Monday, August 26, 2013

Progress and Lessons Learned

We have been busy, busy, busy the last two weeks working our way through our first BIG projects in this whole house-to-home mission we are on. There's just so much to do, and I know we are probably biting off more than we can chew right now but we are so motivated to just make this place our HOME finally, after two and a half years of living here. The list seems to be getting longer rather than shorter, though.
It all started with Chase's room. The previous owners had knocked down a wall to make the living room bigger. I never really liked the shape of the living room, it was kind of awkwardly long and made furniture placement kind of difficult to do without just completely ignoring certain areas. Combined with the fact that the second upstairs bedrooms has really terribly drafty windows, we ultimately decided it made sense to put that wall back up. It solved a couple issues I had with the house, and was still more cost-effective than tackling our window situation right now.

But new walls need to be painted.
And if we're going to paint THAT wall, we should just paint... all the walls.
And if we're going to paint ALL the walls, we need new window treatments
And while we're at it, the kitchen needs gutted.
And if we are redoing the kitchen floor, we might as well redo ALL the upstairs floors.
And if we're redoing ALL the upstairs floors, we might as well redo downstairs, too.

Somehow, our whole house is pretty much getting a face lift. It's overwhelming sometimes. (OK, all the time. A few hormonal sobbing "we-can't-do-this" breakdowns have possibly taken place.)
Jon has worked every single night until at least 10pm on building this shed for our back yard. It. Is. Massive. I need to get pictures of it, and I will when it's all done. It's almost there. It's 8x12 feet, but it's tall as heck. If you ever need to store a skyscraper, we've got you covered. Giraffes, maybe? I'm really proud of him though. No, like I am REALLY damn proud. He's never built anything like that before, had no idea what he was doing when he started, didn't even have the tools that any plans called for, but you know what? He tackled that project, and step by step figured it out and kept working along on it, slowly but surely, until it's done. Mitch and Jared came to the rescue yesterday to help him throw the walls on the frame because they were too heavy for him (or anyone...) to lift alone, and too heavy for it to be reasonable for me to help him with. We're super super thankful for the help- we're really trying NOT to turn our house projects into work for other people and just trucking along ourselves figuring all this out, but that was physically impossible for one man.

I painted Chase's room first, then made curtains for the windows. Now, I am not a seamstress by any means but I figured "how hard could a rectangle possibly be?" It wasn't THAT hard, but the window in that room is also really small, so the curtains themselves aren't all that big... they're like 50x36. I lined them in orange, and I actually really kinda like them.
They are officially the first thing I've ever sewn start to finish. Any other sewing project I've ever attempted has been a disaster where halfway though whatever I'm working on is going so terribly I get annoyed with it and throw it away, swearing off sewing forever. It's just not my thing. It's tedious, time consuming, and I have no use for an iron in my life. I actually didn't even own one or have any need to own one until Jon's mom came to visit once and needed one so she bought one to leave at our house. Otherwise, I wouldn't even have one... so glad that happened!
Since that little mini project went so well, I decided it would be somehow reasonable to make curtains for the living room as well. I mean, I had proven I could sew, right? Plus, I was having a really hard time finding window treatments I actually liked. Everything was just the wrong shade, or didn't embody the warm homey feel I'm going for for that area of the house. But, I did find a fabric at Wal Mart of all places (I hate Wal Mart and rarely ever go there, terrible place) and that pretty much settled it. I was making curtains. And it was going to be easy, right? Hah. Joke was on me.
So, let's get one thing straight. I'm impatient, I get frustrated very easily, and I tend to run hot. In short, it really doesn't take THAT much to tick me off. I'm also a perfectionist and tend to have high expectations of myself and get really annoyed when I let myself down. So yeah, totally a good idea to take on a massive project in a skill I've never really developed or used before with zero direction or help... right?
Everything I read about making curtains said I MUST line them. I didn't know how I felt about this because the fabric was already thick and heavy and I'm a little worried they will end up blocking too much light and making the room too dark, but I also don't want my curtains to get sun rot and fall apart and die after I dedicated two miserable weeks of my life slaving over them. I lined each set (there are three) in a different coordinating color, partly because Wal Mart didn't have enough of any of them to do them all the same, and now it's easy to tell which panel goes to which window. I'm so crafty.
The first step was ironing all of the materials. Have you ever ironed twenty three yards of fabric? Have you ever actually seen twenty three yards of fabric in one place before? IT'S A JOKE! I quickly realized I was in over my head and that this was the worst idea I had ever had, ever. I also learned that I hate ironing and would rather cut off my toes one by one, so Jon better never get a job that he has to dress all nice and ironed like. Screw ironing.
 I also quickly realized that while my little curtains for Chase's little window weren't all that difficult, making one little 50x 36 curtain was a whole lot different than making several 110x 100 curtains. This was a whole new ballgame, and I really sucked at it. My whole downstairs living room was a mess of fabric, some ironed some not, all laid out, draped everywhere, as I worked away at it every. single. day.
 Now, a week later, all that's left to do is hang them up and pin the bottom edges so they are even, and sew those up. I just need Jon to be done with his shed so he can do that. Then I'm making cornice boxes for all the windows! I apparently didn't learn my lesson on crafty projects, and though I've tried my best to channel my inner Martha Stewart, mine is clearly still in prison because I'm just not that good at all this domestic stuff. I think my domestic skills end at crock potting, and mopping. And, considering the awful shape my house is in after being neglected for a week and a half while I was in the basement pretending to know how to sew, I'd say I'm even failing at the mopping part. I can't wait for this project to just be DONE. Like, officially and completely done.
I know all this work will be worth it. I'm already super proud of Jon, and I know that when we can sit back and enjoy our space and know that we did what we had to to make it our own on our modest budget, we will feel satisfied. I also know the color of the curtains, or layout of the kitchen isn't what makes a house a home, but to me it's about being in surroundings that evoke a sense of comfort that I want. I just want to feel like this is our home, because we made it that way. Right now, there's very little personal touch, and that's what I want to change. Plus, I feel like tackling a lot of tis ourselves has been good for Jon and I. We both kind of bit off more than we could chew initially, and took on projects beyond our skill level, and had to figure it out. We relied on each other and ourselves, and ultimately made it happen and I feel we are better because of it. Sure, there have been better-looking curtains made by more experienced seamstresses (like... one that's actually sewn or ironed before in their lives) and there are better-looking sheds to be found, but we did it. We accomplished what we set out to do, and we made it happen.
I'm not posting pictures of any of the finished projects until it's all put together. It's a surprise! I think when everything is all done, we might have a little dinner party to show all the changes we've made. I'd also be really interested in having an appraisal done to determine the value because even after spending what we will on the renovations, we are still coming out WELL below what it appraised for last time. Not that it really matters, we aren't moving for a long, long time.

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