Archive for December, 2005

Microconstruction and Me: The Varied Pleasures Of Home Renovation

Sunday, December 11th, 2005


I have been accused by baffled friends of perpetrating endless home renovations because I unconsciously crave discomfort.

The charge is not unreasonable. Since buying a small West Village townhouse in the fall of 1999, I’ve been working on it most of the time—not working literally, except for a little painting and cement and some grunt work, but serving as my own contractor. My friend Silvana said of the ongoing work at my house, “You like Afghanistan so much that when you can’t go there, you make a little Afghanistan in your house. You have to wear a coat indoors; there’s usually something that’s not working, or something that you can’t walk on or touch. It’s the opposite of a permanent vacation.”

It’s true that I have a measure of contempt for some ordinary comforts. I wrote a whole book sitting on a wire Bertoia chair in an unheated room one winter. But I draw the line at bathing and bed linens. If the hot water is out for a day, I panic. And I sleep on vintage linen when possible, under a mink bedspread from Afghanistan ($90) in my (deliberately) unheated bedroom. My commitment to roughing it is partial. (more…)