111. Random thoughts about cleaning carpets and getting a house ready to sell

I know this blog is supposed to be about the cottage…but we haven’t been spending much time there of late. We’ve been trying to plant the sign in the yard of the city house. And until you sell a house, I don’t think anyone has a clue how much Time, Intensity, Money, and Energy is expended on a house that you are leaving…

It is emotionally (and financially) draining. Unless, of course, the house you live in is perfect, in which case you just sign on with the realtor, la di da. No worries about

    that imperfect room you just lived with,
    the plumber who never gave you the inspection paperwork for the new sewer system he put in,
    the basement ceiling tile that looks moldy and might be made of asbestos tile, (thankfully, it isn’t!)
    the tree in the backyard that you hope doesn’t fall on the power lines while you’re waiting for the tree guy to show up, or
    all Mr.H.C’s junk — never mind about mine; it isn’t junk.

Lately I’ve been cleaning up and painting my old sewing room in the city house.

It was just my sewing room, crafting room, storage room, so the coordinating yellow country wallpaper put over masonite (probably in the seventies) uh, you know, didn’t matter to me. I didn’t care about the fluorescent light in the ceiling; it was good for working. The faded teal carpet didn’t matter either. Bleach spills? Paint stains? No matter.

Apparently it will matter to potential buyers.

So I was tasked with turning it into a charming little attic bedroom for a child. Or a garret for an angst-filled teenaged poet. Or another sewing room for a mom who just wants some time alone in a freshly cleaned and painted space.

I used oil-based primer over the wallpaper, and then painted the whole room creamy white. I guess it will be up to the new owner to give it personality with color. I couldn’t imagine that the carpet would clean up, but I rented an R2D2-look-alike carpet cleaner and used my new favorite product to clean the carpet. It looks good, which is also good for the pocketbook.

attic bedroom

And the wonderful new product? Folex.

Sister Nancy told me about it several years ago when she was regularly cleaning up after a new puppy. I’ve had a bottle forever, because it goes a long way, unless you are pouring it into R2D2…

At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, I Love The Stuff! It is a miracle cleaner. Non-toxic, no smell, rub it in with your fingers if you want, and watch the stain on your carpet disappear! It’s amazing. It actually works better this way, than it does diluted in the rug machine. I did go around the entire edge of the carpet with my spray bottle and a rag. The edge of the carpet, which was black, is now bluish green again. (Folex has not paid me for this blog — they don’t even know I exist.) Although I should probably write them — in the past three weeks I’ve bought six bottles. It costs $5.78 at Home Depot.IMG_4466

That’s $34.68 + $30 to rent the carpet cleaner. I also cleaned the carpet in the master bedroom as well, and we couldn’t have bought new carpet for two bedrooms for $64. And believe me, that was a worry!

And just to prove to you, it isn’t a fluke, here is the downstairs rug that I spot-cleaned:

And now, I have to go tear down moldy ceiling tiles in the basement and secretly throw away some of Mr. H.C’s junk  in the bottom of a new garbage bag. Anyone want a vintage cigarette holder/music box that Uncle John brought back from London?
vintage cigarette holder music box

No summer vacation here until the sign is in the yard.for sale sign

108. a light for your path, Part 1: never buy a new lamp again…

True confession time: in the forty plus years since I have been furnishing my own dwellings I have only purchased two new lamps.

(My sister, the decorator, would say, “Yes, I can tell.”) 😄

But I get much joy from making something shabby look good again. And you can too, here at Lamp Repair 101.

Step One: Painting/Cleaning the Lamp
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This lamp was purchased today at Construction Junction for $10. I needed a taller lamp to go with the washstand I just redid. (See post 78 for a before photo of the washstand.) I was looking for a basic lamp to paint. The top and bottom part of this lamp will be spray painted with my favorite Oil Rubbed Bronze shade of Rustoleum; the middle will be painted with the left-over chalk paint from the washstand, a pretty shade of blue green, Calico, from Sherwin Williams.

Usually I test old lamps but there were no light bulbs at the check out counter and the folks who work there are pretty much “Eh, you want it, you buy it. Ya don’t want it, somebody else will buy it…”

Lamp partsI dusted it, cleaned it with vinegar and tested the lamp. The switch was a turn knob, which didn’t click cleanly in place and the light from the bulb flickered. It would need to be replaced with new lamp parts from our favorite Big Box Store.

Tip # 1. If your significant other tries to direct you, ignore all their instructions and do it your way. Then if it fails, you can blame only yourself. Conversely, if it fails after you’ve done it THEIR way, you will be muttering about how you should have done it the way you wanted to in the first place…This is true in all of life.

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I was going to just mask the middle and spray paint. Instead Mr. H.C. suggested I take it apart. He usually knows best, so I did. (See Tip # 1.) In retrospect, he was right (he usually is) because the socket was going to have to be replaced anyway. I should have just taken the whole thing completely apart, instead of keeping it linked together.

Tip # 2. When you take apart a lamp, especially if you are doing this for the first time, Remember how it goes back together. Put all your parts together in a big tin can, or place them somewhere in order to help you remember what washer goes on what nut. (If I can do this, you can too; I scored 0 (Zero) on the mechanical ability tests we had to take in high school…)

 

Note the blobby spray paint

Note the blobby spray paint

Tip # 3. Don’t do your spray painting on a day that has 99% humidity and temperatures in the eighties. It takes forever to dry and then easily scrapes off.

All the DIY blog posts I’ve ever read make it all sound easy and never write a word about messing up. You will get the truth in this post. I have never had any metal not take to my favorite Rustoleum oil rubbed bronze spray paint. Last week I even spray painted a shiny metal lamp shade. It worked great. The shiny fake brass top and bottom of this lamp did not take the paint. I lightly sanded them, put a light base coat on first, and then watched as the second finish coat  just scraped right off. It was disheartening. (See Tip # 3.) And time consuming.

Tip # 4. Do not use a cheap brush for chalk paint.

I already had the chalk paint for the middle of the lamp, but you can find the recipe here. The best tool I had for painting a curved lamp was a small foam brush. The cheap brush that I started with left bristles everywhere and had me bristling. (Sorry, couldn’t resist — see Tip # 4.)

After I had sanded and scraped off the goopy-never-did-dry coat of spray paint, I started again. This time I took the pieces outside where there was a slight breeze, and spray painted again. I didn’t touch them for four hours, and this time they dried fine. Who knows? I’m blaming the humidity and the bad working conditions of the garage…

Putting the lamp back together was the most fun of the project. In Part Two of this post we will cover rewiring; if you aren’t into learning how to rewire, then just skip it and look at the final photos of my beautiful new old lamp.


Or maybe you like this lampshade better?

Tell me which you prefer, and in the next post I’ll show you the one I kept.

Note about the washstand: This may or may not be the way it stays. I needed it to look good in a hurry, which meant only sanding the straight parts. The pieces in between the drawers are curved; there are insets on the sides that need much sanding work, so I took the quick route and painted what wasn’t easily sanded. It fit the bill for fast, but I’m not sure if I like it; at least it will do until I decide…Plus, it’s a compromise between “Don’t ever paint oak/husband” and “But the color goes better with the room/Wife.” What do you think? Hmm. Might depend on your gender?

107. Pinterest, Shminterest : the top ten reasons to get rid of your Pinterest account

Apologies to Pinterest addicts…

I spend a couple of hours a week on Pinterest.  I don’t check other people’s boards; I only pin something I like to my own. I have 15 boards, 212 pins and 17 followers. In the Pinterest World, I’m pretty much a nobody.

And that’s fine with me.

I started my Pinterest boards to keep track of ideas for each room in the cottage. As an idea file, it worked for awhile, until I wanted to get more specific. First came frustration, then estrangement, and now? I’m considering an annulment. I have done only one other top ten list, and it was a long time ago. So, here are:

The top ten reasons to get rid of your Pinterest account:

    10. Pinterest is a reflection of our self-absorbed, materialistic culture; it has very few benefits. It is classified as social media, but there is minimal social interaction. It might be a good place to store recipes, but so is your bookmarks folder. It might be a good place to store links to photos you like, but then the links don’t work. It should be useful as a design board, but see #7 below.

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    9. Your own uploaded photos don’t look as good as ones you pin from the internet. I have beautiful photos that I’ve uploaded and they look fuzzy and blurry on my boards. I think they do it on purpose.
    8. Pinterest is no respecter of copyright ownership or artistic integrity. Posted a cute photo? A good idea? Anyone can steal it under the innocent guise of pinning it to a board. I’ve done it myself. (Not lately.)
    7. You can’t move pins around on your boards. Want to move a lamp or a pillow next to the couch you pinned three months ago? Hah, just try it! Makes it useless as a design board.
    6. It actually keeps you from doing all those unfinished projects you already have stored in your craft room because you are too busy finding new and better items to do someday.
    5. It quadruples Envy Potential. I mean, everyone has a better brownie recipe than you, right? Quadruple chocolate pecan brownie bites with salted caramel sauce and double praline whipped cream. Make it in ten minutes And it’s gluten free.
    4. There is no longer any excuse to not do anything and everything yourself. See above… (This is a whole ‘nuther post — stay tuned!)
    3. Time-suck. Nothing more needs to be said here. (My daughter suggests this should be reason #3, reason #2, and reason #1…)
    2. It makes you think you are being creative by pretending. Pinning is not doing or making or creating.
    1. It creates Dissatisfaction by encouraging you to want things you don’t need — expensive new clothes, giant white kitchens, giant backyard party spaces, giant elegant bathrooms, giant expensive furniture, a giant collection of more trinkets and stuff, and a giant new craft room to do all the pins you’ve just pinned and will never do.

I don’t know about you, but I have enough of those unfinished projects without Pinterest helping me along. (I know this, because I have just thrown many of them out!)

I don’t know about you, but I have enough stuff. (I know this, because I have just thrown a lot of it out!)

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These are the unfinished projects that I kept…Yes, I threw just as many away. I know I am not alone in this; I wish I had all the money I’ve spent on craft projects that were never finished.

So as of today, I’m deleting the Pinterest link on my blog, and I’m getting rid of the Pin It button on my desktop. (That’s two of the twelve steps — is the next one apologizing to my unfinished projects?) 😊

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Take a stand against the tyranny of pins!