Pulls, knobs and the folly of do-it-yourself

If you need me, I'll be back in my mental state of mind in about three weeks. See, we're having work done inside the house and I'll either be nervously chewing my fingernails, sleeping in the spare bedroom at my parents' home while the dust settles, or just generally going crazy.

As some of you know, I bought the home I grew up in from my parents eight years ago. Other than a couple of coats of paint, we haven't changed anything about the house. See, that requires money, and since we also began having children eight years ago, we haven't had any.

But, after having had some plumbing repair work done, Christine and I decided to bite the bullet, get a home improvement loan and go to town.

I've spent the last three years flipping channels watching HG- $^%&*-TV, as my brother Kyle calls it, seeing how people's upgrades make their 1970s Mod design scheme seem nicer and "adds some resale value." Every episode of every show ends with happy homeowners and beaming show hosts and the improvements adding tens of thousands of dollars to the home's value. "I could do that," I think.

Then I get real.

I inherited the newspaperman's repair genes, which is to say I can edit sentences properly, but couldn't hang sheet rock if my life depended on it. I can design a front page, but couldn't lay tile even if I had a printer's deadline. I can write a city council story, but would prove a drip where plumbing work is concerned.

If I had attempted to tear out our master shower and redo the entire bathroom, I'd still be writing about it in 2015. It would have taken me forever to rip out floor tiles and replace them and they probably would have been crooked and uneven, so I let the pro Rick Wilson and his crew handle it.

I also have friends who have tons of tools and woodworking equipment, so they could probably build their own cabinets and shelves, but yours truly could not. The last thing I built were some really ugly bookshelves that now reside in little Esten's room. He is quite attached to them, which makes me feel good in a way, except there is not room for anything else along one of his walls, thanks to my lack of construction skills.

Last year, I almost killed myself trying to shape Esten's pine wood derby car for Cub Scouts. Using a table saw, I felt the body of the car shoot past my head after it kicked back on me.

Also, my friends who have done their own tile work have invested a lot in tile tools, then once their project is finished, their garage is full of tile tools. That's not something you're going to need on a weekly basis.

We are not house design people. Our "splash of color" in the kitchen ended up looking like some sort of vampire practical joke. Christine's desire for a "splash of Mexican color" brought us RED kitchen cabinets. And I mean REEEEDDDD. (As subtlety is not her thing, Christine is barred from picking any colors for the new projects.)

So, we are knee deep in a remodel. But at least we are not doing it ourselves.

Still, we are suddenly being forced to consider, what kind of knobs and pulls do we want in the kitchen. How many of you men have spent one second thinking about knobs and pulls? That's probably second from the bottom, behind throw pillows, in man world.

We're also considering colors. What's the difference between "tropical green" and "forest frog"? Between "mocha cream" and "beach beige"? Ugh.

So we're holed up at my parents' house temporarily. And, family or not family, everyone knows the old adage about house guests and fish starting to stink after a few days. It's hard for us to keep a low profile among routine-wanting septuagenarians with two little boys, too.

But at least we will have nice looking cabinets and tile floors.

Now we just need to figure out how to avoid having to sell the house to pay for the remodel.

I may show up at your door delivering pizzas. But at least I'll come home to a well-designed k itchen that doesn't scream "blood!"

There's no place like home.

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2009-11-19 digital edition

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