Putting Down My Paintbrush. Kinda.

I have a love-hate relationship with deadlines. I mean, judging by how often they are preceded by swearing, you would think I loathe them, but that doesn’t seem to stop me from imposing artificial due dates on my house projects to motivate me to get my ass in gear. This results in a lot of “you need to take a break” from people, and I’m all, “Actually, I’d like to finish off this graceful swan-dive to rock bottom right now if you don’t mind. Thanks.”

The more time I spend working on projects in this house on my own, the more I’m realizing it’s all just part of the method to my madness. Riding the waves of adrenaline, forcing myself into tight deadlines, refusing to ask for help (or asking for help specifically to motivate me to do it by myself before help arrives). And, yeah, let’s all take a moment right now to feel sorry for the two guys who had the misfortune to cohabitate with me in the last decade, bless their crazy, patient little hearts.

I recently stumbled across this interview with Jack White of the White Stripes, and this quote really hit home:

Deadlines make you creative, but telling yourself you’ve got all the time in the world, all the money in the world, all the colors in the palette, that just kills creativity.

I feel like I live this every day, with my house projects, ideas, photography, writing (mostly late at night), and there’s truth to it… when I have all the time in the world, I don’t get half as much done. But I’m also beginning to understand that there is a balance between what I can accomplish on my own, and what I want to accomplish on my own.

Hey, you know what I don’t want to do anymore? Paint trim.

I want to finish building my laundry room doors, and build cabinets for the upstairs bath, and install hardwood in my hallway, and frame in new closets in the master bedroom, and tear out carpet, and make a great big piece of art for the kitchen wall. But “paint trim” is not on that list, so guess what? I’ve hired a painter to do it.

Yep. Little Miss always does it herself is bringing in professional help.

I spent about twelve minutes having mixed feelings about this, about why I’m taking perfectly good money–that could be put towards the purchase of a panel saw–and am giving it to a guy (who is not charging me $5k, by the way, but still) to do something I’m perfectly capable of doing. But you know what? The painter is coming in eleven days. So I had an honest moment and asked myself what I would realistically accomplish in the next eleven days if left to my own devices, and the answer was “start a lot of new projects to procrastinate painting trim.” (Do I know myself or what?)

Alternatively, I can pay a painter to come in and paint the ceilings, windows, wainscoting, and trim (followed just a few short days later by a visit from Meryl and Chris from Picardy Project for the Renovation Road Trip) and now I’ve created a pretty crazy deadline to get this list of stuff done in the next two weeks:

  • Finish patching all the holes in the Pink Parlor ceiling
  • Purchase and paint all of the planks for the upstairs hallway to install with Meryl and Chris
  • Finish prepping and paint the upstairs hallway walls
  • Move any necessary electrical for the lights upstairs
  • Figure out which room is the guest room and make it habitable

Oh, yeah, and…

  • Sand down the floors in the parlor and entry before the rooms get painted (which, if my past experience with these floors is any indication, will take a good sixteen passes with the sander)

Because I’m crazy. But seriously, how’s that for motivation?

Yes, I’m spending some money that I don’t actually have to spend, but the end result is that in less than a month, this room…


And this room…

DSC_0678And this hallway…


Will basically be done.

As in, uh, I can put actual furniture in them and stop tripping over paint trays on my way to the shower every morning.

So I’ve stopped thinking of it as paying someone to do something I can do myself (painting) and starting thinking of it as paying for something I don’t have and apparently can’t conjure out of thin air at the moment (motivation), which actually gets me pretty amped up for the next couple of weeks and where I’ll be at the end of them.

I’m still battling a stiff neck and a little bit of a cold, but you know what? I really do believe that when the odds are stacked against you, that’s when the good stuff happens. (It’s also probably when hospital visits happen, but I’m going to stay positive today.)

32 Responses

  1. Love it! Good for you! I have to admit I will miss the pink parlor, but i am sure that is only because I don’t have to live with it. Can’t wait to see the finished spaces!

    1. Most of the pink is actually gone already… I painted the wall part of the walls a while ago, but that wainscotting makes me want to stab my eyeballs out with a paintbrush.

      1. Wait. What? When. When did you paint the pink parlor? And what color? Am I a slacker stalker and missed a post?

        1. You know, it occurred to me when I wrote that, that I may never have posted anything about it because I never finished the room. The closest thing may be this post, back in April

          I actually completely finished the walls sometime after that (they are BenMoore’s November Rain)but the wainscoting is a mess. I painted about half of it in white semi-gloss (turns out I hate semi gloss and the white is too white) and then stopped and basically haven’t walked back in that room for the last 3 months. But the drum sander and I will be back in there tommorrow!

        2. Also, I’m tired so I forgot to mention… this comment totally made me laugh out loud. God, I am such a mess, and so unfunny right now. Ha.

          1. Thanks for the link. I feel all caught up. Just so you know, you are living my dream-Renovating an old farmhouse. You have what would be my ideal farmhouse, outbuildings and land and I love your design choices and writing voice. I can’t help but be obsessed with your blog and your renovation progress. I am definitely living vicariously through you. ( I also live far away from you so no worries if that creeps you out.) Stay strong. Stay spectacular.

  2. Wishing we lived closer so I could do that trim painting project for you. I’d be able to make some cash, you’d get your trim painted.

    Or maybe not. I can paint trim pretty well. What I can’t do is afford to qualify for anti-lead-paint certification.

  3. You’ve been in my head! How freeing is it when you finally make the decision to write a check. After all the arguments with yourself about being able to do it yourself and what a waste of money it would be are over, it feels awesome!

  4. Without realizing it, by the end of this post, I heard the most patriotic music in my head, with you declaring your DIY convictions, with a giant American flag waving behind you. Chuck Norris would be proud, as am I. You get ’em woman.

    1. I really, really need to shoot that picture someday. lol. And look at it whenever I need some motivation.

      Alternatively, I need Chuck Norris to come by periodically and threaten to kick my ass.

  5. I always say I need to be busy to get anything done. If nothing is going on, then nothing gets done.

    And I totally understand your feeling bad for 5 seconds, that’s how I felt about our floors getting done while we’re gone. But then I realized we will NEVER have to think about them again and I thought: SOLD!

    And by the way, I’m currently sleeping in a room with a hole in the wall 3 feet from my face into a completely gutted room with the mattress on the floor. As long as there’s something to sleep on, we don’t care what it looks like 🙂

    1. I know! That is my exact motivation for attempting to finish the floors before the walls are done. Because then I never have to worry about those rooms again! It’s going to be so awesome.

      The house is going to be a complete disaster when you guys come, but I can offer a room with a bed and minimal sawdust, and beer.

  6. I know just what you mean about deadlines. But self-imposed deadlines don’t do a thing for me; I just blow right by them!
    Are you sure you want to paint the walls in the hallway before you install flooring? I would think the walls could take a beating while you’re putting down the floor.
    Looking forward to seeing more progress. It’s looking good!

    1. Good point Peggy. I’m installing this 3/8″ thick veneer flooring, and it’s a tedious process but not too unwieldy, so I think the walls should be okay. I’d be more worried about spilling a gallon of paint on the floor after installing it. (Has happened. Not fun.)

  7. I am so sorry for your injury. That really sucks when there are things to do. Hope you are feeling better soon. You’re really coming along. Love to read your blog every morning! Cheers!

  8. I totally relate to the deadlines and nothing getting done when you have too much time.

    Yay for you admitting that you just don’t want to do something and moving along with stuff that makes you happy. That’s the key to sanity and forward progress. I think. I am not totally sure I have a lock on either.

  9. I agree with your comments on deadlines. Without them my house would be yet even more chaotic! And yet, I also think that expectations of what you want to accomplish in a certain day can easily lead to massive frustration followed by depression. Just as you often point out, sometimes it doesn’t go the way you planned. I try to keep my DIY in proper perspective and work on it when I can. I try to take satisfaction in what was done (sometimes it is very hard).

    So when the hard deadlines are approaching, you learn to compromise. That always means me sleeping less (if that is even possible), often burn through vacation days from work, sometimes I have to leave a project half finished until next spring, and sometimes I suck up my pride and hire someone. Ironically hiring a painter is likewise one of the few cases I’ve had to resort to the last option.

  10. One of the best and worst tings about finally retiring is being able to tell yourself “Oh well, I’ll do it tomorrow.” So at times its really hard to get motivated. Deadlines are a must. Like winter coming, now I am kicking ass on things that could have been done all summer. Self-imposed deadlines only work part of the time becasue I know there really isn’t one. At any rate, I’d never keep up with three houses and my cabin if I weren’t retired.

    I am currently painting the outside of my big Victorian tri-plex. Three sides down and one side and the garage to go. Although I REALLY don’t like to paint, I am damn good at it and would do your beadboard and trim if I could. Beadboard is a pain but there are certain techniques to make it go quicker, and I’ve done lots of it! Not unlike the horrible siding on the outside of this house. Very tedious.

    Hope your neck is feeling better.

    1. Believe it or not I was a writer-Editor in my past life – but look at all those typos! Sorry!

      1. Ha. I don’t judge because I know my posts are a mess of typos and unintentionally poor grammar.

        Also, neck is feeling a thousand times better than Monday. Not perfect, but I’ll take it!

  11. Glad to hear you’re feeling better! Actually, I agree with getting more done under a deadline or when stressed. For whatever reason, it works for this master procrastinator. Can hardly wait to see all that woodwork painted & that hall ceiling done!

  12. I HATE – ABHOR – DESPISE painting trim so I’m with you on paying somebody to do it (they say kitchen and bathrooms sells house …pffrrr …perfectly painted trim does it for me, really).

  13. Winter is coming….and it will be lovely having those rooms done. Whatever it takes! I have to plan a party before I clean my house.and, I too have spilled a gallon of paint, barn red, on a newly painted floor. Take precautions!

  14. I give myself deadlines too, but it seems like every project I start takes WAY longer then I plan on. Like right now, I’m painting my porch. I didn’t factor in the 5-6 hours of sanding I have been doing EVERY Saturday and Sunday for 4 weeks. I’m almost half way through though.
    If I had the money, I would gladly have passed this job onto someone else.
    Love love love reading your blog! You keep me motivated to keep working on my 104 year old house!

  15. I think that part of the responsibility of holding the title of DIY Diva is knowing when to bring in reinforcements. Good call, and here’s to the project-hyper speed to cone in the next few weeks. We’re renovating a new house this year too(although hiring out a much bigger amount of the work!), and it’s like magic when you get home from work and something has been accomplished without you! And then you actually get to move furniture into a room! I know that this kind of reward will keep your motivation up for tackling the other things on your incredibly long list, and I can’t wait to see the results!

  16. Every house blogger out there has “paint trim” on their lists. There’s a reason no one wants to paint trim (which seems to grow exponentially – WTF???) and there’s a reason “Paint trim” keeps showing up on everyone’s “house to do” list (including mine for the past. five. years.) Painting trim freaking sucks.

    So to Kit I say – ALL HAIL!!!

    Finally, someone has broken the seal – I’m freaking hiring someone tomorrow to paint the 20 miles of trim in my house. And I will not feel guilty about it.
    THANK YOU!!!!

  17. I like the look of trim, but after reading this post and its hilarious comments I almost glad that trim is not used in Mexico’s houses. On a related note, Mexico is not a good place to DIY, labor cost is too low, no motivation to save. A friend wanted to paint 3 rooms in his house, the quote? (don’t laugh) is 153 doll aprox. for 2.5 days of work. See? Zero motivation. But I still love it.

  18. Its people like you who make us procrastinators look bad. However, reading your blog make me feel like I’ve worked harder.

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