Spring Home Projects

Spring maintenance or maintenance of any season is critical for the preservation and upkeep of your homes; but, let’s be honest, it’s not as fun as project planning. So, I ask, what are your short term and long term plans for your home?

In our bungalow, we have a long list of projects and plans, but some take priority over others. I know we are not alone when I say one thing needs repair immediately after something else. For starters, the original cast iron waste pipe from the second floor bathroom is leaking. Of course, it is our only bathroom and the leak is somewhere that we cannot see. Until we get to that project (sooner rather than later) we have a makeshift catch basin below the pipe in the basement to prevent the leaking water from damaging our brand new post-flood furnace. It’s a good Yankee fix for now. Anyone have suggestions for cast iron replacement and/or repair? This also speeds up our bathroom renovations. Who has experience with reglazing a cast iron clawfoot tub?

We need to rebuild the back porch steps, as the previous steps were washed down the river by Tropical Storm Irene. We have high hopes of removing our asphalt driveway and replacing it with concrete. Our projects could go on and on: electric upgrade, the kitchen ceiling, window sash repair, and more. But, it’s a labor of love when you live in a historic house. Taking care of the house is like taking care of part of the family (even though plumbing is not our first choice of tasks. I’d rather paint!).

If you have advice or stories to share, please do. It’s good project weather. Open your windows and bond with your house!

For the Love of Painting

A historic house is sure to come into your life with paint problems. Whether it’s too many layers, peeling paint, cracking paint, lead paint or wallpaper + paint, you are going to have some quality time to spend with your house. If you bought a historic (or old) house, you probably expected and/or wanted some hands-on repair work. However, some people, preservationists included, find no delight in painting. On the other hand, I love painting.

[Sidebar] If you are a Gilmore Girls fan, you will recall an exchange from the episode, That Damn Donna Reed, in which Lorelai convinces Luke to paint his diner:

LORELAI: Ok, how about this? I’ll help you because I love to paint.

LUKE: You do?

LORELAI: Yes I do.

LUKE: You love it?

LORELAI: I want to marry it.

LUKE: You have strange passions.

RORY: She likes washing dishes too. She’s multifaceted abnormal.

LORELAI: Ah come on, we’ll drink a couple of beers and we’ll sing some painting songs.

LUKE: Painting songs?

LORELAI: Yeah painting songs like, um…you know the songs that goes, um…’Grab your brush and grab your rollers, all you kids and all you bowlers, we’re going paintin’ today’. Say yes or there’s another verse.

I do like washing dishes, but I do not have painting songs, or at least not that I would admit. Gilmore Girls often plays in the background while I paint, if I’m not in the mood for some good country music or a Billy Joel/Bruce Springsteen combination.

Entertainment aside, why do I love to paint? Is there anything more satisfying than physical labor that results in a beautiful, personalized transformation on something you own?

If you’re like me and have a house that hasn’t been painted in the past 40 or 80 years (not kidding), you know it’s time to show the house some love. Cleaning the walls, scraping, sanding, plaster repairs, priming many coats and finally painting: when else will you be this close to the walls and ceilings of your house for such an extended period of time? Prep work for painting is not my favorite part, but it’s a necessary evil in order to get to the fun part: COLOR.

It is a labor of love. It’s a source of pride. I feel as though I’m communing with my house and getting to know its quirks: where the hairline cracks are in the plaster, where the pictures have been hung, how the ceiling meets the wall, where splashes of the first coat of paint remain on the edge of the door trim, how the walls look at all times of day. While that first or second layer of primer hides the brush strokes from the original paint, it’s easy to imagine someone lovingly painting the walls before me. A change, even one as simple as paint color, is refreshing in a building.

Painting takes a lot of time, particularly when the walls and ceiling need more than one coat of primer and more than one coat of paint. But, the end result is always worth it. Suddenly the house looks like it belongs to us, as opposed to looking like we simply moved in and set down our belongings. A new coat of paint brings new life to the house, as we begin the next chapter of volume of its history.

House painting = maintenance = care = preservation = love.

Having Izzy watch me paint is helpful throughout the long process.

Are you still so sure that you don’t like to paint? Or do you love to paint?

p.s. Next week, I’ll follow up on the Paint Chatter post about the specific paint problems in my house.