Wow, you mean I can actually make changes??

Three years ago, I bought a small condo in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. For the 18 years prior to that, I had been a renter. It’s taking me a while to adjust to actually owning my living space, and to be able to make changes and improvements to it – changes and improvements that won’t result in a lost damage deposit.

At the end of the first year of condo ownership, I had some guys come in and replace the bathroom fan (since it sounded like an electric mixer with bent blades and a shorting motor) and intall a ceiling fan in the bedroom. I did have to purchase the bathroom fan (very home-ownerly), but my dad gave me the ceiling fan (although it was new, he’d replaced it because it didn’t have a remote…). I also had the guys replace the regular outlets in the kitchen with GFCI outlets. Seems like a promising start, doesn’t it?

But… after that, nothing. I had plenty of things that I needed to do, such as replace the cracked and cigarette-burned vanity in the bathroom, paint the bathroom, install a dishwasher, replace the sink and countertops in the kitchen, replace the tiles in kitchen/hallway/dining room (cracking because the tile wasn’t installed on the right kind of substrate), etc. About six months ago I did buy and install spiffy new knobs for the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen, but then they clashed with the hinges. 🙁

This fall I finally started to make some progress on this home modification stuff. It started while I was on vacation. I took two weeks off from work and spent the first nine days in the Black Hills, hiking, biking, and relaxing. After I got home, I spent the rest of my vacation cleaning and organizing – the sort of cleaning and organizing that had never been necessary before, because I’d been moving every other year since I was 16! It was a world-rocking realization that I needed to pull everything out of my closets and re-organize it. Pull books off the shelves and dust behind them (ewww, let me just assure you that three years of accumulated dust and black cat hair is not pretty – don’t try it at home). Get the edger out and vacuum the edges of the carpets. And, since it is a small condo (637 square feet), sort through accumulated belongings and take lots of things to Value Village if I didn’t want to be buried in things.

All that cleaning and donating felt pretty good, so off I went to IKEA to get a new Aneboda nightstand and a Magiker shelf unit.The old nightstand had been scavenged (1992) from the basement of dilapidated house I lived in while going to the U of MN. The Magiker became my new clothes storage system, replacing about 10 black milk crates. The milk crates were great while I was a nomadic student, providing flexibily shaped clothing storage for whatever sort of living space I found, but, gosh, since I’m a settled-down homeowner now, it seemed time for a change.

Not surprisingly, my bedroom looked a heckuva lot better after the new nightstand and shelving unit were in place, so… I called Dan the Handyman to have him come in and replace my ancient and vile sink and vanity. Off I went to Home Depot and purchased a lovely white sink and white three-drawered vanity. Unfortunately, during vanity installation, Dan the Handyman discovered that there was no way in the world the three-drawered vanity was going to work with the plumbing in my bathroom. Curses. So off he and I went to return the vanity to Home Depot. I looked around for something else I liked, but couldn’t find a thing that they had in stock. We went over to Menard’s and bingo! I purchased a drawerless maple vanity. Looking at it now, I’m glad the white vanity didn’t work – my bathroom definitely needed a little bit of color among the white sink, toilet, tub, and tile.

After the sink and vanity were in, I became much more aware of the boring pale blue paint that the previous owner had slapped on the walls before selling – slapped on without sanding or repairing the walls. Hmm – I wonder if he once had an etagere glued to the wall over the toilet, before he decided to rip it out, taking part of the wall… I picked up a lot of paint chips and masking taped them on the wall of the bathroom, trying to figure out what color I wanted. I started out with medium to dark blues and purples, but quickly abandoned the blues. I spent a lot of time looking at the paint samples, but wasn’t getting any further than wanting the paint to work with my Cheng-Khee Chee print Iris 90 (this isn’t a very good representation of the rich colors of the print, alas).

Jeanne suggested finding a shower curtain that I liked first. Excellent idea! At about the same time, Ana was divesting herself of her worldly goods prior to moving to Pittsburgh, and she gave me the can of dusty purple Devine paint she had used to paint her bathroom. Based on the paint spilled on the outside of the can, this looks like the perfect color – a custom tint called “Thunder.” I need to go buy a new can of it, since I don’t want to run out of paint.

But before going out and buying the paint, I’ve been meaning to slap some of the stuff from Ana on the wall to see if I really like it. I finally did that this weekend…or tried to. No mini-roller on hand, I dug up a 1″ foam brush. Well… it gave me an interesting effect of extreme streakiness. I tried another coat today. Darker extreme streakiness. I think I’ll have to pick up a paint pad or mini-roller to get an accurate effect. I also realized that I am going to have to seriously sand the walls and ceiling (in addition to patching) before I paint – the glossy pale blue paint was slopped on very thickly, and ain’t nothin’ much going to adhere to its blotchy, shiny surface. Even then, this will be a multi-coat job.

Ok, that was pretty boring. 🙂 Especially since my pictures of the wall were too bad to include.