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Rome built in a day?

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

Imagine this … Pope Julius II walking the streets of the Eternal City noting the progress of Renaissance masters at work. Imagine architects, sculptors, and painters such as da Vince, Bramante, Raphael, and Michelangelo covered in marble dust, plaster, pigments, and charcoal. With sweated brow and laser-like focus, their innate genius slowly unfolds. But then “bam!” Your dreamy imagination is shattered to hear il papa impatiently shout, “Hurry up! When will you be finished? Andiamo!” (that’s the correct spelling ) The assault continues until one of the masters, (probably Michelangelo given his testy temperament) shouts back, “Rome was not built in a day!”

Sadly, this column is not about the brilliance of Rome, but about time frames. If you’re still in dreamy imagination mode, you may believe those reality television shows that make over rooms in a day or two, or build an entire house in a week. But, alas, these shows are not so real even with dozens working behind the scenes. Budgets are equally unreal given that the networks flip the bill, not the homeowner. The real reality is that one of these shows can take six months to produce. But it is good entertainment for some and a good source of ideas for do-it-yourselfers.

So, how long does a real, real project take from start to finish? Of course it depends on the scope of work involved, whether your chosen materials are in stock, how many problems (e.g. dry rot) are hidden, how decisive you are, and how well your team is organized.

Here’s an example: A mini bedroom makeover with just paint and new linens can be done in less than a week. This assumes that all the stars align, that you choose the right paint color on the first or second attempt, you find the right bed linens (in stock and the right size), and that your painter is available. Not counted in those days, however, is the time you spent wondering what results you wanted your makeover to achieve.

On the other hand, the same bedroom could take three months as was the case I recently completed. It entailed new hardwood floors, windows and doors, electrical reconfigurations, paint, millwork, new furniture, linens, window treatments, and lighting fixtures.

To stay within our reasonable but tight time frame, good project management was crucial. I’m fortunate to have relationships with dependable and talented tradesmen, workrooms, and showrooms that support me in delivering quality results to my clients. These relationships not only gave me confidence in the end product but also kept the project moving in a timely manner. This, in turn, also kept financial and emotional stress at bay.

I orchestrated our timeline in such a way that all the designing, shopping, and budgeting occurred in the first month. All the on-site work that created a disturbance was done in weeks seven through eleven (had it not been for the new hardwood floors, this time allowance would have been shortened). Final tasks were undertaken during week twelve – the most exciting and rewarding week of all! Furniture was shipped and put in place by white-gloved movers, bed linens were personally hand-delivered and dressed by my super-star seamstress, draperies were hung, and bunches of long stem white tulips were placed in water as the final touch.

So how long does a real project really take? Each is different. Although the pope’s blessing might help, the key to staying within a desired time frame is good planning, good management, and a good team.

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