Today got off to a slow start on the home improvement front. The weekend took a lot out of us, but we’re trudging along. I decided to take the morning off to read some blogs and post about my experience so far.
(Here are “before” pictures of my “studio”/ dining room)
Preparing our house to sell is teaching me many things. Here are a few practical home improvement tips I’ve learned this week:
1. Before painting, it helps to know what you’re painting over. We inadvertently painted latex over oil paint two years ago, then had to strip it all off this week and start over because of the latex chipping off over time.
2. Sometimes it’s worth the time to tape off before painting (ceilings); sometimes it’s easier to just go a bit slower and scrape off the little boo-boos after the fact (wood floors). Use a blade to cut the edge of tape strips before removing in case you’ve created a seal between the tape and the painted surface. Pulling up paint off a newly painted surface will sure enough piss you off.
3. Patience, patience, patience. Let things dry and cure according to directions. Show restraint when you feel like choking your husband for not doing this.
4. Take out meals are your friend and, contrary to popular opinion, the TV makes a great babysitter when you and your husband are working on projects in different rooms.
5. Latex paint will come out of kids’ clothes if tended to right away with cold water and a scrub brush.
(Quickly shot “After” pictures of dining room. Excuse the poor quality- I promise these won’t be the ones we use when listing the house!)
(Going shopping for curtains tomorrow and then it’ll be done. Well, maybe a table runner too.)
On a more philosophical level, I’ve come to realize the following:
1. Little things can make a big difference. Something as simple as changing the hardware on kitchen cabinets gave them a whole new life. And it ended up being less expensive than I thought (which is why I avoided doing it for so long).
2. Sometimes you just have to get moving in order to find your direction. For quite some time, we’ve discussed new window treatments, but never acted on it. We finally hung curtain rods this weekend for staging purposes, and I threw up a test curtain panel I bought. We were amazed by the difference it made in the room. And while I’m not certain these are the curtains I want to keep, they’re certainly better than what we had before, which were just blinds.
3. Less can lead to more. In converting my “work studio” back to a dining room, I had to scale back the furniture and items I was holding onto for use “someday”. By limiting my storage and materials, I find myself more focused on what I want my work to be. It’s a continuation of the “freeing up my surroundings in order to free up my mind and creative flow”.
4. Don’t put off until later what you can and want to do now. We’ve talked about moving for nearly four years. All this work we’re doing now makes me realize how great this house can be, and I’m sad we didn’t do the work sooner. While we weren’t committed to staying here, we should have put more work into making what we have right now great. Next house I will bust ass to make it great as quickly as possible, rather than screwing around and procrastinating because “we’re going to be here long term- what’s the rush?”
5. Change can be a pain in the ass, but it comes with its rewards. This past week has been exhausting and there’s still work to be done, but it’s awesome to see the changes. Once this house sells, there’s a good chance we’re going to have to rent a place while we house hunt, especially with all the great deals that are short sales or in foreclosure. Apartment living with a child and pets used to going outside won’t be fun. Storing stuff and having to move from house to apartment to house will be a pain, but if it means ending up with an amazing deal on a house, it’ll be worth it.
So now I’m off to do lawn work and try to make the yard look like a tropical paradise despite the freezing temperatures last month that killed off so much of the yard!
I’d love to hear your comments/advice/stories about home improvement and life lessons learned!