Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dear Ms. Home Improvement Manners

I am scraping the first part of the exterior of the house, and I just realized how loud and annoying it is.

Am I bothering the neighbors? Did you ever think all your home improvement activities were the equivalent of putting a car up on blocks in the front yard? I'm beginning to suspect so.

The scraping reverberates between my house and next door. I try to do it on late Friday morning, when I suspect no one is home. I spend about an hour scraping before I get tired, and by then someone has come home.

I'm also self-conscious about leafblowing. I bought an electric leafblower, and at least it's a little less loud. I don't use it until after noon on weekends -- I live around a lot of younger people and they don't even emerge from their homes until noon.

What do you do to mind your manners?

Friday, October 16, 2009

From fixer upper to historic

When does an old home transition from vintage to historic?

I pondered that as I learned the neighborhood association is chronicling a history of the older homes, and mine is among them.

My house was built in 1939. It sat in the middle of bunch of farmland owned by the same family that built my house. My neighbor, who is 95 years old, is the original owner of the house. I learned my house had a tin roof.

So, for the first time, I told someone I lived in an historic home. And I closely examined whether I was restoring it or rehabbing it. I'm not tearing down any walls, nor messing with the floors or the layout. I added a railing on the front porch, which takes a bit away from its Lowcountry charm. But the roof lines are more cottage/arts and crafts anyway.

I live in an historic home. How about that?

It has been..

Fifteen days since I've been to a home improvement store. The last time was to buy products for a photo shoot; I went to a conference, then had a week's furlough, which I spent at the beach.

Fall to me is cuddling time. That means switching from DIY mode to "buy fall clothes" mode. And, boy, have I. I headed to a department store the other day to check out a sale on boots, and the store was crowded. I had to wait in line to buy my boots; I laughed when the clerk apologized. "I don't care. I can't believe there's a line. The recession's over. Wo-hoo! Let's all buy shoes."

I'm not abandoning my house makeover. This weekend, I start planning to paint the exterior of my house. My first task is to head to a real paint store and get some samples -- and some decent advice. I want to paint the house a darker gray, with a hint of brown, to make it look like those beautiful arts and crafts homes in Portland, Oregon.

But before that -- prep. Pressure washing a 1939 home might mean trouble. I might sand a few areas, but the wood's so old I'm afraid it might break off.

Any suggestions on good prep? Should I try to master a sprayer, of will a good ole paintbrush work instead?