It’s been over 3 weeks since my semi-intentional blog break. There were a few moments where I would head in the direction of the computer to work on a post, but then I’d either get distracted en route or sit down and feel exhausted. Too tired to write!
We’ve been busy. I think that I was pretty naive at how long it would take me to update our house. The simple act of painting is painstaking. And I’m tired of people asking me, “So – are you finished with the house yet?” or “You must be about done by now, right?”
I’ve said before that if it were just about painting, then that would be one thing. It’s the prep work that’s killing me. For example.
Painting the “den”, as it’s referred to on our house blueprint, was a multi-multi-step process.
First, there’s the cleaning. Wood paneling loves dirt and it took multiple washes to get the oil and dust off of there. Then, there was removing she strange shelves that were fused into place. I ended up having to use a hammer and a chisel. There was locating all of the holes, spackling them, waiting for that to dry, sanding it down, then re-spackling, re-drying, and re-sanding.
Then, I sanded all of the paneling, the baseboards, and the crown molding. Then washed it all down again. Then put caulk in between the quarter-round and the baseboard so that when I painted, it would be seamless rather than show the join. Same deal with parts of the crown molding.
Then, there was the fun process of removing all of the face plates for various outlets and switches, along with a few built-in lamps that were attached to the wall. In one case, I took off the face plate for a dimmer switch and found that the wires had been cut (that would explain why it no longer worked). So many times I’d be working on the room, and then discover a new problem to add to my list of stuff to do.
After that, it took 4 coats of primer. This is partly because wood paneling is notorious for leeching through paint and primer, but also partly because of the primer I chose. I didn’t want a toxic, high VOC primer, so that meant multiple coats. Same deal with priming the trim, quarter-round, and crown molding.
And finally, after all of that, I got to put some paint samples up on the walls, look at them, and make a decision. The winner was Wickham Gray from Benjamin Moore.
Two coats of that plus cutting in. LOTS of cutting in. Then rolling on the paint and going back over to fill in the grooves (because the wood paneling has grooves between the boards, it requires painting that area in by hand rather than with the roller sponge).
I also removed all of the doors in that room + hallway (7 doors) and replaced all of the old door knobs, primed them, and painted them + their trim to match the crown molding and baseboards. In one case, I got rid of a door and filled in the hinge spaces and the chiseled out area in the trim for the door knob catch. More spackling and wood putty and sanding and drying time!
I’ve finished basically everything in that room except for painting the baseboards, remaining trim, and crown molding. I’ll also need to take another pass at the repaired (former) door trim with the wood putty and spackle knife to get it nice and smooth.
All of that work for a single room + hallway. Do you see why it’s taken so long? And mostly doing it during childrens’ nap times or bed times or in the few moments when Chris is able to take the boys for a couple hours on a Saturday. It finally reached a point where I realized that all the time that I kept losing on set-up and take down/clean up was really extending my work. I decided to hire a sitter for 4 hours in the morning for 7 days during July (well, I’d advertised for more days, but 7 was all we could work out together with our various schedules and I wasn’t about to turn it down). That way I would have a good chunk of time to work on stuff rather than sneaking in an hour’s worth of work here, and hour and half of work there.
It’s frustrating to see how little progress I’ve made. Like I mentioned above, many times during my work I’ll find more issues to add to the to-do list. Most recently, it’s been regarding the electrical wiring. I’m newbie-homeowner competent when it comes to basic electrical stuff. I can change blown fuses, I can change lightbulbs, I can change outlets. Changing light switches is another ballgame. I tried to change out the switches in the den and quickly realized that I was out of my depth. One of the things about old houses that you sometimes find is that you’ll have one switch (or in our case, many switches) that don’t seem to do anything. We have a lot of those. I decided to hire a professional and I’m hoping he’ll be here in the next few days to sort out the wiring.
Still to paint are the nursery, the guest room, Joe’s bedroom, the laundry room, the kitchen, the dining/living room, the master bedroom, the master bathroom, and the front entry + hallway. All of these rooms have lots of prep work needed, to. Some has already been done (like removing wallpaper) but most of it is still undone. I still haven’t fully removed all of the nasty wallpaper in the laundry room. What a nightmare. That stuff must be bonded on with some sort of superglue on steroids. I already can tell that I’m going to have to sand all of those walls, then seal them with a problem wall sealer (like GARDZ) before I can prime and paint them.
So, I think about all of the work to be done and I end up wringing my hands and shaking my head. I can see why people hire out, but the plain cold truth is that in our financial situation, we would have to pull money out of our investments to do that and I have NO desire to go down that road. Nor do I want to set up a payment plan for the work or take out a loan for home improvements.
Oh, and to top it all off, this morning whilst washing dishes I noticed that there was a puddle on our screen porch floor. Not near the screens, where you might expect a puddle to form if, say, the wind blew rain inside, but smack-dab in the middle of the room. Where a puddle most definitely should not be. I went outdoors to investigate and yep, sure enough, there was a leak. Bum bum bum. It was the same area that was spotted by the home inspector and supposedly fixed as part of our home purchase agreement. I’ve already filed a claim with the home warranty company and a repair guy is coming out tomorrow. It’s a $100 call out fee and I’m praying that he isn’t like the plumber. In other words, I’m hoping he doesn’t put a band-aid on it (figuratively speaking) and then say that it’s our problem. That plumber pretty much turned us off from ever renewing the home warranty.
So, yeah, I’m a bit grumpy right now and not feeling super excited about home ownership. Blah. I’m sure that I’ll get over it in a little while. In the meantime, I’ll just keep telling myself to keep my nose to the grindstone (or in this case, keep my eyes trained on the cutting-in brush while I paint a crisp line between the trim and wall) and think about how it will all look once it’s done. And start planning my “I’m finally done with all of that painting!” celebration party