First Circle: Limbo
Midway on our journey in life, we find ourselves in a dark kitchen, surrounded by oak cabinets and laminate flooring, our savings account wholly lost. Welcome to reno limbo, a place where nothing happens, as the good crews are booked for several centuries. In this circle, pagans shout “DIY! DIY!” toiling back and forth to Home Depot, lost in the labyrinth, unable to find help or penny tile. They refuse to accept the biddings of Jesus, a master carpenter from Piscataway. Above the gates, a sign reads, ABANDON YOUR HOME, YE WHO CAN AFFORD IT.
Second Circle: Lust
This circle is built of Pinterest boards. Lustful souls indulge in creating their dream homes without considering price or schedule. They want it all. Restoration Hardware and Software. Hand-painted tile dried with Italian cigarettes. A floating marble kitchen island, floating cabinets, Dad floating some cash. Fierce arguments blow the budget. Foundations and marriages will soon crumble.
Third Circle: Demolition
Sledgehammers fall. All is rack and ruin and drop cloths. In this circle, souls warm their meals with a microwave and hot plate. They know the comforts of two women: Amy and Annie, whose foods are as frozen as their credit. This level is guarded by a three-headed beast known as the Inspector. He arrives weeks late, clutching a powerful clipboard, spouting ancient ordinances.
Fourth Circle: Greed
Next, we enter the circle where every design decision is wrong. “What’s it gonna be?” ask the demons. “Quartz or marble or granite or brimstone? Brimstone is heat-resistant, but don’t leave a bottle of wine out, as it stains easily. Order now. Even your backsplash is on backorder.” After demolition, the builders leave to work on other projects forever. In-laws make impractical suggestions they’ve seen on HGTV. Restless spirits fumble paint swatches like gamblers, repeating the phrase “pop of color.”
Fifth Circle: Supply-Chain Issues
We descend to another impasse, a marshy river floating with bodies bound in supply chains. A wraith delivers a message: Unfortunately, the shipping container crossing the River Styx has been slightly delayed in transit. Sorry, our hands are tied. It’s hard to type this email, that’s how tied our hands are. Our shipping supervisor, Phlegyas, or “Phil,” will be in touch soon.
Sixth Circle: Heresy
This circle is filled with last year’s trends, the likes of which we are doomed to choose. Examples include subway tile, Edison bulbs, farmhouse sinks, vertical blinds, pot fillers, needlessly sexy hanging chairs, paint colors with cloying names, Cheesecake Factory-inspired frescoes, Cottagecore, and ample space to unwind.
Seventh Circle: Violence
Here, souls wash dishes in the shower. They wander at night, looking for spoons. There are never enough spoons. Everything Everywhere All at Once is both a movie title and a way of being. Beds become tables. Drop cloths turn into blankets. Surge protectors don’t protect anyone. Hammers and saws join the beats of Bad Bunny fuzzing out a Bluetooth speaker. If there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s an expensive brass pendant.
Eighth Circle: Grout
Renovators dwelling in this circle are bald, for they possess the Knowledge of Grout and are cursed to tear out their hair. There are too many textures and colors of grout for the human mind to comprehend. Like the fourth circle, every grout decision is a bad one. White grout gets dirtier faster, while gray grout already appears dirty. Skip this circle and bathe at the YMCA.
Ninth Circle: Housewarming Party
In the deepest level of hell, neighbors, friends, and family visit to see the renovation. They are complimentary. What they say later, behind closed doors, is as unknown as the afterlife.