My Convertible Life

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Remodeling 5: Things He Left Behind

Do you remember Eldin Bernecky?

He was the chatty house painter who essentially moved in with Murphy Brown for six seasons while he supposedly repainted her house.

Well, after four (plus) months of home renovation, we kind of have our own Eldin. At our house, he's known as Mr. Joey.

He didn't actually move in, although we considered inviting him -- but I think his daughters would have missed him. Thankfully, he just lives around the corner, so it's the next best thing.

He exorcised the demons of the previous homeowner's dangerous DIY trail. We called him whenever we needed him, even on Christmas Eve. He hugged and high-fived the kids every time he came over. We chatted about religion and politics and the latest neighborhood scoop. He checked in even when it wasn't his crew in the house, just to be sure things were going right.

We're going to miss him -- and I think he might miss us a little, too. So today's remodeling list is in honor of our own Eldin.

When you hire a contractor, you expect to find dust, invoices and maybe a tool or two at your house after he's gone. But here are five things we didn't expect our contractor to leave behind:
  1. A fairy dress. While cleaning out closets at his house, Joe found an old fairy costume and wings that his daughters had long outgrown. Clearly he knew Pippi well. When she walked in from preschool and saw it hanging on the coat closet doorknob, she immediately pulled off her clothes, sat on the floor and dressed herself as a fairy (see photo above). He also brought Pippi roses from his garden until the weather turned too cold for blooms.
  2. A plastic sword. Another gem found when cleaning out closets at his house, the plastic sword was hanging from a picture hook in our foyer when Junius came home from school. Under normal circumstances, it might make a homeowner nervous to see a sword dangling inside the front door. But Junius was thrilled. We've since had to duct-tape it together because of over-use.
  3. A book. No, not a Home Repair for Dummies book. It's a copy of Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein. Joe has two tween-aged daughters and he's working hard at being their dad. He read the book himself, then passed it along for us to read -- I'm looking forward to discussing it with him once I'm finished.
  4. A CD. Even better, it's a CD by The Desmonds featuring none other than our very own Mr. Joey on drums and back-up vocals. We first discovered Joe's drumming talents coincidentally on our Holly Raleigh Kidsmas disc (click the Desmonds link and listen to "One Wish This Christmas") -- he gave us a less seasonal album so we could keep on listening to him after Christmas was over. Pippi's favorite is track #6. We've listened to it 847 times in the car over the past few weeks.
  5. A house key. And by house key, I mean one to his house. The weekend after he tore out our kitchen, Joe was out of town. So he gave us his key and invited us to make ourselves at home -- cook dinner, let the kids play his drum set, watch TV, sit in a calm, clean space with an in-tact floor. Totally lovely, although it made the chaos of our house seem even crazier by comparison.
Oh, and that beat-up looking foyer where Pippi was sitting in the photo above? The one with the sad fake wood floor, dirty carpet, missing drywall and banged up closet door? 

Now it looks like this:


  1. Wow. My requirements for a contractor are only that he isn't clinically insane. I had no idea one came with such wonderful atributes, actually finished, and did a wonderful job.

  2. Okay, once i was accused of making up my blog. But clearly we all know who is the big fibber here, don't we. That man doesn't exist! Not possible.

  3. Wow! So beautiful. The new corner/foyer is gorgeous. You give this renter hope that one day she will own her own home and be able to make it special.

    And I totally agree with Marty. This guy goes way beyond just being sane. Amazing!

  4. wow. Now THAT is a handiman! AWESOME!

    ps Popped over from Feels Like Home

  5. i love this!! how he became an extended part of your family, and offered to let you use his house too! :)

  6. Wow what a great experience with a contractor. It seems like most of the time you just hear horror stories and this is a welcome change!

  7. I'm feeling a little teary after reading this. What a good guy! We should all be so lucky.

    Thanks for linking up. I hope you'll come back on Sunday!

  8. Thank you for your post. This is excellent information. It is amazing and wonderful to visit your site.
    Renovations in Elephant


But enough about me, let's talk about you. What do you think about me?