Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Labor Day Weekend Labor

Somewhere in the course of Friday it occurred to me: I could spend THREE whole days on my house over Labor Day Weekend! For me, that's a concept akin to what a tropical vacation might be for others. While I'm running around trying to survive and maybe make some money somewhere, somehow, someday, my house gets very neglected. I may be a professional home stager but, as the old saying goes, "the cobbler's children have no shoes"! I can make anyone else's house look spectacular but mine suffers from the curse of familiarity.

I flew out of bed on Saturday morning and went to work! I got out the paint and went after the doors with a big dose of faith. You see, paint isn't in the budget. But I did have, sitting in the cabinet, left over from a renovation we did a few years ago, nine quart-size cans of different test shades of red paint. The winner of that color contest was a shade of cranberry called Apple-A-Day. These were the losers. So I mixed them. And trusted that THIS is the color the doors are cosmically destined to be. I'm still trying to figure out if the cosmos likes me or not. It's either really good or really bad. I guess the test is if people drive by and point and laugh. Or if I can stand it. Someday, when I have money, one coat of the "perfect" shade will cover it and this shade can count as primer (ALL 4-5-6 coats of it!). But I'm dearly hoping that the cosmos has already smiled upon me and chose the right color which I so faithfully trusted it to do!

If you've ever used red paint you know (and if you haven't you don't!) that red paint looks totally HOT PINK when it goes on. It has to dry down to the shade of red it's supposed to be. Recently, the neighborhood was horrified when my neighbor topped-off his months-long renovation with pink. It was just primer but most people didn't know that. And then, the next day, the red went on over the primer and it was even MORE pink! I'm sure my tattletale neighbor seriously considered reporting it -- or maybe they couldn't figure out just whom to report it too! But then it dried and it's all orangey-red and it looks gorgeous. I have painted with red paint for three days and I am SO tired of seeing pink! I don't even know what color it is in the end anymore. I just have to trust the cosmos. Or that perfect shade that will go over the top when I find it.

And then there's the door hardware. We bought this house new in 1995. Brass was the thing then. I was never really a brass person but at least brass was respected and dignified. Now it's just dated (coincidentally, I'm waiting to see WHEN brass comes back and exactly HOW it can be made cool again -- it can't be far off in the cycle of trends!).

I wanted oil-rubbed bronze hardware but the handset alone is $130! It would cost $200 to re-accessorize the door. So I took off the door knocker and the kick plate and sprayed them with a $6.74 can of hammered bronze spray paint. And I think I like it. There is also I door knob and dead bolt that are newly bronze (formerly brass) that have yet to be installed. It will be interesting to see how the doorknob stands up to wear!
I also invested $5 in several cans of 96 cent spray paint. Mother's antique white wicker rocking chairs (my mother was very contemporary but she did invest $125 each in these wonderful old rockers that were always more me than her) are now a sophistocated shade of jet black. And I LOVE them! You can't go wrong with black (or white or pure red, for that matter!).

I kept stepping back and looking and finally decided that something was missing. The cosmic red needed to be tied in a bit more.

Years ago I designed and built wood window boxes for the upstairs bedroom windows. Over the years they gradually rotted and disintegrated until there was only one intact that I saved to use as a pattern (lest I have to design them again).

I don't know what came over me but I found myself making new window boxes yesterday. I think it was because I didn't think about it long enough to talk myself out of it. I prowled around in my scrap wood without even really planning it and found just enough to make four window boxes. They were REALLY ugly before the paint went on (gray weathered wood mixed with chippy white paint mixed with dirt-stained wood mixed with newer wood). But the paint dressed them up! And then I decided that they needed trim so I prowled around again and was painting trim in the dark last night and nailing trim on at 6 a.m. this morning before it was even light. And I think I like them. They might need another strip of molding along the bottom. And they may need to be repainted "the perfect shade" when I find it but I'm glad to have window boxes again after wanting to build new ones for YEARS!
I recently found a miraculous thing while dumpster diving: a pressure washer! The cord was cut near where the plug once was but I put on a new plug (also free because I had it on hand) and it works perfectly! So I pressure washed the front of the house and the front porch and the sidewalk and everything looks SO much cleaner!

And I did something very smart with the window boxes this time. From past experience, I know that I cannot fill my window boxes with soil and plant living things in them. The wood deteriorates more quickly and they're impossible to water on the second story and they end up just being boxes full of dead plants. I have found two types of fake plants that look so real people (even up close) always ask me what kind of plant they are. One is lavender/salvia-looking and the other is greenery that looks to be in the boxwood family. I stuck these fakes in the dirt once when the real plants died and they looked great. But the dirt was a bad thing. This time I nailed a 1"x2" board across the box from end to end, drilled five large holes in it and stuck some fake greenery that I had laying around in it. Not bad. Not the plants I want but those are $100 away so I'll live with these for now.

So, for a grand total of $12 in spray paint (black and bronze), I revamped my house. Painted doors, new window boxes, updated hardware color, refreshed rocking chairs, and CLEAN everything. And no pesky, expensive, momentum-disrupting trips to the hardware store for supplies!

I am very proud and satisfied with all that I accomplished. The thought "I don't have any money to put into this" didn't stop me and, in fact, I used up supplies that had been taking up space and going to waste. I must confess that, in the back of my mind, I'm wondering if I'm fixing the house up to sell when I can't make make the payments or pull it out of foreclosure (again) but I'm just glad it's on it's way to looking nice enough that someone might buy it in time to save me if it comes to that.

Please leave me a comment and rate the paint color on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being hideous and 10 being glorious). And feel free to suggest "the perfect shade"!

Before: "Spruce" green.

After: "The color the cosmos chose"!
(Sorry! I can't get the pictures to go where I want them! Argh!)

1 comment:

  1. You are amazing. And the red is "cheery cherry." I love it like crazy cakes.