Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Snowball Effect

This past week, we had some work done in our master bathroom by outside people, as the work was well past The Executioner's and my skills (which doesn't say too much in the way of home improvement!).  Now, we are left with a few more basic tasks that we are willing to tackle - painting the ceiling and walls, putting in some flooring (which the contractor assured us is "SIMPLE" to do...) and then dealing with baseboards - measuring, cutting, staining, attaching.  I am excited about this project - I have said since the day we moved into this house that this is the one room I would really like to redo.  And now, thanks to the second leak in the shower, I got it!  What I didn't want to do was spend a whole bunch of money on the house right before we moved out of it - in preparation for it to sell.  So, this is a win-win for me and, er, well maybe it is just a win for me and not so much for TE - I'll let him weigh in on the situation.  But, we are not planning to move out of our house right now, so I will get to enjoy the bathroom. 

The snowball effect is this... I walk out of the bathroom and look at the hallway, which we never repainted when we moved in.  It is a disgusting color that looks like someone ate purple grapes and chocolate milk and then threw up, or something along those lines - grayish/tanish/purplish ugliness is what it boils down to.  So, said hallway could REALLY use a new coat of paint.  And then there are our floors.  The upstairs carpet is old, and should probably be taken out sooner rather than later.  In addition to that, the whole house squeaks.  My parents live in a house that was built in the 1800s and I am pretty sure our house has more squeaks than theirs does... that seems wrong to me.  And then I move into... well, you get the picture. 

The battle that rages within me is this: some of these small-ticket modifications (painting the hallway) could handily be done by TE and myself.  A coat of paint wouldn't cost THAT much.  It would be quite a bit of life energy though:
  • empty these rooms/cover everything/move stuff away from the walls
  • I would probably want to take off the baseboards of any room we paint in a) to make it look better and b) because the last family that lived here let their kids play floor hockey regularly (no proof to this statement, but a more fun way to say that the baseboards are really beat up) 
  • taping 
  • painting
  • doing all the new baseboardy stuff
  • cleaning up 
  • blah blah blah.  
So now, we have the expense of the paint and the baseboards, and the expense of life energy to do said projects.  Is it worth the sacrifice of our money and energy to do these repairs?  Will it make the experience of this house (which I like, but also consider a place holder, not a forever home for me by any means) that much better?  On the other hand, if we do some cheaper repairs here, that could provide us with increasing our skills and confidence in tackling bigger projects - we could use this place almost as a practice house for when we move into our forever home and want to have really good-quality workmanship throughout.  That, my friends, is the battle that rages within me. 
I now walk into every room (mind you, we haven't gotten that far in the bathroom we are presently working on, which could change the way I look at rooms if the project completely blows) and think of the small renovations we could do.  For example, the cheapest renovation to our kitchen wouldn't entail too much - we could pull some of the 2.8 billion curtain rod support brackets out of the wall and patch those wholes (same with the window frames), paint all of the walls a lovely new color, put down the same 'SIMPLE' flooring, call it a day.  There is a lot of power in some putty for the walls, a can of paint, and new baseboards - it would help elevate the appeal of the house and hopefully help in resale, but is my life energy worth it?  That would mean fewer long runs, board-game nights, weekend hiking days.  There are also some MAJOR repairs that are well beyond our ability that I would love to have done - carpeted stairs turned into hardwood staircases, a barely-finished basement turned into a functioning finished basement, and did I mention all of the floors squeak?  :)  For those, in my ideal world, we'd somehow have the time to learn from someone doing those renovations - we'd be an apprentice of sorts.  But, we would definitely need someone who has the skills to pay the bills to teach us. 

I guess at this point, I will let the battle within rage and will take it one project at a time.  Maybe I figure out that I enjoy painting rooms, in which case I know what I am willing to do.  Maybe I learn that cutting baseboards makes me want to crawl over broken glass.  There is a lot to learn from this bathroom project, and I am excited for it.  Since we're still in the early phase, it is looking like it will be reasonable and enjoyable... I'll keep you posted on whether this Pollyanna attitude still exists in a couple of weeks or not!  Calm down - I know you just saw the word weeks and are going - wth Spicy Princess, why are you going to drag it out so long?  Work travel... can't make The Executioner do all the renovations on his own.  ;)

If you have guidance - feel free to dole it out.  :)


  1. You described the hallway paint color perfectly.

  2. It doesn't sound like you are all that affected by said colour in the hallway. But if you are eventually going to sell, painting it any shade neutral (check the mistints, you might just score a great shade)so it doesn't catch the eye of a potential buyer and cause them to get a negative emotional response would be good idea. A lot of people aren't that great in seeing beyond peoples' décor and will write off a house prematurely.

    The cheapest thing to do to freshen up a home is paint. Lighter colours make spaces look bigger as do wall mirrors for a dark hallway. Use good rollers and edgers and it will make the experience much more pleasant. I'm not a tape person but if you are, practice taping until you are confident there will not be seepage.

    Buy some scrap pieces to practice your cuts for the baseboards. If your walls are square, you'll probably not have to vary the angles much. I'm assuming you will be using MDF vs wood to save on costs.

    Similarly laminate flooring is pretty easy to lay down. You just have to make sure the edge gaps are there to allow for expansion. And if you are using that for a bathroom or kitchen, you may want to look into the ones you have to glue as well since it is a high moisture environment. Buy the best under pad you can afford and that will help mask the squeaking.

    Tile can be cheaper but you get into complications/additional leveling steps if your floorboards aren't level or you risk cracking.

    First floor squeaking is easiest to manage especially if your basement ceiling is unfinished because an inexpensive bag of shims is all you'll need. Drive them in by the joists. The upper floors will need nails. Perfect time to do it if your floors are or will be stripped up anyways.

    Just pace yourself and maintain your sense of humour. The first coat of paint always takes the longest.

    1. Wow! Thanks for all this great advice! I saw edgers and was wondering if they worked or if they would be more leaky than tape. I'll have to give them a second glance next time I am in the store.

      Your last line is something I'll be holding onto this weekend - I've been on the road all week and TE has been holding down the fort, so I assume we have some work to do in the bathroom when I get back! I'll look up some jokes to maintain BOTH of our good spirits tonight!

      Thanks again for all the advice - I really appreciate knowing about the shims for the first floor - it makes sense, but wasn't anything I would have thought of.

    2. You are very welcome!

      My favourite edger looks like a piece of aluminum horizontal blind with a handle. You just have to remember to wipe it occasionally, like you would with a squeegee.

      I've found the edgers that are meant to be dipped in paint less effective -- Didn't get close enough to the edge. D (my husband) swears by tape so it really depends on your style. I'm too impatient to tape.

      Also, want to correct my info -- I meant wood screws for fixing upper floor squeaking, not nails. Was thinking of hardwood floor installation.

      Have Fun and Good Luck!

  3. Off topic. I read Executioner's comment on MMM's clown-car post. Have veggie question, but now way to contact you guys (apparently)--

    1. Try sending an email to: