Buying a new house is stressful for just about everyone, myself included. The actual act of trying to find a house that doesn’t make me want to claw my eyeballs out is a challenge … because I am ridiculously picky and I actually see all the crap that most people miss. This “gift” is a blessing and a curse because it allows me to recognize a house for its potential rather than rely upon the vision of others to present the house in a more complete and finished manner. Even though I can block some pretty obnoxious and offensive decisions out of my mind, it’s like some people go out of their way to make a house assault you with color schemes and construction techniques from bygone eras and lots of poorly executed DIY weekend projects.
This is the case of the house I just bought (house number 6 if you’re keeping track) is a good example of this sort of house. Pretty good overall structure but a lot of [shudder] on the surface.
The quickest and easiest way to make an impact is to paint. It’s the sort of thing that can help make a home reflect your taste and personality in a very short time period. Sometimes, the necessity to paint is just a matter of freshening things up, while other times, it’s a requirement to keep the demons out of your nightmares.
Case in point …
This was the most murder-y paint color and paint job I have ever seen in my life. It literally looks like someone tried to finger-paint the walls with blood. I should point out that these pictures have not been doctored up or staged in any way. Someone literally must have come to a terrible ending in this room … I know the smile on my face certainly died.
Seriously. Not only is the color amazingly bad, the quality of the paint job might even be more amazingly bad …it’s badder. Don’t worry about the texture, I’ll get to that in a minute.
When it was decided to hide the crime scene paint job with warm beige paint, how does someone “miss” a spot of ox blood pagan sacrificial red? Do you think they ran out of paint at this exact moment?!? I’m pretty sure I could have squeezed a few more (and by “more” I mean “one”) pass of the paint roller to get some sort of cover over that
blood red paint.
When we move into another room, you still see some questionable colors but as the father of a now 11-year-old daughter, I can appreciate some family letting their child pick the color of their room … twice. To the point, it’s not that I find that these particular two colors jarring, it’s that they didn’t remove the bracket that holds the windows blinds before they painted. Twice!
If you are going to paint, you have to remove all brackets, electrical cover plates, grilles … everything.
Case in point … this is where a towel bar “was” attached. Not only did they leave it in place when they painted, they added this horrific drywall texture to a smooth wall with the towel bar attached.
This seriously make my face hurt.
So (other than cleaning) our first task was removing grilles, electrical cover plates AND towel bars, and then painting. I did have to do some drywall spackle work prior to painting – there were a million holes in the wall. I don’t normally advocate painting sample colors up on an existing wall to determine if you like them – we already knew what color we wanted but wanted to check the light reflectance value just to make sure.
Upper left in case you were wondering.
I also don’t advocate painting from the bottom up. My wife did almost all the painting; I was moving boxes and furniture from the old house to this new one, and she had help … from my daughter … who is tall but not “reach the top of the wall” tall. The worst part about painting is the cutting in around trim and at the ceiling level. It isn’t hard, it just takes time and patience.
Once the wall dried, none of the roller strokes you see above were evident.
Popcorn texture on the ceiling … is there anything more closely associated with builder homes from the 70’s and 80’s?
I’ve seen cakes with better surface texture than some of my walls. Why would anyone choose to slather drywall mud on the wall like they were a drunk fraternity kid icing a cake? Not only does this sort of thing defy good sense, it’s true purpose is that it hides incredibly poor craftsmanship.
For starters, I have giant hands. Normally that’s not something I need to point out but when they are used as a scale reference for something else that is disproportionately large, it’s an important detail. See that nail on the left? It’s almost 4″ long and I pulled it out of the wall where it was used to hang a small picture. It wasn’t even driven into the wood framing so why would anybody use nails this large?!
One of the very first things I tackle when I move into a new house is to take care of a bunch of small things. I am a big believer in addition through subtraction, and that means that you don’t have to do big new splashy things to make something better … you can just fix the old little things and notice a big impact. For me, this typically means replacing all the outlets and switches in the house. Gone are all the old outlets, whose color looks like they are rocking a pack a day nicotine habit – and in with new white outlets and rocker switches.
I am also getting rid of all the random dark bronze cover plates. The modge-podge of random styles alone are enough to make a person cringe. I’m not categorically against bark bronze but at the very least, let’s try to make everything match.
How many of you remember the old NuTone intercoms? I grew up in a household that had intercoms in it and even as a child, I knew they sucked. True story – my mom actually “intercomed” me to come and change the TV channel for her when she couldn’t find the remote. Most of the ones in this house have been painted over in a way that makes you think the previous owner personally hated them and thought it would be fitting punishment to treat them all like dirt.
Take a look at this gold-colored toilet paper holder … probably similar to what the Pharaoh had when he used the toilet. You’ll notice that there is some sort of detritus on top of the toilet paper holder. I doubt the Pharaoh have to put up with this sort of thing.
Gross. It makes you wonder what other sort of other filth exists in the bathroom … (don’t think about it).
Too late. I thought about it and looked up at the exhaust fan above the toilet. What sort of witches brew is clogging up the exhaust fan? Of course, I had to get the shop vac out to suck this … “stuff” up. All I could think about as I stood in the bathroom cleaning this mess up was, “please Mother of God, do not let any of this stuff fall down on to my face.”
The toilet was not set perpendicular to the wall – because why would it? I think my first clue was that the caulk around the toilet “wasn’t actually around the toilet”. I walked into the bathroom and despite this being the sort of thing that makes most residential architects consider walking out in to traffic, it wasn’t even the worst thing …
Exactly what the … ?! There are enough things going on here that I could literally write an entire post about this one image. The toilet isn’t centered in the space. The cabinet above isn’t centered on the space. The cabinet isn’t even centered on the toilet. The wall texture. The wall color. The pharaoh’s toilet paper holder, the brown toilet lid cover …
There’s even more but I feel like I’ve made my point, besides, there are some other magical things going on in this master bathroom that I think it will get its own post. I’ll give you a clue … Dueling Toilets.
You’re going to love it in they way that you hate something.
More alignment issues. Let me tell you that I am completely parallel to the wall that has those sconces on it … and yet, the pendant is … well, I’m not sure what the pendant is doing. Let’s talk about those sconces for a moment …
King Henry the IV called and he wants them back.
This is in my daughter’s room. I’ve painted the walls but I have not changed out the ceiling fan yet. If you knew who “Zamfir” was, you would know that he also called and wants his fan back. I wish you were all as old and immature as I am. Do you know how hard it is to work a Zamfir joke in to a blog post?!? I’ve been waiting almost 6 years to make a Zamfir joke and chances are you don’t even know who Zamfir is… [sigh]
The point of all this senseless bashing is that no house is perfect, but with a little bit of attention and care, you can make your house your own and make it into something you’re proud of calling home. I loved my old house – it had terrific bones but was almost impossible to fix at times. This “new” house isn’t in as good a shape starting off, but I have no doubt that this house will become my home.
Despite the fact I got rid of the Zamfir fan.