Diary of a Fixer-Upper: The Big Unveil

Patched hole in the bathroom

Wow, how did Thanksgiving get here so fast? Suddenly, the dog is shivering every time we go outside, TV has gotten more appealing than venturing out for movies, and, oh yeah, my family is freaking here! 

Actually, they are just in the metro area. I am blessed to have an aunt and uncle nearby who have much more sleeping space than I do. But tomorrow my dad, stepmom and grandma will see my condo for the first time since I started messing with it.

And, of course, it isn’t finished. The biggest project that I didn’t complete is painting the trim white. Two months ago, when I cavalierly decided to start painting all of the baseboards and moldings, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I got about 60 percent through that project.

I did manage to patch the hole in the bathroom, where the previous light was affixed to the wall, and that was a proud moment. I searched around the Internet until I found this video, ignored the part about only using the first technique for tiny holes, and hit the hardware store. So far, I have covered the hole with mesh tape and covered that with vinyl putty. As soon as I finish writing this, I will sand it and paint it. I think (hope!) that the hard part is over.

The gray-red spot

I have found less success in other areas. A couple of months ago, I had my cable wire rerouted, and I took down a very shoddy-looking light in the sunroom. Those two projects left two large, white areas where the drywall had been patched. Because the room is bright red, the white sections stood way out. I had tried to paint over small nicks in that room before, and I knew how difficult it was—even after a layer of red primer—to truly cover white with red. Then, someone told me that the best way to prime for red paint is to use dark gray paint. This falls into the category of news I was so happy to hear that I didn’t bother to research. Now, after untold layers of red paint, the dark gray is still showing through. Lesson learned.

I’m embarrassed to share which task has been hands-down the most difficult: Hanging a series of three pictures. I have battled this project for more than a week. It was important to get the pictures up, because my namesake grandmother, who is a professional artist, painted them for me as a housewarming gift. Even though that grandmother won’t be making the trip to join us this week, I always thought that hanging those paintings would be the finish line to this journey. To me, they felt symbolically significant.

Slightly uneven paintings

In the end, they aren’t evenly spaced or at even heights. They are close, but clearly not perfect. The first reason for this is my total incompetence. But the second reason, which took me far too long to discover, is that the frame shop fastened the hangers in different places on the back of each frame. I agonized over getting the nails perfectly even on the wall for nothing. That project is going to have to go in the “good enough” category for now.

With the game clock ticking, I am trying to spend my time on things that will make the biggest impact. Should I go buy a bunch of plants? The ones I have carefully culled for their ability to survive bouts of neglect? Or should I go make a bunch of willy-nilly selections just to distract from the red-gray wall?

Obviously, I am stressed. Still, I know my family will love the place, and they will be proud of the work I have done on my first home. But, hey, obsessing is what I do.

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