1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Lost in Improvement

When people visit our house for the first - or fifth - time, they tend to get a little lost. When my dad was helping us move, I'd say, "That goes in the front bedroom," and he'd go to each bedroom in turn and say, "This one?" No, Dad, the front bedroom.

It's not like four bedrooms is so very many, but I think the layout of our house confuses people. To me, the wide center hall spanning the length of the house with bedrooms lined up on one side and laundry, office, kitchen, dining, living in orderly succession on the other seems perfectly natural. But to people who've never lived in an old house, I guess it feels like a labyrinth ... all the doors in each room leading to who knows where (our bedroom, the office and the kitchen each have three doors).

Now I'm beginning to understand how they feel - only in a figurative sense. I feel lost in my own house. The rooms, of course, are second nature to me now, and I navigate them nightly in the dark after Darwin has gone to bed.

But we have so many projects - all in various stages of planning or progress - that I can't see a clear path through them anymore. So I'm going to make a list to be my map back to sanity. What's finished, what's half done, what's left to be done (the urgent things are starred). Here goes:

  • Workshop cleaned out and rendered usable
  • Ugly '70s built-in desk demolished.
  • Removed old stove vent and installed microwave.
  • Installed dishwasher (thank God).
  • Removed old sink and faucet and installed new.
  • Installed trim on kitchen cabinet faces.

    (Gee, this list is impressive)

  • Guest bathroom painted and towel bar installed, but trim needs painting
  • Stripping wood trim in entry hall
  • Pulled up hideous green rug in master bedroom and waxed part of the floor
  • Red living room needs another coat of paint (one day ...)
  • Got a little more painting to do on the kitchen trim*
  • Installed most of the cabinet knobs in kitchen*
  • Installed disposal but need to hook it up to electricity*
  • Fixed leaky gutter (twice), but it still needs more work
  • Gutted overgrown yard, but still have more weeds to deal with in front bed

    Left to be done:
  • Choose and install kitchen countertops and backsplash*
  • Rewire and install vintage lighting in kitchen (bought from eBay)*
  • Rip out vinyl in kitchen and refinish original pine floors
  • Paint or wallpaper kitchen walls and ceiling
  • Paint dining room (because the living room is really showing it up now)
  • Scrape and paint front porch floor*
  • Paint front door and window trim
  • Repair and paint shutters
  • Insulate under the rooms that weren't insulated by POs (but it's too darn hot for that right now)*
  • Rip out master bathroom tile and tub, cabinet and dividing wall
  • Install new master bathroom tile, clawfoot tub/shower and pedestal sink
  • New master bathroom lighting
  • Build walk-in closet adjacent to master bath
  • Rip out horrible added-in closet in master bedroom
  • Paint master bedroom
  • Paint center section of hall with mold-resistant paint. (yum)*
  • Paint back section of hall grey to match the color it used to be.
  • Repair a piece of outdoor cornice that fell off before rodents decide to move into our attic.*
  • Remove horribly ugly half-bath countertop and cabinet; replace with something less hideous, please
  • Oh this is a biggie ... jack up foundation in guest bedroom.*
  • Repair giant crack in guest bedroom wall and paint the room a non-pukey color.
  • Sandblast and repaint cast iron fireplace cover we found under the house
  • Plant flower bed beside driveway (this is gonna be next year, I can see that now)
  • Okay, I'm feeling really depressed now because this list keeps growing longer and longer and longer.

    I'm sure other folks have much more horrendous lists than mine. It's not so bad. It's not so bad. It's not so bad.

    I think I would feel better if we were actually going to do some work on it this weekend. But tonight I'm scrapbooking with the girls, while Darwin does whatever guys do with the guys. And tomorrow I'm going to an antique auction (yes, finally! And I'm going with experienced auction-attendees, thank goodness), while Darwin goes to a singing.

    So the only day left is Sunday. I was hoping to buy paint for the dining room this week and persuade Darwin to help me paint this weekend. But once I found out about the auction, I thought maybe I'll find a rug or something to be my inspiration. I'm having serious struggles with the dining room color, and if I don't find inspiration, I'll be posting photos here and asking begging for advice.

    Okay, now I'm going to comfort myself by reading about other people's projects.



    Greg said...

    Yes, that third list is a wee bit long, but not too bad. If I were you I'd bang out a few of those things on the second list and move them to the first list. That would make you feel better. If it were me I'd start with the paint stripping. Ahhh, paint stripping. Does it get any better than that?

    5:56 PM  
    Beth said...

    Here's a plan I thought of but have never actually put into implementation:
    On your "To do" list, put time increments next to them (1 hour, 3 days, etc.). When you find you have a day, check out the list and see what you can accomplish during that time.
    With MY one hour, I choose to watch a DIY episode and mock the homeowner's choices. I find I'm much better at making up organization practices than following them. :)

    6:20 PM  
    derek said...

    I'm afraid to write my whole list out, it would be rather daunting. We've got a lot done so far this year, it's just the tip of the iceberg though.

    7:26 PM  
    Becky said...

    I like to make lists and then put Tim's name after every task. heehee!

    11:13 PM  
    Kristin said...

    Goodie, I thought of a few more:
    Replace 1960s windows on back bedroom with one-over-ones to match the rest of the house.

    Buy or make curtains for most of the rooms (I'm currently addicted to the anthropologie.com Web site).

    Remove carpet and plywood in half bath and refinish pine floor.

    Greg, you are right that we should finish up some of the half-done things to increase our sense of accomplishment. I was just thinking that as I sat down here ... maybe we should try to tackle only one project at a time, finish it, then move on. But I get bored with one project and want to get started on whatever else is on my mind at the moment.

    I like Beth's idea, too, of breaking things into time increments. Hmm.

    11:10 AM  
    Greg said...

    I usually have two projects going at one time. When one stalls, for whatever reason, I can work on the other. This works out well for obsessive/compulsive work-aholics like myself.

    Hey, is yours the house that your sister made a doll house that looked just like your house? I seem to recall a thread on the OldHouseWeb.Com about a house that looked just like your house. (Boy, those sentences are alomst a tongue-twister)

    11:37 AM  
    Jocelyn said...

    you are a brave woman to even make a list like that! If I try and make lists anymore on the house, I feel paralyzed and depressed!

    We have quite a long list of todos and also what I call a "wish list."

    My motto is: if one keeps at it- it's amazing what you can get done.

    But also, old houses need so much TLC and in our case, patience.

    6:25 PM  
    Jane said...

    Boy, I can relate to the center foyer running down center of house with all the rooms with multiple doors to hall and room along side (up to 3 doors per room). And I keep changing the name of certain rooms - the library is the study or the office - which confounds my son. Ditto for sunroom/studio/backroom.

    And lists. I know I am feeling overwhelmed when I add things I've already done to a list - just so I can have something checked off.

    9:37 PM  
    Kristin said...

    :) Jane, I confuse my husband with the changing room names, too. Hee hee ... particularly the fact that I call both the hall half bath and the guestroom bath the "guest bathroom."

    10:19 AM  

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