I’m kind of a D.I.Y. girl. I’m the one who will paint her own walls, install backsplashes, sand cabinets, frame pictures, hang curtains, select valances, hammer in chair rails. I draw the line at laying carpeting and tile, but I’ve created my own topiary over a wall fountain, sponge-painted my fireplace, and sanded and stained several cabinets and bookcases.
I do a lot of this with help, of course. Superman’s really not into it, but my dad is. (That’s probably where I get all this!). My dad has spent the last 13 years coming over here and helping us install ceiling bookcases, entire sprinkler systems, brick patios (Superman and my dad laid our entire patio), fixing water pipes, and installing hallway railings.
The thing is, most of this work was done … well, about 10 to 13 years ago! When we first moved in, we spent a whirlwind three years doing everything inside the house. I painted every single room. We installed lighting and hung pictures and measured out windows for curtains everywhere. We’ve redone a few rooms over the years — mostly the kids’ bedrooms — but for the most part, it looks about the same.
And now … well, now it’s looking a little “old.” And remember when I said that after I was sick, I felt like the “house was falling apart”? Well, I also just finished my novel around that time, and I slowly realized that the “house is falling apart” because I’m coming out of a three-year fog of writing every weekend! I realize how much I’ve neglected it. The walls look chipped and nicked and faded; the upstairs flooring looks atrocious. Needless to say, the house needs a facelift.
So last weekend (since I didn’t have the novel to work on anymore!) I revisited my old life of being a D.I.Y. girl. I had white paint color-matched (a challenge, I tell you — ecru? tortilla? sand? snow?) and trucked off from Lowes to start a few “updating” projects. I started with the stairway and hallway, which were looking really bad after years of boys’ hands trailing up the stairs toward baths and showers. I was back to my old routine of paint tape and paint stirrers and plastic drop-cloths and removing switchplates. I had dried paint all over my hands and arms. It felt good, though.
Years ago, our move into this home (and my subsequent whirlwind of home improvements) coincided with my gig at the newspaper writing feature stories for decorating publications. So I would watch HGTV all day, get loads of ideas, then translate all the trends into new articles, from stories about tin ceilings to articles about ottomans. I wrote dozens of home-improvement stories a quarter. It was really fun — I loved researching it all, and interviewing the experts. (Then deciding which things I wanted to try in my house.) I’m the one who has loads of decorating books on the shelves — I particularly love the Pottery Barn ones — along with several magazines about home improvement and gardening.
I almost feel now like I’m starting from scratch, but I have a long list already of things I need to tend to around the house now that the book is done. I need to replace screens, re-paint the hallway, fix some of the baseboards, replace the carpeting, replace the sink handles in the upstairs baths, etc. It’s a long, long list. But now that I’ve emerged from my novelist’s fog, I think I’m up for it. It’s fun to be a D.I.Y. girl again.
How about you? Do you do your own home improvements? Have you hit the “second round” (or the “10-year itch”) as I’m starting to? What’s the home-improvement project you’ve tackled that you’re most proud of?