Friday, August 2, 2013

Old House Hate (Or Kitchen: Phase 1)

Face it ... sometimes old houses just kind of suck, and doing DIY projects with your spouse doesn't always kindle love in your hearts. 

Yes, the title of this post is a play on words.

If you know anything about popular home improvement blogs, you will get it. What I'm saying is that if the lives of some of these decorating/DIY bloggers are as sweet in reality as they are in virtual reality, then mad props to them.

Because if I were to ever start writing a DIY blog, the title would be Old House Hate. (And yes, I would receive a cease and desist letter within a week.)

When Greg and I decide to start a DIY project, like fixing up our kitchen, which we did two weeks ago, we usually begin bright eyed and bushy tailed. Picture us marching the aisles of Lowes, pointing to every single thing and breathlessly spouting bits of home design mumbo jumbo like,

"Hey, wouldn't this be such a unique yet neutral color for the hallway?"

"This is like my ideal faucet. We should totally incorporate it into our 'phase two' kitchen project."
"Wait, wait! We could use these for coat hooks! Wouldn't that read so unexpected yet approachable?"

We were basically holding hands and skipping on the way back to the car.

For some reason, we always expect things to go smoothly and drastically underestimate how long the project will take. Always. On the drive home, Greg said something like,

"You know what? After we finish this tonight, I could probably stay up just a little later and start tackling the dining room project."

"Really? You think? That's awesome!"

"Oh yeah! I mean, might as well since all my tools will be out. Maybe I'll even finish it!"


We seem to forget two important things in these moments: First, we have a one year old child, and secondly, we have a stupid, 60 year old house.

Three hours later, after cooking, eating, feeding and bathing Darby and putting her to bed, it was finally time to start the Project, and we were already grumpy.

 But Greg only has so much time away from work, and we needed to take advantage of it! So we got started.

Old Kitchen

Greg took the cabinet doors to the garage, and I stayed inside to paint the empty cabinets. This was a task I estimated would take two hours. Did I mention I had never painted before in my life?

I thought I could roll the paint all over the place and be done. I actually tried pushing the roller into the corners of the cupboards and thought, "What the heck? How do you paint these stupid corners?!"

Since I was trying to paint every square inch with a roller, including up to the paint tape Greg had laid, I only completed three cupboards in two hours.

Greg came in, and I asked,

"So are you done with the doors?"

"No, I just finished sanding them."

"What? Really?"

"Yeah, what's taking you so long?" he wondered.

*Sigh* "It's impossible to get these corners. I literally almost fell off the counter and died twice trying."

That's when he told me I was supposed to edge all around the tape and in the corners with a brush.

"Oh. Darn it," I said.

We stayed up another four hours finishing the cabinets so that the next day I could put away the food and dishes that were everywhere.

Things went more quickly once I started painting the right way and Greg came in to help me.

But it still took us four hours.

We were covered in paint, and the kitchen being the only room in our stupid old house with no air vents, there was no A/C.

At first, I thought, 'Me and my hubs working on our house ... sure, maybe we're tired and overwhelmed, but this is fun! We should talk and have fun,' and I tried to pull stuff out of my behind to talk about.

"So, did you hear about the royal baby?" I asked. "Apparently he gave a little 'royal wave' to reporters when they left the hospital. How cute is that?! Hahaha!"

Pretty soon I gave up.

It was 3:30 in the morning when we finished, and we were so annoyed at each other, but also so exhausted that all we could muster up to express it were annoyed glances.

I rolled my eyes in annoyance when I noticed he'd totally skipped the inside of my pots and pans cupboard.

He looked at me and shook his head in annoyance when he saw that there was white paint all over the walls where I had earlier been flinging paint around, trying to get the corners and edges with a roller.

The whole thing ended up taking about four days. I painted the backsplash the next day, all by myself, and finished it during Darby's nap! I was so stinkin' proud of myself and couldn't wait to show Greg when he came home.

He loved it.

But then he went into our bedroom and saw that I had used one of his favorite T-shirts as a painting shirt. I thought it was an old, crappy one, and told him that he has a ton of T-shirts; how was I supposed to know?

Yeah, I admit, that was pretty annoying of me.

He spent all that night painting the cabinet doors, and all the next night screwing in the new handles and hinges. Then he brought one of the completed doors inside very ceremoniously, and attempted to attach it to a cupboard.

From the living room, I heard him talking to himself in a frustrated tone for a while, which is never a good sign, and I definitely rolled my eyes in annoyance a couple times at what could possibly be wrong with the Project now.

Then he came in the living room and told me that because we have a stupid, old house, our cabinet doors need a special kind of hinge or they won't even shut.

So we grabbed Darby and headed to Lowe's to exchange all our new hinges. When we returned, he finally started to put the doors on, and after a while I heard him say,

"Why can't this just be easy? Why?"

I came in to see that the two doors he'd attached were completely crooked, and looked, like he himself said, "like a five year old had done it."

But by this point, I just wanted it to be over, and actually asserted, "No, it looks fine! I can live with it!"

He couldn't though, and fiddled with them until they were straight. Finally, we stood back, and looked at our (sort of) new kitchen:

New Kitchen

This is a classic "phase one" update because we aren't in a position to do a major overhaul right now. However, I couldn't look at that faux tin backsplash for one more second. None of the changes are major, and the whole thing took a few days, and cost us a total of $200 in paint, spray paint, hinges and pulls, a sconce and a new window treatment.

What we did:

-Painted the inside and outside of the cabinets white (they were a creamy eggshell color)

-Changed the dated brass pulls and hinges for a simple, modern and sleek look

-Left off the two cabinet doors on either side of the sink (and sanded and filled the hinge holes.) This gives an instantly updated look to a kitchen because open shelving is popular right now (yet classic enough to not make it a waste of time) Then I made sure to style those shelves with neutral colors because of the pops of color already abounding.

-Painted the faux tin backsplash light gray. (This gives the impression of a stony gray backsplash, which is our actual ideal for a real backsplash one day.)

-Spray painted the country looking pendant lamp over the sink to a dark aqua (Spray painting is our go-to way of changing something cheaply, and Greg does it way better than me, as you'd expect. He gets really sick of me bringing him new things to spray paint all the time.)

-Replaced the curtain with an inexpensive faux jute roman blind. I like to mix modern/industrial (aqua pendant lamp) with natural fibers and objects, even it is faux-natural.... errr....

-Replaced the dated sconce with a cheap one from the hardware store. (This is not my ideal sconce, but there is no connection to a light switch from this sconce, so it needed to be the kind with a switch or pull on the sconce itself. Read me?)

-We did nothing with the countertops or appliances because those will have to wait for the bigger update one day. The counters are just old laminate, but they look like stone because the previous owner was a smarty and purchased one of those expensive "paint your laminate counters to look like granite" kits. I guess our previous owner decided it was worth it in order to sell the house, and guess what? She was right because it worked. I literally had no idea the counters were fake until moving in.

There's an even funnier ending to this story. A week later, I noticed that Lowes had charged our credit card way too much for our second batch of hinges. I searched the house high and low and could not find the receipt. When Greg came home, he searched the garage twice with no luck. We wracked our brains, but couldn't remember purchasing anything but those hinges.

So last night we headed to Lowes to investigate. I walked around with Darby while Greg spent five years at the customer service desk. It took forever because, without our receipt, they had to look it up in their system. Finally, they realized their mistake and refunded us.

But while I waited, I moseyed my way into the plumbing area and discovered that we could replace our gross, old kitchen faucet for super cheap! We've hated that thing for months, and I excitedly showed Greg. We promptly bought it and headed home like two naïve idiots, so excited about doing it that night.

Maybe I'll write another post sometime about the drama we encountered attempting to replace the kitchen faucet in our stupid, old house. Here's a spoiler: years ago someone had decided it was a good idea to solder shut the hot water valve ("Even Hercules himself couldn't turn it," as Greg said.)

Then this morning, I walked into the garage with Darby and literally spotted within 30 seconds the Lowes receipt for which we had searched so long. I just rolled my eyes.



  1. LOL! Sounds SO much like our numerous home improvement projects. Remodel kitchen? CHECK. FOUR kitchens, about to start on the 5th and do a partial remodel on a 6th (and we've only lived in 3 houses in our marriage, one of which was new construction, so...yeah...don't ask). Remodel dining room? CHECK. Refinish hardwood floors in two rooms and stairs while 7 months pregnant? CHECK. Cut through live electrical wire with a circular saw? CHECK....

  2. Wow. Was anyone maimed or seriously hurt in that last episode you mentioned?

  3. LOL. Love this - SOOO familiar! We once naively bought a 101-year-old heritage house "fixer-upper"... the "we" being my now-ex-husband and I. Those easy little projects are never quite as easy or little as they're supposed to be, are they?

    1. Whoa, a 101 year old house would come with a whole new crazy set of problems, I'm sure. I can't even imagine! This 60 year old is hard enough!