Home Improvement Lessons Learned, Volume 1

It’s entirely possible anyone reading this knows these things already, but I might need the reminder for myself later on.

1. Everyone needs sanctuary.

There isn’t a single room in my house that isn’t either in the middle of some kind of project or providing storage for a room that is in the middle of a project. The kitchen is probably the room that is least disturbed by all of the ruckus, but it’s really hard to flop down on a kitchen counter at the end of a long day to unwind and find comfort…even when ice cream is available. Our bedroom, where we usually camp out, is off limits right now due to the projects going on in there. We can flop down on the couch in the living room but there are two grown ups sharing the one couch with three cats, so it gets a little crowded. (I know, first world problems.) There’s a patchwork quilt of paint samples on the living room walls, painter’s tape around the windows, and almost everything from our bedroom is being stored there for the time being, so there’s really nowhere to look to get away from the chaos, except when we bury our noses in our respective tablets. In spite of my laundry list of aches and pains from yesterday’s post, I’m having fun right now, but if there was something I would do over again (or do better next time) it would be to make sure the downstairs spare room that we are temporarily camping out in is outfitted with the little comforts we enjoy in our own bedroom – no projects anywhere, everything organized, curtains over the windows, things like that. Little things make a big difference.

2. Take your shoes off.

This one’s a no brainer, I’m sure. On Saturday, when I was in and out of my bedroom during the popcorn ceiling removal, I tracked dust and muddy popcorn texture all over the house, and after I was stick-a-fork-in-me-I-am-DONE kind of done, I still had to go back and sweep and scrape the floors outside the bedroom. Sunday morning I definitely remembered that! I’d left my popcorn coated shoes in the master bedroom when I was finished Saturday night, and they never once left the bedroom with me on Sunday. I kept a pair of slippers outside the bedroom door, so whenever I left the room I took off my shoes IN the room and stepped into my slippers before going anywhere else in the house, then reversed the process going back into the room. It almost eliminated any clean up outside the bedroom. I had a chunk or two of the scraped ceiling texture fall off my clothes in one or two spots, but no crunchy trail all through the house showing all the places I’d been like the day before. I’ll be a Ninja someday.

3. Be careful where you put that thing!

Another no brainer, but in my defense, I’m new at this. One of the scrapers I tried to use for the popcorn removal was about 20 inches wide with a 23″ long handle, and turned out to be too lightweight for the task at hand, so I simply stored it on the side of the ladder by running the handle inside the ladder and letting the blade part of the scraper rest on top of the brace. As I was coming down the ladder after that, I caught myself on the corner of the blade and gave myself a wee, stinging cut on the pad of my palm below the base of my thumb. (Do you know how hard it is to keep a band aid on that part?) Impaled on my own sword! Et tu, Brute? Nobody makes me bleed my own blood! Ahem. Um. Coming up with those quotes amused me while I waited for the bleeding to stop. Anyway, my point was I could have just tossed the scraper down onto the floor and prevented the cut in the first place.

4. Consider the food situation.

Even if you’re not working on your kitchen, it might not be a bad idea to plan some meals ahead and freeze them. You’ll be tired and won’t want to cook, particularly if you’re doing projects at home in the evenings after eight hours at your day job, and quick, easy foods like cereal and sandwiches quickly become boring and unsatisfying. I haven’t done it this time for the bedroom redo but definitely plan to be better about it going forward. It’s cheaper and healthier than going out and grabbing something for lunch/dinner several times a week, multiply that by the number of people in the household and it adds up. Double up a chili, soup, or stew recipe and freeze whatever you don’t eat in individual serving sized containers so you have something you can just warm up in the microwave and clean up with minimal fuss while you’re working on something. Get some chicken breasts and sauce going in the crockpot, then shred the chicken, portion it out with vegetables, and freeze them as well. Hard boil some eggs or bake up a quiche or frittata, they’ll keep in the fridge for a few days and breakfast for dinner is never a bad idea.