Thursday, February 7, 2013

Coat Cove

I tend to over-plan house projects (I know, shocking), but my ventures generally go smoothly and the organization stage is half of the "fun" (especially in the winter, when I'm feeling trapped in here with no trips to the ocean in the oracle); normal course of action is to find everything I can on pinterest for vision, then create a spreadsheet detailing time and cost estimates for each step, including sister projects that should be incorporated because the tools are already out and later phases for when we have more money or find a good deal.  The spreadsheet evolves as we go, but I am generally just slightly under budget on both and in the end proclaim, "Wow, that turned out as good as I could have hoped!  We should have done it 5 years ago!"  

During this current project, no such proclamation was made.  
Before / New Light & Border / After

Shortly after the Christmas festivities, I was a little feisty and realized that nobody uses our front coat closet but my sister.  Our home has five feet of prime location with nearly nothing in it but wooden hangers and a small table for purses, hats, gloves, items to return, etc., which sits empty, even when there are 30 people in the house.  Throngs of kids visit our home after school leaving a barricade of backpacks, coats, and boots in front of the door, but never in the designated coat closet.

I talked to a couple of close friends and family who said that they would NEVER open someone's closet, even ours, after I've said that they should.  So basically, I would need to greet people at the door and hang their coats myself if I wanted them in the closet.  Although that may be proper etiquette and polite, our house is kind of transient and that is sort of unrealistic, unless things change and I can hire a Downton Abbey style footman.  I'll tell you this much, it won't be Thomas.  He gives me the creeps and he has a lot of issues.

My DH does not strike one as particularly pro-active upon first introduction; he is kind of laid back and comfortable but one of his strengths, is that if I say, "Hmmm... I wonder what it would look like if we took the doors off this closet?"  Before I finish making dinner, he has the doors off and has piled them in the corner of the garage.  And in this case, I discovered that I really like the closet with no doors (above left).  The next couple of weekends we proceeded to slowly remove everything from the area, take down the rod, the shelves, and fix the crumbling / cracking plaster walls.

At this point, everything was pretty much as planned.  I had a vision to reuse some molding from another project and all of the left over 1" tile from the fireplace and bathroom, as well as some tile that was sitting on my desk at work for 3 years.  Yes.  The order slip said 2009.  I figured we just needed to buy some paint, oak to match the existing molding to build a bench, hooks for the coats, and adhesive / grout to affix the tile to the wall, and maybe a cheap new pull-string light.  This project should cost about $60 but make a huge difference on the usable space in our home.

I won't bore you with more than a paragraph of details, but paint is really expensive and I couldn't find an acceptable can in the "mixed wrong section". The oak was WAY more than I thought it would be; it turned out to be nearly cheaper to buy a pre-built bench at Home Depot for $70.  The molding I was going to reuse was too grooved for the hooks.  Hooks were $4 each (x10), even at Walmart.  Adhesive was $10 and grout was $22.  An acceptable light fixture was $40, rather than $10.  My cheap project turned out to be $255, and I still haven't bought the shelves or decorations.

The time estimates were also off.  The walls were in much worse shape than I thought.  I sanded and patched them for 5 days.  As soon as a coat would dry, I would sand it off (as a side note, if ever sanding plaster or drywall, it is best to own a hand sander that hooks to the shop vac.  It saves A LOT of dust) and then put on another.  When it came time to paint, I decided it would look nice to paint the upstairs hall the same color as the closet for continuity.  The painted area had 7 doorways to cut around.  Because of an earthquake a couple of years back, those walls needed a ton of patching as well.  I am a very fast and even free-hand painter but two coats took me 7 hours.  Ridiculous.  I budgeted about 2 hours.

The border, tile, hooks, and light went up quickly, although I wish that I had more tile to do the side walls also, but that is what happens when you use left-overs.  All in all the project looks really nice.  We've had it completed for about a week and everyone uses it!  Visiting backpacks are stowed on the bench, coats are hung out of the way rather than strewn across couches.  There is even a lost and found basket!  The light is subtle.  The open area (and no boots covering the entrance) make the front hall seem much bigger.  I really love it. 

I think the coat cove looks fine from a distance,
 and we still have the doors in the garage if
I get sick of it.
But being over budget on both time and money was not the worst part of the project:  I think I poisoned myself (yes, I'm being melodramatic wimp).  I researched on Consumer Reports first and bought the best value paint on the market (currently the Ace Clark & Kensington Satin).  It has a lower VOC than allowed but more than the Behr paint that I usually used. I painted on a day that was literally 9 degrees outside.  I didn't ventilate and the house really didn't smell that bad.  Even people who came over the next day couldn't believe that I had painted just the day before. That said, the night I painted I had a terrible headache and felt genuinely awful but blamed it on the weather.  Saturday I was in a weird daze, felt nauseous, and irritable all day.  I thought maybe I was coming down with something but everyday felt the same.  It wasn't really getting worse, but it certainly wasn't better.  I've had a hard time breathing and sleeping.  It feels like something is stuck in my lungs and head.  And then I remembered the paint. 

As a note to self, probably cross "huffing paint" off your bucket list of possible ways to get a buzz and even with low VOC, probably not a good idea to paint in the dead of winter when there is no chance to open windows while working.  I have felt like death for 7 days, even though the house smells fine.  When researching what to do for paint fume poisoning on the internet... it basically says, "Open a window you crazy donkus."

No comments:

Post a Comment