2017 Home Updates review

Over the last two years we have been steadily painting bedrooms. Of the six bedrooms in the house, five now have a fresh coat of white paint on the walls. In three of the rooms we painted the ceiling. Prepping the ceilings required looking from every conceivable angle to locate the dozens of pieces of scotch tape stuck on the ceilings, then scraping it off with a razor blade.

One basement bedroom had no floor covering. We sealed the concrete and painted the floor with cream exterior porch paint.

We sanded the dark wainscot paneling in the basement hallway, then gave the walls a coat of Kilz primer and white paint. The hallway went from black hole to comfortably illuminated.

We replaced the cold air return vents. It is amazing how those just disappear when they are not bent and rusted!

I painted the exterior back door teal and the exterior front door red. The interior of the doors are still just primer and will need to be painted later.

We marked off the basement hallway and family room cement floor in a grid of 15″ squares and painted them in a diamond pattern of alternating cream and light brown tiles. The floor was finished with three coats of polyurethane sealer, and it looks phenomenal. It looks so good I plan to extend the pattern into the two remaining bedrooms later on, rather than installing other hard flooring.

We replaced the upstairs hall linoleum which was torn up in the doorways and curling along the edges. It took a great deal of effort by my husband to patch in a replacement piece of linoleum 3 feet wide and 20 feet long. We selected the new linoleum by matching the thickness of the original. We attempted to approximate the texture of the original as well. The piece that most closely matched those two elements was a reasonable color that ties in the living room section and the dining room section. The finished seams are not perfectly level so they are still covered by area rugs to protect them. All the hall doorways now have threshold transition strips to hold down the carpets, vinyl, and laminate.

I decided to remove the blinds in the living room and master bedroom and replaced them with lined drapes. The living room blinds were good quality but needed to be restrung because the webs were broken and dirty, and some of the slats were damaged. I dislike dusting blinds so I opted to dispose of them. We removed the inexpensive mini blinds from both upstairs bathrooms and the kitchen window. The bathroom windows are both opaque and face north, so blinds are not necessary for privacy or for light control. I always like to look out the kitchen window over the sink, which also faces north. All three of these sets of blinds were just dust and condensation catchers, so I plan to leave the windows bare.

We replaced the worst damaged interior doors with doors purchased from Habitat for Humanity for a few dollars each. The interior doors that still function despite the holes have recently been patched with drywall mud and await paint.

The sewing room is the most dramatic change. The room had a floor to ceiling chalkboard wall and dark green painted ceiling. My husband patiently sanded down the high gloss painted walls and we used Kilz primer over everything, then white paint. We applied another coat of porch paint over the subfloor to seal it and put down old carpet salvaged from the living room. With a bit of patching it covered the entire room. There are no tack strips to hold it down and no carpet pad underneath because this is a temporary (semi-permanent) fix. JB is very happy with how it all turned out. The room is used infrequently so the floor covering is adequate. Sometimes adequate is sufficient for as long as it takes. I originally planned to paint an accent wall with a soft gray/green but at the moment I am undecided.

I completed another round of decluttering this fall. We decided to dispose of the hastily assembled bathroom vanity that had been stored in the living room for the last two years, with no reasonably close plans for the overhaul it was originally intended for. As we moved things around the basement in preparation for painting the family room floor I disposed of another truck load of stuff/junk/clutter. My daughter recently moved out on her own again, taking with her all the baby paraphernalia and several boxes of décor and kitchen items. It’s amazing what purging does!

We put a lot of work into the yard this summer. JB built grow boxes for the grapevines and berry patch. We dug out wheelbarrow loads of heavy clay soil and amended planting areas around the yard with compost from city services and manure from a neighbor. I transplanted more strawberries and the bed is now full and lush. I planted quite a few new perennials, including some roses. We replaced the elderberry tree that died last year with a vigorous new start. We moved the fire pit from the center of the yard over to a more shady and out of the way location. The groundcover I chose the previous year is doing beautifully. We trimmed deadwood out of three of the front yard shade trees for safety. We removed a dead tree from a poor location in the back yard and JB has been digging out the stump. JB built a large compost bin system. My neighbor gave me a huge stack of bricks from a chimney she tore down.

The recent house appraisal was good and we are refinancing to a better rate. We aren’t part of the foster care system any more, so no more inspections and regulations are impacting our decisions. Everything looked so good last week that JB suggested we just stop working on the house and be done where we are right this moment. I agree that we have accomplished a great deal over the last two-and-a-half years. It is a different house!

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