Home & Style

Diary of a Fixer-Upper: The To-Do List

I’m not going to deny that I am behind on my lofty home-improvement goals. I have a long list of things I planned to have finished by now, and there they are, still looking at me and saying things like, “Yeah, hi, this wall color is still ugly” and “Hey, look, I’m still that broken, splintered floor problem.”

Overall, though, I am pretty proud of myself. The guest room is 90 percent painted and needs only about two more hours of work, tops. The color is “Winter Storm,” which is the same color on the walls in my bedroom. It took me eons to find one color I liked—who has time to start that process over again? The light in the two rooms made a big difference in the color, though. My bedroom looks blue-ish, but the same color looks perfectly gray in the guest room. I love it.

In the bathroom, I finally had a medicine cabinet installed. I can hide my toothpaste! Also, I had the bathroom light replaced—twice! The first time, the handyman installed it with the light shades pointing upwards. This is apparently what the instructions called for, but it wasn’t what was pictured on the Web site I ordered it from (and it wasn’t pretty), so I paid him to come back and flip it over.

I am totally on the handyman train these days. Even though that job was done twice, it was very affordable. Handymen are much cheaper than contractors, and are often more flexible with their time. I am pretty sure that the guy who is helping me now doesn’t have a bunch of super-fancy extras, like, um, certifications, bonding, and insurance. Honestly, though, I could not be less worried about it.

The handyman also hung a chandelier in my entryway. It cost about $120 at CB2 and was one of my very first purchases after I bought my place. I was high on home ownership, eager to make the condo mine, and (probably) swayed by a good sale. I thought it would go in the breakfast nook. A year and a half later, with a totally different chandelier hanging in the breakfast nook, I suddenly remembered the neglected little light fixture collecting dust in basement storage. I brought it upstairs, handed it to my handyman friend, and went off to work. I returned home to a very glamorous entryway.

The chandelier is attached to a ceiling medallion, which I bought about six months ago (also for the breakfast nook). That thing, which was about $30 and is made of something akin to Styrofoam, can really class up a joint fast. Checking off year-old tasks and putting to use months-old purchases must be what has me feeling so totally gratified in the face of a “to do” list that remains a mile long.

So, what’s left? A lot. So much that items are beginning to moving from the “to do by Thanksgiving” list to the “to do one day” list. The fact is, I know that some yummy stuffing and pie are going to take shape in my kitchen next week, whether I get the hallway repainted or not.

That’s not to suggest that I won’t be freaking out by this time next week. It’s easy to feel zen, sitting here with a glass of wine, a laptop, and a bunch of photos of my improved apartment. I might as well enjoy that feeling until the panic sets in.

Daphne writes about her renovation every Tuesday. To read Daphne's remodeling adventures from the beginning, click here.