Friday, April 16, 2010

I Love the Smell of Paint Fumes in the Morning

by Susan McBride

I've been on a home improvement kick of late, fueled by the long To-Do list on the side of our refrigerator that's ever-growing. With so much going on since Ed and I bought the house almost four years ago (deadlines, health crisis, getting hitched, et al), I've put off unfinished projects around the house and yard. So long as things seemed clean and neat, I ignored what could be ignored in support of my sanity. But with promo for The Cougar Club winding down and a little time on my hands before a new deadline dropped in my lap, I could finally tackle what I'd been putting off. Like the human tornado I am (or, at least, my husband thinks I am!), I jumped in with both feet.

I went for the easy stuff first, like sanding and touching up paint on door thresholds shredded by Max the Cat (who thinks the entire house is his scratching post). I put two coats of Haze--aka, light tan--on the bare white vanity in the upstairs guest bath to match the walls (hey, it breaks up the white between the tiles and the sink, and I'm a woman who likes color!). I've mentioned to Ed that it'd look really good to cut molding to frame the oversized guest bath wall mirror (something I've seen them do on HGTV)--and would I kill to replace that old "Hollywood" style lighting fixture, too!--but since hubby's the one who wields the table saw, the mirror-framing will have to wait.

My mother dropped by last weekend to help paint the guest room, another thing I'd been meaning to do and hadn't. The rest of the house had a color makeover long ago (well, all except Ed's "man cave" in the basement which was "Bisque" and still is). The third bedroom was always a vivid mint green, kind of like toothpaste, which matched my old comforter set well enough so we left it alone. Ed got a little sad when I said, "Time for the minty freshness to go!" He remarked that glancing in the room always reminded him to brush his teeth. Ha ha. I found a more neutral shade of green with a hint of gray in it, and it looks gorgeous. The old comforter set got laundered and taken to Goodwill. Rather than buy something new, I dug into the linen closet for a quilt my grandmother made me long ago, with scalloped edges trimmed in olive green and a circle of pink flowers and green leaves at its center. It looks perfect on the guest bed and the cats have already taken to burrowing beneath it (something I'm sure my cat-loving grandma would appreciate!).

Continuing on my "Design on a Dime" theme, I had Ed cut the old wooden curtain rod from our master bedroom (left behind by the former owner) so it would fit the guest room window. I spray-painted the rod and finials white (accidently using appliance paint which smells awful but covers beautifully!). Ed hung it up last night, and now I'm dying to go buy curtain panels, which I want to coordinate with new fabric to recover the old Victorian armchair and ottoman (er, I kind of got white paint on the green ottoman seat when I was spray-painting the feet!) Okay, so one project seems to lead to another, but it's all going to be gorgeous when I'm finished!

My home improvement crusade wasn't limited to the inside. Nope. I tackled a few outdoor projects as well, starting with clearing out leaves from flower beds and the basement window well off the patio where I encountered a garter snake that had the nerve to hiss at me! Geez, his head was as big as my pinky so I was less afraid than I would have been if I'd run across a giant spider. Animal lover that I am, I used a dustpan to scoop him up and toss him into a patch of ivy. Ed and I saw him again on Easter before heading over to my folks' house! He slithered across the driveway and let Ed take his picture before he disappeared through the grass. I'm sure it was his way of saying, "thanks."

But I digress. My yard work continued with some trimming and weeding, and I dug up a dead bamboo bush growing near the back fence, replacing it with a trellis and jasmine plant. I can't wait for the jasmine to cover that sucker and create a wall of yellow flowers and vine! FYI, the "bamboo" bush wasn't really bamboo at all. It was some kind of distant relative to a houseplant and didn't ever live up to the promise of growing to 6' x 6' within three years. In fact, it didn't grow but a few leaves beyond its original 1' x 1' self. A rotted trellis in another garden bed was replaced by a metal trellis, and now the clematis is growing thickly on it. I planted viney flowers that are supposed to naturalize in an empty area of that same bed, and I trimmed out dead branches on a pear tree and a maple (well, the ones I could reach that smack Ed in the head when he mows).

Getting out of my desk chair and moving like that has tugged on muscles I forgot existed. I've enjoyed transforming pieces of my world inside and out (although the tree pollen's about to kill me! Benadryl, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...although you seriously make me crave a nap). Ed's afraid that if I don't chain myself to my keyboard again soon, I'm going to build a room addition to the house. Hmm, not a bad idea. Maybe that screened porch I've been daydreaming about, one with a comfy chaise so I can lounge and read while the cats watch the birds at the feeder....

Er, does anyone have Mike Holmes' phone number handy just in case I need some help?


  1. All of that work you did makes me tired! lol. And as small as that snake was I would still run away and scream like a little girl. ;)

  2. Wow! You've been busy. You're making me feel like a slug. I think now is as good a time as ever for you to make a trip East to "consult" with me on my projects. FYI--"consulting" includes cosmos. Maggie

  3. Jess, I did scream like a girl before I realized it was just a garter snake. But still, it WAS a snake. Ed was so proud of me for not just leaving it in the well for him to take out. ;-) (Hey, did you eat that yummy-sounding pie yet??? I think I need to make No Pudge Fudge Mint Brownies or something, which doesn't seem quite as good as pudding pie.)

    Maggie!!! I would love to come up East to "consult" with you on some projects, especially if it involves cosmos. One of these days...!:-D

  4. You are a dynamo! Do you happen to read Jennie Bentley's DIY mystery series? Sounds right up your current alley!!!

  5. Misa, I read FATAL FIXER-UPPER and enjoyed it! I feel like I'm living in it right now. ;-) Got the curtain panels for the guest room, and they look great! Just went to get fabric samples for the chair and ottoman re-do, and I have to make up my mind before I tackle that task this weekend. Then I'll take a nap!

  6. You're inspiring me to get busy at my house! Don't you love that "Holmes on Holmes" home improvement show? I've learned tons watching that show. After only a half dozen episodes, I know how to seal, insulate, and plumb basements! Of course I don't have a basement, but I'm ready!

    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

  7. Wow, I'm totally inspired, Susan! It may fade by morning, though...

  8. Rhonda, I love Mike Holmes! He's the Patron Saint of Home Improvement (in undershirt and overalls!).

    Misa, I almost killed myself re-doing the Victorian chair yesterday. It was much harder than I remembered. Or maybe it's because my staple gun and I are both 12 years older than the last time I changed the fabric on it!