Diary of a Fixer-Upper: The Little Things

I'm about halfway through renovating my fixer-upper and looking back, I think I've done a pretty good job so far. But the strangest things can trip me up.

I hope you’re all enjoying this heat wave as much as I am. The suddenly soaring temps have taught me yet another valuable lesson. While most of Washington is huddling near air conditioners for some blessedly cool air, I’ve been sleeping on my couch on the first floor with my new oscillating fan (from my emergency Target run on Saturday), trying to find any air that isn’t scorching. What was that lesson, you ask?  Making sure my brand new $14,000 air conditioning system works BEFORE the first heat wave strikes.

Yeah. Luckily my HVAC guys are pretty reliable and I have a ten year warranty, so—cross your fingers—they should be fixing the unit as we speak. I’m not a big fan of A/C generally, so it never even occurred to me to turn it on until the sweltering weather this weekend. Very sweaty lesson learned.

As far as the rest of the house, I’m about halfway done with the renovation work.  It’ll still be about a year until I’m totally done, but that’s only because I plan to spend the next six months saving up for the bathroom redo—a gut job that will set me back about ten grand.

So I’ve done enough work now that I can look back with a little perspective. Have I done a good job? Have I budgeted properly? Am I making good choices?

I like to think I’m doing okay so far. I haven’t been swindled by anyone. Yay me! I haven’t made any spectacularly bad design decisions, like accidentally preventing a door from opening or closing. I’ve certainly spent more than I wanted, but I haven’t started selling family valuables to make ends meet.

One strange habit I’ve picked up is making big decisions fairly quickly, but getting stumped over small details. The kitchen is a great example. I purchased the big appliances pretty quickly, and removed the old cabinets before I had all the materials ready to replace them. I should be done with the entire room by now—if I could only choose the color of the countertops. The decision has slowly taken over my life. I’ve met with tons of contractors, surfed a million granite web sites, and am far past the point where my friends are able to feign interest. Dark counters will make the kitchen look too gloomy and small! White granite is hard to find and take care of! Yellow clashes with my cabinets! In the meantime, I’ve had a kitchen without counters for weeks now, which is holding up the installation of the dishwasher, sink, and garbage disposal, making it so I still can’t unpack half of my kitchenwares. Someone, please, buy me a dartboard so I can just pick one, for the love of Pete…

Yesterday I picked up about a thousand paint-color chips from the hardware store. Right. So I should get the house painted by, oh, fall of 2010.  Anyone want to come over and see the samples against the wall? Anyone?

To read Heather's home adventures from the beginning, click here. 

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