In the immortal words of Joan Crawford (as portrayed by Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest): This ain’t my first time at the (DIY) rodeo. And as such I’m quite accustomed to getting halfway through a project and starting to have some serious doubts about how it’s going to turn out. Usually I shrug off the doubts, forge ahead and by the time I’m nearing the project’s finish line I can see that it’s going to come together after all. As I was painting the bathroom vanity last weekend I had one of those doubtful moments. Only this time it’s stopping me in my tracks and urging me to change directions.
After painting the trim and patching and painting the walls, my plan had been to make over the vanity and call it a day. As I mentioned in a previous post, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through the time and expense of replacing the vanity because that would also mean replacing the flooring and trying to match and replace the baseboard trim. So I won’t get the bathroom that I want, I said to myself, but I will get a bathroom that’s presentable.
Well, fuck that. By the time I had painted the vanity and was stepping back to survey how the project was coming together I decided that this is no time to settle. I want new flooring and I want a new vanity and, dammit, I’m going to get them! Sure, it means that I’ll have to have the plumber come to the house and remove the toilet that he just installed over the summer. And, yeah, it’s going to be a real hassle to try to match the baseboard that’s missing where the current vanity sits. But won’t it be worth it!
And so we’re back to square one with the bathroom. I’m finalizing my designs this week and hope to start the new project next weekend. In the meantime I’ll be watching hundreds of YouTube videos about installing ceramic tile. Here’s to getting what we want in life!
A man who is very familiar with DIY house projects and renovations gave us some great advice when we first bought the Delbert Meier House. “Guys,” he said, “its going to be hard to resist, but don’t start a bunch of projects all at once. Go from room to room, finishing one project before moving on to the next.”
Great advice indeed. Did we heed this friend’s recommendation on how to approach our house projects? Of course not! We dived right in and started projects in every room. Along the way we re-adjusted some of our big plans to be a little more cost conscious. The bathroom is one of those projects. Continue reading
The bathroom is often overlooked in terms of comfort and charm. We’ll put all of our efforts into making the living room and bedrooms comfortable spaces and then just settle for whatever’s already in the bathroom. I’m here to say that it’s easy (and totally worth it!) to upgrade a bathroom. Whether you rent or own, all it takes is a few affordable items to create the creature comforts that will take your bathroom from lousy to luxe. Continue reading
Our American System Built home, named the Delbert Meier house after the first owner, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017. One of the advantages of owning an architecturally significant house in a small town is that we’ve been able to meet every owner or descendent in the house’s 100-year history. Here’s a brief history of the ownership of our the Delbert Meier house (with some names removed to respect privacy). Continue reading
Picture it: Lake Forest, Illinois, 2001.
A skinny young man sits in the basement of a multi-million dollar home using a big device that costs more than his car to iron bed linens, the price of which could’ve covered student loan payment for more than eight months. This is a new world for this young man. He was raised in a blue collar household where sheets were laundered at the coin-op and nothing was ever ironed.
He had started this new job just weeks before. He had seen an advertisement in the free weekly city newspaper and couldn’t believe his eyes. After spending his high school years in food service and college career in retail and then desk monkey jobs, hopping from one unfulfilling situation to slightly less unfulfilling situation, this job seemed like a dream come true. The advertisement listed the job title as household manager but the young man preferred to think of himself as a butler. As a professed homebody and Martha Stewart wannabe, the job description read like a list of the man’s favorite activities. Cooking, shopping, laundry, organizing and other household tasks for a couple in the suburbs.
The young man was also excited about the opportunity because he knew that this job – a live-in position with a healthy salary – would help him dig out of the debt that he accrued through college borrowing and sporadic employment. But the young man was also bored by his new surroundings. He had moved out of the city and to this tony suburb where he was considered “the help.” If not for the televisions in every room – including the basement, where he spent many hours toiling with an iron – he may have gone mad.
There was one television show in particular that kept the young man company during the darkest hours of that winter in the suburbs. A show set in sunny Miami, Florida, about four ride-or-die friends who had created a family for themselves. That TV show was The Golden Girls. And that skinny young man was me.