March 28, 2011

lessons learned

One weekend of on and off working and about $150 has resulted in an almost complete mudroom. At least on the inside. We still have the door to put in (Wednesday!) and the siding on the outside, but the inside is pretty much done. A few spots need paint touched up, furniture needs to be rearranged and I need to find a little rug for the floor so that the inevitable muddy shoes (it is a mudroom after all!) don't ruin the new flooring. The photo is a little dark due to the tarp covering the opening that will soon be a door, but you get the idea. I'll put up a real "finished" photo later this week after the door in is place (yay!)
I've learned two big lessons this weekend. Well, one of them is from this weekend, the other is sort of a realization that this weekend confirmed.

The first, is, do the mudroom first. OK, maybe not first. When we moved in we had so many essentials that needed to be done ASAP. Like a stove that you could turn on, countertops that weren't plywood, paint on all the dingy walls, put in an air conditioner (it was July in Virginia after all) etc, etc, etc. But somehow the mudroom got pushed to the very bottom of the list. And after a while we were just using it for storage anyway so we didn't really miss it. So this weekend, when we finally got around to painting the walls and the trim, ripping up the nasty carpet that has driven me crazy for almost two years and putting in new flooring I realized that all this time we have been ignoring almost 100 square feet of house.

It might be the fact that we are soon to be living in a situation where every inch will count, or just the fact that I have wanted the mudroom done for ages but Will hasn't really cared about that room, but I'm suddenly seeing so many opportunities for that space. All this winter when it was cold out and we were playroom-less, this could have been a playroom. Or it could have been the office (I do seem to remember suggesting that, but that was before the freezing cold leaky door was removed, so it was always pretty unpleasant in there) and the playroom could have stayed. Or it could have become Briton's room. Or, or, or... It could have just been an oh, so handy mudroom. So now I know. When space is at a premium, don't ignore perfectly good rooms just because there are other things to be done. Lesson learned.

The other thing I've realized is that next time we renovate a house (and there will be a next time. Because even if we are tired of it now, by the end of a year away from it we'll be dying to get at it again) I need to take better before pictures. Or maybe just more before pictures.
When we moved in here I took photos of the main rooms because, although they were dingy and plain, they weren't horrible. The really awful spots - the bathrooms and the mudroom - I didn't really take good pictures of. Mostly because they were so awful that I didn't want anyone to see them. I didn't want to see them. This is the closest thing I have to a real before photo of the mudroom, and it's not great.
This is after I tried to make it slightly better with some white paint which turned out to look like primer instead of paint. (Yuck! Now we have the white that is in the rest of the house on the walls - much better) I forgot about my green ceiling. I still like it, although I like the beam better in white. Oh well, inky blue is pretty too, and probably better for selling...(sigh)

But I've realized that part of the fun of renovating is being able to look back at the before and see the after. The coolest part of that Better Homes and Gardens article for me is to look at that before (which, by the way, was before we moved in) and compare it with the after. So from now on, more pictures. Even of the grimy, stained floors and the nasty peeling walls and the horrible toilets. That way, when I'm frustrated with progress, and I sometimes am because I just want it done (split personalities there I guess), I can look at what has come so far already.

Now I don't expect that there will be any renovating going on in New York. For one thing, we'll be renting. Plus we're there only a year. Plus there is the whole grad student budget situation (good thing the kids like Top Ramen!) But I'm sure there will be some decorating. Because I can't help it. And hopefully there will be some creative uses of space. Because I'm sure I'll need to use every small space living trick I've ever learned or have ever seen and then some. So. Don't let me forget. Before pictures. Lots of Before pictures.

Have you ever had any "left it till last" projects that you really wish you had started earlier? What were they?