Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Big List Review

I made the big list of everything that I needed to do to the house ages ago, back in 2012, and have barely referred to it since. Because it makes me hyperventilate. And then drink. It isn't good for my health.

But lately, while I'm hanging out waiting for the work week to become the weekend, waiting for the free time to get going on more progress, I was wondering how things have gone since I introduced it.

I'm not going to go in the original order, and I'm not going to comment on the whole thing, but I thought I'd hit some highlights.

Some things have hardly any progress at all, but that's because they're mostly done, like my oldest son's bedroom:

You can read the original posts for this room here and here. But there are still items on the list. They just aren't super-big priorities.

Second Bedroom, first floor 

Hang blinds
Hang curtains
Paint trim
Hang art, decorative items
Organize first closet
Organize second closet
Repair and update electrical

Other rooms got just one big thing, like my 14-year-old's music studio closet:

You can read about that adventure here. Again, there are still items on the list, especially painting trim, to do in this room. But again, not pressing when there are so many things with bigger impact needing attention elsewhere.

First Bedroom, first floor 

Hang curtains
Hang blinds
Paint trim
Organize music studio in first closet
Organize storage in second closet
Update/repair electrical outlets
Hang art, decorative items

The biggest number of indoor changes happened, oddly enough, in my living room, a room I've been nearly completely ignoring since we moved in, but only because I knocked off a bunch of smaller tasks, like removing carpet staples and finding a decorative item for over the fireplace:

Living Room 

Remove old carpet and pad 
Remove carpet staples
Paint ceiling and walls
Paint trim
Install and paint new quarter-round molding
Update electrical outlets with GFCI
Move wicker chair to screen porch/find replacement
Find rug
Finish lampshade on small lamp
Finish (or remove?) small alcoves on fireplace wall
Make/hang curtains
Find/edit/hang artowork for walls
Mirror Sconces for above fireplace  Clock instead

But the place where the progress was most satisfying happened in my bedroom, where I'm still working on having a grown-up lady space. 

You can read about the last round of work here. And I've begun some other items, like installing baseboard molding and trim, but can't cross it off the list yet.

First Bedroom, second floor (master)

Remove carpet/pad
Remove vinyl paneling
Remove drywall on South wall
Sand floor
Sheath drywall in entire room
Replace drywall on South wall
Update/repair electrical
Plaster/sand in alcove
Paint ceiling/walls in alcove
Paint floor in alcove
Stencil floor in alcove 
Install baseboard molding/trim in alcove
Plaster/sand in room
Paint ceiling/walls in room
Paint floor in room
Stencil floor in room
Install baseboard molding/trim in room
Paint trim
Select/hang art
Make/hang curtains
Organize/paint closet
Replace ceiling light

The place where I've made far and away the most improvements has been outdoor property improvements. I guess it figures, since I'd rather garden than anything else:

Outdoor property

Remove unwanted plants and shrubs
Rebuild/replace driveway retaining wall
Edge front perennial bed with permanent stone edging
Landscape front perennial bed
Edge front foundation bed with permanent stone edging
Landscape front foundation with shrubs, tree, and perennials
Remove front yard tree
Develop replacement landscape bed for tree
Develop landscape plan for back yard
Trim cedar tree in back yard
Decorate/furnish patio
    refurbish donated table purchased new one
    find patio dining chairs
    plant containers
    Paint outdoor rug
    other decorative elements
Build fence on back property line
Plan/build vegetable garden
Plan/build perennial beds along garage foundation, back property line

Short term: 
Replace deck railing with something better
stain deck

Long term: 
Demolish deck
Install brick patio/stoop with wrought iron railing

In total, I've crossed 31 items off my Big List since August 2012. Not bad. It's been slower than I thought, but better than I remember. The rest of the list follows after this parting photo, of the lilies from about a week ago, though the air was so humid the image isn't sharp. They weren't here three years ago either, which is a good reminder that wonderful things take time. Onward!


Tile floor
Paint trim
Paint interior front door
Find area rug
Hang art
Organize coat closet

Dining Room

Remove carpet
Remove carpet staples
Remove vinyl wallpaper
Paint built-ins and trim
Find additional dining chairs
Sell hutch/find more period appropriate one
Find/hang suitable blinds
Make/hang curtains
Rearrange dishes/art in built-ins
Find/edit/hang artwork on walls
Find/repair/doorbell operations


Replace appliances except dishwasher
Refinish cabinets
Replace countertops
Clean cabinet hardware
Replace flooring with new
Make/hang curtains
Replace ceiling fan with period lighting
Replace doorwall
Replace window in eat-in
Replace dishwasher
Find/arrange/hang art and items
Reorganize pantry

First Floor Bathroom 

Short Term: 
Remove carpet
Install temporary vinyl tile
Install new molding
Replace light fixture over vanity
Replace wall mirror
Replace toilet dispenser
Replace countertop
Replace sink/faucet
Replace shower curtain bar
Make/hang curtain
Replace cabinet hardware
Find/hang/arrange art

Long term: 
Reglaze porcelain on tub
Tile shower and floor area
Install shower door
Install tile floor

Front Room 

Remove carpet and pad
Revive/wax VCT flooring
Make/hang curtains
Repair/replace TV nook wall
Repair/revive wood paneling
Replace light fixture with vintage
Select/hang art work
Find bench/coat-hook arrangmenet
Find vintage file cabinet credenza for printer

First Floor Hallway 

Remove carpet/pad
Paint floor/replace floor/tile floor?
Paint trim
Carpet runner
Organize hall closet
Organize hall linen closet

Second bedroom, second floor 

Remove carpet/pad
Remove plywood paneling
Remove built-in bed/drawers
Repair plaster
Prime/paint ceiling and walls
Hang curtains
Find nightstands
Find lamps for nightstands
Paint trim

Upstairs bathroom

Short term: 
Switch out cracked and leaky toilet
Switch out vanity fixtures
Remove carpet
Prime/paint old floor
Prime/paint old vanity
Find open shelf system for toiletries
Find vintage laundry hamper
Repair/sand/prime walls
Towel bars
Arrange/hang decorative items
Replace old medicine cabinet

Long term: 
Replace vanity with pedestal sink
Install mosaic tile flooring

Basement lounge/study 

Demolish old wood paneling
Demolish old ceiling tiles
Asbestos testing
Revive old VCT flooring
Update/repair electrical
Make curtains
Find credenza for TV console
Find/arrange/hang decorative items
End tables
Coffe table
Find computer table

Basement laundry room 

New energy efficient washer/dryer
Countertop over new w/d for folding
repair missing vinyl floor tiles
Clean and paint cupboards

Basement Darkroom

Short term: 
Clean out junk
Bleach walls
Moisture barrier paint

Long term: 
Full shower bath?

Craft/work room 

Clean out junk
Bleach walls
Moisture barrier paint
Paint floor
Organize tools and craft area
Make/hang curtains
Task lighting
Hang storage shelves
Repair/update electrical/lighting


Paint exterior
Inspect fireplace and chimney
Replace attic fan
New roofing/insulation/attic ventilations
New basement casement windows
New storm windows, whole house
Selected windows, replacement
Replace hot water heater


Clean garage attic
Paint garage
Roof garage/properly ventilate
Plan/organize/ potting shed
Organize garage storage.
Replace side entry door and lock


  1. Love that stenciled floor. Great job.

  2. I think you've made tons of progress for 3 years. Sometimes I get discouraged when I see how much other bloggers are able to accomplish, but I keep reminding myself, gotta run my own race. And I'm glad to see that someone else prioritizes painting trim the same way I do. :-)

    1. I think you have done much as well. It's such a slow process (interspersed with bouts of no progress) that we never feel quite as accomplished as we'd like. Besides, I think blog time is sort of condensed and skewed, like those home improvement shows that make you feel like a room make-over happened in half an hour. I wish!

  3. There's no such thing as 'no progress' in an old house. Sometimes we turn our backs on projects to live our lives, but we still get things done.

    Part of me admires your ability to make a big list of things to do in your house. The other (larger) part of me reads your list and is trying to keep my head from exploding. We are to the final finishing stages in some of our rooms and a list of niggly little remaining items would probably be helpful. My husband is a list maker, and I am vehemently NOT a list maker ... perhaps we could come up with a compromise list.

    1. This is something I've struggled with philosophically since I moved into this house. And I'm NOT a list maker, at all. Especially when lists this long overwhelm; it's why I haven't reviewed it in over two years. Just exactly for the reason you mention, that head-explody thing. :)

  4. Those are lovely lilies. Are they some dwarf variety?

    1. Karen Anne, these are the pastels shade Asiatic lily mix from White Flower Farm. They are ranging in height from about two feet to four. They have been really fantastic!