Ask Sally

Ask Sally

Dear Sally:


My husband and I have been remodeling the downstairs of our home over the past few months. Our contractor originally estimated that the job would be completed by the middle of October. As is often the case, we’ve had several unforeseen complications that delayed the construction process. This is no one’s fault—our crew is really great and they’re doing tremendous work. Problem is, we invited my parents, my brother, his wife and their two kids to join us for Thanksgiving, back when we thought we’d have a finished dining room. I’ve been fairly open with them about the state of things at the house. But they’ve already made their travel plans and seem determined to come here. On the plus side, the kitchen will be completed and entirely functional by the end of this week. On the minus, both the dining room and the family room will not be. So my question to you is: can I make this work?




Challenged In Charlotte



Dear Challenged:


The simple answer to your question is “Yes.” Corners still swathed in plastic, walls lacking paint or sheet rock, floors carpeted in drop clothes, missing ceilings, improvised temporary lighting—all of these things are manageable. A close friend of mine once hosted a very elegant holiday cocktail with part of her kitchen ceiling missing. I have been to great parties lit by construction lanterns with sawhorse and plywood buffet tables. It may not look like whatever Martha Stewart has cooked up for her holiday, but the rough edges will certainly make your dinner more memorable.


As an additional point, if you’ve ever been accused of being uptight or too much of a perfectionist, this is your moment to change that forever. Your family will marvel at how adaptable, easy-going and creative you are for making the best of a difficult situation. What’s more, they get to see a “during” shot of your renovation, which will make them that much more excited about seeing it finished next year.


So long as the room has floors that can be walked on, this really comes down to your personal comfort level.  If you can’t get through the holiday without obsessing over plumbing in the unfinished powder room or if your sister-in-law won’t stop looking up things on the internet about paint fumes, there is nothing wrong with changing the plans. This is a holiday. In as much as you can, you should find the space to relax and enjoy being together.


That said: I believe you can make it work. Think of the possibilities. Everyone has seen a perfectly-set holiday table. But not everyone has seen a perfectly-set holiday table in a room with a wall missing and a hole full of exposed pipes where the new bar is going to be. Make the construction part of the theme.  So what if it looks a mess? Your family will still love you and that turkey will still taste delicious.


And that is something to be thankful for.


Happy Thanksgiving,



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