One of my major struggles has been the quest to renovate my home. It’s considerably less of a struggle now, as most of the big-ticket items are done deals: I have a new 200-amp electrical board, two renovated bathrooms, an upgraded kitchen, new plumbing all the way from the water meter, and a new garage. Last year I demolished the old front steps and built new ones. So far this year, I’ve had several problem trees removed, had the parging fixed on three of the exterior walls, and constructed a large planter in the back yard.
Where I fall down on the job is when I have to finish up something that is functional and not really causing me any problems. For instance, there’s some woodwork in the main hallway that isn’t quite done. It’s aesthetically lacking, but it isn’t something that I’m crashing into or stubbing my toe on.
One problem spot is the hallway on the second floor. New light fixtures, new paint, old floor that’s partially replaced. This is something that one can stub one’s toe on, and it looks less-than-optimal. I’m moving forward on this, bit by bit -- the next sheet of plywood is purchased and partly cut, with the next piece now upstairs awaiting a few measurements to fine-tune it to the space it needs to occupy.
I’m now closing in on another uncompleted project, applying oak trim inside the kitchen window frame to give it a more finished appearance. I had been stalling on this for a number of reasons: Didn’t want to spend money on the trim, wasn’t sure if I would do a good job cutting the trim and would have to purchase replacement pieces, didn’t like leaning over the kitchen sink to cut the cardboard templates necessary to get accurate measurements.
Guess what? Not long after writing the first draft of this post, I went out to buy the materials. Then I made some long strips out of a couple of file folders. Then I grabbed a step stool and leaned over the sink, lined up the strips with the inside of the window frame, and made a few creases at the inside window corners. Then I transferred the template markings to the wood I had bought. Then I took the wood downstairs and sawed, planed and sanded until each piece had the right shape and size. Then I glued each piece into place, and stood back and admired the work I had done. In other words, the kitchen window is now almost finished; it just needs a touch of wood filler and then a coat or two of wood stain to complete the job.
I constantly have to remind myself that projects are comprised of thousands -- yes, thousands -- of tiny steps. I also have to keep reminding myself that it’s not fun to keep looking at the same undone work day after day. It’s not healthy for self-esteem to be reminded of one’s failings, especially if the fail can be attributed to inaction rather than “Hold my beer and watch this!” derring-do. Sometimes you just have to give it a go, even if that means cutting a board, swearing under your breath when you realize you cut it two inches too short, and jumping in the car to go buy another one. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a small price to pay.