Home reno #2: disproving old adages

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Blog entry by scottb posted 07-18-2008 05:05 AM 1128 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Oak Stairs Part 2 of Home reno series no next part

at a nearly glacial pace.

Back when I had an office job in the “9-5” world, I got tons done around the house on the weekends and during “vacations.” stripped and painted trim, redid floors, replaced; windows, doors, siding, rotted sills along the foundation as well as started and/or completed lots of other projects that helped me build the skills and confidence to leap into the blue collar world of making other homes nicer.

Nearly two years ago, right before I traded in my software for real hardware, I replaced the windows in the Master bedroom (with ones that actually open!). The windows went in without much of a hitch (or as few as possible considering the age of the house, and I remember finishing the outside trim, and/or replacing some clapboards during a beautiful September week – my first week with Dad.

I must have lost all my tools or ambition ever since. They say that the cobblers kids go barefoot – and, the carpenters home is never done. (Lots started, but never finished. Ever.) How I foolishly thought I’d get so much done on my own house. Back when my Uncle was out building homes on Nantucket, he had a crew at home working on his, and he couldn’t bear the sight, or thought of “clocking-in’ at home come suppertime (or Saturday).

The interior trim just didn’t happen. I was going to stain some poplar to look like cherry to match our bedroom set – just as soon as I found that old Fine Woodworking article that explained which combination of dyes to use and where to get them.

Meanwhile a pair of tacked up curtains fit the bill. A year went by, we just stopped noticing all the abandoned projects around the house, in addition to the missing window trim in the MBR. I still needed to repair the plaster around the windows a bit, or maybe I could just install really wide trim. Almost another year went by.

In this time the room was painted – we decided on a rich dark chocolate color for the walls, and a “vanilla” for the trim. I’m normally opposed to painting wood, but after seeing how nice my daughters room came out, I agreed we could paint the trim. Not that I got right to it. Too many other projects, and life, kept getting in the way. I can’t even think of how many projects were started these past two years. Besideswhich, in this economy, If I didn’t have the materials on hand, it just was going to have to wait until I could afford or scrounge them.

And wait it did. Over time, I’d been able to salvage some usable offcuts of pre-primed 1x. I love keeping stuff out of the landfill, so to that end, I’ve become smart about mapping out my cuts to leave the longest possible pieces left over. Now, in addition to a pile of pieces fit for little more than birdhouses (millions of birdhouses), I slowly collected enough to finally take care of the MBR! Which I ripped, cut, sanded and installed (including the curtains) in less than 2 hours.

I’m glad this is finally done, and off The List! (and before dinner to boot!)

Well,... I do still have to break out the paint, and still do a little wall repair in a couple places as the new windows were a tad smaller than the original ones. But I think I can get to it in less than two years…

now maybe there’s some hope for the cobblers kids getting some shoes.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

9 comments so far

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4302 days

#1 posted 07-18-2008 05:30 AM

I think, if we all are honest enough with ourselves, we can all admit to having projects of yesteryear. I could list a few just to warm up.

Congrats on knocking this out and now you’ll have more time for those birdhouses…

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4323 days

#2 posted 07-18-2008 05:33 AM

yep, gonna make, or rather prep, a big pile of birdhouses. Can I make those if they aren’t even on the list?

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3710 days

#3 posted 07-18-2008 06:04 AM

Dude, I am there! I’ve got unfinished projects coming out of my ears!... lol…. a “List” longer than Santa’s…

My wife and I just went thru a mass exodus of junk, having a sale tomorrow, donating, burning or taking the rest to the landfill. I got my shop clean, so now maybe I’ll get some of my projects off the “List.”

It’s truely amazing how quickly you stop “noticing” your unfinished projects. It’s sure easy to do…..

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3935 days

#4 posted 07-18-2008 12:04 PM

It’s always nice to hear that I’m not the only one. I stripped down our fireplace to bare wood once and got so frustrated that the original owners used plaster to fill the gaps and level the joints, that I just walked away. After a few years of looking at it, the Mrs. finally declared that she was painting it again. Eventually I just tore it out and build a new surround and mantel, but it took my daughter buying the house to get that done. All I can say is more power to ya, Scott. And, build a few bird houses if only for the therapy value.

-- Working at Woodworking

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4001 days

#5 posted 07-18-2008 01:19 PM

I made some cabinets for a bedroom i turned into an office three years ago. Still no doors or drawer fronts on em! Oh well. I’ve sorta become attached to its “becoming” look.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 3716 days

#6 posted 07-18-2008 08:56 PM

I’ve been fixing up the house for a dozen years. One projects seems to spawn four more. It would be nice if just one room reached “completion”. (Whatever that is.)

Keep up the good work!

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4095 days

#7 posted 07-18-2008 08:59 PM

“The cobbler’s children never have shoes” is the rule at my house. My poor wife certainly gets sloppy seconds on my time.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4323 days

#8 posted 07-18-2008 10:27 PM

That’s funny Miles. the week we moved in, i pulled down all the kitchen cabinet doors and drawers and sanded them clean, tried one stain, didn’t like it and started over. We lived without doors for 6 months while I refinished them (I had new pulls, and hinges on order as the outline of the old hardware was still evident even after two rounds with the ROS.
We got to like the ease of use of the kitchen, with everything in sight and easy to grab. We had an open house 6 months after moving in, and the new hinges hadn’t arrived yet, so I put up the old ones for “show”, only to pull them down, fill the holes (ever so slightly different screw pattern) and put on the new hardware much much later. I blogged about finally finishing WAY later than necessary. Might have never put the doors back on if we weren’t bringing two cats into the house. I think open top shelves might be the way to go in the “next house”.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4323 days

#9 posted 07-18-2008 10:30 PM

Rich, my grandfather used to gut and redo one room a summer. I think keeping everything to one room (and then taking the rest of the year “off” is an idea worth adopting. But, I probably won’t. not until I’m older and wiser.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

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