Friday, September 26, 2014

I can't tell you...

how many times I've started a post that has not come to fruition this past year.

It's been truly frustrating, as I've had some wonderful adventures, but this particular project has

overwhelmed me...


I'm forging ahead with this post….also started many times

Before I get swept away again.

A year has passed since I bought this homely* townhouse

*(most houses are little brown boxes in Albuquerque and this one is no exception)

and embarked upon a top to bottom renovation that involved much more work than I bargained for.

As this little house seemed OK for my purpose,

(small, easy to care for, in a safe, quiet neighborhood, and near my tree….)

my eye went to every crack, dirty nick and bit of dust that bore witness to the last 22 years of tenants

and their (hideous to me) paint colors hidden under crusty switch plates ….

So I set out to change out every part of this house that brought me any measure of unease

and that meant among other things

turning a bedroom closet door around

 so it swung into the room instead of into the closet


changing other closet doors

so they became double 'swing into the room' doors

instead of the heavy sliding doors they were.

I tore out the old built in closet systems and replaced them with

new ones

(using the 'not so' system)

I had a new glass door installed to replace a solid door in my little attached garage to let in light and changed out the garage door for a new insulated model.  With the help of my wonderful retired electrician (Ray) we installed a garage heater and a string of new outlets in addition to moving the ceiling fan from the living room to the garage.
All that in anticipation of turning the garage into a studio.
(pics to come as that project moves forward.)

I changed out every hinge and door latch

 on every door from painted over brass hinges to

 new 'aged bronze' models

and with Ray's help, we changed out all of the electrical outlets and switches and old cheap builder's grade mismatched light fixtures to new ones.
We also recreated a new lighting system for the kitchen and added outlets where there were none.

I re-worked the cabinets in the bathroom with stain, and some in the laundry area with paint and painted the entire house inside and out walls and molding and doors.
(Suddenly Angels appeared to paint the outside….otherwise that would not have happened!)

 I took down the existing upper cabinets in the kitchen (and light fixtures!)

(note the only light in the kitchen is the fluorescent  fixture hanging from the ceiling)

had the upper cabinets replaced with new (stock unfinished) ones that reached higher to the ceiling

(Thank you Jeff for your expert installation.) 

and I painted all of them and the existing cabinets and doors.

Of course I'm sparing you of the interim photos!


OK, no I'm not. 

This was an amazingly difficult job, due to the many issues that cropped up due to the various conditions of the cabinets to be painted.

 I also added cabinets to the two bathrooms and finished them with stain and paint.

Of course they all got

New Knobs!
(and hinges and glides)


 I figured out how to install under cabinet lighting in the kitchen with new fangled LED lighting.

Then as I realized I still did not have enough storage, I bought some
inexpensive oak cabinets on line

 and refinished them

then had them installed……

with a configuration like this in mind….

(and not the $2,100 price tag Home Depot quoted me!)

Next I had the existing powder room sink cabinet refinished because I ran out of steam.

And most recently, I decided to replace the front storm door and when I took the old one down,

I realized the paint was peeling from the door frame……

and had to remove that with a heat gun and prime and paint it….and while I was there I repaired,

primed and painted the porch ceiling.

I installed a new front door lockset and house numbers...

Oh, and I always forget, I had all the windows replaced with new ones.

and replaced most of the window blinds

with new ones...

and then there was that new swamp cooler I got because pigeons were nesting in the old one.

and that list goes on and on…..

I have more to do of course, a patio and block wall, new landscaping….and want to spiff up the studio/garage floor, install the vanity countertop, and have a new railing made for the stairway….

but right now

I'm busy moving my studio again….

and unpacking boxes I've had in storage for three years


How many times can I do that?


I can't tell you

how many times…

but the one thing I want to say throughout this renovation, that I did it pretty much myself….

for reasons of thrift and convenience


because most times calling in help does not satisfy when one knows one can do the work

at least as well and many times better

than the 'guys' she's been conditioned to rely on…

Yes, the one thing I wanted to say, was that I never really felt like I 'knew' what I was doing

or up against

until I got into it.

Like flipping the door around.

I was sure the $50 an hour handyman 'guy' I consulted could grasp that concept and all he did was complain & say how much simpler it would be to buy a new door in a frame (and discard the old perfectly good one!?)

So what happened throughout this renovation, was that I put my face into each project, took one step at a time, weighed my options, did the research, drew on my past experience, complained a bit,

coveted my tools,

and my support system

and trusted


I could do this.

And when all else failed, some miracle happened, and I lost track of all time and space, and was guided to the finish.

There were times I was sure I couldn't complete a task……and suddenly the solution appeared….my brain functioned, or a heavy cabinet became not so heavy.

 I feel so blessed to have had the time, the means and the opportunity to carve out this little space for myself and thank those parts of me that kept the faith that we (my guides and me)
could make this work.

Same little brown box
a work in progress.


  1. omg . you are a master ! you are strong ! and you are brave ! [ i may just be quoting lines from The Help here i think ]
    and all that previous experience that life has given you has shown up here in this , your very OWN house. fantastic. goooo self belief !! go you !! feel proud [ if you want to ? ] so wish i could swing by and sit on those stools in the kitchen for a quiet or boisterous beverage . and yes , your kitchen has me wondering ...can i do it ? :-) or could i import you for a month ....... heheheh brilliant . you with the keen eye . XO

    1. Yes you can do it! However I hope I did not make it look easy! I would LOVE to be imported…keeping in mind the bottles of wine that would be consumed after a hard days work and in celebration. And if you could only see my place now with all the studio stuff packed into my little living room leaning against those stools. I am in heaven being so close to all of it…even though it's not in it's proper space yet. Thank you SO much for these compliments……I do feel proud.

  2. Replies
    1. OH you who makes her nest wherever she lands…..

  3. Oh brilliant, how I love hearing this story and seeing these photos! And now you will walk around your space, delighting in its beauty and in the satisfaction of knowing you made all those changes yourself. We moved back home to the island in July, but I've been gone half that time and C is injured, so we are still not "moved in" (boxes still to be unpacked, art to be put on walls, new furniture to be purchased etc). But we are so happy to be home, and to be recreating our home. I'm happy for you, Anna!

    1. OH, I would love to experience your island. Sending healing energy to C…..and remember it takes time to blossom in your place….I know you know that and will savor your process and be gentle with yourselves. So nice to hear from you! ox

  4. Wonderful! I had a taste of that this summer when I re-finished the faux wood kitchen cupboard doors in my home, cleaned the old "retro" knobs (because I couldn't find new ones to fit in existing holes and filling/drilling new ones wasn't on), and had new counter tops installed. Even tiny touches make such a difference -- and your complete make-over is amazing!

    1. Wow Margaret, you've been busy! Thank you for your compliment. Caring for Home feels so good doesn't it?
      Even the tiny touches….

  5. gosh my house is falling apart. i have stitched a lot of cloth though.

    1. Speaking of which…….I was just thinking if I had been doing something more creative what I could have accomplished. You have completed your MasterPeace………..also Home. Miles of comfort. Same Same, or More Better if one is prone to comparisons. The making of your 'Home' is the most inspiring thing I've ever been a witness to. It will live to inspire and comfort well beyond all of us and our houses.

  6. it looks like you have created a home for yourself . i can't wait to see what you create . thank you for sharing your progress . what a great feeling to know you have done this yourself .

  7. wow. what a huge and fine accomplishment. and it's yours. i am always so glad when women of a certain age who were conditioned to call the builder (some guy with strong and perverse opinions), and to put up with that (and PAY for it)...well, i look at this and it makes me smile a BIG smile! well done.

    1. OH Thank YOU so much Velma. It feels VERY good to have a witness to my experience. Happy to inspire a smile!

  8. Oh, it looks so wonderful... you've done so much work!! And brought new life to your new home! So proud of you!

  9. Awesome work! I love your before and after pictures. It’s quite amazing that you took on the bulk of this work yourself. That is a daunting to task for most people, male or female. And you did a better job than most would have! It must be satisfying knowing that your sweat built the place you love.

    Giovanni @ Coastal Contract Hardware