3 irritating things about living in a church

All the favorable press coverage we’ve received recently (thank you, CBS 58) got me thinking about the pluses and minuses of living in a church. Reading people’s comments on social media will do that to you.

I’ll address the pluses in a future post so I shall begin with the irritating things about living in a former worship space.

You might think these negatives would include the cemetery or the high heating costs, but the old Methodist church we acquired did not have a cemetery onsite, and we took great pains to insulate well so we don’t have extraordinary heating costs. Buy wisely and renovate with care are the pieces of advice there.

But … there are a few irritating things about living in a church.

No. 1: We feel guilty when we swear and play rock music in our house.

This is a sacred space, after all. To be honest, all homes should be considered a sacred space, but ours very obviously is one. There’s not cross on our steeple anymore, but taking the Lord’s name in vain seems especially wrong here. And have you listened to the lyrics of rock music? Profane is probably a clinical way to describe them. I once believed listening to “Hotel California” would send me straight to hell. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave. Now it’s a regular on our playlist.

Just because it makes us feel guilty doesn’t mean we don’t still do it.

No. 2: Delivery services still don’t quite understand our address is a residence now.

Frequently, my shipping address comes up as “not valid” on various shopping websites. Amazon has figured it out, and our UPS guy is such a regular he now knows when we’re off camping or otherwise carousing, but I still can’t get Ulta to deliver “hazardous materials” (aka wrinkle cream) to our address. The electric company still classifies us a a commercial building (which means they can cut off our electricity in the middle of winter if we don’t pay our bill, unlike residential skallywags). We’ve been officially rezoned, but the delivery world doesn’t quite agree yet.

No. 3: There’s no tiptoeing around here, Missy!

Our floors and stairways are 129 years old now. They’re beautifully refinished, but their age means they creak and groan when you walk on them. If you think you’re going to sneak around here, forget it. The other morning I tried to leave Tyler sleeping in bed. No dice. He knew I was getting up as soon as my feet hit the floor (and he might have used some of the aforementioned swear words to express his displeasure!). Don’t get me wrong, I Love our original floors with a capital L. They’re like no other floors in the world, unique in their own little squeaks and cackles. But a hundred thousands parishioners have walked on them before, and they make noise. This can be a drawback when you’re trying to be under the radar.

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Coming soon: Three glorious things about living in a church.


How not to finish a bathroom

Our story so far: Tyler and I struggled to acquire a custom shower in budget, but we agreed to keep it simple with most of bathroom fixtures in the old church we were turning into our home by selecting polished chrome.

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The bathroom fixtures in the rental house were brass, and apologies to brass fans, they were ugly, not retro, not trendy. The whole room was a lesson in how not to finish a bathroom.

We had been living in the little rental house for four months. It was cozy. And infinitely cleaner than the church-in-renovation (despite my poor housekeeping). But as we obsessed about the finishing details in the church, I couldn’t help but notice all the little mistakes in our rental.

Case in point: The bathroom.

rental bathroom vanity
This vanity is better suited to a powder room than to the only bathroom in a house.
rental bathroom over the tank
Built-in-shelving would prevent us from having to store towels on the, ick, toilet tank.

The rental house had only one closet—in the bedroom. Not having a linen closet makes one appreciate this simple luxury. Especially when the bathroom features only a single-sink vanity. It was impossible to fit all the towels, first aid supplies, toiletries, cleaning products and extra toilet paper we used in the vicinity of the bathroom. I found a beat-up over-the-tank storage system in the basement, so someone had tried to improve the bathroom storage but someone else gave up on it. Someone should have built permanent shelves over the toilet, but we were not someone—we were going to focus our energy on projects in the church.

Only one outlet? Just our electric toothbrushes used this up. And I still had a Waterpik, curling iron, blow dryer. Often, we plugged in bathroom appliances in the kitchen, which was neither handy or appetizing. We were planning to have so many outlets in our bathrooms, we’d never run out!

rental bathroom towel ring
Hmm. How odd.

Speaking of one, there was one lonely towel ring in the bathroom. Situated strangely at eye-level next to the shower.

Not only where the brass fixtures in our rental bath better suited to King Midas, but the faucet handle was loose, and the replacement shower head didn’t match. Ugh.

rental bathroom door trim
You couldn’t plan ahead far enough to accommodate the extra half inch required for the same trim on both sides?

The trim was poorly planned. This kind of lack of attention to detail drove me mad. Builders should never have to cut corners on door trim or skip portions of baseboard for no apparent reason. And why were the screws around the tub surround exposed? Even pre-formed shower walls could use proper trim. And this. The tiny vanity was level (I guess), but only because of a shim that showed under the kick plate. So sloppy.

As we planned our own bathrooms in the church, we hoped to avoid similarly poor workmanship. Because instead of tolerating it for a few months, we’d be living with it long-term. And if it reflected poor workmanship, we’d only have ourselves to blame.

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Tomorrow: But nothing could be as bad as the contractors’ bucket. Read about it here.