My house is never cleaner than when I'm not working. The dishes are done, most of the laundry is clean (I hate doing laundry, by the way. It's the one thing I never stay on top of), everything's dusted, even the tile floors are clean (because we have a Hoover Floormate - thanks Mom and Dad … err, Santa Claus). I'm an animal when I'm left alone in the house with nowhere to be and nothing to do. Nothing to DO!? Why the carpet needs to be cleaned, you crazy woman, you!!
And so I clean. I also purge crap. I'm still selling stuff on Amazon, my friends. If I have it and I'm not using it, you can find amazing deals on it at Amazon. And I ship very quickly. So go buy my stuff please, so I can take a vacation.
The other thing I do when I'm not working is crafty stuff around the house. And I'm not talking about adorable little calendars or homemade pillows or anything like that. I'm talking crafts on a "removing stuff and moving it around and painting it" scale. If you follow my blog at all, you know that currently we have no interior doors in this house and that I'm totally and completely OK with this state of affairs. The doors have only been gone for seven hours and already I'm quite comfortable yelling "Don't look!!" every time I go to the bathroom. I can live like this for a long time because I know that soon - very soon - we will have all new doors. So a little discomfort and hoarseness from yelling is worth the price.
We've been in this house for over two years now and we've done a few of the many, many things on my revamp list. Because unless you're a Rockefeller, you know that there are countless things you want to do to a house when you buy it, but there's never quite enough money readily available to do it all. No house is exactly what you want when you sign on the dotted line. The best most of us can do is buy the place we think could be the place we want it to be. And I watch a lot of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy so I know what this place could be.
Some things we've done since moving in include:
1) Redoing the back yard. And I love the results. Except for the weeds, which is nobody's fault but mine. Gardening is like making the bed but on a longer-term scale. When you make the bed, you'll be messing it up in 10 hours or so. When you plant things, weeds will show up in 6 months or less. It's an ongoing battle.
2) The Safari Half-Bath. I don't even know what to say about this. You either love it or hate it. Obviously I love it because I did the work on it and Dave didn't divorce me over it (although he looked pretty damn skeptical when I laid it out for him). There's still stuff I'd like to do with it, but it works as is and makes people laugh.
3) The Guest Bathroom. New tile, new bathtub, new paint job, new everything. Nobody can argue that this didn't turn out well.
Oh, but the stuff I want to do…
When we bought this house I made a list of things I wanted to do to it. Now please mind you that I love this house and I never ever plan to move away from it (mostly because I never EVER want to move again, but more on that in another essay). That doesn't mean I don't want to make my mark on it. I have a list about thirty-two miles long concerning all the things I want to do to the place. Some will get done, others are pipe dreams, but boy! Do I have a list.
1) Paint the exterior. Our house is avocado green, people. It's the ugliest color ever. Two stories of avocado green. I keep inviting people over after sunset because it's so frightening.
2) New front yard. Nothing fancy needed here - we just need to update. The plants are overgrown where they get water and drying where they don't.
3) Replace the front doors. We have double doors, which is nice, but the front sides are avocado green and the backs are mauve. I'll be getting rid of the mauve this week (more on that in a minute) but some glass would be far preferable. I know the doors I want, I just can't seem to find it in me to pony up the three grand it would take to replace them. I may never get to this one but we live in hope.
4) Redo the tile floor in the entryway. My dream here is to go with inlaid wood for the entry and the half bath which are both one step above the rest of the first floor. Right now we have this boring pink and white swirl tile that isn't as hideous as I thought it was when we bought the house (I woke up in a cold sweat during escrow, convinced I'd bought a pink house) but it's still really sort of nasty and cold.
5) Replace the carpets on the stairs and all the upstairs. Our carpets are cheap and no matter how much we clean them, they look dirty.
6) Get new stair railings. The ones we have are 1970's black iron… but they're not iron. They're chipping and… it's time to update.
7) Bump out the front window in the living room. This is another one of those "I'd love to do this and let's keep talking about it but I doubt we'll figure out a way to make it affordable." But I'd love a window seat there. The people across the street have one and it looks great.
8) Pull up the carpet in the living/dining room and replace it with hardwood floors. This is something I may actually do this year!
9) Window dressings for the master bedroom, Dave's office, the living, dining and family rooms. Because right now we have cracked plastic that does nothing to help us not feel like we're living in a minimum security prison.
God. We haven't even gotten very far into the house yet, have we? Never mind. Let's keep going.
10) Kitchen. Where do we start here? I like the layout but we need new cabinets (we've actually picked these out) and a new floor (not picked out at all and I can imagine the arguments about that. Dave and I are great about selecting huge changes but we get totally stuck on relatively small decorating details). We also need a LOT MORE LIGHT in the kitchen no matter what my husband thinks.
11) Living room. Lord. Ok, we need to do something with the crap tile floor and we have to get a new entertainment center. I have no idea what we're going to do with this room because we've been bitching about it since we moved in but neither of us has come up with a plan so we don't talk about it. How completely not Dr. Phil is that? Also, the crummy fake-brick fireplace has to go (though the fireplace itself is great - we just need to reface it).
Heading upstairs we need:
12) Um… not much. The master bath could use some work but I haven't decided what needs to be done here. Definitely a new overhead light. And new flooring (gawd - more pink tile…). But everything else looks OK.
13) Double paned windows throughout the house. Count that as an upstairs or downstairs thing. I don't care. I just remembered it.
I'd like to put a stained glass window in the stairwell but even my own mother didn't realize we had a window in the stairwell until I pointed it out to her last year so clearly that's not a priority.
This all sounds like a lot but really it's not. And I make it sound like our house is unlivable, but it's not that either. I like this house a lot. It's a house that my husband and I picked out together. It's not perfect but I'd be bored if it was. Owning a house is a process much more than it is just a thing. You own a house and change it year by year. I know what I would like this house to look like eventually, but it's OK as it is. I wouldn't want everything to stay the way it is right now but we'll change things as we can. And I actually like that.
It's sort of like life that way.
- KNP February 16, 2004