Consumed with home projects

I’ve remained consumed with home-improvement projects. It’s cut deeply into my time for photography or thoughtful commentary — it’s all projects, all the time, as I prepare to put my house on the market.

I took up the worn-out carpet in the hall, crossing my fingers that the hardwood floor below would be in good enough shape to leave it be, as it was in the two other rooms where I previously took up the carpet. It wasn’t. And I neither want to refinish it myself nor pay someone to do it. Fortunately, this isn’t a high-class neighborhood and perfection isn’t required to sell a home here. So I put down rugs and moved on. Did you know you can order runners in almost any style and length from Amazon? They were here in two days.

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I have spent the bulk of my time painting. The previous owner painted every wall and ceiling a yellowy beige just before I moved in. Except for the criminally lousy job they did patching nail holes, it looked good enough and I never bothered to change it. But after a decade it was looking shabby, so I bought paint and broke out the rollers and brushes. I chose a more neutral beige, and I painted the ceilings white. This is my office, where I write this blog. It’s actually the house’s dining room, but my table is too big to fit in here so I stuck it in the eat-in portion of the kitchen, which is surprisingly spacious.

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The last room to paint was the living room. Here’s a glimpse of that yellowy beige, which I was busy covering up.

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I also painted my front stoop, as the concrete was mottled and pocked and unattractive. I filled the holes I could see with concrete patch but still missed several. Did you know you can buy paint with grit in it to provide a non-slip surface? It works great. This stoop now feels like 120-grit sandpaper.

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Finally, the faucet I put in the bathroom sink during Operation Lipstick on the Pig several years ago proved to be cheap and crappy. The finish wore off it and the metal was oxidizing. So I bought a new faucet and installed it. Removing the drain, I twisted the trap ever so slightly and it crumbled apart in my hands. I made four trips to Lowe’s before I finally got the right replacement part. Lowe’s is 15 minutes away, so a job that should have taken 15 minutes took about 2½ hours. Lesson learned: take the worn-out part along so I can match it precisely.

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One job I’m not going to get to is to replace the original 1969 aluminum storm front door. I had hoped I could pay Lowe’s or The Home Depot to install it, as hanging doors is not my forte. But they either won’t respond to my calls or are booked through the Second Coming. So I bought a jar of aluminum polish and am applying elbow grease. It’s not giving me the good results I hoped for, but the door is original to this 1969 house and is quite pitted.

A handful of smaller jobs remain, including recaulking the bathtub, washing the surprisingly dirty front gutter and soffit, and fixing a noticeable problem with the back storm door. But now the major work is over, and perhaps I’ll have a little more time to write the kinds of things I normally write around here!


17 responses to “Consumed with home projects”

  1. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    After working in a hardware store for a couple of years, one valuable lesson I learned was, “Never start a plumbing project, no matter how simple, unless the store is open at least 2 more hours.”

    Also, I rather like your vintage storm door, I figure we have one more generation to go, before those become valuable antiques.

    1. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

      I love your plumbing rule!

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s a good rule. Fortunately, my problem began after lunch. Lowe’s was open for hours yet!

      Now that the job is done there’s a slow leak somewhere in the trap. Probably where the new pipe meets the old. Gotta troubleshoot that this weekend.

  2. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

    Oh boy, do I hate plumbing.

    I last got busy with home projects as high school graduations came up. That season has been over for awhile and it is getting to be time to start in again. Now I just need to find some time and motivation.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I don’t like plumbing either. I’ll do simple jobs like installing faucets and replacing toilet flushers, but everything else I leave to a paid pro.

  3. The Trailhead Avatar

    I am on the opposite end of this process. Closing in two weeks. And then I’ll be stripping wallpaper and painting, painting, painting. Those things sure do slurp all the available air (and time) out of the room. Best of luck on the market! It’s a Seller’s dream out there right now.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My Realtor tells me inventory is super low and that even in my very modest neighborhood he should sell the place quickly. But then, he’s supposed to say that!

      1. The Trailhead Avatar

        Well, as a buyer who just navigated it, I can fully validate your agent’s statements! It was rough out there. Be prepared to move quickly…our sellers weren’t prepared, I don’t think, to go pending three days after list. Left them scrambling a bit.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Fortunately, I’m just selling, not buying — I’m moving into my wife’s house. So conceptually I can be out of here as soon as I can get everything packed!

  4. DougD Avatar

    Well done. Keep going, the end is in sight.

    Once again I’ll float my idea for a plumbing store where everything costs twice as much but the quality is twice as good. Unfortunately in these times I don’t think it would work, the long game mentality is in short supply.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I did opt for metal parts over plastic for my sink. Paid three times as much. I dunno, some of us are still out here who will pay a little more for quality.

  5. AnAdornedAbode Avatar

    Fun to hear about what you’ve been up to! It is amazing how small changes can make a big difference!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Just doing the best I can! I’m a software developer by trade; everything I do around the house usually starts with me looking up instructional videos on YouTube!

  6. Heide Avatar

    “Operation Lipstick on the Pig.” SNORT!! It’s good to see you haven’t lost your characteristic dry humor amid all this work, Jim. I have a feeling it will pay off handsomely, too: Buyers love it when they can tell things haven’t been done halfway, and you’re definitely not a “done halfway” kind of a guy (“Operation Lipstick on the Pig notwithstanding, ha ha).

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That bathroom would best be gutted to the studs and rebuilt. But I lack the skills, and am unwilling to pay someone else to do it. I did get a spitball estimate once; it came in at about 8 large just to replace the floor and tub.

      1. Heide Avatar

        $8000?! That’s outrageous — I would have done it for just $4000 (unless you were installing a Fabergé porcelain tub and gold-ingot floor tiles, in which case $8000 sounds about right). Well, isn’t it kind of nice to think that soon it will be someone else’s problem?

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          That’s not too far out of line with a similar bathroom redo at my previous house, so I wasn’t shocked. And I hope I’ve restored the bathroom to a point where there are no real problems to pass on!!

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