mentally preparing for home improvement

Well, the shift from vacation mode and acting like I’m on vacation when we have house guests to full-steam-ahead-project-mode has happened.

Now … there was a time, not too long ago, where for about 4 years Joel and I both worked full-time jobs and then worked on house projects in the evening.  Pretty much every evening … and every weekend day and evening … and any hours in between.

We really loved it for a while.  We would call a Friday night in the crawl space installing new HVAC ductwork “date night”.  And we did so much drywall sanding at one house that we dubbed the after affect “Choptank nose”.

home improvement*goggles and a mask are always a good idea when doing any kind of sanding

Then we hated it for a time.  It was just never ending.  But then it ended.

And then we forgot how much work it was so we bought another house.  And it almost broke me.

And as I’m preparing to head north to tackle a few projects in this house that almost broke me, I’m reminded of this post that I originally wrote on March 6th and felt the need to share it again.  You know, so you can feel the peace with me.  :)


I was innocently laying on the couch, watching Dateline, admiring the hutch to tv stand transformation…

…when I noticed the tile.
Do you have that one …  pain in the neck, always under your skin, jumping out with the ugly reminder that it’s always there … thing?

Mine, for sure, is the tile in this little house
But the thing with it is…I can’t change it.

And I choose to have peace with it.

Like I have peace with our outdoor washing machine.

Like I have peace with this old lady.

Any chance you’ve read up on me a bit?

Did you notice the part where I say “renovate 3 1/2 homes“?

Did you know that I really meant that I left half a house unfinished?

Yessirree Bob I did.  Sigh.

I worked tirelessly, day and night, weekdays and weekends, after full work days, every. single. day. for months … and months … and months.

Scraping old wall paper … even on the ceiling … those of you who have done this are now feeling your shoulders ache just at the thought of it.

7 large rooms, 2 hallways, 1 stairway … top to bottom … wallpaper on every. single. surface.

Then I striped and repainted every. single. window.
And doorway.

And fireplace surround.

Then I repainted the kitchen cabinets.

Then we found some tenants.

A group of college aged kids who didn’t care about her imperfections.  They even let us jerry-rig (what does that even mean?) a shower over the old-timer, boxed in, extra long, claw foot tub in the upstairs bathroom.

But the tenants are long gone.

And the shower is still jerry-rigged.

And I live here.
 While she sits there.

And, at some point between Chris Hansen in India and Victoria Gotti getting fired, I’m thinking I haven’t wanted to do any DIY or home improvement around here…

… to rebel against all of the time and energy and blood, sweat and tears I used up here.

Do you have any projects hanging over your head?  Has any project had a lasting impression on you?  Did you happen to find peace with it all on a random Sunday night?

Just so you know…this old lady has 23 windows, 21 doorways and 6 fireplace surrounds.


  1. says

    We watched the Househunters International show on Curaçao last night (we had DVD’d it) and it has probably played a zillion times but new to us.) It reminded me of the Dutch side of St. Maarten. We have no interest in any of the most popular islands, but after reading your posts for awhile, and seeing the pics (e.g., of the Bacheorette show) and seeing the show last night, we would definitely love to come there sometime. I know you are enjoying every minute (including not renovating!). I know I have loved the times I was able to live overseas, always in Europe, and at a more affordable time! Happy Holidays!

    Susan Tofteland

    • says

      Happy Holidays to you, Susan!! I would love to hear where you were able to live.

      The Dutch side of St. Maarten is another Dutch Antilles island so I can imagine there are a number of similarities. We’re with you, it’s fun to explore some of the lesser known places … Curacao is so close, but couldn’t be more different form Aruba.

      Thank you so much for reading … hopefully you have a chance to check the island out in person sometime soon. :)

  2. says

    Well, you know I’ve struggled with DIY burnout. The best thing that works for us is going slow. Duct work is not date night in our house! I think my best DIY tip is to love the house you’re in as it is. That way, it’s OK to go slow. I’m not waiting until the seashell wallpaper that looks like it’s sprinkled with tacos and vaginas is gone to love my house. I’ll be really (really really) glad when that paper comes down, but in the end, it’s not a pretty bathroom that makes me happy. It’s a good life with the people I love, which can happen even in ugly spaces.

    • says

      YES!! The love it as-is is key, then it’s not a constant focus of what needs to be done. We have to enjoy the space we’re in, and you are absolutely right, ugly spaces are only the backdrop for the real joys in life. :)

  3. says

    Hi Karah,
    We finished our kitchen in something like 1 solid week…with a couple weeks of piddling around before. We really got caught up in the change! So much that I began to plan to do a rapid fire re-do of our bedroom. And, plan I did.

    In February.

    Cut to today, March 1st, er, November 26th, and the change that has taken place? The paint chips have fallen off the walls. And, been tossed out. After the perfect shade of chamois was selected. But, it obviously wasn’t important enough for me to actually remember, write down…or possibly pin. Nope.

    Sigh. Maybe we should start in the bath. Hubby worked in the corner where the leak was…and perhaps painting would not be completely out of place. LOL. Peach walls (bleck) and the white repaired corner. 😉

    Or, maybe I’ll just toss on Pandora, light a candle, and eat some pumpkin pie.
    ~ Dana

    • says

      Yummmm, I bet you make an awesome pumpkin pie! And my mom and I say “piddling” all the time … maybe we’ve had this discussion already. One step at a time on the projects, definitely with some pandora, candles and pie mixed in. :)

  4. says

    I remember your post on that house :) And you are so right….sometimes you have to say enough to a little DIY :)

    Have a blessed and wonderful day!

    PS LOVE that first picture :)

  5. says

    I hear you! It’s fun for a while and then you all the sudden completely burn out and want nothing to do with sanding or painting or priming… you just want to catch up on the 81 hours of recorded TV that you never got to watch. :-)

  6. says

    Holy cow, no wonder you’re so burned out! Yes, our master bath has been in progress for about 7 years now… so long that we’ll probably have to start over. We got it functional and then abandoned ship to do projects that people actually “see”. Ugh. Now I’m depressed… think I’ll have to put my Christmas tree up and have a glass of wine to console myself!
    xo Heidi

  7. says

    Oh you know it!!! That bathroom will be the death of me! not really. I’m inching my way through the process now. At least all the beadboard is up. I’m working on framing the door (I say working on it, but I”m actually just procrastinating). Once the door is done, the trim can go up and I’m flying again but that door – aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh! I’m so not good with hinged things.


    Have a nice night!

  8. szinteriors says

    I’m struggling with no or mini projects only through the winter – you see, my car has taken her spot back, so my workshop is held in abeyance until Spring. I haven’t lived through a renovation of my own, but did build a house that wasn’t move-in ready when we moved in, so I know the feeling of dust, and jery-rigging, but from a different angle, and without the same backbreaking pain. With a setting like yours, who needs a renovation, anyway?

  9. says

    Um, yeah, like I have a house full of projects hanging over my head. Some of them press down harder on my head than others. Two years ago I finally redid my office bathroom. It was liberating. It still needs a few improvements, but it is miles from where it was. I had plastered it in and did a “faux” finish on it, aiming for cave, masculine look. It was my husband’s bathroom back then. What I ended up with were walls that looked like my two year old twins had decorated the walls with the remains of their diapers. I finally repainted the entire room with a cool shade of grey/blue. New towels, and new mat. A whole new room.


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