When it comes to home remodeling projects, I've done a lot of painting and not a lot of anything else.
I could blame this on a lamentable adherence to traditional gender roles, were I not such a tomboy in other ways. The truth is, I'm just sort of lazy. All about the path of least resistance, me. So when there was a handy man in my household willing and able to fix the leaky toilet or install the kitty door or rewire an outlet, I was perfectly happy to have him do so, and not at all inclined to wrest the wrench from his hand with a cry of, "I am Woman! See me plumb!" Likewise, Theo was generally content to leave most of the gardening and baking and budgeting and decorating to me.
Now I'm on my own 90% of the time, though, and that means if anything needs doing--from shoveling the driveway to installing the new smoke detector to troubleshooting why the cable internet is on the blink--I'm the one who's gotta get the job done.
Sometimes this just makes me tired. I like my weekends filled with Want Tos, not Have Tos (see above re: lazy), and a lot of those Have Tos are just damned unpleasant. The thought of going up on a snowcovered roof to check for ice dams, or replacing damaged drywall, makes me want to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. Until June.
But lately, seduced by HGTV and glossy home-improvement books from my local library, I have caught the remodeling bug. I suspect I was rendered vulnerable by my long stretches of solitude, the silent evenings and weekends reminding me that if I hope to live in the same state with my husband before 2014, I've got to get this albatross of a house sold. Not a small feat, in this housing market. Especially not with a comfortable but unremarkable mid-1980s split-level whose original owners cut corners on materials, probably choosing to trade quality for square footage. The remodeled kitchen and living room are quite nice, but everywhere else the details--doors, cabinets, trim, carpets, countertops, fixtures--scream cheap, cheap, cheap.
So I am embarking on a program of gradual improvements, carried out at a pace that my budget and (I hope) body can handle. My mental tally of weekend-sized projects includes:
- Installing a new vanity in the downstairs bathroom
- Replacing countertop in the upstairs bathroom
- Fixing the frost-heaved section of chainlink fence (come spring)
- New cabinet doors in upstairs bathroom and on hallway linen closet
- New closet doors in master bedroom
- Repainting downstairs
- Repainting and reflooring office
That last bullet point is in progress now. The repainting is done, and I've torn out the old carpet and pad--both original to the house, I'm sure, and as nasty and smelly as you'd expect after 25 years--in preparation for the flooring work. I also pried off the baseboards, carefully, since I haven't yet decided if I will reuse them. Meanwhile, 8 cartons of Pergo flooring are acclimating to the temperature and humidity of the room, to minimize the odds of significant shrinkage or expansion after the install.
So this is when it gets scary.
This is when the serious power tools come into play. The ones with shiny deadly blades spinning at frightening, life-threatening speeds.
And OK, logically and rationally, I know I can wield power tools. I am intelligent. I can read, understand and follow directions. I own safety glasses. I know how to find excellent how-to videos online. If I can drive a car and operate a lawnmower, I am capable of using a circular saw without severing a limb.
It's just that I've never done it. And they are loud, and dangerous, and make things happen way too fast for this novice's liking.
So I'm nervous. But I am damn well going to do this, because the thought of taking a handsaw to 150 square feet of laminate flooring is just...ridiculous. And unnecessary.
This weekend will be over before the flooring is done acclimating, so I get a week's reprieve. But if I'm not heard from by the end of next weekend, somebody come over and make sure I'm not in pieces on the garage floor, OK??
I am Woman. Watch me saw.