“As long as we’re spending so much time at home, we might as well spruce it up a bit.”
I don’t remember which one of us said it first, but it caused eight weeks of tile, caulk, construction rubble, and abject chaos. On a strict budget.
I bet many readers did this last Spring, quarantined at home. Well, we were imprisoned in Florida at somebody else’s home, helping with their projects. Frustrating.
So, we started Project Update late, around June 1.
The guest bathroom was always merely adequate. Bright paint, a good shower curtain and fun art helped disguise the butt-ugly vinyl floor, cheesy vanity, 1980s faucet, and mostly-hidden but truly hideous beige tub in the otherwise white room.
So, Bonnie found a product to change any color tub and surround to a “new” bright white. But she had to do a dog and pony show to convince me to spend $250 on a bucket of goop. I caved after researching the cost of a new tub.
She applied the stuff like paint, but it was more like hot marshmallow oozing down the walls and tub. But like magic, it spread like a lava flow over the surface, covering every speck of repulsive beige. It looks great and you’d need a jeweler’s loupe to see any flaws.
Next, water turned off (age carries the benefit of unfortunate experience), my spouse wrestled the vanity from its pipes, then unscrewed the toilet and dragged it to the guest room.
Bonnie tiled the floor like a pro, especially since we purchased plenty of extra tiles to cover, as Shakespeare wrote, the unkindest cuts of all. In all, she spent less time tiling than trying to get up off the floor when she was done.
But did we want another 18-inch vanity or a roomier 24-inch? I needed to sit on the toilet to gauge required thigh room. But of course, the toilet was lying in the guest room, a fallen war horse.
So, I squatted to a seated position where the toilet should have been and measured the distance from my thighs to where the 24-inch vanity would end. Before I tipped over, I determined we’d be okay unless this stay home eating and drinking thing lasts more than another year.
Vanity, thy name is Amazon. And Wayfair, and Overstock. Thousands to choose from. And faucets and light fixtures and shower heads and the UPS guy is now part of our quarantine bubble.
My design choices were mostly form over function, but entirely determined in the end by price. Luckily, there’s lots of great design out there for cheap.
But I did not want to die on Knob Hill and it was a real possibility. After viewing thousands of choices, I almost ordered Schnauzer knobs for the vanity. I fought the urge, going with contemporary brushed aluminum instead. It was close.
Then to reinstall the toilet. It took both of us to haul it back into place, but setting it on the two tiny screws on the ring eluded us. Bonnie directed me to lie face down on the floor, where I could see the new tile really up close, and guide the porcelain horse into place while she held it up inches from my head. Love means never having to say “$^&*)*&%#$ the toilet’s on my hand!” No broken bones and the new bathroom looks grand.
Next up, exterior work, painting the dingy maroon shutters black and the porch grey for a fresh look. Bonnie removed the shutters, then handed me a can of black paint and a paint brush. Moi??? This was serious. My princess card could be in jeopardy.
Twenty minutes later, as I labored in the hot sun, painting all the freakin’ slats on the first of 10 shutters, Bonnie came to take a look.
“I have one question,” I said.
“How much do black shutters cost?” She ignored me.
The rest of our sprucing up included painting the front door and replacing a couple of light fixtures. Oh, and raising our rainbow flag on the porch.
That’s it for now. The next house we want to improve is that white one on Pennsylvania Avenue in DC. As we turn to that task, we need to remove the ugly orange fixture and replace it with one with much better form and enormously improved function.
Let’s work hard so that on January 20th we can send the new occupant a housewarming gift. I know just where to get German shephard drawer pulls.
Fay Jacobs is an author of five published memoirs. Her newest is Fried & Convicted: Rehoboth Beach Uncorked. As a humorist, she’s touring with her show Aging Gracelessly: 50 Shades of Fay. See www.fayjacobs.com