The Cool House: projects
Showing posts with label projects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label projects. Show all posts

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Crystal Balls

2009. A new year and the start of the era of change. So, in the spirit of bi-partisanship, with the aim of bringing all voices to the table, I am delighted to welcome the Loyal Blog Reader, husband of the Awesome Designer, to share with us his first foray into the world of design and home improvement as Project Assistant to the A.D. How did it go? Well, let's just say that this doesn't happen without great attention to detail and a fair amount of physical and mental stress. This is a tale of love, devotion and crystal chandeliers.
Thank you for your patience. And now it is my great pleasure to hand this blog over to the Loyal Guest Blogger.

I have requested the opportunity to post this guest commentary (a polite word for “rant”) for the purpose of alerting (read “warning”) all of those home renovation novices out there about the wonderful world of crystal chandeliers.
So there I was, in our bar, minding my own business, looking over our wine supply to make sure we had enough for a little holiday party we were hosting the next evening. After a few minutes, my bride, the Awesome Designer, came into the bar and said she would like me to help her finish the chandeliers in the master bathroom. When I inquired what had to be done, she told me that she wanted to hang the crystals on the chandeliers and that it should take us a couple of hours. While I couldn’t possibly see how hanging crystals could take even an hour, let alone several hours, I cavalierly said “sure, no problem” and told my bride I would get the ladder and meet her in the master bathroom.
I arrived upstairs several minutes later and found her sitting on the window seat with a rather thick instruction manual, replete with a multitude of arrows and diagrams, as well as dozens of bubble wrapped packages. As she began to unwrap the first package and I saw dozens of itty-bitty pieces of glass in that package, I began to have second thoughts about this project. Little did I know.
My bride gave me the first piece – a small acorn or something like that – a little piece of colored glass with a little hook on it, and told me it went on the little cup-like thing at the top of the chandelier. Climbing the ladder I found the top of the chandelier and the little cup-like thing – but that cup-like thing had six little hooks on it. As she handed me five more acorn-like things to hang on the first cup-like thing, I began to sweat as I saw that there were several more little cup-like things as well as little hooks all over the place.
As I was hanging acorns or whatever they were, on hooks that I could barely see, my bride casually mentioned that I should be careful since the crystals were all glass and one of a kind with no extra pieces – so I better not drop any. Oh – and don’t turn the chandelier – move the ladder around the chandelier – since turning it could cause it to come unscrewed from the ceiling. My blood pressure went up and my face started to turn red.
Next there were little upside down leaves with dangly colored things that – forgive me – as best as I can describe them – looked like hanging testicles* (what do I know, I’m a lawyer not a designer). They also came in a second variety with no leaves, just the hanging testicles. Hundreds of them of all different colors. These too had to each be hung, one by one, on little hooks hidden in every nook of each tier of the chandelier. When my bride handed the later to me, I could barely grasp the top of them they were so thin and delicate that I began to get nervous and edgy and kept telling her to just give them to me by the balls! As I reached in to hang one, I would of course hit others, and then hold my breath and watch with fear and trembling praying none would drop.
Package after package, ball after ball. Blue here brown there. After what seemed like an endless array of these, next came crystal chains. One little hook would get two chains, one short and one long, that would be crossed over or under another chain that had to be hooked to another hook that also held two chains. And of course, at various tiers there were clear chains and colored chains. The colored ones had to go around and under the clear ones. And you had to be careful when hooking one on that you simultaneously didn’t knock one off. My eyes were watering, my hands were cramping and I was getting foot cramps on the ladder. Notwithstanding my love for She Who Must Be Obeyed (to borrow a phrase from Sir John Mortimer and Rumpole of the Bailey) I could not fathom what had possessed me to do this.
Working from the top to bottom seemed never-ending. The thousand-piece all deep blue-sky jigsaw puzzle seemed easy by comparison. Each of the tiers increased in complexity. The bottom rung was more hooks on cups with upside down leaves, two interwoven dangling chains and numerous colored hanging balls (just look at the picture – I’m getting an anxiety attack just writing about it).
Three hours later, the last acorn/leaf/chain/testicle had been hooked – or hung (I have no idea of the correct expression, nor do I want to know). My hands and feet were killing me, my neck and backed ached – but none had been dropped and my marriage was still intact. I climbed down the ladder, thinking I was home free – when my bride said “great – the second one should be so much easier”.
The moral of this story is simple. PAY THE TWO DOLLARS. Translated, that means hire someone who does this sort of thing for a living to do it for you – take your bride out for a glass of wine and a relaxing afternoon – and come back and enjoy how pretty it looks completed.

*editor's note: This is not an exaggeration. Look closely at the photo. Balls, right? Tiny crystal testicles.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

2008. What happened?

There's a big blog party going down at Southern Hospitality. I dropped by to pick up some inspiration for 2009 projects and it got me thinking: what exactly have I done since the start of 2008?
Well, there was one big project that we started and finished that year. Surprisingly for us it was drama-free and didn't involve any design dilemmas. OK there was the vessel sink fiasco but the powder room update turned out fine, much better than my original scheme. The fact that I left the day the Handyman started and got back as he was putting the finishing touches on the work probably helped a lot here.

Then there were the projects, like the laundry room, started the year before that we finished up, or almost finished. The laundry still has to be tiled - but we'll get to that eventually. The cabinets were a revelation. For those that have considered Ikea kitchen cabinets and wondered about the quality, I tell you not to hesitate. They have withstood slamming, knocking and cat scratching - not to mention cat food all over the doors - and they come clean with just a wipe. (The laundry is divided into one area for clothes and a cat-feeding station). They also hold many trays of cat food and pounds of kibble and have shown no signs of stress.

We put a coat of paint on the ceiling of one bathroom we remodeled the year before and hung a towel rail in another. That one towel rail caused more drama than all the other projects put together but the end result was (almost) worth it.

We hung new curtains in the master bedroom and re-oriented the bed, again.

A fair amount of maintenance was completed, including filling holes caused by the woodpecker, carpenter bees and rot. The Guy weatherproofed a couple of windows and we patched, sanded and stained endlessly this summer. The siding around the kitchen slider was salvaged and all of this with only minor damage to the house or ourselves.

I restored a family heirloom and was so enthusiastic about the result I went on to spruce up the wood trim in the house. Lots of wood trim. We finally found the right modern card table for the great room. And finally, for some insane reason we moved the garden path. We moved it four inches. I don't think The Guy is fully over this one yet!
Looking back I'm surprised at the amount we accomplished this year; for a long time I've focused on the projects we haven't done (the master bath, three years on the wait list, springs to mind) and I had the feeling that 2008 slid by without anything tangible to show for it. Now I can see that it's not so bad. But that doesn't make the to-do list for 2009 any shorter!