Staff by Day, Home Renovator by Night
School of Education staffer Linda Guyette talks about her renovation journey that took her from a house of horrors to the home of her dreams.
“I remember standing in the kitchen of this house thinking ‘I must be crazy, but I’m gonna buy it,’” laughs Linda Guyette, director of Student Support Services and Certification Officer at Pace’s School of Education. After several months of house hunting and nearly 200 houses seen, Guyette asked her realtor to take her back to the very first house she saw.
“It was in bad shape—it looked bad, it smelled bad. It was overrun by mice and squirrels,” Guyette says. “It was in such bad condition that at first I thought absolutely not. You couldn’t pay me to take this house!” But take it, she did.
After ending her 20 year marriage, Guyette set out to find a house that she could call home for her and her son. She found a tiny house overlooking Lake Junior, and despite its rundown state, she took the risk and bought it. Unfortunately, after moving in, she discovered that she’d also purchased tap water that ran orange, the need for a new septic system, a blown out furnace, and the fragrant reminder that the previous owner had a fondness for cats.
“I only cried twice,” she brags. For six weeks while a new well was being dug, Guyette lived without water in the house. “I would slink into the Planet Fitness to shower,” she says. “It was so very clear that I had no intention of working out; I would walk in wearing casual clothes and emerge dressed and ready for work.”
Even though she had no prior experience with home renovation, she was able to do most of the work herself, only hiring a professional to pull up the old carpeting and restore the hardwood floors. She and a friend worked on sanding, spackling, and replacing old fixtures and appliances. They got the skills and know-how they needed from YouTube tutorials, a lot of trial and error, asking friends and family, and of course down at the hardware store.
The first thing she did after the floor restoration was to tear down a carpeted (yes, carpeted!) chicken coop that was attached to the side of the house. After the eyesore was gone, she took on the drop ceiling—pulling away at the old structure, only to reveal a host of nasties hiding in her ceiling: mice carcasses, animal droppings, dead bugs. Disgusting didn’t do it justice, she says. Slowly though, things came together.
“We’re on a first name basis with the fine folks at Home Depot on Route 6,” she laughs. “I own more tools now than I ever could imagine.”
In spite of a seemingly never-ending list of chores, projects, and major improvements, she was able to persevere to create a home she could be proud of and be eager to return to after a day working on Pace’s Pleasantville Campus.
The key to her success, both at home and at work, is to have a sense of humor. “At Pace, things can get really crazy with student traffic, new policies, and everything else that’s going on,” she says. “You need to learn to not take things so seriously. When I was younger, my career was everything and now I love going home to my little house.”
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