Sunday, June 10, 2007

Remodeling Woes & Wins

5 Things I Hate About Renovation

1) Rough wiring. I've done plenty of this, both at my home and my mother's. Finish wiring is easy: it's clean, neat, and logical: strip wires, hook 'em up (to a switch, or an outlet, or each other to carry power onward...), and let 'er go. Electricity, baby! Rough wiring, though, is usually done in a cramped location, where there might be spiders (like crawl spaces) or it's a million fucking degrees AND there might be spiders (like the attic). Rough wiring means having to hammer little wire staples where there isn't enough room, resulting in smashed thumbs and uttered curses. It means thinking REALLY CAREFULLY about where the power comes from, and how to carry it on to whatever comes next down the line. Cheaper than hiring an electrician? Most certainly. Fun? Not by any sense of the word.

2) Cleaning up. I'm good at making messes, but I despise cleaning up. Whether this means washing down, or vacuuming up, or scraping off...cleanup sucks.

3) The several-hour "one last thing" project. We had nearly completed wiring for the day (See #1 above), it was getting dark and I was tired & crabby. We just had to replace the ancient wires to the medicine cabinet and we were good to go. Or...not. We discovered we had to take the entire fucking cabinet off the wall, creating a mess where there WASN'T one before (See #2 above), only to find an absolute cluster-fuck of wiring behind the cabinet, with a huge glop of wires held together with (I kid you not) Scotch tape. D'oh! What SHOULD have taken maybe a half-hour ended up taking another two solid hours, working by trouble-light because - you guessed it! - there WASN'T any other light! Shit. Beware the words "Oh, I'll just do this one more thing!" You've sold your soul, baby.

4) Wearing a dust mask. When I first took hammer to plaster in my mom's house, neither of us wore a dust mask. Didn't know we SHOULD! I blew black snot for days. Now I wear one pretty much all the time, especially since I have a habit of holding my mouth wide open when working over my head. Saving my lungs? Hopefully. Breathing my own stale breath while fogging up my safety glasses? Definitely.

5) Underappreciation. This is definitely an ego-trip thing, but I wilt inside every time someone takes in all my hard work in a disinterested glance and tosses off a casual "Looks great! Um...where's the wine?" I know that the only folks who can REALLY appreciate my renovation skillz are people who have DONE similar work themselves, and from them I get a good ego stroke. But, people who live in relatively new houses and don't have the first clue what I mean when I say "I'm gonna re-do the stairway!" are killin' me.

5 Things I Love About Renovation

1) Ordering fancy shit. I tend not to be much of a "decorator" in the Martha Stewart sense. I don't do fancy paint jobs, like using sponges or textures or whatever. My decorating sense comes from the little extras, like cast pewter switch plates and cool light fixtures. I love placing an order from Van Dyke's or Rejuvenation Lighting and having that package show up a few weeks later...looking at what's inside, and imagining the item(s) gracing a newly-recovered room.

2) Painting. This is usually the last thing that gets done on a room, so there's that. But, I'm a pretty good painter, and I enjoy the challenge of cutting in around trim without using that blue tape. Don't use the tape. It just leaves a ragged edge when you peel it away...or, if you're really unlucky, the paint has seeped under it despite your best intentions.. Buy yourself a quality 2" angled brush and learn how to cut accurately.

3) Making really good inside corners. This relates to using my beloved Dap Patching Plaster, or, if you're doing new construction, drywall compound. I'm a bitch on straight seams and vertical walls, but corners I hate. I wonder if ANYONE does inside corners really well? Anyway, after multiple times of swiping that corner tool down the corner, I love the look of a relatively decent and smooth finished product. I have to remember to walk away, though, and NOT give in to the temptation to try to iron out every microscopic imperfection. (See #5 above as to why this isn't necessary.)

4) Being sore & exhausted at the end of the day. Sometimes - and here I'm thinking of my current project! - you don't really feel like you accomplished much. You KNOW you worked from the mid-morning until well after supper, but you look back and think "Geez, I didn't do much today!" Well, when I settle in for the night's movie and notice that the only way to get rid of my aches & pains is to wash down a couple of Motrin with my second glass of wine, and I fall asleep during a movie I haven't seen before...THEN I know that I did in fact put in a worthwhile day's work.

5) Living in the new room. Sure, the renovation is a challenge, but it's not one I need a "fix" for all the time. I'm not very competitive by nature, so for me it's not the CHALLENGE so much as the COMPLETION of the task. Granted, there does always seem to be another room to do, but for me the big thrill is just gettin' the damn thing done and then kind of forgetting that I ever did it. I might look around our kitchen and be occasionally surprised that it's no longer glossy yellow (visitors to our home know what I'm talking about!), but I don't look at it now and think "Oh, I'd like to do it AGAIN, and this time I'd do this and this and this differently." Nope. I like to walk in like it's always been that way, cook, and get the fuck outta there. Back to the couch. Where I can fall asleep during my movie!


Blogger Steph said...

I am going to send you some pictures of my own cutting-in jobs. Just so you can feel better about yourself.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Fun Guv said...

Oh cool, next time I paint a room I'll give you a call...I've got the paint for the bedroom, just not the motivation to actually put it on the walls.

I'm sure you cringed at the new paint job in my bathroom ~ especially up by the ceiling.

If it were up to Mike the walls & ceiling would just be the same color to avoid the situation all together.

6:20 PM  
Blogger L*I*S*A said...

I appreciate all your hard work, since there is no way I could have done it!

7:16 AM  
Blogger Tess said...

I REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY (etc.) appreciate it!!! Especially since I have participated, to a mild degree, in some of our home projects. AND, I get to live there too (eventually) and enjoy it every day!!! I promise that EVERY time I go up the stairs I shall praise you and your hard work!!! (And I will thank the gods that I don't have to live with my parents anymore- I love them to pieces, but I REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY, etc. miss home!!!)

8:46 AM  

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