Sunday, July 11, 2010

Before & After: The Miracle of Change

I have to say that my biggest problem in life is that I look at things, items usually, not necessarily people, and see their potential. (I recognize that I need to work on this trait in people as well, but that's not the point of this digression, so...) It is this looking at the "rosy" side of things that has turned my life upside down, which on most days I'd say is a good thing.

Almost one year ago, I was shopping with a friend and spotted a bottle of Fendi perfume. Upon seeing the bottle, I called another friend who I knew was looking for that scent. She told me that she was talking to her realtor (she was trying to sell a rent house) and her realtor knew of a house that was about to come on the market with an asking price near my top price in a safe neighborhood. It did need a little work, but with my family that would be no problem! (Her words, not mine!) (Yes, she did end up getting the perfume too!) After calling the realtor the next morning to see the house, I was placing an offer by that evening. Thus began the turbulent ride that has become my every waking moment.
A very sweetly appearing house from the outside, the inside was not so great. It was full of termite damage, leaking pipes, trash, rotting carpet, urine, fecal matter, and the most foul stench. Did I see any of that???

Oh No! Instead I saw a fabulous house completely finished in my favorite style with plush furniture, exquisite trim, cushy rugs, and cool air conditioning. Let me tell you, whatever glasses I was wearing, I want them back, because this is what I walked into! The lower right corner under the quilt is hiding a shoulder mount of the largest deer I've ever seen. The sheet in the lower left if covering a motorized wheelchair, proof that this house held a bit of everything!

Knowing what I now know, I'm guessing that the house was vacant for a while before the nephew returned from the Navy to live there. Yes, there was someone living there. All I can think is that he'd been on a submarine for his entire tour of duty and this was better than a berth 2,000 feet down!! I also learned from neighbors that the former occupants were crazy. I'm no talking a little quirky here, I'm talking had official papers and locks on the doors to lock the woman INSIDE her room!! All I can say is that the house definitely had personality upon my arrival...

Over the next 5 months, almost every free waking moment was spend pulling up carpet, ripping down paneling, scrubbing walls, running new PEX water lines, grounding old but safe wires, painting and and EVERY surface and sweating buckets. Like Tim Allen, I too landed in the ER with a horrible reaction to a tetanus shot after I stepped on a rusty nail. We had one broken nose after a terrifying leap from the top of a ladder. (By the way, when they say don't stand on that step, they really mean DON'T STAND ON THAT STEP!)

In December I made the big move to live there full time. I did it quietly with no pomp. I'd like to claim that's it my personality, but we all know better. I was terrified that I wouldn't make it the entire night and have
to go back home. I've spent the night by myself before, but have never lived by myself. (With 2 sisters, 5 brothers, 3 sister-in-laws, 2 brother-in-laws, 2 nephews, 3 nieces and various dogs, can you blame me??) The night went just fine, probably due to the fact that I was completely exhausted!

Since then, I've had many good nights in my house and have actually come to think of it as "home." It has a been a ton of work,
some good and some bad, but most all of it stinky! (Really, you should buy stock in Dove deodorant. I think I'm single-handedly keeping them in business. To help you if you ever go insane and want to do this to your own house, here's what I've learned...

  • how to scrub a ceiling to remove nicotine
  • be smart and just give up on scrubbing the ceiling and pay someone to replace the ceiling and cover up the termite damage.
  • which "green" cleaners really clean and which don't! (Go with simple green.)
  • how much work you can eek out of family members and friends just by mentioning them in a blog!
  • how to lay insulation properly.
  • what R-value is. (see #4)
  • how important good neighbors are.
  • that I'd never lay trim without an air compressor. (Hand-nailing, not thank you!!)
  • picking out a gorgeous trim means a TON of coping work.
  • that gorgeous trim makes the room!
  • Yes, it is possible to be so tired that you can't move!
  • People in the 60's had an odd attraction to concrete.
  • The huge difference double pane windows make.
  • If choosing between 2 colors, go darker, it's just paint!
  • Hot glue is really, really hot! It will raise a blister in no time.
  • Beige is boring!
  • There is a large difference in tepee brown and beige, don't be confused.
  • Crown moulding elicits very dirty words from a highly articulate man!
  • It is seriously possible to get addicted to spray paint and not in a bad 12-step way! Spray paint can work miracles! If only it were sold for human figures...
  • Never underestimate the power of finishing a project
  • Fixing the house is only half the cost. It requires decorating and personalizing to make it a home and that stuff's expensive!
  • One's diet goes to heck when you live by yourself. Popcorn for supper? Sure! $1 Sonic Ice Cream Cone for breakfast? Why Not?
  • The importance of having a TV in the room where you will be doing the bulk of your refinishing.
  • They lie on TV!! There isn't a darn project that you can finish in 30 minutes, especially a whole room, let along an entire house!
  • Working on a house is great, but sometimes it's more important to spend time with people that matter to you and sometimes, it's okay to just take a day off too!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for leaving me some love! I appreciate it!