Tag Archives: house

Fixing the Eyesore Door

When I first visited this house 18 years ago, I remember saying to my real estate agent that “this thing has got to go”. I was referring to the ugly interior door that separated the entry hall from the rest of the house. And yet, it’s still here and referred to as the “Eyesore Door”.

The thing is that over the years, life got in the way. Between the time and energy required to build a career, to enjoy a social life, and to tend to other priorities like cooking, cleaning, laundry, running, writing this blog and raising a cat, the years escaped on me.

Plus, there was a priority list of other home renovations that needed to get done, because of fixtures running their course or other corners of the house that got on my nerves worse than the door.

Despite being a relentless eyesore, it faded from my radar. But this was the year to finally do something about it.

While the door was probably cute when it made its first appearance, it was made of a soft, honey-coloured wood which was prone to scuffs and scratches. Located in the most high traffic area of the house, it picked up scars from anything and everything that brushed by. The door was also my clear evidence that pets lived here before Ivy and I moved in.

What I couldn’t figure out was how and why this particular door was here, when it didn’t match any other fixture or finish in the house.

Either way, a light sanding would never have sufficed to correct the imperfections covering pretty much every square inch of its surface.

The bigger problem was the way it dragged along the carpeting. On humid days, you needed the strength of the Incredible Hulk to open it, although it made for a great security system for my feline escape artist who has an attraction for bolting through open doors.

My partner recommended I get a hand plane to shave it down.

At the hardware store, after navigating each aisle like a Zamboni driver and still looking lost, a clerk found me, led me to the right section, and asked if I had used a plane before. I realized that my Grade 9 wood working class was 40 years ago, so I could not claim any recent experience.

He suggested instead a budget priced sander, some coarse sandpaper and to “just sand the bottom of the door to bring it down to size”. It sounded like a good idea.

On a sunny summer day, I secured Ivy the Wonder Cat in a bedroom with her litter box, some food, some water and her favourite toys. I then unhooked the eyesore door from its hinges and brought the door to the back deck.

In the sander’s user manual, the first instruction was to peel off the backing from the sandpaper to reveal the adhesive. I fiddled with the sheet of sandpaper for a good 10 minutes, trying to find the magic corner that would peel back. After three exasperated exhalations, I looked over at the package of sandpaper only to see “NON-ADHESIVE” in bold letters on the front.

Sandpaper 1, Observation skills 0!

I moved on to the next set of instructions that started with, “If your sandpaper does not have an adhesive backing”. After several minutes of playing sandpaper origami and still not securely clipping to the sander, I went into MacGyver mode and I developed my own method.

I don’t know who planned this house, but it seems that I have an excess of electrical outlets in rooms that don’t need them, and a shortage in rooms that do. To be able to use my sander on the back deck required a grounded extension cord running from the living room. And moments later, I realized I needed an extension to the extension cord as I still hadn’t reached the door.

Finally, I hit the on button! I was sanding! But Mother Nature’s incredible sense of humour kicked in, as did a westerly breeze that blew sawdust into every orifice above my neck.

Moments later, I emerged from the house looking like a bank robber with a dishtowel tied around my head because, for some reason, I could not find the little face masks I had purchased in anticipation of the sanding event.

I resumed my sanding and after half an hour, I decided to take the door in, to test it out and see how much longer I needed to go. As I was lugging the heavy door through the living room, something seemed off with the positioning of the doorknob and the hinges.

Oh oh!… I sanded the top of the door, not the bottom!

I turned around and lugged the heavy door back on the deck and sanded for another 20 minutes. When I affixed the door to the hinges, I noticed a significant improvement as it was swinging pretty freely… Maybe too freely.

That was when I noticed that the latch (that never really worked correctly) needed replacing since the door could open with the slightest nudge of a finger or potentially, a paw. That was my signal for a quick drive back to the hardware store to purchase some new hardware.

The installation of the new latch was pretty easy, especially since I had to do it twice when I realized I had installed it backward. It was in that process that I figured out that the original latch was simply missing two additional pilot holes to fit snugly within the door and to properly click shut.

I know home renos might not be for everyone, but properly fitting hardware was a mere TWO drilled holes away. TWO! I still shake my head in disbelief. But I didn’t regret the purchase of a shiny new latch and locking mechanism that already gave the door a huge facelift.

The next mission was patching and painting.

Since I was not blessed with the steady hand of a professional painter, masking tape has always been a necessity for me. But with the 15 windows on that door, it was a tedious project in itself to mark off each window, front and back, with my trusty tape.

Then it was another big project to fill as many cracks and scratches as I could with filler. I really don’t mind this part too much as it is an opportunity to channel some mild OCD tendencies to constructive use.

After all that prep work, the painting was pretty much the easiest part. Four coats of white paint later, with more crack filler along the way, I was ready to say “mission accomplished!”

It is unfortunate that it took 18 years to finally get the door done, but in retrospect I now see how much TLC it needed, which is probably why it landed on the bottom of the list.

For all of the different renovation skills I was able to put into practice, it was definitely a good learning experience that also offered many good belly laughs along the way.

But after all that work and the door is now looking (almost) as good as new, I am finally ready to retire its name, “The Eyesore Door”, as it isn’t anymore.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,

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Why Watching Paint Dry Can Be Fun

Much like most people, over the years, I have indeed used the expression “it’s like watching paint dry” to describe an event that might be considered boring. But based upon my recent experience, I might reconsider my use of the phrase. I just don’t agree with its accuracy anymore.

In this year’s round of spring cleaning and home projects, I decided to get some painting done.

As much as I love the whole ceremony of painting, in recent years, time and energy have been in short supply.

Plus, my body just doesn’t seem to respond well to weekend paint jobs without complaining in the days that follow. Between working muscles that don’t usually get used in that way and with arthritis starting to drop in unexpectedly, it was time for me to (reluctantly) look into hiring a painting company.

Upon finding a highly recommended team of painters, I decided to put their professional expertise to the best possible use. The first project was one set of walls I haven’t done since I moved in: the walls around the staircase.

I don’t know what the actual height of that area is but I do recall that the few times I tried to dust the lighting fixture or to try to grab the cobwebs in the corners, I felt like the Roadrunner’s archenemy, Wile E Coyote, trying device after device to extend my reach to get the job done.

When I was finally successful in completing the task, it was usually followed by a visit to the medicine cabinet for some internal and/or external approaches to pain relief.

I decided that for this paint job, the extent of my involvement would be to tidy up before, to remove my personal effects from the painting area, to set up the cat in another part of the house with food, water, litter and favourite toys, and then for me to sit and relax. Continue reading

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When Vacation Time Becomes Home Maintenance Time

Maybe it’s a product of having a busy life and many interests, but I long for the day when I can take a vacation and for it to be entirely made up of time to put my feet up, read a good book and just relax in well-earned peace and tranquility.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a home owner. I also love taking care of my investment. The problem is that through a normal work week, when you factor in time for social activities, writing, cooking, cleaning and laundry, there isn’t much time or energy left to bring out the power tools and the paint cans to knock things off my home maintenance to-do list.

And even when I do set aside time for do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, I want it done right the first time. I don’t want to rush the project and risk making a mess. For that reason, it needs a generous time allotment.

It would be one thing if I had no natural inclination for DIY projects or if I hated them, but I don’t. I actually think they are a joy and a privilege.

The worst part is that I am responsible for the to-do list and I tend to expect a lot of myself, so the list does get a little ambitious.

That being the case, the list of projects often get deferred to the only time where time and patience are in good supply: vacations… or should I say, stay-cations. Continue reading

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How I Conquered the Most Stubborn Stain in the House

Ever since I moved in to this house, I have been in a never-ending hunt for ways to clean my tub.

If I remember correctly, scrubbing the tub (and the entire main bathroom, for that matter) was one of the first things I did the day I got the keys to the place. That and eradicating a trail of ants from the kitchen counter from a sticky sweet mess left behind, as well as a load of laundry for a proud first-time owner of a laundry centre.

But for some reason, no matter how much I scrubbed with my trusty scouring powder with bleach, there were patches of darker shades of beige throughout that didn’t seem to want to come off. Technically, I knew it was clean, but it looked stained.

I don’t know much about the previous owners and occupants, but for a fifteen-year-old house, there were some signs of premature aging. There were some pieces in the house showing more wear and tear than my first apartment that was twice that age, including chips in the enamel of a sink, knife marks on the kitchen counter and some carpeting that absorbed the fallout of a kitty cat with an unfortunate bladder issue.

In the months that followed, whenever I had a few minutes, I was back at the tub, trying to clean it with the same tenacity as the Coyote trying to catch the Road Runner. I tried every product on the market and had to hold myself back from using anything deliberately abrasive, in my frustration for the stains that would not come out. Continue reading


Filed under How to, Humour, Misc blogs

Top 10 Signs You Might Be a Homeowner

Château d'Azay-le-Rideau
10. You have more paint chips in your wallet than you do family pictures

9. You genuinely worry about losing garbage cans and recycling bins on windy days

8. Moments of deep serenity are attained, not by fountains and a zen garden, but with free-flowing gutters

7. Even though you might not have any home renovations planned, you still will brave the crowds on a Saturday afternoon to attend a “Home and Renovations” show

6. Even though you might not have any home renovations planned, you buy tools in case you do

5. Your vacations are no longer planned at the travel agency, they are planned at Home Depot or Lowe’s

4. You stop noticing the game show models and pay more attention to the appliances they are showing

3. Flashing, soffits and fascia are regular words in your vocabulary

2. You binge watch HGTV

1. Your social calendar revolves around “garbage night”

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.net. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,

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