where wildly different is perfectly normal
Why do I do home improvements when it makes me nuts?
Why do I do home improvements when it makes me nuts?

Why do I do home improvements when it makes me nuts?

I hate having my house torn up. I’m a “place for everything, everything in its place” kind of gal. When my house is tidy and clean and everything is put away and there is a minimum of unnecessary crap in the storage room, I’m happy and content and feel like the weight of the world is off my back.

Guess how many times I have felt like that in the last decade or so?

We’re painting the boys’ rooms this weekend, and we started tearing them apart last night. They were thrilled to have a campout in the basement; I was less than thrilled to have little boy stuff all over the house. It’s bad enough that there are inventions and contraptions and Very Special Items in their rooms (God help me if they discover I tossed all the deflated helium balloons; looked like a balloon graveyard upstairs), but now it has all escaped. It appears the crap had a plan and dug its way out when I was otherwise occupied. Think I’m kidding? There’s a robot in my hallway:

J made that at Camp Invention. It’s too large to discard and play dumb, my usual M.O. So Robot stays. Somewhere. Too bad I can’t press it into service this weekend.

Today is prep day for J’s room. Wash and repair the walls, tape, prime the trim because the yahoos who painted it six years ago painted it green…I plead insanity, I was 9 months pregnant at the time. I also have the pleasure of tearing this out:

J’s room is tiny, about 10’x10′. A few years ago we took off his closet doors and put in a DIY closet organizing system. I do not recommend this, it has never worked particularly well, and it doesn’t look all that attractive. So I get to work out my aggression remove this behemoth from his closet with hopefully a minimum of intense profanity. It’s too tall for the basement, so only the bottom drawers will survive the attack to be relocated downstairs, where they will soon be put into service as Lego storage. There is never enough Lego storage in the world. I have drawer dividers stashed away, and the boys can organize or not to their hearts’ content. As long as I never step on a Lego in my bare feet again I’m happy.

That leaves J without a dresser. Enter Kismet, the Happy Go Lucky…uh…Luck Dude! I snagged an antique (!) bureau the other day for the heart-stopping price of…$15.

Solid wood, from the 1940’s. Needs some wood glue and clamps and new hardware. And, as much as it kills me to do it to such an old and lovely piece, a new coat of paint/stain. It’s decorated for a baby’s room, and as we’re changing J’s room from a baby’s room, the new furniture has to be mature!, manly!, able to withstand a beating! On the top trim there is a hand-painted piggy bank, and where the coin slot would be on the bank, there’s a slot in the wood. On the back side there are runners for what was obviously once an attached bank. For the cute! But, sadly, cute won’t cut it.

This is where you all come in. Do I paint? Do I stain? What do I do with the For The Cute! piggy bank slot in the wood? Do I need to strip it first? (Ooh! I get to be a stripper this weekend!? Wait til I tell Tom!) Help me out, I’ve never stripped a piece of furniture before, I’ve always just slapped on another coat of paint. I have a bookcase in my office that is being held together by the coats of paint I’ve brushed on over the years. I really want to do this dresser right (perfectionism much, Jen?) and it has to be done soon. I can’t have J’s clothes all over the house, my organized psyche couldn’t take it.

At least A’s room will be done easily. And then we’re putting down laminate flooring, because I’ve had it and if I have to turn tricks on Colfax to pay for it this builder grade crap carpet that is fraying and drawing blood from the tack strip is outta here! And then cleaning out the garage again! And then it’ll be time for harvest! And then it’ll be time for Christmas decorations! And then…


  1. Ok. (imagine stretching arms and cracking of knuckles here)

    First off, lose the top piece. Cut it off. It needs to go. If you leave that on there, it will not be manly. And if that hole isn’t too big, you can probably fill it with wood putty, but do that after you strip.

    Second, time to strip and sand. I hate to say it, this is not the time to be eco friendly. I have yet to find an eco friendly stripper that actually works. And then, you sand. And sand again. Because the better the prep work, the better the final result.

    Third, and this depends on the rest of the room. If he’s got other wood furniture, go ahead and stain, but if not, paint it something fun. Thing 2 has a racing themed room, and his chest of drawers has black drawers, a white front and racing checks on the sides. With matchbox cars as pull handles. Sadly, we’ve outgrown it, but it was fun for eight years…

    Hope this helps!

  2. JenC

    What Melissaz said. Except that if the wood’s in good shape after you strip and you decide to stain, it’s worth a trip to the Unfinished Furniture place at the top of the hill on Arapahoe as you head into Boulder to get the *good* stain. It doesn’t streak like the crap at Lowes. I’m the voice of experience on this one. I’ve stained most of the furniture in this house, and it’s the best stain around.

  3. Loni

    Sounds like you have your work cut out for you! But, if you get rid of the carpet does that mean there will be another vacuum to invent a robot out of? What imaginations, that is so fun. I can’t wait until my son is old enough (21 months now) to be inventive and get into all that stuff. Actually I can wait because it all goes too fast, but it will be fun when that time comes for sure! All I could think when I saw the robot was Rosie from the Jetson’s, if only she could clean and cook for you, it’d all be worth it! 🙂

  4. That robot is AWESOME. Though I understand (so very much) that it’s a huge, clumsy eyesore.

    I have no idea how to refinish a dresser. I think sand, clean and stain? I really like natural wood, so I’d stain it, but painting it would also probably be cool!

    Can’t wait to see the finished result! Maybe you’ll inspire me to decorate my 3 year old’s room. 🙂

Whaddya think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.