Give in to home improvement...it's inevitable
I suspect it is impossible for a person or a family to purchase a house and never change a thing about it. Sooner or later, regardless of how perfect the new place was when you were handed the keys, you start to look around and the mental wheels start churning. Do we really want carpet in here? Would that wall look better in red? Maybe we should add onto the bathroom.
It's inevitable. It's unavoidable. Home improvement eventually worms its way into the life of the homeowner and that's just the way it is. Perhaps it's our yearning for something new and different. Maybe it's a latent trait from our childhood that harkens back to the old fort-building days – it was always more fun to build the fort than to spend any time in it, right?
Or we could just go ahead and blame HGTV programming and its constant onslaught of people demolishing and rebuilding rooms, repainting walls or changing out carpet for hardwood – seemingly for arbitrary reasons. It's tough to watch those types of shows, admire the pristine "after" footage and not go, "Hmmm, that doesn't look so tough." And why wouldn't you respond that way? – after all, the show's only a half-hour long.
You know what you don't see? – that mix of ineptitude and short tempers. You don't see people struggling to hammer a nail in straight or cutting a piece of sheetrock 2 inches too short. They don't show the bickering – and I don't mean the reality TV-style, manufactured-drama bickering, I mean the real fighting between spouses that is almost certain to come spilling out as soon as things stop working right. Forget pre-marital counseling – have the bride and groom change out a kitchen sink together. If they can get through that, they can handle any adversity.
The other thing inadequately shown on the HGTV programs is how a project can turn your comfortable living space into something resembling a third-world war zone. Mid-project could leave a certain room without running water, electricity or insulated walls. Piles of scrap wood or discarded sheetrock keep company with stacks of lumber or paint cans. And yes, the TV shows include these transitional moments, but it only lasts for roughly 20 minutes or so – unlike reality where your home is torn apart for days or weeks on end.
But it's all good. Nothing makes a room look new again like a fresh coat of paint. Just ask my lovely wife. She became famous early on in our family history for changing wall colors more often than Mother Nature changes seasons. We once joked that a person could sand our living room walls and it would end up looking like the interior of a jaw breaker.
But I should give credit where credit is due. This zeal for painting comes with a keen eye for interior décor and color scheme, and our home is always eye-pleasing – which would never happen if I were the one holding the brush. Not only do I lack an eye for good color coordination, I am apparently incapable of painting anything smaller than an 8x8-foot space without getting paint where it doesn't belong. And much like a 2-year-old with its lunch plate, I am sure to spill quite a bit of it on the floor.
We have a partnership that seems to work well enough – she handles the detail work that everybody oohs and awes over, and I do the rough, grunt work that ultimately gets covered up. If something falls apart, that's on me – if it doesn't look pretty, she can answer to that. Perfect partnership.
Perhaps one last way we differ is in our views of when home improvement is needed. My wife is forward-thinking, always in search of a new way to enhance a room or add value to the house. Me, I'm a bit more content to leave things as they are. When doors are down to a single hinge and dragging across the carpet or there is a hole worn in the subfloor that the cats keep getting stuck in, that's when it's time to think about maybe planning a possible project … at some point in the future … when we can afford it … and have the time to do it. What can I say? – change is not my thing. Some of my wardrobe has been in my closet since the late 1990s.
But if somebody needs to adjust their approach, I suspect that it's me. After all, home improvement is an evitable part of homeownership – as ironclad as dealing with gravity. So, why not embrace it and reap the rewards? Why not live in a beautiful, modern home that is steadily gaining value and curb appeal? Someone find me a paintbrush.
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