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A recent school project for my oldest asked for my advice to her. In addition to the typical "work hard, fight for what you believe" nuggets, I told her that learning was a lifetime experience, and to never, ever, feel bad about needing her parents. Even when she's 40. The good thing? I practice what I preach.
Home-improvement projects bring out the best and worst of a person, and also have a funny way of pointing out exactly how much you have yet to learn.
What's that smell? I had no idea that painting and staining in the lower level could have such an effect on the upper level laundry room. The burning off of the fumes took me by surprise, and filled my house with a smell that made me paranoid that the house would catch fire. It didn't, but I called the repairmen to check it out anyway. Once you've convinced yourself the house will burn down, you need a pro to tell you otherwise.
Sometimes the best-laid plans ... Much to our disappointment, our basement floors were too bowed to put the laminate in that our daughters desperately wanted. This, of course, ruined all of their hopes and dreams for what their rooms were to become. I told them I would settle for them to become clean.
Stick to your gut. People questioned the wisdom of painting the basement purple, but I absolutely love it. Ditto with the (very) bright blue bathroom. Everyone knows that if mom's happy ...
There's never enough time. It is difficult to put an extra coat of poly on baseboards, or
Plumbing is more difficult than it looks. I've taken apart toilets several times, but have yet to successfully put one back together. Although I've not learned to put a toilet back together, I have learned to have a ready supply of towels and buckets as I try. And I WILL try again.
No one likes the grunt work. My kids always want to help paint, but the washing of the walls, hole patching and sanding don't have the same allure. Painting is the ultimate payoff, I tell them. If you want to have the fun, you need to put in the prep time.
Mr. Clean's Magic Erasers are miracle workers. I'm a longtime fan of these cleaning powerhouses, but have a newfound love for them after they removed Sharpie from walls.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. And bonus points if you do it before the nervous breakdown. For me, this is more difficult than putting a toilet back together. I'm fiercely independent (with some control issues), and want to be able to stand back and say "I did this." But I'm learning that it's OK, even at 40-plus, to say "I did this with the help of my parents."
What are some lessons you've learned? Please share!
I was at the paint store last night, struggling to find the right color to complement my countertops without overpowering my cabinets, when I overheard a conversation between another customer and the guy behind the counter.
The customer was stumped. He was trying to find the perfect gray for his project. He'd tried several shades already, but nothing was quite right. One gray was too cool. Another was too muddy.
I know the guy at the paint store isn't alone with this color conundrum. Gray has been the "It" neutral for several years, showing up increasingly in chic shops and magazine spreads.
Now it appears the rest of us have gotten the memo -- and fallen madly in love with gray. The latest evidence comes from the National Kitchen & Bath Association, which recently released its 2013 style report (www.nkba.org).
"Gray color schemes have witnessed a dramatic escalation since 2010, particularly over the last year," according to the NKBA. Gray was used in 55 percent of kitchens and 56 percent of bathrooms during the last quarter of 2012, up from 9 percent of kitchens and 12 percent of bathrooms just two years earlier.
White and beige are still the top colors in both rooms, but gray is coming on strong, while browns are in decline.
Choosing colors is always tricky, but gray is especially so. The wrong shade can make a room feel chilly and dreary. But adding undertones to warm it up sometimes pushes the gray into purple territory once it's splashed on a wall. That's a good look in some rooms, but definitely not all.
The design/decor website Houzz has some good tips on how to pick the right gray (www.houzz.com/ideabooks/454963/list/Choosing-Paint--How-To-Pick-the-Right-Gray)
How about you? Have you caught gray fever? And if you have, what gray did you choose -- and what did you pair it with?
We are creatures of habit,. whether or not those habits make sense. And nothing reveals the depth of habit like the location of commonplace objects.
I've known this for some time, ever since the vegetable peeler inexplicably got placed in the silverware drawer when we moved to a new house. It made no sense, being apart from all the other gadgets, yet inertia (and bigger fish to fry) enabled the peeler to remain there just long enough that it cannot be moved.
I know; I tried -- once.
This knowledge of habit, however, did not keep me from removing a wall clock from its longtime location near our dinner table.The clock had been there for years, but -- true confession time -- it was one of those bird clocks that tweeted with a different bird song every hour. Clever for the first several years, blithely ignored for the next several, and then, suddenly, quite annoying! Time for it to go.
I should have had another clock in hand as a replacement, but I rather liked changing up the space with a painting. Still, not a single day went by when I didn't glance there for the time -- even with the oven's digital clock at hand. Our son was most miffed at the change. I realized that clock had been there all his life. Hmmmm.
So, in the midst of post-holiday putting-the-house-back-together, I moved a cabinet on which our mantel clock sits into that location. Now our glances for the time are immediately satisfied -- except when we look to where this clock USED to be.
All of which has got me thinking about the degree of thought we put into where things end up in our houses. Logic guides most decisions, yet there are those wonderful options for things like clocks or lamps or coat hooks. Perhaps I should have changed things up more regularly, to keep habits from being formed. Although I suspect that may only have driven everyone a little crazy on an equally regular basis.
This came up again over the weekend when I moved my jewelry box from the shelf where it's been for 20 years. It's never fit quite right, yet remained -- 20 years, really? --because it was in the logical place. Maybe it's middle-aged "not gonna settle anymore," but I took the giant step of moving it into an adjoining room. Already, I know it's not going to work there, but I'm determined not to move it back to its old, not quite right place.
Wheels are spinning............where ELSE can I move it? What other habits can I thwart?
How about you? Have you changed the location of something for all the right reasons, and yet consternation follows? Do you reverse yourself and put things back where they were? How long before a new habit takes hold?
My children are never too thrilled when I correct their grammar or spelling. It's an occupational hazard of a journalist, I tell them; everyone needs an editor.
As we're nearing the end of The Basement Project, I tell them the same thing: Everyone needs an editor. This time we're not talking about the content of a school paper, we're talking about the contents of their bedrooms. New flooring has given us the unique opportunity to sort through, pare down, edit -- whatever you want to call it -- and make their rooms a little less cluttered.
Before TBP, their rooms were typical teenage rooms chock-full of stuff. New stuff, old stu
Oldest daughter is on board. She wants to start streamlining what's going back into her room. She's asked for a couple of organizational tools (she knows I'm a sucker for those) and has announced that she doesn't need all the furniture to go back into her room. I was elated, and am happy to help in this transformation. Not only is it some bonding time, but it will make preparing for college much easier, at least from a material standpoint.
Second daughter is a tougher sell. She is a pack rat by nature, and wants to save everything "just in case." She also dismisses any offers to help -- "I don't want anyone touching my stuff" -- which makes it all the more difficult to sell her on the concept. It's hard to be the editor when you're not allow access to the content. I can help you make sense of things, I say. She says she doesn't need that. I can help you be more organized, I say. I'm fine, she says. Fine, I say, until the next time you can't find uniform shorts or a cell phone. It's a vicious circle.
So how do you convince someone that they need an editor when the promise of a room that's easier to keep clean just isn't enough? How have you successfully pared down your stuff or the stuff of your teen? Can you really have too many books?
I was wasting time online Sunday, wandering aimlessly through cyberspace, when a headline caught my eye: "What your sofa color says about you." I'm a sucker for stories like these -- (Hey, I minored in psychology) -- so I clicked the link.
It took me to a website called Homesessive (www.homesessive.com), from AOL-Huffpost Home. The color revelations weren't exactly earth-shaking. If your couch is red, you're probably confident and full of energy. If it's yellow, you like to have fun. Blue, you're a traditionalist. White? You're looking for new beginnings.
I trolled some more and found another sofa-color analysis, this one on Modern Sensibility (www.modsensibility.blogspot), a blog published by a Canadian furniture store of the same name.
According to this blog, black conveys an air of "power and sophistication," and choosing it for your sofa suggests you are "confident, self-aware and enjoy the finer elegant things in life."
Gray, "the new beige," is chosen by those who are conservative, knowledgeable, "know their worth but don't feel the need to brag or boast about it." (As opposed to those confident people who like to throw their high-energy red and powerful black in our faces, I guess.)
Then there's brown. It's the most popular sofa color, according to Modern Sensibility, because it's practical, offering stability and blending into just about any color scheme. It's also a good choice for those who like to entertain because it creates a "comfortable, inviting atmosphere" that will automatically make guests feel closer to you, because you will be seen as a warm, approachable person.
Well! I had no idea my sofa was sending out so many signals. (It's mostly brown, by the way, but it has a pattern, which may or may not mean I'm more -- or less -- inviting and approachable than those who choose the solid color. Neither of the blogs ventured into the psychological significance of patterns.)
In my world, sofa-color choices are less about personal expression and more about finding something that works with what you've already got. The fabric we settled on was one that harmonized with our carpet and woodwork, without clashing too badly with our chairs.
To me, a white sofa says you don't have kids or pets. A pink sofa may be "playful" (Homesessive), but it also suggests there's no man of the house -- or if there is, that you're trying to keep him from hanging out in that room watching football games.
So what color is your sofa? Why? And does it sum up your personality -- or not?
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