How do you know how to do all this stuff??
The honest answer: I don’t. I do, however, have very handy people on my dad’s side of the family who can build / fix / do anything. So naturally I believe that I am one of those people. I spent many formative years of my childhood, “helping” my dad build their house. I can’t say I actually DID a lot of the building, but my dad let me believe I was helping and gave me small tasks along the way. So I have grown up around a lot of incredible handyman talent and just assume I should be able to do it. I think I should probably also give my love of the Little House on the Prairie books some credit for this absolute faith in my ability to do anything in any circumstance. Or at least try anything.
When I bought my house in Saline in 2002, it was very important to me to buy a house with trim. Somehow years of growing up in a house without trim convinced me that I wanted it to be a finished space. And the house I bought had trim and was “finished.” And I spent 10 years keeping it up, painting, redecorating, fixing plumbing and electrical issues as they arose, and learning an incredible amount. I can remember exactly one time in those 10 years I had to have my dad actually come out and help because I could not solve a leaking pipe issue. (Oh there were a lot of phone consults, but only one desperate in tears “please come save me!” call).
Last year I spent a few insane months finishing lots of projects, repainting everything, refinishing floors, putting in new faucets, etc to sell the house. And that experience taught me how much one person (with occasional family and friends who generously offered their time and talent) could get done in a fairly short amount of time if they put their mind to it. It also made me regret not putting in new faucets or painting the bathroom vanity, etc sooner so I could have enjoyed them longer.
At the new house, I know I could take the slow and easy route, doing a project here or there. But I am intentionally doing it on the project fast track because I would rather work really hard for a few months and have pleasant, livable spaces sooner. And some of these spaces REALLY needed some help to make them livable (ie. removing the horrible, nasty, no good carpet and putting some kind of flooring down). The house was also not maintained that well in recent years, so a lot of little things that need my attention are cropping up, adding to the project list. I am not trying to make the house perfect or do the big expensive renovation projects that I dream of, but instead I am working on the maintenance / face-lift / make it livable projects.
You are insane!?! Yes. And I like it. Back off.
Do you ever sleep? Yes. Not enough, obviously, but yes.
How do you get the energy to do all the projects? Coffee. No, not really, usually I’m too busy projecting to even finish my Saturday coffee. In all seriousness, my projects are energized by desperation to get settled and anticipation for a pleasant and finished space that I can settle in and live in (and matching towels, because who doesn’t love matching towels?).
How do you have time for all of this? I don’t really have time laying around, but I consciously make time for the projects. How, you ask? Here’s how:
1. Schedule it into your life. Seriously. If I didn’t mark off various evenings and weekends for “HOME” with specific projects in mind, I would never get anything done. Usually after a week or two of being scheduled away from home too much, I react by marking all blank spaces on the calendar with “home” for a week or two. Helps to reset the balance.
2. Saturday. Use it as a verb. And for heaven’s sake, use your Saturdays wisely. As a person who works full time, I’ve learned that Saturdays are my one long productive block of time in the week. If I give them away willy nilly, I will never finish projects. So I guard my Saturdays carefully and try to not schedule anything on Saturdays until dinnertime (if at all). Saturday is a work day. This does get very difficult during wedding season (yes, I have been known to go to a 1 pm wedding, run home, change into bum clothes, mow the yard, change back into wedding clothes and go to a 6 pm reception). Also beware of the showers… oh the showers… some of my best years, I boycotted all wedding/baby showers that fell on Saturday afternoons. It is amazing how much you can get done when you don’t have 3 hour events eating the middle out of your Saturdays. Weddings cannot be avoided, but when I’ve got an all day Saturday wedding, I try to make sure I have an evening or two free the week before or after to make up for the Saturday. (A girl still has to mow the lawn, repair the things that need repair, and clean the toilet sometimes).
3. Trade with friends/family. I’m single, I do a lot (most) of my projects solo. But once in awhile, I’ve traded Saturdays with my brother and his wife or a friend and I have to say, those are the best!! For example, last winter, I spent a Saturday at my brother’s house. We stripped wallpaper, cleaned mold, and primed their kitchen walls (impossible for one person to finish in a day, doable with two). A few weeks later, they came over and we repainted my living room and bathroom to get the house ready to sell. Both of us got a bigger project done because there was more help to finish them. Not to mention it is more fun to do projects (especially unpleasant ones like removing wallpaper) with people you enjoy. Now that you mention it, I think I need a Payback Saturday club where we all do 1 Saturday a month at someone’s house doing whatever project that person chooses. Hmmmm.
One more word of advice: Give yourself room to screw up. I seriously doubt anyone is born with the innate to ability to fix everything perfectly the right time, although some people make it seem that way. I’ve been bumbling my way through home repairs for years! But it is nice to realize after years of trying and learning through messing up, at the end of it, you come out knowing a lot more. And you can be an important cheerleader for friends and family at the beginning of that journey. And also, learn to laugh at yourself in the midst of the setbacks (otherwise they are just frustrating). Sometimes I imagine how funny it would be to watch someone on TV screw up as many times as me. Or spray themselves and soak the laundry room while attempting to install a cabinet solo. Or whatever. So there you have it, in a nutshell my advice is: Make time, try it, assume it won’t be smooth because you are learning, and then laugh at yourself when it gets ridiculous. Better yet, call me and I’ll laugh with you.