The previous tenant of the wee, little country house I moved into last summer was a bachelor who drove a truck for a living so you can imagine that the decor was not exactly worthy of Better Homes & Gardens. Above and beyond the fact that the house hadn't seen a woman's touch in a really, really, really long time, it also hadn't seen soap and water, so I spent the better part of the pre-move-in week scrubbing with so much Clorox and Lysol that I 1) burned my hands raw and 2) I was basically high from the fumes for 5 days. Awesome. 

At the time, scrubbing off the grime was all that I could handle. That and painting my bedroom. But beyond that, the notion of fixing up my fixer-upper of a house gave me a massive headache and so I figured that some well placed knick-knacks and throw pillows (and occasionally lots of wine) would distract visitors from the cracked paint, the crooked molding, and the ugly linoleum floor in the kitchen that is so dirty I could probably sit on my ass with a bucket of Clorox and a toothbrush and scrub every single individual tile for 20 minutes apiece and still not make any progress. Also? I'd probably have a sore ass and feel like the world's biggest asshole. 

As it turns out, I was right and a few well-placed knick knacks did the trick because when people come to visit, they see the quaint and cozy home that I have created despite some glaring cosmetic flaws.

But here's the problem.  The cosmetic flaws are starting to wear on me, and unfortunately, I am not much of a DIYer. I would rather watch Bones or NCIS or a Beverly Hills 90210 marathon on SoapNet then flip on HGTV (although I did try to watch it for a few days at the request of my dear friend The Hawk, who along with The Kaiser and Sumo, is going to install a new kitchen floor for me!).  My friend Sara? She rips up carpeting just for fun. I actually need to rip carpeting out of the entire upstairs and the staircase and while I love the feel of a Wonder Bar in my hands....the idea of ripping up hundreds of square feet of hideous blue shag carpeting and then yanking out tack track and then pulling up staples out of the hardwoods one by one by one by one.....yes - could somebody please pour me a drink before I impale myself on a Wonder Bar? 

The thing is, the quantity of work that this house requires has been bearing down on me with tremendous force as of late and so a few weeks ago, I decided to tackle my bathroom over Memorial Day weekend.  I figured it was small and mainly stuff I knew how to do (like paint) and that if it went well, it would inspire me to tackle bigger rooms and bigger projects. So I skipped a few days drinking beer on the lake with Lilsaej and instead channeled my inner Bob Vila. Wait - is he still even relevant?   

If I told you the entire weekend start to finish I'd have the War & Peace of blog posts, so here's a brief-ish summary in bullets:

* All in, the project took 3-1/2 days and included 3 trips to Lowes, 3 trips to Wal-Mart and 2 trips to Bed, Bath & Beyond. I'd like to point out that both trips to Bed Bath & Beyond (which is 25 miles away) were in blinding monsoon-like rain which just goes to show what a girl will do for a sparkly shower curtain and a pretty box to deal with her tissue issues. 

* All bathrooms should be white. Period. This is the second bathroom I have painted Ultra White and I see no reason to have a bathroom any other color ever again. It is pristine. It is bright. It is perfect.

* It was very empowering to rip the molding off with my bare hands - although it denied me the chance to actually purchase my own Wonder Bar. 

* I'll go out on a limb and say that stripping wall paper is fun.  I'll also say that I had it pretty damn easy and that I only had 1 layer of wall paper to contend with, it was peeling off in a lot of places already, and that it responded well to a combination of non-toxic wallpaper remover mixed with hot water in a spray bottle and a putty knife. 

* I suck at puttying and sanding. In fact, one of the primary goals of the Great Bathroom Remodel of 2010 was to fix the crack in my bathroom ceiling. So yeah. You can still kind of see it. Although I totally blame the guy at Lowe's who told me to get the insta-dry, lightweight spackle.  I think I needed the heavy duty stuff. So actually - I don't suck at puttying and sanding at all. The guy at Lowe's is just a bad salesman.  

* I have a love-hate relationship with painting.  On the one hand, I can do it (kind of) and I find it mildly soothing in small doses. Although I am messy. And I will probably be cleaning up paint drops and spills and whatnot for the next 6 months. Also? I perpetually see the flaws - the spots that need to be touched up, the areas that need to be patched. No one else sees them but I know they're there and it drives me BATTY.

* Oil based paint sucks and if you ever think of using it - DON'T.  I discovered this last summer when we attempted to paint the bedroom and the latex paint I had purchased started bubbling up and not sticking to the walls and I had the world's BIGGEST MELTDOWN in the history of all meltdowns mainly because I was functioning on 2 hours of sleep (not my fault - my slumber was interrupted) but also because I hated the house I was moving into and I felt like the paint debacle was some kind of sign. Like a sign that I needed to check into The Four Seasons for 2 weeks.  

* The solution to oil based paint is to coat it with a layer of Killz first and then the latex paint will stick. However I forgot this when I was working on my bathroom this weekend. I mean, I did it for the walls but then I started to Killz the ceiling and OMFG - have any of you ever painted a ceiling? Damn that shit is hard. I had my step stool in my bathtub and my neck arched and paint was dripping in my eye and I couldn't figure out where I had put the Killz since, you know, it was all white and so I was like FUCK IT.

* The moral of that story is 1) I will never, ever paint another ceiling as long as I live and 2) once I finally did paint my ceiling with the Ultra White latex paint, it started to bubble and peel in a handful of places and I had a mild panic attack but not a major one and so I am fairly sure that this is a sign that I am maturing. Also? I still need to fix my ceiling.

* Also? This is why the notion of painting my entire house reduces me to a blubbering heap. Killz, paint, paint plus trim and molding? JEE-ZUS.  

* Here is where I make a formal apology to The Kaiser.  A few weeks ago, The Kaiser did some painting at his house, and the next few times I saw him, he had paint remnants here and there. On his leg. On his arm. On his hands.  I mean granted - he's furry and a lot of crap gets stuck in his coat - but I was all: "Dude - do you BATHE?" because isn't latex paint water based and isn't it supposed to wash right off? So um yeah....after Round 1 of painting on Saturday I took a shower. I scrubbed. I loofahed. I exfoliated. I basically sandblasted myself in the shower and yet I still headed out to dinner with paint on my arm.  So apparently latex paint is not all that easy to remove from one's skin and apparently The Kaiser bathes. I think.

* Spray paint is awesome. It is cheap. It is easy. And the fumes make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

* I now own a hand saw with a clamping mitre box, but I have no idea how it works.

* I also own a stud finder, but for $10 you shouldn't be surprised that it told me my entire wall was bangable.

* Having all of my tools out these last few days and all the trips to Lowes made me feel all handy and shit and so I finally got an organizer for my tools. It's not a tool box - but it's pretty damn close. 

* I prefer to caulk with a Q-tip even though I am pretty sure that's not how you're supposed to do it. Also? I suck at caulking. Maybe it's because I use a Q-tip.

* As much of this as I did on my own, I had invaluable help from The Angel and her boyfriend The Fire Chief.  They arrived at around 8pm on Sunday and left a little after 11pm.  In that time we got the recessed medicine cabinet crammed in inserted and mounted, we got the toilet topper up, and The Fire Chief made good use of my clamping mitre box to cut and mount my molding.  As much as I love to do it on my own, I also know when I need help and I feel lucky to have such good friends to rely on.

* That said, I hung the towel bar on my own bitches! AND it's level. AND I have 2 honest-to-God giant blisters in the middle of my right palm from gripping the screwdriver to drive the wall anchors into the sheetrock. Go on. Say it. I am a badass!

* I derive way too much pleasure from organizing toiletries.

So it didn't involve a lake or getting a suntan or going to a cookout or drinking beer with Lilsaej or anything else that you'd think about when you think of the first 3-day weekend of the summer, but it was an awesome and fulfilling weekend all the same and now I have a gorgeous bathroom. Also? I totally feel more confident about taking on bigger home improvement projects although I do think it will take 6 people, 2 gallons of vodka, and 1 prescription for Xanax to get me through my kitchen renovations. 

7 Comments

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Congratulations! Home improvement projects can be a rewarding experience that will incease the value of your home AND improves your quality of life. Two suggestions:

1) Never use the terms "I suck" and "caulk" in the same sentence again.

2) While white is certainly an acceptable hue in a womans' bathroom, I would recommend that you consider other colors depending on the gender and frequency of visitors to your domicile. For instance, if you're visitors tend to be males with an elevated blood alcohol level, you may want to consider yellow around the commode enclosure.

I wish you luck with your further adventures in home improvement.

Norm

I am in love with your sparkle accessories. I'm sure you're shocked.

You did a fantastic job!!! Didn't it feel empowering tackling that project? Be careful though...home improvement tends to be addicting. VERY addicting.

You ARE a badass!

DYI cna totally give a person that "I DID IT" feeling of accomplishment.

NORM!!!
This old obode,..NORM!!!
Yankees' can build stuff in their workshop with a multi-million-dollar-budget for power tools,...NORM!!!!
This old 'termite infested','hundred year old', wood frame farm house that I live in could sure use a season long make-over.
It seemed like you and Bob Villa used to care about real old houses
in the beginning. Then you guys went to brownstones and cape cod and
nantucket,...and just like the housing market; you got too big for your breeches,...NORM!!!
Now I see that you really are getting back to the root of the concept of old homes. Thank you!!! Urine welcome!!!

Not often does someone make remodeling sound like fun ;)

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