I’ve owned my first house for about seven months now, and in that time I’ve been surprised by a lot of things.

Houses (especially cosmetic fixer-uppers like mine) are a lot of work.  Before I moved in, I imagined myself relishing every little step of the home improvement.  I thought I’d be zipping through the house tirelessly removing wallpaper and repainting window sills until I had the beautiful home of my dreams.

That is, um, not really what happened.

I have worked hard.  At times I’ve worked incredibly hard.  But every project took three times longer than I expected, and it turns out there is a limit to my enthusiasm for home improvement.  In February I hit a lull that I wasn’t expecting.  I lost my energy for painting and scraping, and a lot of projects stalled.

The most ridiculous of the stalled project is this wall.  It was probably November when I put these paint samples up, but every day since, the first thing I see when I walk into my house is this mess of a wall.

stairwell.jpgDon’t worry, I decided to paint the wall beige.  Not pink or purple or green.  The risers on the stairs, though?  Those bad boys will be bright blue.

The good news is, I’m back!  It must be the warm weather, because all of a sudden I’m back on track with the house.  The paint cans are back out (oh, who am I kidding the cans never actually left.  The difference is that now I’m using them), and I’m getting things done again.

One of the weirdest things about homeownership is that pride I feel when I get something totally mundane done.  Sure, it makes sense to feel proud when a room gets painted and the furniture slides into place, but pride over a new porch roof?  Weird.

This week I got new glass block windows in the basement, and I love them.  Like, I want to marry them.  I never expected to want to marry a glass block window, and yet, here I am.



Glass block windows are installed directly into the foundation with cement to ensure that bad guys (or bears) can’t kick them in.  My basement is now all sealed up from the elements.  The evening after the windows were installed I went downstairs to look at them, and I realized that the cement was still wet.

So, there I was, all in love with the windows and with homeownership, and I’m feeling all proud and happy, and I realize that there is WET CEMENT in my house.  In MY house.  In the house that I OWN.  Where I can do whatever I want, because it’s mine.  I had to scratch something in the cement!

But what?

First, a confession: Almost without thinking, I grabbed a nail and scratched a heart into one of the frames.  I dunno.  It was pure instinct.  I think girls are genetically programmed to draw hearts wherever they go.  I immediately regretted the heart, so I carefully considered my options before raising the nail to scratch again.

I thought about writing my name or my initials, but that seemed a little lame, and I had already used up my allotment of “lame” on the heart.  I wanted to write something that would be meaningful to me, but also not annoying to any potential future owners of the house.

In the end, the choice was obvious:


Owning a house is not always fun, but it definitely provides lots of opportunity for small, joyful triumphs.


14 Responses to “House”

  1. 1 Rebeccae June 8, 2010 at 10:37 am

    LOL! Love your choice for the cement.

    Your stairway is gorgeous! I love old houses… wish I had one.

    I, too, have found myself getting back to home improvement projects. Must be something seasonal.

    You’re doing great! Keep up the good work.

  2. 2 Capsworth June 8, 2010 at 10:41 am

    “Your stairway is gorgeous!”


    And great choice re: cement inscription! One for the ages.

  3. 3 Katebits June 8, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Thanks guys! A LOT of questionable decisions were made over the years in this house, but somehow the woodwork in the stairwell has never been painted. It’s really the only part of my house that has that “grand old Buffalo” feel. I like it too.

  4. 4 Clemma June 8, 2010 at 11:17 am

    As a fellow owner of a fixer upper, I empathize with everything you wrote. I am already dreaming about concrete etching when we finally get around to installing egress windows in the basement. I just watched “Revenge of the Nerds” for the first time (how did we miss that in junior high?). Next time you hit a lull, watch their home fixer upper scene for some real inspiration.

  5. 5 Pookie June 8, 2010 at 11:31 am

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s FABULOUS! I hope the future owners love that!

    Realizing that making your house the house of dreams is a long-long-long-long term project was a hard lesson for me to learn, but then one day I realized that it was never going to be perfect, that I was always going to want to be changing some aspect of it, I was cool with it. Some friends of mine said that the first thing you should do when you move in is make a list of things that need to be changed, because once you live with something for a while, you’ll just get used to it. Like, say, paint swatches on the first wall you see when you walk in! :D

  6. 6 Katebits June 8, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Clemma, I would have bet my LIFE that you and I watched “Revenge of the Nerds” together at some point. How DID we miss that one in junior high? I love the idea of using that movie as inspiration for the house. Heh. Is your fixer-upper the house on 46th? Thanks for chiming in here!

    Pookie, when I bought the house, I made one of those lists on your suggestion. It’s almost comical to read now. I divided everything into subcategories like, “Someday when I’m rich” and “Within five years” and “ASAP”. Some of the “ASAP” ones are reeeeally funny knowing what I know now.

  7. 7 Caroline June 8, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I think girls are genetically programmed to draw hearts wherever they go.

    Hahaha, this is so true!

  8. 8 Kathleen June 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Absolutely perfect. Any future householder is going to be thrilled when he discovers that, unless he’s some kind of miserable jerk.

  9. 9 Pookie June 8, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Yeah, I think I’ve actually followed that friend’s advice, I’d be laughing about what I thought what an ASAP priority, too.

  10. 10 Matt June 8, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    That staircase rocks my socks to the core! And I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again… Glass block is HAWT!

  11. 11 Jaime June 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Ooo! We’re getting glass block next week and I just painted my mailbox patent leather red. It’s awesome!

  12. 12 TheTick June 9, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I really dislike home improvement stuff, myself. I think I’d be more into it if I lived by my Dad/brothers who are much better at it and much more motivated. They are more likely to just tell me ‘forget it, I’m coming over Saturday to do it, put some beer in the fridge’. Annoying, but hey, it’s family. :)

  13. 13 kitten June 10, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Love the inscription! Old houses are a work in progress.

  14. 14 Patty (in Dallas) June 13, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Love your paint swatches! And your stair railing is lovely.

    I’m triple-jealous of your glass-block windows: (1) glass block, (2) basement! (3) washer/dryer has its own space!!!

    I usually shut down the home improvements for the summer and start back up when the weather is cool. :D

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