When you spend as much time as I do working hard and poking my head into things like toilets, crawl spaces, and other dark places, it’s good to look up every once in a while to notice the cultural trends I’ve been missing.
For instance, one evening a few weeks ago I put my tools down for a few minutes to watch the Olympics, and saw New Zealand athlete Laurel Hubbard get eliminated immediately for failing to make any of the first 3 lifts in the women’s weightlifting competition. Then I immediately learned that Laurel Hubbard was born a male, set weightlifting records in New Zealand competing as a male, decided that he “identified” as a female, began hormone therapy 9 years ago to “transition” to female, and was now competing in the Olympics against athletes born female.
Now, the sports announcer just rattled all that off as if that’s an everyday thing. But his words were packed with so many ideas that, frankly, were so foreign to your humble correspondent that he might as well have been speaking a foreign language. To give you an analogy drawing from MY world, it was as if we placed that sports announcer behind the counter at one of our plumbing parts suppliers, where he had to be fluent in listening to the guys in the room describe the plumbing part they needed, in sentences in which every other word was an expletive, enabling him to flawlessly walk into the warehouse behind him, which is the size of 2 football fields, and return with exactly the right part.
But even though I may never understand what that sports announcer said, I think I may understand the concept as it applies in the handyman world — especially in this pre/post/forever-and-ever COVID pandemic period. So, here goes.
Suddenly, have you noticed the names of the rooms in your house no longer line-up with the preferences of how your family wants to use them? Where is the remote CLASSROOM for your kids? Where is the OFFICE that is suitable for work? Why do you have all those electrical, phone, and PC WIRES running across rooms and aisles, from wall outlets to electronic equipment and chargers? And where’s the appropriate BACKDROP for Zoom calls to make the remote worker look like a professional rather than a squatter in a house that badly needs decorating, if not remodeling.
So while admittedly it may be a BIT of a stretch, you could say that, like weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, the “preferred identities” of your rooms have changed. OK, you got me — it’s more than a BIT of a stretch. But regardless, could it be time to “transition” these rooms to your preference, like in the examples below?
LIVING ROOM TO OFFICE
In many homes, when you enter the front door there is a Living Room to the left or right. How about filling-in that big opening between the front entrance and the living room with a French door with glass, extending the wall surfaces of the opening inward to meet that door. Now, put a desk in the middle of the room, facing the French glass doors, some new outlets on the floor beneath the desk, a few can lights on the ceiling, built-in bookcases behind the desk, and maybe even some crown molding at the top of the walls. Fix St Louis can perform this makeover for you.
BEDROOM TO OFFICE
The big needs for a remote worker sitting at a desk are electrical outlets, computer wall jacks, and lighting. Fix St Louis can add wall and overhead light fixtures, and also add outlets and jacks on the wall behind the desk, or even under the desk. Usually, we run these wires through walls from the attic down or from the basement up, but we can also run them across walls and ceilings by cutting into, then restoring the drywall.
DINING ROOM (OR KITCHEN) TO CLASSROOM
The difference between transitioning a dining room or kitchen to remote classroom space vs. converting a living room to office space (as described above) is that these rooms cannot be converted entirely for the single purpose of a classroom — you will still need a functioning dining room or kitchen. For these spaces, we can add electrical outlets and jacks on the floor beneath dining room tables or within base cabinets along walls or on islands. (The lighting in these rooms is generally sufficient to handle remote classroom needs).
BASEMENT TO OFFICE (TO GUEST BEDROOM)
If you have an unfinished basement, you can look at this pandemic as a great excuse to make a down payment on a finished basement. Pick out a corner of the basement for an office, your first project on the way to a finished basement. There are usually unfinished walls and ceiling, so it’s easy for Fix St Louis to wire-in lighting, phone jacks, PC jacks, cable TV, speakers, etc. Most homeowners would start with a drop ceiling with ceiling tiles and square or rectangular light fixtures that fit into the grid, but a drywall ceiling provides a more finished look. If eventually you’re thinking of turning this office space into a guest bedroom, consider incorporating a closet into the framing work needed for the walls, and having the new room encompass an existing window or glass patio door that can be used for egress during a fire, both required to refer to it as a “bedroom” in realtor listings.
Well, we at Fix St Louis are very busy, have to get back to work, and don’t really have the time to 2nd guess our identities as handymen. Someone recently told me that folks are now being asked to assert their “preferred pronoun” for how they would like to be addressed by others. In case you’re wondering, I’ve chosen “Dr” as my preferred pronoun, even though there’s a middle school teacher’s voice in my head telling me that it’s not a pronoun. But to tell you the truth, we at Fix St Louis don’t really care what you call us, as long as you DO call us, when you are ready for a transition.
Fix St Louis