If you want to have your heart broken all you need to do is buy a home that’s a fixer upper. It’s like falling in love with that boy in high school and telling yourself he would be “just perfect” if only he would get a haircut and use some prescription strength acne cream. The problem is the acne is just a visual distraction (kind of like a house with popcorn ceilings) that diverts your eye from an abundance of other, more egregious, problems lurking just below the surface.
You know you’re head over heels in trouble when your steamy home romance has you making excuses for all the telltale signs of upcoming disaster by deceiving yourself with the phrase, “but the house has such good bones.” As soon as you utter this you’re on your way to a messy, expensive beyond your wildest dreams, tear laden, love affair.
Not that being passionate about your home is a bad thing. Oh, trust me, you’ll need the ardor to fuel your delusional fantasy that the remodeling will come in on budget, be completed in a timely fashion, and not almost wreck your marriage. If you choose to attempt to do some of the “fixing upping” yourself, well, all I have to say is, “my thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of need.”
Just remember when things go horribly wrong, it’s not your fault for thinking you can handle a “gut job” on your master bathroom. Nope, that blame is placed squarely on the load bearing support beams of any design show on HGTV.
Talk about being seduced. Is there anything that arouses your DIY lust like watching a home renovation program? They all start off with the most titillating of promises. The home they’re working on goes from sad to fab in less than 60 minutes. Then there’s the foreplay of a renovation team devoting there undying due diligence, tile cutting prowess and gentle painting caresses to its transformation. The pinnacle of your DIY desire hits its peak with the reveal. After riding out that crest of home remodeling euphoria you’re all in to recreate the experience in your own neck of the cul-de-sac.
Sadly, it’s never the same in real life. Take the previously mentioned popcorn ceiling. Scrapping that gunk off looks easy enough. If you are to believe everything you see on TV all you apparently need is what looks like a spatula Sasquatch would use for flipping pancakes, a few squirts of a mixture of water and fabric softener, some limited arm movement and like magic the feta cheese sized stucco pieces gracefully disengage with all the artistry of the Sugar Plum fairy doing a pirouette from your ceiling leaving only smooth, sleek, drywall behind.
In reality, you’re perched on a ladder that’s seen better days, gripping the stucco spatula and using brute force strength, while cursing as you choke back tears, when the popcorn either won’t come off or you’ve pressed so hard you’re now going to have to get new drywall. When the stucco finally does release it’s death grip it invariably either gets in your eyes and if you’re really having a bad day your mouth. Stucco, it’s what’s for dinner (at least it was for me).
A popcorn ceiling is nothing when compared to what seems like the easiest of all DIY tasks – wallpaper removal. In theory wallpaper is supposed to come off like it went on – in floor to ceiling sheets. But no, that is not the way it happens. I’m telling you something weird went on in tin the 1980’s. I’ve done extensive research on this (and by that I mean complained to many) and I’ve yet to find a home built in that decade where anyone sized their wallpaper. Did a swarm of anti wallpaper sizing zombies invade the region? Or was it some sort of conspiracy by the federation of Wallpaper Hangers to ensure their handiwork was an eternal monument to their craft?
For those of you blessed to not know what sizing wallpaper means let me explain. Sizing is a primer application designed to create the necessary base so that adhesives can stick AND, more importantly to anyone buying your home in the future, so that wallpaper can be removed with ease. Gather in my friends and let me tell you a horror story about what happens when you don’t size your wallpaper. It doesn’t want to come off – ever!
In the tradition of grand romances the wallpaper has mated with the drywall for life. It clings with a tenacity heretofore reserved only for grumpy toddlers not wanting to let go of their mothers when they’re dropped off at preschool. When you finally do liberate the wallpaper from the drywall it rips off in almost microscopic pieces about the size of an eyelash.
I’m not too proud to admit that one day last year, my husband came home from work to find me sitting in the middle of our laundry room floor, surrounded by mounds of wallpaper bits, sobbing. I’m talking the ugly cry. I was in the midst of a wallpaper removal nervous breakdown because I was reduced to using TWEEZERS to get the wallpaper down!
But wait, there’s more, my saga continues. In other parts of my house not only is the wallpaper not sized, but somewhere in my home’s lineage a former owner painted over the wallpaper. It’s a home decorating screw you because it’s means it’s never, ever coming down. Your one and only choice is something along the lines of new drywall. Cha and ching.
In fact, I think there should be some sort of residential remodeling court of criminal law that prosecutes “crimes against the home.” Not sizing wallpaper should result in being sent to a work camp where you’re sentenced to a week of hard labor doing, you guessed it, removing wallpaper equipped with only a bottle of water and your fingernails. And for those domestic decorating terrorist who dare to paint over wallpaper I don’t think it’s too harsh to go for the death penalty. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but at the very least they should be banned from ever entering a Home Depot or Lowe’s and put on some sort of home remodeler watch list.
I’d love to be able to tell you that all the pain, suffering, and heartbreak of owning a fixer upper is worth it. But, alas I can’t. I’m still remodeling. Although, I see signs that someday, in the distant future, of being madly in love with my house. First though, I have to get all the blasted wallpaper down. Yeah, I’m still peeling it off bit by tiny bit.
*Attention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon. It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. I hope you like it! :)