Monday, September 27, 2010

House stuff, mostly

I decided to try something new. Whenever Emmy falls, I try to make her laugh instead of picking her up. If I can't get her to laugh, it means she's really hurt and needs love. So far, so good. She's toughened up quite a bit in just the one day I've been doing it.

This is good, because she started pulling herself to standing minutes after I hit "save" on that last entry.

So, it's official. We are MOVING! (2-6 months from now)

This house needs so many things done. Any peeling or chipped paint needs taken care of. I'm looking at YOU, crappy front porch that I spend half the morning de-webbing--pointlessly, I might add, since there will be just as many spider webs up tomorrow morning, and I can still feel them crawling all over me ew gross gross.

I need a gold star for my morning's work.

Lots of other little annoying things that we can live with (and had planned to live with while fixing them slowly), but would make the house harder to sell:

-Clean the siding
-De-spider the porch and deck
-Clean the windows (I'm afraid to do this because every time I have, a million gigantic spiders have come out)--really clean them, not just wipe the inside with some vinegar and paper towel
-Paint the porch (the floor of the porch, which was the worst, got done this weekend; one of my dad's church members does that kind of work, and he did a great job)
-Possibly paint the downstairs bathroom (more on that later)
-Clean the carpets (this is utterly pointless until Emmy is past the spitting-up stage, but it should really get done before any showings)
-Finish painting the upstairs hallway
-Sand down and paint over plaster patches in kitchen
-Re-hang kitchen cabinet door
-Sand down, prime, and repaint parts of dining room (someone who shall remain nameless didn't prime all the way to the edges, so the paint is peeling off the plaster in spots)
-Go through all our stuff and get rid of anything we don't need
-Go through all our stuff and box up anything we won't need in the next six months
-Go through all that stuff and look for more stuff that we actually can get rid of but just don't want to because someone who shall remain nameless gets stupidly sentimental about the dumbest stuff, like t-shirts and old notes
-Find a storage unit and start carting stuff away
-Possibly sew a couch cover from the old curtains down here (totally weird, I know, but our couch is BLUE! in a pink-and-maroon living room, and while the curtains are ugly, they're not BLUE!, and couch covers cost a trillion arms and legs)
-Get curtains and curtain rods for girls' rooms
-Hang curtains in girls' rooms (yes, for people like us, these two steps need to be articulated; do you know how long we had the curtains and curtain rods for our living room before we finally hung them?)
-Figure out what's wrong with the stupid upstairs hallway light
-Paint radiators (maybe)
-Paint office door (the old color scheme is on there, and it's so hilariously awful that we just couldn't let it go)
-Hang curtains over closets (maybe)

It's not that the house is a dump (I do a pretty good job of keeping up most of the time, if I do say so myself), but there are all those little unseen corners that don't get scrubbed regularly. And after a while you just don't notice anymore. But if you're looking at a house with new eyes, it's the sum of all those dusty little nooks that can make a house seem dingy and dirty even when it's not. Ugh. Nooks mean spiders. Spiders mean constant adrenaline and nightmares every night.

Come to think of it, all that adrenaline might be a good thing. It would certainly get me moving.

Most of this is stuff I can do even when the kids are awake. Both are pretty good at entertaining themselves for decent periods of time. Especially Grace. So long as I'm nearby and available, she's usually happy to play her imaginary games with her stuffed animals and to read her books and to spout nonsense sentences (today's favorite: "Downstairs crining baby mocha psychos!" [Downstairs crying baby motorcycles]).

It's the painting that I'm a little worried about. Grace can be told not to touch something, and she'll stay away. But she just forgets after a while. And Emmy is still far too young to learn any of that. We have a pack 'n' play. I need to break that out and see if Emmy will play in there contentedly. Yes, I'm willing to let her scream if need be, but I'd rather avoid it. Screaming babies wear me out. Constant emotional distress is not something I handle well.

The Bathroom

When we first moved in, we affectionately referred to our bathroom as "The Hunting Lodge." Diagonal wood paneling (real wood; it looks like the inside of a sauna), dark mossy greenish linoleum (it's actually kind of pretty), very small space, and frayed flannel curtains with a moose/duck/bear theme. Oh, and a gigantic pipe right between the sink and the toilet. There's also the huge gold-framed mirror over the sink. It's actually kind of awesome. One of those things that is really ugly in the room the way it is, but might actually be cool if we could figure out something better to do with the room.

The appliances and wire shelving over the washer and dryer are bright white. The tiny little cabinet over the toilet is wood. I've already mentioned the mirror. Then there's the sink counter, which is a beigy color, like coffee with LOTS of cream.

I really think painting the paneling would make the room seem much bigger. One of the things this house has going for it is the first-floor laundry, and I would like people to see that and say, "Oh, sweet!" and not say, "Oh, I am having a panic attack from claustrophobia. Also, you have a BATHROOM just feet from you dining room table?" I drew a kind of to-scale diagram:


The red is exposed pipes. The one near the toilet is about 6" in diameter. It's hideous. And painted beige. Which, I suppose, is better than unpainted, but just barely. The radiator runs along the wall (our house has the kind that is low to the floor and runs along the wall, not the taller, shorter kind), and it's off-white. The window has new curtains that I sewed myself. They're not pretty (especially not if you get close enough to see my horrible seams), but they let light in, and they're an inoffensive off-white/light beige pattern.

So, what color for the bathroom? I can't decide. It has to go with brownish mossy green, beige, and bright white. I'm thinking GOLD! would be a lot of fun, but I don't think it would sell well.

Couch Cover

So, we have these hideous old curtains that we had hung up in the living room. We replaced them with off-white sheers because they made the room feel tiny and dark. The sheers don't afford much privacy, but I guess that's what blinds are for. The old curtains are hideous as curtains, but as I was taking them off the rods and tossing them on the couch, I noticed that they look a bit like upholstery. I'm wondering if I could sew a couch cover with them. I don't even know where to begin, though. I can still barely sew a straight seam. I have a sewing book, but I do not learn well by reading directions. Ideally, I would take sewing lessons and learn by doing, but we can't afford that either time-wise or money-wise. What say you, Internet?


Our radiators are scuffed and ugly. I really thinking painting them (or at least the visible ones) would brighten up the rooms. You don't really see them, but I think they make the rooms looks dirtier and darker than they are.

We have to walk a line between making the house salable for a decent price and spending so much money on getting the house sold, that we come out even further behind. I don't know what it take to paint radiators, if they need special paint or equipment or what.

One realtor pointed out to us that most people who look at a house like ours will probably be looking for the same thing we were: a decent house that needs a little work. They'll probably be like us: young people who don't yet have the money to buy a dream home, but are looking for something they can grow into and eventually sell for a good price. They're not going to care about everything being perfect. We want to do as little as possible to get the house sold. Both because we don't have much time, and because all the little projects are going to add up to a money-sucking black hole of grrrr.

So I'm looking at you Internet people who are wiser than I. What do you people think? I know it's hard to say without actually having seen the house, but I still want to hear your thoughts.


  1. I painted the radiators at our house before we sold it. We actually did a lot of work, too. If I recall correctly, we bought white Rustoleum spray paint, took them outside, and, well, sprayed. It was fairly easy and quick, actually. So it's probably not a big deal to add that to your to-do list (email me if you need more info).

    For the bathroom, I'd paint the walls an almost-white... maybe a very light beige, something that goes with the sink and gold frame? And get everything else with color out of there. Ditch the curtains entirely, maybe? That would leave you just with the green linoleum, beige sink, gold mirror. Better.

    Get a power washer to clean the siding? Get stuff really clean.

    I probably wouldn't worry about the couch cover, given that it's only useful for selling the house, you might not want it in your new place. But if you really want to do it, why not look on craigslist, see if there's somebody who is willing to do it for you? There might be ads for sewing, if not, place on as a wanted ad.

    I think if it's clean, most people will overlook the coloring/furniture to picture their own stuff there. Speaking as somebody who is about to move into her 7th house in 2 years... I look at how well in repair the place looks, the amount of counter/cabinet space in the kitchen, number/size of bedrooms/bathrooms, yard, basement storage, etc.

  2. My thoughts, in no particular order:

    Painting radiators seems like one of those things that requires special paint. I have no idea what kind, but since radiators are really just things that get hot, you probably need something that's going to be able to withstand the heat.

    I don't know that you really want to tackle the couch cover. Slipcovers for upholstered furniture are ridiculously complicated, and if you don't already know how to sew, I think it'll just make you crazy. You could try making a sort of large blanket that you can toss over the couch and tuck into the spot where the seat cushions meet the back cushions, though. That might be simple enough for showings without taking a lot of your time or any real skill with sewing. Of course, it does require that the blue of your couch not clash horribly with the curtains.

    For the bathroom, is repainting the pipes on the table? It might cut down on some of the beige, which is the one color you've got going in there already that's likely to clash with bright white. Otherwise, I'd choose a paint color that is really just this side of white, with some color in it. If you can repaint anything that's beige, a cream color (white + yellow, rather than brown) might be a good neutral. Or you could do a color that is in the same color family as the floor, only a whole heckuva lot lighter.

    Otherwise, I hope you figure it out, sell your house in just the timeframe you need to, and that you don't have any really horrible encounters with spiders. Good luck!