Design Challenge (Open Thread)

Have any of y’all seen The Great British Design Challenge on Netflix? I started watching it because I’m jonesing for new episodes of The Great British Bake-Off, and I figured maybe some low-key British humor and good-natured competition in the decorating sphere might fill that void.

As far as the show goes, I don’t like it nearly as much as GBBO. The judges aren’t funny (though the architecture expert is amusing and informative), and the competition isn’t as fair. These poor schnooks have an absurdly short amount of time to transform a room, and there’s a wild card for the contestants in the form of clients (the people whose rooms are being redecorated).

Although they’ve had a chance to indicate their tastes and goals in a brief prior to the designers coming up with a plan and presenting it, clients on that show can and do derail an imaginative decorating scheme on the day work is to begin with some random-ass decree, such as, “I don’t like blue, and I hate louvres.” (That’s an actual example.)

But despite the program’s flaws, as far as what I need to see at this point in my life, decorating is far more relevant than baking. As regular readers know, we took up residence late last October in a ramshackle money pit. It’s got a million-dollar view — honest to dog, I doubt Bill Gates has a better one — but the folks who lived here before waited until the place was falling apart before decamping.

I’ve enjoyed decorating on a budget ever since I got my first off-campus hovel, but that impulse was derailed by motherhood somehow. We undertook an ambitious DIY kitchen renovation at our old house, but aside from that, my efforts to create a welcoming and serene home environment during the nesting years were confined to mopping when the kitchen floor became adhesive enough to snatch off shoes.

Now that impulse has returned with a vengeance, sparked by necessity. Every wall in this house save the bedrooms was painted pale blue by the previous occupants, a color augmented by a sticky residue of nicotine from their 25 years of indoor smoking. The walls have been scrubbed, primed and repainted, so lately I’ve turned my attention to the furniture and decor.

Our old furniture doesn’t suit the new place. Like an idiot, I chose dark furniture when we lived in the old house because I thought it should match my husband’s piano. The piano is in a different room now, but even if it was still in the living room, the furniture is out of whack with the bohemian vacation-shack ambience of the new place.

I can’t afford to get new stuff, so I’m painting and re-purposing things and attempting to locate yard sale and thrift shop items. My mother-in-law is an invaluable ally in the latter. Here’s an example of the former — our crappy old black IKEA TV stand with a fresh coat of paint:

The difference is astonishing. Even my husband — who would eat dinner off an old mattress crate for 20 years without complaint — noticed how it brightened the room. And it cost less than $20 to fix it up.

My next project is going to be to decorating our bedroom. We’ve been married for nearly a quarter of a century and have never owned a headboard or set of drawers with a full set of knobs. I’m planning to make a retro-looking tufted headboard and re-do the dressers with paint and matching knobs for a change.

The main bathroom needs a new shower, and I’m going to let the professionals handle that because we would fuck it up. But it also has a hideous laminate-covered particle-board cabinet with a crappy sink. I’m thinking of replacing that with an antique (junk shop!) dresser and setting a sink in it. (Got the idea from a bathroom in a house we looked at before settling on this place.) There would be sawing and pipe-hooking involved, but I think we can handle it.

Anyhoo, my ultimate goal is to get this swampy shit-box into good enough shape to qualify as the BEFORE scene in a decorating show. Maybe the kids can achieve AFTER when we’re dead.

I know John has undertaken extensive renovations and nest-feathering, and I’m aware that some of y’all have too. Any tips, resources or cautionary tales would be greatly appreciated. Or feel free to discuss whatever — open thread!






75 replies
  1. 1
    MomSense says:

    In the old days I used to recommend just cutting any and all pictures out of magazines – when you see them all together it helps to figure out what your style is. Fabrics are great for picking color schemes, too. If you have fabric you love, all of the colors in that fabric will work in your spaces. Now I like to look at houzz.com

    You can sort the photos by region, style, room, size of room, etc. It’s a good source for inspiration. There’s an old book called Use What You Have Decorating. It’s very helpful because it lays out the basics of how to lay out a room, creating a focal point, how to use accessories, and most importantly how to hang artwork. It makes a big difference.

  2. 2
    MattF says:

    When I first moved to Bethesda, I had a number of large-and-heavy pieces of furniture that needed to be arranged in a pleasing fashion in my new living room. What worked was trial and error. Just moving stuff around, and collecting several pairs of eyes to look at and evaluate various arrangements.

  3. 3
    jacy says:

    I have almost completely furnished my house with things I picked up off the side of the road. Really excellent cool stuff sometimes, and sometimes just stuff with potential.

    One thing I SWEAR by is Rub’n’Buff. https://www.amaco.com/t/mixed-media/metallic-finishes/rub-n-buff

    You can use it on ANYTHING. I have used it on metal, wood, and glass. It’s stupid-easy to use and very forgiving. You just, literally, rub it on and buff it. I took a vintage floor lamp that was rusted and once I had sanded the rust off, just covered it in silver Rub’n’buff and made a most excellent standing candleholder. There are tons of other types of finish paints you can get at your local craft store. I hunt for old framed pictures with decent frames, and even if the matte is waterstained or otherwise sort of crappy, you can wash it with metallic paint in any color and make it fabulous. Then I fill it with my own art or postcards or swatches of fabric or what have you. I’ve also used wood-finishing stains on old plaster and made it look like antique wood with no special skills. So that’s my cheap and easy and no-skill advice: stock up on some rub’n’buff and some funky washes and metallics and finish paints, you make just about anything look really cool.

  4. 4
    waratah says:

    I loved the Spanish style when I was younger and that included the dark furniture. I decided it was depressing but I could not afford to change. Now as I replace I go for lighter woods. I am going to give my bedroom a sea shore look so I can feel like I am at the beach. I hope you show some photos when you are finished.

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    Ever consider a pedestal sink? So many shapes, designs/colors and options nowadays (some including under sink storage), not just the institutional chunky train depot bathroom style of yesteryear.

  6. 6
    JeanneT says:

    No advice from me – sounds like you’re making good plans! I just had a plumber walk through my basement, helping me make sense of what needs to be brought up to code before I can get a new washer, dryer and hot water heater installed. I am now awaiting the quote for the work with a anxious mix of excitement and dread… Before all is installed, I’m going to build a stand for my new yard sale laundry sink: even built out of pallet wood and 2x4s it will be a big step up from the icky plastic tub I’ve been using.

  7. 7
    Jerry says:

    Did you catch Making It hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman? I don’t like crafting shows, but I loved this one almost as much as the wife and kid did.

  8. 8

    Betty, have you read Where the Crawdads Sing? It’s set in a march in NC and much of it is about the natural life in the marsh. You might like it.

  9. 9
    jacy says:

    Another thing is if you have a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in your area, hit it up often. We have two here and they have EVERYTHING. From old furniture to building materials and tile and fixtures to in-the-box stuff left over from building projects. You can find really cool stuff, it’s usually really inexpensive, AND you’re supporting a good cause by shopping there. I’m slowing using tiles to fill in the dooryard outside my office in mosaic, and I can stop by and get like 5 square feet of outdoor tile for about $10.

  10. 10
    Leto says:

    @Jerry: That was a really good show. Lot of GBBO inspired colors/set design.

    Another design show to check out is Grand Designs on Netflix. It’s a British architecture show that’s run way longer than the four seasons they have, but it’s cool seeing them overcome a myriad of obstacles to accomplish their dream homes. It’s run the gambit of container homes, silos, follies, and building in London.

  11. 11
    FelonyGovt says:

    my efforts to create a welcoming and serene home environment during the nesting years were confined to mopping when the kitchen floor became adhesive enough to snatch off shoes.

    My precise views on house cleaning right there.

  12. 12
    humboldtblue says:

    Betty, I used to watch a PBS (I think it was PBS) show years ago that featured two guys from Philadelphia restoring old furniture. They did it all — upholstery, painting, varnishing, hammering, whatever the hell the fixer-uppers do — and they were hilarious as they did so.

    I found Joe L’Erario (one of the two) from 2009 or so, may you enjoy him as well.

    I fell down a YouTube rabbit hole about two months ago and have been watching a parade of restoration shows, the work folks like TysyTube do to bring new life to old stuff is simply brilliant.

    There’s also that French guy … L’ Atelier des Bonhommes who does a brilliant job as well (and his videos feature a cat!)

    The best thing about the videos is that there no talking at all, no annoying music, just the craftsman at work and the noise from the tools.

  13. 13
    geg6 says:

    I’m only good at the actual decorating, not refinishing or anything like that. My John is good at making furniture from 2x6s and scrap wood, though. He built nice custom shelves in our closets for shoes, a great bench with storage for our mud room, several smaller benches, a dry sink for our dining room and a gorgeous farm table for my sister’s dining room with matching benches. He’s really handy to have around.

    Speaking of my John, for those who saw my comment in the morning thread, he definitely had a minor stroke this morning. It was very small and localized, so the only problem he’s having is a bit of aphasia. They are keeping him in the hospital for at least one more day, perhaps two or three, depending on how he does. All other vital signs are perfect. Exhausted from spending all day in the ER and then the hospital. And having to call his daughter in FL, his brother, my sisters and my boss and my staff assistant to repeat the story over again. I have about a third of a bottle of wine left from last night and a little something green my sister gave me the other day. Gonna relax and try to get the adrenaline levels down to normal now.

  14. 14
    NotMax says:

    Knowing how many here lurve GBBO (which have not watched), still compelled to say how annoyingly artificial I find any cooking against the clock competitions. Getting top tier results from cooking takes the time it takes and no two people work at the same pace.

    @Leto

    Presume that was an auotcorrect burp for run the gamut.

    ;)

  15. 15
    jeffreyw says:

    The painter just asked me what color was the ceiling going to be and Mrs J hurried in before I could fuck it up. I slunk out with a promise not to talk to any of the contractor’s men about already chosen design elements ever again.

  16. 16
    gkoutnik says:

    We are house-design and furniture enthusiasts, and for most of our lives we’ve had taste way beyond our means. In the early days, we used to go to auction barns – in our area, there were two within striking distance, each operating one night a week. Also – one-off estate auctions. We got a lot of nice stuff crazy cheap – and had an entertaining time once or twice a week as well.

  17. 17
    Jane2 says:

    @geg6: glad to hear John is doing well after such a scare for you both.

  18. 18
    jeffreyw says:

    @NotMax:

    …still compelled to say how annoyingly artificial I find any cooking against the clock competitions.

    Hear! Hear! I hate them turning everything into a brawl or a race, or both. Not just cooking shows. I may catch hell but I will admit to liking Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The host, not so much, but I don’t hate him.

  19. 19
  20. 20
    Ohio Mom says:

    Decorating sites are where I go when I have had enough politics. I love looking a pretty houses. Maybe we can have occasional decorating posts here, and we can all send in our latest DIYs.

    Betty, that tv stand makes me smile. So upbeat! Since you seem to be going for the colorful, Bohemian look, you might want to check out Jungalow.com, Justina Blakney’s blog, or her Instagram. That’s her thing.

    @jacy: Rub’and’buff, noted. I think that’s something I need.

  21. 21
    TomatoQueen says:

    My parents were old-fashioned painting contractors’ kids & so had exacting standards & rather formal taste. They were devoted to all the This Old House shows & spinoffs, especially the ones with Bob Vila and later Norm. There was a mix of DIY painting and let the excellent pro master carpenter do his thing–know your limits was their rule. Also, when your back tells you to stop, do so.

  22. 22
    jacy says:

    @geg6:

    Oh, no — sending good thoughts to both of you. Make sure you take care of yourself. The good news, it’s amazing how fast the brain can rewire itself to work around things.

  23. 23
    Ohio Mom says:

    @NotMax: Sounds like the same look Cole went for. Without the red as an apple room.

  24. 24
    chris says:

    Nope, I’m in the mattress crate group. But I do recognise things you probably shouldn’t do.

  25. 25
    jacy says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    Everybody should have Rub’n’buff, in all the colors! A great thing about it is it goes an incredibly long way. One little tube will basically finish a piece of furniture, depending on how much coverage you want. It lasts forever, and the finish is really durable.

  26. 26
    Jay Noble says:

    Love those blues!

    My one piece of advice is go directly to the source. I redid/redoing my kitchen as a diner. So I went to restaurant supply stores. I don’t have cheesy retro faux signage declaring “DINER!” or have Elvis or Marilyn Monroe stuff. But people who’ve come over are all oooos and ahhs and fill things in with their own memories. So if you want a swamp llook . . .

  27. 27
    donnah says:

    Betty, take a lot of photos “before” so the “after” ones show the level of improvement. I have some pieces of furniture that I restored that I can’t compare with how they looked before. And our current house had some terrible colors on the walls that we had to cover twice with Killz. I wish I had pics of those!

  28. 28
    Another Scott says:

    @geg6: Thanks for the report. I’m glad John is doing well. Strokes are scary, but the brain is pretty plastic and can compensate. Fingers crossed!

    Try to relax a little bit now.

    Best wishes,
    Scott.

  29. 29
    White & Gold Purgatorian says:

    Regarding the shower, make sure whoever does it for you understands how to waterproof it correctly, actually does it, and warranties the work for a good long time. If you are thinking of having a tile shower installed, I have found the folks at the John Bridge Tile Forum to be extremely helpful in understanding what is practical to ask for and the right way to install all things tile, marble, etc.

    Someone above mentioned a pedestal sink. We’ve had one for several decades and it is on the way out with the next bathroom update. No storage is just a killer, even though this isn’t the “main” bathroom. Plus, the pedestal doesn’t completely hide the plumbing and our plumbing is not that attractive. Even worse, there is a hole in the back of the pedestal so the plumber can get a hand in to hook up the plumbing and last summer one of our little kittens climbed in there and got stuck. It was lovely to have to take the sink apart to get him out, even better when the 29 year old supply valve would no longer shut off and actually started spewing water no matter which way I turned it. Worried for a few minutes the little fellow would actually be drowned by my rescue attempt. We both survived but, man, I hate that pedestal sink.

  30. 30
    trollhattan says:

    @jeffreyw:
    One of many things I valued about Bourdain was his Fieri jabs–the many offhand remarks about “Flavortown.” He was fair-minded though because despite a kneejerk hatred of Emeril after meeting him and watching him cook, he developed an appreciation for his craft and work ethic.

    A dive within walking distance was featured on Fieri’s show and his signature is preserved there on a wall. So we have that.

    Chefs are all at least a little weird.

  31. 31
    humboldtblue says:

    @geg6:

    I got some Lemon Sour Diesel the other day that’s pretty good. I’ll smoke a bowl for you guys tonight.

    Here’s to John’s full recovery.

  32. 32
    debit says:

    I watched the first full competition (season?) of The Great British Design Challenge and enjoyed a lot of it, but really didn’t like the time limit and the arbitrary challenges. “Make something from this old bucket!” “It still looks like a bucket, boo.” “It doesn’t look anything like a bucket, boo.”

    Love the repainted furniture, Betty. I myself am terrified of color so my walls are white and my furniture is neutral. Color happens on curtains, pillows and wall hangings, so that when I feel I have gone too far for Minnesota Bland, I can take them down and hide my shame.

  33. 33

    I’m back from having a permanent crown put on. Someone on here wound up with their cheek glued to the crown when they had that done a few days ago. I am happy to say, no unnecessary gluing happened.

  34. 34
    debit says:

    @geg6: I’m so glad it was caught early and he’s doing okay. Still, has to be utterly nerve wracking. You are both in my thoughts. Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery.

  35. 35
    NotMax says:

    @jeffreyw

    Since it came out several years ago how openly homophobic Guy Fieri is, haven’t given the program a glance.

    Used to be hooked on watching Homer Formby’s syndicated show on restoring and refinishing furniture.

  36. 36

    @MomSense: You can create Pinterest boards.

  37. 37
    EEH says:

    @jacy: Gosh, Rub’n’Buff is still around? My mother LOVED that stuff and used it on everything back in the 70’s when I was a kid. I just might have to seek some out for old times sake.

  38. 38
  39. 39
    Yarrow says:

    @geg6: Glad to hear he’s doing okay. So sorry to hear about his stroke. I’ve read that early therapy really helps people with aphasia. The hospital should have him doing therapy right away–they’re pretty good about it. Definitely ask about the plan for therapy going forward once he’s released.

  40. 40
    Yarrow says:

    @White & Gold Purgatorian: I hate pedestal sinks. No counter space. Just hate them.

  41. 41
    JR says:

    I am big on IKEA. Yes, it’s generic, but you can’t beat them for acceptable quality at a good price. Even used furniture is more expensive, and now that Facebook has ruined Craigslist it’s even harder to find a good deal on used stuff. Plus they occasionally release a really cool line . Or you can get creative if you’ve got lots of time on your hands.

  42. 42
    Seanly says:

    Okay, Betty, what type of paint do you use for furniture? My wife & I tried repainting a dresser once & it was a disaster. Now when my wife wants to repaint something (all the f’king time it seems), I bring up the dresser fiasco. Your paint job on the Ikea piece looks great & I always thought the coatings on those would resist a good coating from a spray can.

  43. 43
    debit says:

    @JR: I fucking love Ikea. For as long as I have cats, I will have furniture with replaceable covers.

    ETA: And they try to source responsibly. Most of the covers and curtains are cotton or cotton blends. Get a white cover and you can dye it any color you like.

  44. 44
    Lymie says:

    Make sure you can properly clean whatever material you make the headboard out off – over time dust and body oils get nasty.
    For the bathroom – put a scrap piece of marble or granite on the top otherwise water damage will eventually be an issue. Could use one of those vessel sinks and a faucet that comes out of the wall for a really stylish look.

  45. 45
    Ohio Mom says:

    @geg6: I missed the first thread about your John, glad to hear he is on the mend.

    He’s followed my first rule of medical conditions which is, if you have to get something, get something common that the doctors will recognize easily and know what to do with.

  46. 46
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jerry:

    I second “Making It.” They seemed to understand how to get the same pleasant, friendly vibe of GBBS without making a slavish imitation. And I was happy that my favorite contestant deservedly won.

    @geg6:

    Yikes! You may be relieved to know that my mother is recovering nicely from her minor stroke in December. My brother who she lives with called us all excited a few days ago to announce that she had driven herself to Walgreen’s.

    The physical and occupational therapy is really key. They’ll probably squeeze a session in while he’s in the hospital and then schedule him for follow-ups after he’s released. The therapists came to my mom’s house for the sessions, but I don’t know if house calls are standard everywhere.

  47. 47
    Betty Cracker says:

    @geg6: Holy moly, I missed that in the AM thread. Hoping for a speedy and full recovery for your John! I had to smile at your choice of de-stressing agents, which would mirror mine in that situation (well, many situations, truth be told!). Strength and courage in the days ahead, friend!

  48. 48
    Leto says:

    @geg6: Glad he’s doing better and it wasn’t worse. Sending positive thoughts your way!

    @NotMax: yeah… autocorrect let me down again! Teaches me not to proof read.

    With regard to GBBO, the first half of the show is indeed a race against the clock with contestants not knowing what to expect. It’s testing baking knowledge. The second half (the show stopper) everyone has a fair shot as they’ve all gone home, they know what to bake, they’ve all been given the same amount of practice time to make sure they can make the time limit… GBBO is one of the most forgiving competition shows they have.

  49. 49
    FelonyGovt says:

    @geg6: I’m so sorry to hear about John’s minor stroke. I hope he recovers fully and very soon.

    Betty, forgot to mention how much I like that blue TV stand.

  50. 50
    geg6 says:

    @Yarrow:

    Therapist was in just before I left. Did some swallowing assessment, which was totally normal. The aphasia is on and off and has improved throughout the day. So they all seem happy about that. Therapist will be back in the am to do more assessment and formulate a treatment plan. As for prevention, it will probably be just aspirin with some Plavix for a month and then just aspirin. Said cholesterol isn’t high (but maybe change diet slightly to bring it down a couple points), blood pressure is fine. Weight is good and he doesn’t smoke at all. So probably a very small clot in a very small blood vessel in a very small section of the front of his brain. The scan showed just a very small localized stroke, so it may never happen again and he’s very lucky it was so small and so localized. No physical effects at all other than the aphasia.

  51. 51
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Seanly: These are thousands of you tubes on painting furniture, including stuff made out of formica-clad particle board.

    Good luck!

  52. 52
    JPL says:

    My son brought over his cherry set of early american furniture so he could turn the bedroom into a baby room. Since they like mid century modern, I suggested that I strip it and stain with an ebony stain. Then replace the knobs with a stainless modern look. He nixed the idea because it would still look early american to him. So he just wants me to clean it up and when they finish building a bigger house, then he would take it back.
    I enjoy refinishing furniture.
    The tv stand looks great. It makes me want to go to IKEA and buy one to repaint.

  53. 53
    MomSense says:

    @geg6:

    Sending you and John big hugs. Hoping for a smooth and full recovery for him.

  54. 54
    JPL says:

    @geg6: I hope that he’s home soon. How very scary for both of you.

  55. 55
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @geg6:

    I came to the morning thread and saw your earlier comment when thread was nearly defunct, so didn’t attempt to respond then.

    But I’ve been thinking about you and your John with love and light and hopefulness all day. It sounds very promising. Another couple of nights in hospital, under expert observation, sounds like a wise course.

    In the meantime, do take good care of yourself (wine+weed is a good start), snuggle the four-feets, EAT SOMETHING, and try to get a decent night’s sleep. We are all rooting for you both. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  56. 56
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @geg6:

    Gratitude for the optimism in this comment!

  57. 57
    Mike J says:

    It’s got a million-dollar view — honest to dog, I doubt Bill Gates has a better one

    Gates is right on Lake Washington with Seattle and the Olympic mts on the other side of the lake. Should have a spectacular view.

    Naturally he built his house 90% underground.

  58. 58
    martha says:

    @geg6: oh I’m so glad he’s doing better and they diagnosed him quickly. And absolutely take care of yourself too…

  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Leto:

    Personally, the timed aspect of GBBO doesn’t bother me because they seem to give the contestants a reasonable amount of time based on what the task is. There can be a bit of a rush at the end, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone run completely out of time unless something unexpected went wrong.

    In this last season, one contestant’s mixing bowl shattered while she was using it, so they stopped her clock and figured out how much additional time she would reasonably need to finish the challenge once everything got cleaned up. So they’re not totally rigid about it.

  60. 60
    Leto says:

    @Mnemosyne: Exactly. Most of time, the time crunch comes from the contestant who decides to design something really elaborate and runs out of time trying to execute. I really like GBBO compared to other shows because the contestants are all nice to each other (routinely see them trying to help each other out), the judges don’t yell/scream, and they try to find something positive to say about the creation. I also think that’s a U.K. versus U.S. audience thing.

  61. 61
    Martin says:

    This is what Ms Martin does. She finds pieces on craigslist that need some TLC, and refurbishes them. They’ll replace some previous craigslist find, which she sells on craigslist. So every year or two we get a new dining table, etc. She almost always is able to sell the piece for more than she paid plus the cost of materials to refurb it. Her hourly wage on these is pathetically low, but we basically cycle new furniture through for a slight profit. Many need no more than a weekend of work – some sanding and a coat of paint. We’ve gotten some real finds. One, a wooden 19th century british railway locker will likely never leave our possession. A rare find out here in SoCal. Cost us $50. No paint, but it had some structural damage after all of its moving and I put it back in shape. Took about a week of evenings, and no material cost other than a bit of glue, dowels, biscuits, etc.

  62. 62
    charluckles says:

    You can get high quality paint for dirt cheap at some hardware stores. It’s the returns so you can’t be too picky about color and quantity. If clean-up, repaint and reuse is your thing you can easily accumulate a box of high quality paints and stains for a super reasonable price. I’ve got young kiddos so lately we have been using a lot of fun stencils as well.

  63. 63
    J R in WV says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor:

    [had his] cheek glued to the crown when they had that done a few days ago

    That would have been me. No harm done, used lots of antiseptic mouth wash, all done now. But OMG so stressful for those last 15 minutes while Dr worked to fix things. Then “Don’t try eating anything for 45 minutes!” Hell, I was still numb for the next couple of hours.

    A little too much glue, it squeezed out the outer edge, the thing was done that quickly! Been seeing the same dentist for 25 years, always smooth sailing til that appointment last Tuesday, the 14th~!

    SO Glad your appointment was so much calmer than mine!

  64. 64
    J R in WV says:

    @geg6:

    And so sorry for your John’s experience this morning! Glad it appears to be minor, as others have said, things can re-wire in one’s brain, so he may well be back to normal soon. There’s a fill-in announcer on public locally who had a stroke that affected his voice, and he’s back on the air and doing OK now, so hoping everything works out well for John!

    Take care, also too!

  65. 65
    Shana says:

    @NotMax: God I love that movie.

  66. 66
    MaryLou Corrigan says:

    Watch a few episodes of Love It or List It on HGTV (recent ones, set in the US). You’ll get some great fabric ideas and paint colors that really help create a background for the furniture.

  67. 67
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    @geg6: Thanks for the update and best wishes for relaxation for you and a speedy, complete recovery for your John.

  68. 68
    Ruckus says:

    Betty, I’ve done a rather drastic remodel of my last house and the big takeaway for me was the time involved. But then I also work with my hands and have for decades and can read, understand and follow directions. That last part is somewhat important.
    In that house I tore out 2 non supporting walls in two different rooms, a significant amount of pluming, including jackhammering the slab – changing drains for a shower/toilet/laundry room and……. You get the picture, a ton of work. None of it was all that technically difficult but if you have 3 left hands and absolutely no concept of what you want to end up with, it will be a lot more work, often because you have to redo things, sometimes more than you can imagine. There is nothing wrong with learning new things and doing the work yourself but really take an effort to understand the amount of work/time to get done and then add 25-50% to that. I used to quote complex machine shop jobs and learned very, very early that no matter what, at a minimum add 25% to the time you think you’ll need and at that same minimums add 25% to the cost you think it will take. That one lesson has saved my ass on a number of occasions. And one customer told me that I was still on the low end price wise. As those words came out of his mouth I was thinking, not any more I’m not!
    Good luck!

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    Ruckus says:

    @geg6:
    Sounds like good news.
    OTOH I’ve started moving my stuff and between Sat night and this morning my new place got broken into. Only no obvious entry attempts and only one door which was dead bolted. Me thinks someone had a master key. Only stole a couple of things and did leave stuff. I’m out my dads classic 80s Italian racing bike. And about 2 quarts of pissed off. You do measure that in quarts, right?

  70. 70
    Dr. Ronnie James, D.O. says:

    A really easy trick that transforms almost any room: replace the switch plates and outlet covers with something nicer, like a shiny metallic. At our last rental house we got polished brass covers at Lowe’s for like $1.35 a pop, which stood out against the spare white walls and coordinated with a lot of the brass / gold fixtures we have (unlike POUTUS, ours are tasteful, I assure you) . If you have more silver things, a mirrored finish looks great as well. And it’s great for rentals, because you can keep the original cheapo beige covers in a drawer for when you move out.

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    Lyrebird says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    Decorating sites are where I go when I have had enough politics.

    Recently visited relatives and stayed in a hotel in a very conservative, rural area. The hotel had some decorating shows on in the breakfast room. I made sure to thank the front desk for that… blessed deliverance from the news!

    I’m choosing to unwind by looking up seed packets from Ozark Hillbilly’s post yesterday, though. So many home tasks waiting, it’s hard not to feel guilty.

  72. 72
    LuciaMia says:

    I’m jonesing for new episodes of The Great British Bake-Off,

    Man-oh-man, me too! Ive recently discovered some of Paul Hollywood’s baking videos on Youtube and thats helped the withdrawals a little.

  73. 73
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ruckus:

    Yikes! Can you change the locks and give the key to the landlord later on?

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    cope says:

    Having lived in countless places, numerous houses and a few that we did up ourselves (ms. cope has a BA in interior design which lead, of course, to her becoming an RN), I have only one piece of advice…do it for yourself, don’t do it because you think it will add value or gobsmack the neighbors or amaze the judges.

    For a very long time, I was my own worst critic because in every project I did, I knew what and where the faults were. For instance, over the years, I tiled almost every single square inch in our 1,400 sf house and the 700 sf addition we had put on. I know where every dead spot it, which tiles are grossly misaligned, where I screwed up with the grout and for a very long time, it really bothered me. Then, one day, a wise person asked me as I was denigrating my tile work “Are you happy with it?” The truth is that I am happy with it, it was just that I thought others would always find and focus on the faults. Only you have to live with it so only you have to like it. Forget about resale value, forget about visitors because they will likely never notice the blemishes. You’re doing this to the place where you will be living and nobody else’s opinion really matters.

    Have fun and keep us posted.

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    Kathy says:

    No advice on decorating, but British shows that are kind of competitive but really show people doing amazing stuff and starting me off on old hobbies, interests, I can help! From the people who brought you GBBO, have you access to either the Great Pottery Throwdown or the Great British Sewing Bee? The GBSB is just started back after the whole disruption of GBBO going off to Channel 4 and losing Mary Berry and Mel and Sue and has extraordinary judges –Patrick the tailor! and is the reason I bought an Ikea sewing machine (and you wouldn’t believe what it has done to the teenage daughter who is off to London in a month to see the Christian Diro retrosepctive at the V&A). The daughter did not love pottery throwdown because she hates working with clay but the episode where they had to making working toliets! Learning about Japanese ceramic techniques! I could live without the porcelain chandeliers but great TV.

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