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Renovating: if, when, and how DIY you keep it

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Some friends of mine are going to be collapsing their garage soon; that'll be the first stage in a major renovation on the house they've lived in for ten years. They have a contractor on board, but much of it will be DIY. They also know that to complete the project, they'll probably have to temporarily move out (like when my family lived in the RV park when we renovated!). Just hearing about it, renovating one's own home seems like a giant commitment--maybe not the Oregon Trail, but perhaps more like donning a paper gown and letting the anesthesiologist give you whatever it takes to get you through surgery.

The Home & Garden section of the NY Times had an interesting profile this week of a Chelsea couple who did a gut renovation for $12,000.

Perhaps just as impressive, Mr. Robohm (who was not sharing the apartment with Ms. Doucette during the renovation) lived in the space for the year and a half it took to do the work — a cost-saving move that required him to vacuum the bed before he could go to sleep. Especially after he demolished the nonworking brick fireplace, which resulted in what he calls a waterfall of soot and ash. Getting rid of the bricks was another problem.

"Ever see "˜Papillon,' where they break out of prison?" Mr. Robohm said. "Or maybe it was "˜The Shawshank Redemption'? They cut holes in their pockets and they dribble gravel, a little bit at a time. It was kind of like that. I paid to get the bulk of it taken out, but there was a tree on the street that didn't have a flower bed. Now it has a nice brick wall where somebody put one in."

I'm always shocked to hear about single room renovation costs--the above article quotes Manhattan kitchen renovations going for about $30k. Even in other parts of the country, relatively financially solvent people can't renovate their kitchens. I know a woman in my area who has a picture of a newly remodeled kitchen on her dream board! There's a stigma--definitely in LA--that women are obsessed with their bodies and employing strange serums and tonics in the name of upkeep, but more and more I'm meeting homeowners who would much, much rather have a new kitchen. Or at least tilework.

My leasing lifestyle disqualifies me from any firsthand input, but I'd be interested to hear any renovating success stories/nightmares you have...

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This Russian Kindergarten Looks Just Like a Castle
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A group of lucky kindergarteners in Russia don’t have to wear poufy dresses or plastic crowns to pretend they’re royalty. As Atlas Obscura reports, all they have to do is go to school.

In a rural area of Russia's Leninsky District sits a massive, pastel-colored schoolhouse that was built to resemble Germany's famed Neuschwanstein Castle. It has turrets and gingerbread-like moldings—and instead of a moat, the school offers its 150 students multiple playgrounds, a soccer field, a garden, and playhouses.

Tuition is 21,800 rubles (about $360) a month, but the Russian government subsidizes it to make it less expensive for parents. As for the curriculum: it’s designed to promote social optimism, and each month’s lesson plan is themed. (September, for example, will be career-focused.)

Take a video tour of the school below, or learn more on the school’s website.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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This Chinese Library's Interior Is Designed to Look Like an Infinite Tunnel of Books
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The Chinese city of Yangzhou is known for its graceful arched bridges and proximity to the Yangtze River and the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Architects kept these unique local features in mind while designing Zhongshuge Yangzhou, a new bookstore and library that was completed in 2016.

Designed by Shanghai studio XL-Muse Architects, the building has black, mirrored floors and arched ceilings that symbolize Yangzhou’s famous waterways and overpasses. The floor reflects the store’s curving shelves to create the illusion of a never-ending tunnel of books—a true bibliophile’s dream.

Learn more about Yangzhou’s unique library/bookstore below, courtesy of Great Big Story.

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