Dwelling By way of a Pandemic Renovation

Living Through a Pandemic Renovation

Rajiv Surendra, a calligrapher and actor in his early 30s best known for his role in the 2004 movie Mean Girls, had even less space when he renovated the galley in his one-bedroom on the Upper West Side last year . He did all of the work himself, with the exception of the plumbing (his landlord insisted he not touch the plumbing in a pre-war building), and shared his experiences on Instagram installing paneling, sanded cabinets, and hand-making bracket shelves and a peg rail . He didn't even use a nail gun so as not to disturb his neighbors.

Mr. Surendra set up his workshop in the living room and a makeshift kitchen in his bedroom, which consisted of a toaster, coffee grinder and espresso pot on the stove. He ate at the desk in his bedroom and stowed his dishes and pantry in huge piles under the bed. "I had to awkwardly dig around a rabbit hole to find things that I had put away and thought I didn't need them," he said.

But with his entire apartment becoming a construction site, he had almost no space that felt like his own. "It was annoying because I like everything in its place," he said. So he did his best to ignore the mess. "I didn't look at it or take no notice of it because it would have driven me crazy."

As he was crouching on the floor of his bedroom with the toaster one morning, he had a revelation: Treat the experience like camping and maybe it wouldn't be that difficult. The change in attitudes helped.

It also helped find something that could mentally remove him from a room he seldom left. Every evening he rolled up the towel, vacuumed and showered. Then he spent two hours practicing the harp and piano in his living room, within sight of the kitchen, and brought himself Chopin's Nocturne Op. 9 # 2. "That was a very good thing for me to take my mind off this stuff," he said.

Even rock stars sometimes choose to sit out a home renovation. When Nikki Sixx started work on his 9,000-square-foot mansion in Jackson Hole last September, he could have fled to another Los Angeles home, but stayed with his wife, Courtney Sixx, 35, and their 1 – most of the time. year old daughter Ruby. “We didn't want to leave Wyoming. It was just too nice, ”said Mr. Sixx. The couple stayed in the house until mid-January, when the work on the kitchen and floor was done.

It was loud and chaotic, turning the house, which sits on 20 acres overlooking a cliff, into a rock & # 39; n & # 39; Transforming roll hangout that meets rough western cowboy retreat and meant renovating every room in the house, even the garage. "You're trying to write and have 'Rahhhh!' Right in the background," said Mr. Sixx, 62, who wrote a memoir about his early life, "The First 21," amid all the construction. "It was an incredible time and an incredible time."


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