Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Do It Yourself!

I started painting the bathroom this morning. This is step one in the transformation of ugly bathroom #1. I will not be posting before and after shots -- maybe an after shot, but, believe me, the before is far too hideous (and that's ignoring the fact that three young boys regularly use this facility).

I love to paint. A quick trip to the Hard Work Store (as a little Kolbe once dubbed it) and you can pick up a gallon of fairly cheap, fairly quick transformation. I used to paint all the time. Not long ago Dave wondered why I no longer do. I  pointed to the two fair-haired toddlers who now reside in the next room. Babies have a way of bringing Do It Yourself to a screeching halt.

Long ago in a bathroom not so far away, I started a simple redo. I figured it was a two week job. But suddenly I was pregnant with John. And then horribly nauseous. And then huge. And then post-partum. And before I knew it, I was pregnant with Ainsley. Suddenly this two week job was well into its third year.

Crazy, I know.

After fifteen years as homeowners, we are now familiar with certain unalterable maxims regarding Home Improvement. Painting I find easy, but any project beyond that undoubtedly will:

  1. Require way more trips to the Hard Work Store than you thought.
  2. Cost way more than you thought.
  3. Take way longer than you thought.

A successful project typically makes all adjacent rooms and surfaces look really, really ratty and thus tempts you to begin the whole vicious cycle all over again.

How well I remember when I first dabbled into the adventurous world of Do It Yourself. I was visiting my sister who was expecting her first child, my niece Megan. There's nothing like a first baby to bring out the nesting instinct thickly laced with perfectionism. There's a lot riding on that first nursery. The paint chips to peruse! The fabric swatches to ooh and aah over! The wallpaper books to ponder!

Baby Megan's nursery was going to be a pastel wonder straight from the showrooms of Laura Ashley.  I arrived on the scene to help wallpaper her room.

Now I was a mere neophyte, a starry-eyed single gal wholly unfamiliar with that crucible of marital relationships known as Home Improvement and the uncanny way it morphs two mild-mannered, civil people who actually love each other into raging perfectionists who rediscover choice words long relegated to the dusty corners of their vocabulary.

All was well with the wallpapering job until a nameless someone jotted down a few measurements on the back of a long strip of wallpaper. Perhaps this nameless someone happened to use -- cue ominous music -- a black Sharpie for his jottings. The Sharpie bled through the wallpaper. The Laura Ashley wallpaper.

To be brief, things got ugly.

Ten years or so later, I found myself wallpapering another nursery. I was expecting my first baby. In came the paint chips, the swatches, the wallpaper books.We found the perfect pattern. I placed the order. A helpful woman helped me calculate how many rolls we needed. It was pricey, so we went with the minimum amount. She assured me we wouldn't run short as long as we were careful.

We invited our friend Mark over to help. Up went the first piece. Mark pulled out a handy tool to smooth out the bubbles. As he dragged the tool down the length of the wallpaper, ugly dark marks marred the yellow gingham. We wiped them with a sponge, then tried Fantastick, and finally resorted to bleach. Nothing worked. One huge hunk of wallpaper into the trash.

I could feel the air being sucked out of my lungs. A friend dragged me out of the house before I hyperventilated and brought on pre-term labor.

I laugh about it now, but at the time it was So! Darn! Serious! We have weathered many a Do It Yourself since that dark September day back in 1997. For the most part Dave and I work fairly well together although there are some jobs that simply beg to be outsourced. A while back we installed new flooring in our kitchen. We did quite well until the final step which involved moving the refrigerator. Have I mentioned that I am 5' 2" and have the upper body strength of an amoeba? Somehow Dave always thinks we can move anything. Well, to use the phrase I used above, things got ugly.

Later in the week I was back at the Hard Work Store and noted a sign that said the store would gladly install a floor for just $125 and that included moving appliances! Two words went through my mind: Chump Change. A bargain at twice the price.

Ah well, thanks to Do It Yourself, confession lines are longer and florists do a brisk business even in this anemic economy.

So wish me luck on the bathroom. If I post the after pictures, check to see if there are roses in the background.


ami said...

I remember the wallpaper days! I think if the dog had stayed still long enough, he would have been wallpapered!

So, the roses. Who gives whom roses? Or am I to assume that Dave is generally in the wrong during DIY madness and the result is a lovely bouquet for Miss Kelly?

Christine Laennec said...

I do wish you luck with the bathroom. I love "Hard Work Store"!