Sunday, January 1, 2012

Renovation Goals 2012

"A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest...wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image." 
--- Joan Didion

I strayed across the quote from writer Joan Didion in a back issue of Country Living Magazine, and I'm taking it as my inspiration quote for 2012. Isn't it lovely?

I could use some. Inspiration that is. And some Southern Comfort on the rocks.

Don't get me wrong.  I love this house, and I don't regret for a moment my decision to purchase it. But as a single working mom, I've come up hard against the realities of how much money I make and how much time I have contrasted starkly against how much this house needs.  It's a little discouraging at times.

So, when I saw this quote my heart did a little sideways squirm-- part YeaH! and part good old Lutheran guilt. Sideways squirms are always uncomfortable and they mean it's time to get to work. Long lists overwhelm me, so I've honed it down five broad categories that apply to many, many of the things I have to do, and get me further down the road no matter which one I choose.

1. Finish a bedroom. Any bedroom.
My son Noah's bedroom is finished. If you don't count painting the woodwork. The twins room is done. If you don't count painting the wood work, the desk, and hanging the art work. Grant's room needs two walls painted, a head board attached to the bed, and the woodwork painted. My room is the worst. It isn't much further beyond this stage:

After my sister rocked that drywall for a couple of weeks in July, I plastered for awhile, did a little painting, threw my bed in a corner (not this corner, but one of them) and......well, life happened.

2. Make progress with little projects.
Around the house are dozens, if  not hundreds of little projects. Some as small (and as boring) as tightening screws on old doorknobs. Others more fun, like this one:

The lamp is a vintage find on Etsy, perfect for Grant's room in shades of gray, black, and orange. But the shade needs covering with some color scheme appropriate fabric. The hardware needs adjusting too, so the shade won't hang crooked as it does in this photo.

3. Organize.
Moving, despite my best laid plans, devolved into a haphazard affair where in the end I just wanted to get the hell out, and get the hell in. Boxes ended where they got dropped, and as we moved into spaces it was a matter of getting stuff up out of the way. What resulted was a lot of this:

Lightbulbs and toothpaste go together like-- Oh, nevermind.
I can't tell you how embarrassing that photo is. I think I'd rather show my underpants to boys on the playground. Anyway, it's more than embarrassing. It's damned inconvenient and aggravating and I cuss a little every time I open that door. So while organizing isn't really renovating, in a sense they sort of are seamless with one another. Both improve your life, make it more aesthetically pleasing and convenient (i.e., less cussing).

4. Better home AND garden.
The front yard was left a disaster this fall, after I ripped up a half dead and buggy flowering plum, a bunch of weeds, and broken chunks of concrete (white trash landscaping). The house exterior desperately needs paint, fresh color, and the shutters put back on the facade. I'll be spending the summer giving this house the curb appeal that it deserves. 

At this point I'm welcoming all landscaping design ideas, though I will try to stick with the classic American garden standards to fit in with the house's history: peonies, iris, roses, and asters.

5. Investigate little mysteries.
This house has a ton of them. This, for instance:

It's my doorbell, hanging in the dining room. If only I knew what it sounded like. Someone disconnected the wiring from it years ago, and removed the doorbell from the front door jamb. Apparently a vintage Nutone doorbell is a desirable feature in an old home, but I don't know much about Nutone or have the faintest idea how to get this thing up and running again. Learning about history in general and the house's in particular is going to be the fun part. The wiring, not so much.

2012 has begun, beyond the doorstep, into the paint cans, closets, and garden beds. Let's go!

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