Spaces for Life

The ReTouch Home Improvement blog



Spaces for Life: What I’ve lin the last 6 months

By Lance McCarthy

A few weeks ago, I ended a column with this:

“One of my favorite phrases for my clients is “the pain of the experience will be outweighed by the joy of your new life in a new space”. In the coming weeks we will see if I knew what I was talking about there.

We’ll see if the “firsts” will be as good as I imagined–first breakfast at the banquette; first cigar on the back porch; first movie on the new tv; first night in our fluffy bed; first argument on the stairs; first make-up kiss by the sink; first story-time in our wistful reading room…”

Well, we have now officially moved back into our house after having it completely gutted and remodeled. It started on January 6th with a house fire, and ended on July 18th when we moved back in. It included 5 weeks in three hotels, and the rest of the time in a rental house in Westport. It is something I never want to repeat, but I would say my statement is true. The pain of the experience is starting to mellow and become outweighed with the joy of our new life in a new space.

There are still lots of hurdles to cross, but the new-old house is working well. I thought if you might endulge me, I would tick off some of the things I learned and/or experienced in those 193 days.


  • I will never again second guess the need for good working smoke detectors.
  • I now know why insurance forms ask you how far you live from a fire department (three trucks were at our house within 2 minutes).
  • Make sure you get replacement coverage insurance instead of actual value, and check the cap on “loss of use”, which is for the costs you incur while you are out of your house.


  • Not living in your own space causes a stress that is hard to overstate.  My brain didn’t feel like it clicked along as fast.  Relationships were harder.  Everything was harder.
  • I don’t regret spending more than I wanted on several items that would have been hard to do later.
  • I regret not asking more questions before the project started.
  • I appreciate the weekly meeting we had with the project manager.
  • I’m glad we had a clear process for change orders.
  • The project required so much time from me, even though I hired a fire restoration company to do it for me.  Probably an hour or so a day on average.
  • I never hated my contractor as much as I did in the last week of the project


  • I love my new fridge!
  • Built-in cabinetry and storage is always worth it
  • Putting the kids to bed magically became easy in the new space
  • Putting the kids to bed in a hotel room really sucks…for 20 nights.
  • Even though I’m a “pro”, I still made decisions that I would change.  I really don’t like the new layout in my hall bath.
  • Pre-wire for sound.  It is totally worth it.
  • We have more closet rod space in our master than we had in all the other places we’ve lived…combined!
  • Banquette is my new favorite word.  (Ask me to show you my collapsible office space at the banquette sometime)
  • A different space does change your life.  I even brush my teeth more.  No joke.

So, as the pain of the journey begins to fade, the love of my new house grows. We love it, and are so happy to be home.

Ready to Take the Next Step?