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Home Sweet Home
Details, details ... 
28th-Jul-2008 11:05 am
The devil is in the details

When you build a house, you expect the big stuff. 

You expect the stress.  You expect the tons of research you have to do to find the best ways to do things ("best" being a subjective term, of course.)  You expect the great crews and the endless nit-picky Things that Go Wrong (tm).  And, of course, you expect a final product to make you drool.

Now, I've moved a fair amount in my life.  I've packed, unpacked, repacked and settled in more places than I can count.  Each time, I moved into a pre-owned (as they say in the car sales industry) home.  There were things that needed changing to my taste, but nothing really extensive.  What I never experienced was all the things that you don't think about that are essential to a home, and which you have to think about when you build your own.

Curtain rods for the shower.  Curtain rods for the windows.  Toilet paper holders.  I mean, really -- when was the last time you thought about toilet paper holders?  Towel bars.  Drawer organizers.  Drawer pulls.  Cabinet pulls.  Door knobs. 

All kinds of little things that, well, are simply there when you move into a house.  Normally, I mean.

So, you square your shoulders and do as our illustrious president urges us to do in the face of any crisis:  You go shopping.

Now, it's been 15 years since my last move (and to think I used to move every year or two!)  15 years ago, if I needed anything, I went to Sears.  (<music> "Sears ... has everything" </music>)  In a pinch (time, money or availability) I went to K-Mart, Venture or Wards.  (Being a Sears brat, the last is always difficult for me to do.)  If I were feeling extravagant, I'd go to Marshall Field's (now, unfortunately, called Macy's.)  And in the store, there would be nice people who knew their department (the home furnishings/decorating department) well, and would spend time helping me find, decide on and purchase everything I came for, and other things that I didn't even think of.

That, I see now, is the Old Way (tm).  Now, you go to a store, any store; you wander about trying to find anything resembling a department, you see one or two items that vaguely meet the definition of What I Am Looking For, stifle your gag reflex, and go home, defeated.

"Ah, but there's always the Internet," I hear you calling.  Yep.  Exactly.  The internet.  All shopping is now done by Internet.

I enjoy shopping by Internet.  I buy books, CDs, DVDs and an occasional item now and then.  I love it.  But these are all things that I already know I want, know exactly which one I want, and have a good idea of what it is worth.

When you're not even sure what you are looking for, the Internet can be an overwhelming place.  And you have to judge by a picture.  It's amazing how often a color in a picture does not match the real thing.

So, I have now found all the S.T.R.E.S.S (tm) in home-building that everyone was talking about.  It's not in the actual building part of the project.  For that part, you sit back, direct, and leave it all to someone else to make happen.  No, the stress comes when it's all in your own hands, and you find out just how, um, inadequate those hands are.

Yep.  This has been a learning experience, all right.
28th-Jul-2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
For a lot of this stuff you go to the big "home improvement" stores.
Around here Menard's has the best lighting department, Lowe's has the best window treatment selection and Home Depot is good for knobs, pulls and switch plates.
And for curtain rods and shades, pay the extra money and have the professionals install. When we moved here 12 years ago I did all the rods. The ones in the living room will pull out of the wall if I hang anything heavier than sheers and the ones in the family room are subtly but annoyingly off plumb.

Now, take a deep breath, and have fun.
This stuff is not permanent. If you hate it, you can change it. It's not like walls and floors. Relax. And let your creative side out.


29th-Jul-2008 10:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the advice!

Don't worry -- I'm not in the dire straights my tone suggests -- I took a bit of poetic license, doncha know.

Truth to tell, though, I find the "home improvement" stores sadly lacking. Lowe's had 2 - count them, 2 - shower curtain rods; one in some gray plastic, the other chrome (I took the chrome.) They happened to have two of the chrome, and luckily they were the size I needed. Otherwise I'd have only been 1/2 way home. I found a *lovely* blue cloth shower curtain with a clear plastic liner that I admit is stunning. Curtain hooks -- ah, that is a different matter all together.

We were sadly disappointed in Menard's. So far, Lowes has been our friend, with the largest selection of lampshades I've seen in a single store since I was about 10. That is not to say that it is as varied as they used to be; just that there are at least enough styles to need two hands to count.

That's my problem -- the variety is lacking in all these stores. Variety abounds on the Internet, but now I'm buying things sight-unseen. I want the happy medium of a specialist helping me in a store who can order other things for me. You know, customer service.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Make me work the way I did back in my 20's now that I'm in my 50's, and I get all curmudgeonly. Tsk, tsk.

When (and if) we do window treatments, it will definitely be professionally done. I know my limitations -- and they are far sooner reached than yours!

Luckily, for now, we don't need 'em. There is no one close enough to see through our windows, and anyone far away trying to see will only see the ceilings, given the angles. Once my skin stopped crawling every time I removed clothing, I admit the openness of no window treatments (not to mention the low dust factor) is mighty addictive. (And fits our budget exactly right!)

30th-Jul-2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
Heh. Honestly, the last time I thought about toilet paper holders was last summer when I had re-painted the bathroom, and managed to screw it back into the wall too hard, damaging it badly. Went looking, but there were none vaguely similar (I'm not even talking about the part you see -- I mean even the part that goes into the wall!) to what I had, so I ruled it not-replaceable, and did my best to patch it.
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