer of my ‘move-in ready’ home.  The house had been freshly painted only 4 or 5 months before.  How could the paint be peeling already?

peeling ceiling
The Peeling Ceiling

[‘Move-in-ready’ is a phrase that often loses in translation.  A cave is move-in ready; but that is hardly ideal.  Unless you are a bear.  Despite first appearances, there is always something that needs changing or fixing when buying a home on a strict budget.]

I had already planned to renovate the bathroom. I had spent more than 15 years with a dreadful-looking bathroom in the rental; no more atrocious bathrooms for me! First was to get rid of the hideous plastic shower surround which was becoming unglued from the wall and have the area tiled. Then replace the ugly plastic sink thing  with a proper sink, replace the medicine chest and light fixture, and do something about the awful vinyl floor, preferably tile.  Now I added the ceiling to the list.

taped shower
Shower surround taped to the wall
These had to go!

Luckily I have been watching those home buying/selling/renovating shows on television for quite some time.  So I had a good idea of what I wanted, how to get it done properly and how much of it I could do by myself (not much, other than painting). And thankfully, I found a good contractor who was able to begin straight away.   I was very happy he found no bugs or mould inside the walls he ripped out.

Henri was ready to begin and donned his construction hat and monocle protector.
Henri wearing construction gear


I ordered what I needed from the home stores and the deliveries piled up in my front parlour.  Henri supervised the organising of supplies. The contractor replaced the ceiling, tiled around the tub, replaced the ugly faucet and shower head in the tub, and installed the new sink, medicine chest and light fixture.  If he was surprised to find a gnome living in my house he took it in stride.

Henri supervises the work
Supervisor Henri on top of ugly radiator cover

As the contractor did his work I removed the ugly 1960s radiator covers and tossed them outside for him to haul away.  He thought it was hilarious to see me wrestle with these big ugly things.

bathroom after

In less than a week, my bathroom had been transformed!  I really wanted to remove the lower bathroom walls (ridiculous faux wood/made-to-resemble-tile-stuff that was glued to the studs) and replace with white wainscoting.  But that and the floor would have to wait as I had made the classic rookie mistake of having too small a budget for all of these changes.  Plus I still needed to switch the boiler from oil to natural gas and the range/oven from electric to natural gas in October.  I painted the upper walls a tranquil sea green, of which Henri approved.  And lived another year with awful vinyl floor, which made both Henri and me shudder every time we looked at it.

To be continued…….


  1. I can fully empathise. We had our grotty old bath replaced several weeks ago and what a can of worms that opened! Water running through the floorboards into the kitchen, tiles on top of old tiles, the corpse of an old electric shower… When you move into a new home and start investigating what the previous owner has done to it, wow! I have taken to shaking my head in constant disbelief, Magick. I can recommend this response, it makes you feel like a wise adult.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope there were not any real worms 🙂 Although nothing would surprise me at this point; particularly after I tackled the floor (which will appear in a later post). Your bathroom definitely sounds worse than mine! I shake my head every day as I encounter new flaws, but I don’t feel any wiser. I just invent new curse words! 😀


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