Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Home-Improvement Chronicles: 3 to 2

welcome to the new chronicles! now that the house hunt is over, the home improvement begins. i expect this latest series to run for a long while, as countless homeowners have told me that home improvements are never-ending. i don’t intend to document every new nail i hammer into the house, but the big changes will be highlighted. i imagine they will also be plentiful in the coming year, as the house needs TONS of work.

i’m not exaggerating when i say this. trust that i saw plenty of fixers that were in way worse shape than my little castle on the hill. if i wanted, i could move in tomorrow if i didn’t mind the tacky flooring and garish paint, but i do mind them. i mind them very, very much. this means that April will be absolutely insane with fixing the place up for a May move-in. last week, i hired a contractor i like a whole lot after interviewing tons i didn’t like at all. he and his crew will be doing the bulk of the heavy lifting over the next few weeks. but because my budget is laughable, i’ll need to do as much as i can, too, to cut down on expenses.

so far, working on the house has given me tons of gratification. it’s this warm fuzzy feeling of self-satisfaction that i’m sure all DIY homeowners are familiar with. i’m surprised at how much i can actually do — and i’m desperate to keep learning. i’m thankful as hell i proofed that carpentry book a few months ago as a freelance project. i’m also thankful that i have a terrific architect boyfriend helping me do the work and considering things like traffic patterns and natural light in the planning of the remodel.

i’ve gotten a few requests to post interior shots of the house, and i will once i have “after” shots to accompany them. it’s not that the previous owners didn’t maintain the house; they lived in it for 10 years and did plenty of upkeep. it’s just that their upkeep was always cheaply done — usually by the dad, who i’ve heard was a drywall guy, meaning he did most of the work himself with scrap materials gathered from the junkyard. there are plenty of mismatched cupboards and poorly cut countertops to confirm that.

the family’s aesthetic decisions were also rather questionable. there’s tile throughout the living room and laminate flooring of different colors in the bedrooms. the house’s exterior is painted two different shades of barf, i mean, peach. and the interior is painted in the most ridiculous combination of pepto pink, lavender, mossy green and a cartoonish shade of maroon on some of the walls. one of the bedrooms was even painted a poopy brown in that do-it-yourself sponge-painting way they show on the home-remodeling shows. i’ve gotten into the habit of calling it “the shit-smeared room.”

legally the house is listed as a three bedroom, though every inspector who looked at it said that because the third bedroom didn't have a closet, it couldn’t technically be considered a bedroom — it was more of a “study.” the troubling thing about the house’s layout was that the no-closet bedroom was adjacent to one of the house’s regular bedrooms, separated by a wall and joined by a door.

well, no more! the first order of business was taking down that wall to open up those two bedrooms into a larger — yet oddly shaped — master for me and my Mo. it’s oddly shaped because the walls of the bedrooms don’t align perfectly, as the third bedroom is a bit wider than the second. the ceilings are also of different heights. but as i'm not a stickler for geometry, that’s ok by me.

ugh, that paint: also notice the two different colors of laminate flooring laid out in different directions. truly charming. this shows the door joining the two bedrooms.

i will crush you! me in my demolition gear ready to make the first strike.

pow! there goes my investment.

thwack! Mo showing me how it’s really done. apparently i demolish like a girl.

digging in: behold, Mo the demolisher!

two hours later: the great wall of ugly had fallen.

that’s dan: he’s our handyman who brought the sawzall.

when it was finally over, i seriously could not stop smiling. i know that a house with three bedrooms is better than one with two for resale purposes, but i refuse to make decisions based solely on resale. this is my home, first and foremost, and it made much more sense to remove that dumb wall and create one big bedroom. the demo experience wowed me tremendously because a) i've never done it before, so i got to see all the assorted stuffing and things that actually reside in a wall, which was eye-opening, and b) i've never done it before because i never could as a renter, but this wall i could make decisions about because i owned it.

and that felt mighty fine.

No comments: