Wednesday, September 30, 2009


On the DIY and HG channels home renovations seem so focused, so straight forward and organized. Need a bathroom redo? Gather some samples, a construction crew, building materials and let the sledge hammers fly! From personal experience I can tell you that’s as close to the reality of home improvement as Iron Chef is to the fry baskets at Mickey D’s.

Also, there is no such thing as an isolated improvement project. My most recent foray into Home Depot Land started when Mom bought six fluffy white bath towels. They looked lovely hanging on their towel bars. So much so that I decided we needed matching hand towels and washcloths (Fred Meyer’s had a 20 percent off sale which didn’t hurt the motivation). I came home with an armload of terry and a cute new cabinet to hang above the toilet - which inspired me to weed out the shabbier items in the linen closet. Now, next to my nice neat linen closet and snowy white towels the bathroom looked grungy and dated. I started peeling wallpaper and thumbing through paint samples.

Weeks later the bathroom was freshly painted and lookin’ good - except for the ugly, cracked 60s lighting fixture over the medicine cabinet. This realization caused me to take a fresh look at the other lighting fixtures in the house (see previous post entitled “Let there be (porch) light”.) I bought a new porch light as well as a new light fixture for each of our three bedrooms. BUT there was a hitch in the bathroom lighting issue: the only electrical outlet in the room is part of the lighting fixture. If I replaced the lighting I would have no place to plug in a hair dryer. There are also no grounded outlets anywhere in the house, much less the bathroom. I started collecting estimates for running a new line into the bathroom (cannot afford to rewire the whole house though I’m terrified an electrician will take one look and decide I need a brand new breaker box - where is that Lotto ticket???).

But before that can be done I have to clean out the attic so that the electrician can access the area directly above the bathroom. And before I can do that I have to clean out the garage so that I have someplace to put the junk I haul out of the attic. Cleaning out the garage will entail sorting through two filing cabinets containing decades of dusty documents. It’s sure to take weeks to sort and shred that mess. Then there are all the tools to organize . . . and where do I put the deck furniture now that Fall is here?

And what of the kitchen? How can I possibly fix up the bathroom without addressing the totally out of date and unworkable kitchen? I haven’t an inch of counter space (note photo at left) and the cabinets need to be striped and repainted. And If I do that wouldn’t that be a good time to install a back splash? But since there are no grounded outlets . . . plus what of the horribly inadequate lighting? Oh no, here we go again.

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