Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It's what's inside that counts

Agewise, retirement is on the horizon, but there are a few things I need to do before abandoning a steady income. One is to amass all the "toys" I will need for my various and sundry hobbies. Another is to finish fixing up the house.

I have lived in this house for 20 years. One reason I selected this particular abode was the street names: I live on Jamaica, between Rome and Paradise. Another reason was I felt I could move in without redecoratimg beforehand. Not that I was enthralled with the country interior that was popular back in the day, but I could live with it for a while. Moving was stressful enough without having to make a bazillion decisions about color and carpeting.

The first thing I had to replace was the garbage disposal, then the dishwasher. The kids' bedrooms were in little kid style, so they were upgraded next. Then the windows, to be followed later by siding. My goal was to do *something* every year, even if that something amounted to only a new shed in the backyard. Eventually, I removed almost all the wallpaper (myself! I will never do that again) and, with my daughter's help, repainted walls. All the appliances have been replaced (including new stove and microwave and freezer), as has the flooring, the heating/cooling system, and the hot water heater. I hooked up to city water in 2007. Then the Florida room disappeared and the West Wing was born (see Woodchuck Acres blog entries from the summer of 2008). The workroom in the garage become the laundry room (see Woodchuck Acres blog entries from November 2009). External doors were replaced in 2010. The driveway was replaced in 2011.

After that, I felt broke and burnt out on home improvements and focused on the yard instead, enlisting the help of my SO in building raised beds, etc. But now it is time to gear up for the final push, all inside work. Most of it will be cosmetic - paint again (but not by me), replace ugly stained trim with painted trim, replace popcorn ceiling with Spanish lace (and repair the ceiling damage that came with the house), add crown molding, replace light fixtures and ceiling fans, etc. I would also like to move the doorway of my bedroom (it's a long story), convert the fireplace from wood to gas, replace all the hollow doors with 4-panel doors. And (gulp!) upgrade the baths and kitchen.

We are not talking about a total gutting, but I expect the baths and kitchen to be the big ticket items: new shower/bath enclosures, toilets, vanity tops, plumbing fixtures, exhaust fans (to be vented outside instead of into the attic like they are now) for the baths, new counter top, tile backsplash, and cabinet refacing for the kitchen.

I am also contemplating moving out for the duration. My first thought was to put all my furniture in storage and take up residence at an extended stay type of hotel. It might be cheaper to find a two-bedroom apartment to rent for a month, storing the extra furniture in the spare bedroom. Or I could live in the West Wing and take bird baths in the utility sink in the laundry room (joking!)

Just thinking about it all is making dollar signs swirl around my head. Even though I have not received the estimates yet, I am mentally performing triage: what items will have to be postponed or jettisoned completely, to bring the final price tag down to what I can afford/am willing to pay?

And once that is all done? There is still one more big project: do something about the patio to eliminate the step that caused my fall last summer.

And THEN I can retire. I think.


  1. I need to do a tremendous amount of work on my house but what is keeping me from doing it is, like you, the hatred of the disruption of my routine and the dislike of spending money on something painful versus something I would enjoy like a vacation.

  2. I think the way you've been doing it is perfect - one little bit at a time!
    We living in a rental and the first thing on my agenda is adding some colour to the walls to make it feel like MY home! Right now everything is the dullest beige ever!

  3. I lived in my house while it was being replumbed, rewired, and two bathrooms and the kitchen were gutted and remodeled. It's doable, but unpleasant. If you CAN move out while the work is going on, I'd recommend it, especially because you have pets.

  4. Oh my! That will be quite an endeavor, but well worth it I'm sure. I need to get cracking on yardwork--maybe this year......