Jumping In, Digging Deep, Dusting Off

Over the last week, I’ve had several interesting and eye-opening experiences with the Trinity Program House. Given the time restraint I thought it important to jump right in to the project. This building is meant to be our second “home” while we are away from home, acting as an office, workspace, classroom, social venue, and more. Although the Trinity-in-Trinidad Program is renting the building, it is still our communal meeting location. There is so much potential in the building’s architectural structure but it needs some organizational improvements to make it feel owned. Each area of the Program House has a different purpose and mood attached to it, so it is important that each of these spaces serve the needs of each user, whether they are students, administration, or program guests.
On Tuesday night I felt inspired to begin the demolition process. Of course I was not knocking down walls or obliterating cabinets, rather than making a huge mess of the Program House. I need to know what is in every corner of the building in order to make a proper assessment of what needs to happen. Maybe I can learn more about the building’s history, maybe there are items that can be reused in another area, maybe there are unnecessary items taking up usable space. Not only will this digging be helpful in saving money if things are found which can be reused (whether it be paint or curtains or shelves) but it will ground this modern project in historical context for the building and the program. So I began the digging process in the kitchen. Besides empty bottles, old clothes and shoes, and lots of spider webs, I found a few place mats, a set of glass rectangles (maybe from the window slots), a Pepsi bottle from 2004, a wooden drying rack, and a dabla used for flipping Roti or busupshot. I also found two buckets of “Champaign White” paint under the sink. It looks like the cabinet wood is still good so they just need repainting and reorganization rather than complete replacing. This is good for the program financially and for me physically. This project has to remain practical.
And by Thursday I removed the rug from the chill corner and relocated the twin bed from the nook. In the storage space beneath the stairs, Vander and I found old buckets of paint, lots of fabric, way too many fans which did not work, two vintage wooden chairs, postcards from Tony Hall’s play “Jean and Dinah,” small ceramics, a bed frame (which the termites got to before us), and boxes of files (which the termites were still seen devouring). I hope to use some of the fabrics as pillow cover accents and to clean up the chairs for actual use. Some of the paints are usable while others were empty paint cans.

So after meeting with the Program Director, there were some new tips and guidelines….

Program Director’s Guidelines based on landlord’s input:
1. Cannot change floor tiles or re-tile bathroom, shelving can add to sink area
2. Look for price buster paint rather than buying gallons
3. Can change counter top
4. Get new curtains
5. No couch covers sold in Trinidad- couches can be re-upholstered (buy fabric)
6. Bed can leave, rug can leave
7. Cannot get bigger marker board
8. Need to buy 6 foot ladder (how to transport?)

Now, I have a clearer idea of what can and cannot be done on the interior and exterior based on the guidelines from the landlord. Aggravated and determined, I’m not ready to give up. This changes some preliminary ideas (especially regarding re-tiling the floors) but has not discouraged me from wanting to make improvements. At first I thought it difficult to create design plans without having a set budget, which I am used to seeing on most HGTV design shows and real guidelines to keep my mind/ambitions from aiming too high and wasting time. But what I was really lacking came down to concrete answers and approval confirmation if some ideas. I have now received the ‘go ahead’ and instructions on how to go about the financial process.
Since then I’ve visited a local paint shop to get brochures of color palettes and prices, done a visual inventory of the local discount store for cheap solutions, and continued to clean. In the new-found bathroom behind the house, I found old mas costume pieces, build-it-yourself shelves, more fabrics, etc. I love discovering things!

I think it will be most interesting to see how the other program members get involved in this design process, besides answering my survey. I have invited everyone to participate when available, not only to lessen the work load on my own manual labor but to make this a community project. The more who take part, the more it will feel like home to each person. I am also excited to use Shaun’s method of allowing the space and the community to develop the place and simply facilitating the changes through a design eye. The restriction here will be to complete the project by presentation week in May. I don’t want to rush the process or buy out of order in what needs to come next, but I also have no time to waste.
Also... view new photos from an Alice Yard visit and other interior material studies and while I was out roaming the Hindu community


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