Lessons Learned (mostly the hard way)

It has been a while since our last post, primarily because we currently find ourselves in the middle of about five projects (so what else is new?!).  As I reflect on the past almost three years in our home, I am reminded of all the lessons we have learned along the way, most of which we learned the hard way (after all, what other way is there).  SO....I decided to compile a list of my top 7  truths about home-ownership so that you, our faithful friends, might one day avoid some of the mishaps we have.

7. If it's cheap, it's going to break. I am mostly referring to fixtures here. Cheap knobs, handles, appliances, etc.. will inevitably break and require replacement. Do yourself a favor...spend the extra $$$ and save yourself some curse words down the road.

6. Chances are, even if it isn't cheap, it may break. If you have a home, apartment, townhouse, mobile home, RV, cardboard box, etc.. something will ALWAYS require your attention. I can't explain it. It's just  a truth.

5. Baseboards are filthy, dirty, horrid places. I know I can't be the only one here; our baseboards are like magnets for dirt and dust. Once I clean them, it's like all the dirt in the house knows they are vacant and immediately migrates directly to them. Ugh.

4. Throw pillows: men seem to be allergic to them. Women consider throw pillows like eyebrows: they are a necessary visual feature of the face (or couch) and without them, said face (or couch) looks a little naked. Throw pillows are the best in home accessory since the toaster oven. They make a great way to tie in different colors and they are the perfect addition to any late night scary movie watching endeavor. They are comfortable, interchangeable and just all around great companions for any living room or bedroom. The sad thing about throw pillows is that the male species seems to, as a general rule, be deathly allergic to their presence. Now, this "truth" is really still in the theorem stage but based on my scientific observation, men must move throw pillows around (usually by tossing and/or literally throwing them) before finding comfort in throw pillow environment. I am seriously considering Velcro-ing our pillows to the couch just to see if they really are toxic to men (therefore leaving dead bodies in their wake), or if they are just a minor nuisance. More to come on this topic....

3. Grass seems to keep growing, no matter how often it is cut. Those who know me, know I am not a plant person. This includes vegetable plants, herbs, shrubs, flowers, vines and yes, even grass. I am an animal person. Animals tell you when they are hungry and are therefore, far more deserving of my time and attention. Plants, rather than communicating their needs, just up and die. Thank goodness my wonderful husband is a plant person. He seems to be able to make any kind of plant live and even thrive. While I personally think yards are very pretty, I do find it very frustrating that the more you care for your yard,  the more care it requires. The grass continues to grow because we freakin' water it. The strawberries continue to ripen and if not picked, rot because he takes care of them. Weeds also puzzle me because even in spots where the yard may struggle, weeds seem to be doing just fine. It would seem to me that as a culture, it would be a whole lot easier if we just embraced weeks as being desirable and let them take over, saving ourselves a lot of work and time at Pike's Nursery. Just my thoughts...

2. If it is a little broken now, chances are it will be a lot broken later. Every homeowner has made this mistake; Something in the house is a little loose, a little squeaky, a little leaky or a little broken. You think to yourself  "oh it's not that urgent, I will just fix it later". BIG MISTAKE. You will not fix it later and it probably is or will eventually be that urgent. A shower door that starts to get a little stuck upon entry or exit will eventually become completely stuck, leaving you in a very vulnerable position and fresh out of good cuss words. There will likely be a post about this one at a later date...

1. When I was a little girl, I once had a fish tank. One time, I got a new tropical fish that the PetsMart people told me would grow as big as its environment allowed it to. They said that this particular fish would continue to grow based on the size of the tank it lived in. This leads me to the issue of storage. Not everyone has this issue but I would be willing to bet that most of us do. We, like the fish from PetsMart, seem to have the uncanny ability to take up as much space as our environment allows us to. For us, the minimal mansion is undoubtedly a small-ish tank compared to many. Like most old homes, our home has very limited closet space. We have one closet in the guest bath and one closet for each of our wardrobes. My sweet husband was kind enough to allow me to occupy the larger of the two master closets (I do have a very extensive and continually growing cowboy boot collection to house), but we continually find  ourselves coming up with creative ways to store things. Our house is full of baskets, bins, boxes, drawers and strategically utilized nooks and crannies. I am almost positive that no matter how large our home was, we would continue to face storage challenges, based on the tank vs. fish theory.

Now, I can think of about 100 additional "lessons" learned over the course of our home ownership but I think I will save those for the next post. Owning a home has been a very educational (and fun) experience for us and I look forward to many more learning experiences down the road.

Until next time-

Thanks for reading :-)


My Tack Room. I mean, Dining Room.

For those who do not know me very well, I will begin this post by letting you know that I am a "horse person". In case you are not aware, "horse people" are a particular breed of the human race that are what we shall call, special. As a general rule, "horse people" wince during western movies when a horse gets injured, rather than worrying about the condition of the human character of the story line. Generally speaking, horse people are kind to animals, oblivious to the presence of dirt and often foul-mouthed in everyday  conversation. Horse people are by nature, unafraid of 'horse germs,' un-phased by manure, and perpetually worried that their own, "human children" won't be born with the "horse lover gene". 

All that to say....my name is Amy and I am a horse person. My pickup truck serves as a mobile barn, storing my grooming tools, horse treats, halters and lead ropes. I have a special section in my closet dedicated to boots. I compare all large purchases to what they would equate in terms of saddles, horse purchases or vet bills. I am one of "those" people.

So....naturally my home would reflect some of my horsey habits. My patient and wonderful husband, though unfortunately not a "horse person" himself, is tolerant and supportive of my addiction. The mansion, while a small downtown cottage rehab, not only serves as a beloved home but also stores many of my most precious horse supplies. If you know anything about saddles, you know they are expensive, and more often than not, heavy. They are also leather and require special care and appropriate storage.  It is for this reason that I have chosen to store my saddles in our dining room- obviously this is the most appropriate place for stable gear. 

In order to make the most of our space (1300 sq ft.=creativity required), we decided to build traditional saddle racks as high as possible. The racks we chose are a simple design, which easily collapses against the wall while not in use. The design is fairly simple, requiring rough cut lumber, stripped and cut to size, and some basic metal hardware easily found at any hardware store. While the materials for this type of saddle rack are not usually expensive, we already had the wood to assemble them on hand. 

Now, our saddle racks pretty much climb the dining room wall. The benefit to having high ceilings, is that they make a small room appear larger. Another benefit to high ceilings, of course, is that you can fit more saddles on the wall.

Now, this is not a traditional southern formal dining room by any means BUT it is functional and, in my opinion, decorative (then again...I am a "horse person").  All we have to do now is stain the racks and voila...a complete tack/dining room!

The purpose of this post? To encourage you to make your home functional to your lifestyle. No, saddle racks in the dining room are not really the norm in a traditional southern home, but I would be willing to bet that even the most distinguished Garden & Gun reader would relate to our particular storage dilemma. Homes are meant to be lived in. They are meant to reflect our loves, our personalities and our daily lives. If you have kids, let the legos and Barbie shoes  decorate the living room. If you have cats, don't stress over a scratching post in the bedroom. If you have a pig (ha....who has a pig in the house?!? that was sarcasm, people), let him sleep on the couch while you have dinner guests. 

Moral to the story: Your home is your habitat. The mansion...it's an interesting mix of horse person and bike/tennis/marathon runner. We live in our house and so should you.

 If you ever join us for dinner or a drink one evening, don't be surprised if you find a horse hair in your drink or a pig running around the house. That's how we roll in the "mansion".

"The End....until we run out of square footage, that is"


Rain on a Tin Roof

For those who aren't aware....Macon, Ga is the hottest place on God's green Earth. I am not kidding....it is really hotter here. I can't explain it, but I know that this beloved city of ours is hot in the summer time and in the spring time and usually in the fall time and sometimes even in the winter time.

That said...energy costs (especially in an old house with lots of cracks and crannies), can easily get out of hand. When we purchased our beloved "mansion," one of the major selling points was the back deck. The deck overlooked our neighborhood and offered an outstanding view of our dear Alma Mater.  While we have loved the deck since day 1, we have not really been able to enjoy it during the summer time. You see, our back deck receives direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day, making it an unbearable place to sit between the months of April and, like October. Not only is the heat uncomfortable while on the porch, but the heat also permeates through the windows and into the kitchen, making an entire kitchen an indoor sauna for much of the year.

So what did we do to solve this little problem?
We began our biggest DIY-undertaking to date. Now follow me here....

<Our Deck Pre-Renovation.

We decided that with a roof, the back deck could finally become usable during the warmer months (like 11.5 months out of the year in Macon) AND we would be able to still utilize the deck during wet weather. The roof would also shade the sun from the kitchen, ultimately saving us some major energy bill nightmares. So, my sweet dear handy man husband, along with guidance and direction (and free labor) from my experienced contractor father, tore out our old railing, added new custom railing and built the porch up, adding a tin roof to cover the entire deck. The deck now offers a comfortable place to grill, sit, eat and watch the sunset.

Energy savings and avoided heat strokes aside, my very favorite thing about the new and improved porch is the sound of the tin when it rains; after all, what could possibly be more Southern than the sound of rain on a tin roof?

<Construction Zone

With all the tearing down, rebuilding, staining, nailing, and dodging bad weather.., this project took several months' worth of weekends to complete.The result is beautiful, however and I feel sure we will enjoy many back porch sunsets to come! (See below to admire the splendor)

Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear!


Fifty Shades of Yellow

If you have been following our DIY journey for any length of time, you know that I have a strong aversion to yellow walls. It is not that I detest the color yellow; in fact, I am quite fond of yellow when used where appropriate. I like lemons, Waffle House, Big Bird, canaries, the sun, etc.. I do not appreciate, however, the use of a particularly offensive shade of yellow throughout my home. When we first purchased our house, we really liked the colors that the first person who had it under contract chose.....for the most part. For a year, we lived with these colors choices and worked around them.  To be honest, I am very fond of a couple of the room colors and intend to leave them. As time moves on, however, I am becoming less and less comfortable with the bright, chameleonic personality of the yellow.

You see, yellow paint on the interior can be tricky; while the color can at first appear cheerful and even somewhat neutral, our particular shade of yellow was actually numerous shades in one. Now, I am not a color-ologist or whatever you call a person who names the Crayola box, but I am a concerned citizen seeking to warn you about the tricky nature of certain shades of yellow (disclaimer: not ALL shades of yellow).

Our yellow inhabited three rooms and a bathroom of our home. While at first I thought (or convinced myself that) the yellow made things feel more spacious, eventually I grew to realize that what was intended to be the same shade of yellow throughout the house, ended up being a different shade in each room and furthermore, a different shade at different times of the day.

So..... enter Amy and Chris, paint swatches, good friends and a bottle of wine (or two). The first room we tackled was the living room, which you may know about from reading our post THE YELLOW THAT KEPT ME UP AT NIGHT.  I will spare you the gruesome details of that adventure and sum it up to say that our new, Behr Mocha Latte living room is a latte more livable (see what I did there. lol).

The next room to tackle was the dining room. Once I saw the impact the dark brown color had on the overall tone of the living room, there was no going back. So....Chris went out of town for a day and I had a dear friend over for a night of painting and wine. She and I finished painting the dining room in a couple of short hours (trim and all). The dining room formerly known as yellow is now a delightful, clean shade of grey (Behr: "Anonymous"). Needless to say, I am not addicted to re-painting that which is yellow. The next opportunity that presented itself (i.e. the hubby went out of town), I grabbed two of my favorite friends (you know who you are), a couple of bottles of wine, a veggie pizza and a gallon of paint.

As I have mentioned before, our home is very small, but the rooms are rather large. Our foyer is actually large enough to be useful (hence the "nook", etc.).  In order to make the foyer a little more inviting and a little less "HEY I'M YELLOW!!!!," I opted for a dark brown shade similar to the one we chose for the living room. Oddly enough, Home Depot no longer had Behr Mocha Latte, so I just grabbed something that looked close (it is just paint, after all).

<Exhibit A: Yellow walls
<A few hours later, we have a complete project.  Marcie insists on being present for the "after" pictures. 

 Nook in the Yellow era, prior to painting (yes, those are glasses of merlot):


And Nook post-painting:

While painting a room is not necessarily a major DIY challenge, it really can completely change the look and feel of a room. I am beginning to find that when I get tired of a space, painting it almost always lifts my spirits and gives me a new outlook on life in that room. The foyer that was once super bright and cheerful (to the point of making my eyes hurt), is now warm and welcoming. I might get sick of brown eventually and if I do, I will just head back to the paint center to fulfill a new craving for change. 
I am obsessed with painting something navy blue eventually....

Moral to the story:
Why live an off-white eggshell life when you can live
a  high gloss mocha latte one?