Sunday, July 17, 2005

Moderate home makeover

Today, my husband and I started a long-overdue project in our house ... to redo our office closet. We're going to equip it with shelving, drawers and cabinets so that it looks like an office library instead of a bedroom closet. I've mapped out how it will look; hopefully it will look that way when we actually install everything. Although, IKEA products are usually pretty installation friendly, so we should be OK.

Today's task was taking down all of the existing shelving that was put in by the previous owner of the house. H was trying to make the most of the small closets that were common back in 1969 when the house was built. He put up three shelves on each side of the closet and two shelves above the rod. Each of the side shelves held 21 screws a piece (the shelves were only two feet wide): even on the top of the shelf securing it into the supporting beams below, four on each side supporting beam, and six on the supporting beam that ran underneath the back of the shelf. This guy really wanted to make sure these shelves were secure. And while that seems like a lot, it was nothing compared with the top two shelves. Each of them held 50 screws: 22 on the top of the shelf securing it to the supporting beam below, 18 on that beam securing it to the wall, and five on the side supporting beams (I counted in case you're wondering!).

Now, this wasn't so bad when we had the power drill ... I have to say that I feel very empowered when operating a power drill. It makes me want to quit my job and become the new carpenter on Trading Spaces. We were working quickly, taking down shelves and feeling confident.

Until the battery in the drill died. While we waited for it to recharge, we tackled the screws by hand. My only thought was that my shoulders and triceps should have a little more definition by morning. On a side note, here's a little advice to anyone using screws to install wooden shelving ... if the screw is 1/4 inches deep into the wood, you've screwed it in too tight. And if you're not putting a screw directly into a stud in the wall, don't use a 3-inch screw. It's virtually impossible to get out.

So I'm using the handy-dandy Phillips-head screw driver, up on a ladder to work on the screws on the highest shelf in the closet. Let me tell you that it gets mighty hot up in the top of a closet in the middle of the day in July. The breeze from the ceiling fan doesn't quite make it up there. I think I sweat more this afternoon than I have on my toughest day of working out (hey, I know I'm not much of an exerciser, but I've worked out in my day!).

And while you might think I'm not a clean person after hearing this ... I think the top of closets is where spiders go to die. I'm pretty good about swiffering up cobwebs in the top corners of my house, but I guess I've forgotton about closets in the four years I've lived here. If I close my eyes I can still feel those cobwebs brushing against my skin.

We got most of the shelving down before the kids woke up from their naps. That's the hard part about do-it-yourself remodeling ... you have to factor it in during the two-hour reprieve of naptime each day. Next weekend, we're going to paint the closet and the office (we're still trying to determine what color to paint the chair-rail and wainscotting. Right now it's cranberry and taupe, but I'd like to maybe do charcoal and gray since we're going to be moving a gray chair from the living room into the office.) Then we'll lay some wood flooring on the bottom of the closet before we install the new cabinets and shelving.

We also have to finish painting one of the walls in the dining room, so we'll have to fit that into the schedule somehow. And pick out a new desk and chair for the office. And maybe a new computer ... It looks like we've got a lot to do before this project is done.

On a side note: I started being the handy man even earlier than the shelving project today, when Boogie accidentally locked me out of my room. Using a paperclip to stick into the tiny hole of the doorknob didn't do the trick so I had to take off the doorknob. I've never done that before, but thankfully it worked out. I was able to open the door, and put the doorknob back on again as a fully functional doorknob. Maybe I will apply to Trading Spaces after all!