I hate to admit it, but I'm more than a little worried we may have bitten off more than we can chew. I'm currently sitting in our kitchen, amid a mess of objects from the sun porch, as we scurry to decorate the room at warp speed in time for Alexandria's Holiday Designer Tour of Homes on December 1. Let's face it, we all know Alex and I don't do well with renovation deadlines.

We have curtains partially installed, but in need of hemming. Our walls are barren and devoid of any art. Atop our brass Asian table sits a dated silver lamp, completely the wrong size and finish for the location., and the list goes on and on! 

In the basement sits a chair that once belonged to my great grandfather. 

Photo circa 2004

Currently it's in pieces, as years ago we disassembled it in order to better sand and restore it. It's this same chair that we hope to have fully restored, and nestled in the corner of the sun porch in just two short weeks.

With a mere 16 days to go, I'm looking around the house trying to see our home as a first time visitor may. The things I'm seeing are scaring me. I mean, why on earth did we stop stripping our dining room door jamb nearly a decade ago, and think it was okay to leave it in its current state? 

Why did Alex feel the need to scrape a portion of the transom window in our kitchen, you know, "to see how hard it would be to strip the paint," and yet it's sat unpainted and in a state of identity crisis for years.

The summer brought with it hoards of spiders, and now that the spider population has thinned out in the cold weather, they've left gross spider "spots" under the eaves of our house. Alex gave it a go this weekend, and promptly pronounced spider poop removal to be at least a two hour job, better reserved for another day. 

We even have mismatched and not fully functional Smarthome switches that are missing switch plate covers. Oh no, that's not gonna fly.

I'm feeling completely overwhelmed, bordering on having a nervous breakdown. I'm going to be honest here. There's been screaming (by a psycho blonde in our house that I've never seen before). And given the day is young, we might even be able to work in a couple thrown objects and perhaps (if we're lucky) a tear or two. 

We'll be keeping it real, folks. If you want to see all the behind the scenes drama that is going in to our preparations for the event, you'll find it here. And if you'll be in the Alexandria/Washington, DC area on December 1, don't forget to enter to win two free tickets to the home tour so you can see the "after" in person. 

In all actuality, I'm going to go ahead and tell myself that I'm actually quite confident our home will look beautiful come December 1. But I also am rather certain I'll be a raving lunatic until that day comes. My poor, poor husband. Anyone want to offer up a room, so he, Mel and Lulu can make a getaway? I think I just need to remember that we're our own worst critics. (Do you notice, this is me trying to act calm...but I'm still freaking out.)

Have you ever put yourself and your family into a time crunch when it comes to home projects? I feel like it may be the thing that spurs us to actually get some things accomplished in a timely manner, but it's rather hectic getting there. I'd love to hear any similar experiences to know I'm not alone.

Comments 40


11/15/2012 at 11:54 AM
ACK! I know how you feel. We have a birthday party, which is supposedly also marking the end of our big renovation project. EXCEPT ITS NOT DONE. And there is dirt, dust, clutter, and half finished projects all around. Oh and its in two days. Anxiety-fueled freak out mode is how i have been feeling the entire week. why, why did we do this to ourselves?
LOL. I have NO IDEA why we do this to ourselves! I guess it's the only way in our house that we crank through projects on our list. :-) Good luck getting ready for the party!
Kelly C.
11/15/2012 at 12:04 PM
LOL! This would be the one time in my life I would force my husband to pay for a bit of help. People out there need extra money & it would be so, so nice to get a few of those jobs off the list. He'd rebel, but I would eventually win, lol! Good luck, I'm happy to be following the journey. Wish I was closer, I'd love to come!!
I think we'll be hiring out the window cleaning (I didn't even mention that in the post), but the rest will be the two of us and maybe a good friend or two. I just need to remind myself that it doesn't all "need" to get done -- just the major stuff or really noticeable stuff.

I wish you could come too!
Kelly C.
11/15/2012 at 12:05 PM
And, I meant to say I LOVE that chair!!
Thanks! It's probably not going to be the epitome of comfort, but given that it's a family piece, I want it to have a prominent place in our home.
11/15/2012 at 12:07 PM
Every spring our Neighborhood does a tour of homes. While our house is years away from being ready for such an event, a friend’s home was on our last year and two months before the event, he had my wife and I, and several others come over and point out everything that we see and to be brutally honest.

Much to his surprise, it was only 1/10th of what his list had. He was much less freaked out by that.

I am sure that your house is super awesome and you just see these things because you are always there and fond of perfection.
That's a great idea, Michael. We might need to have friends come through as "secret shoppers" and give us brutally honest feedback. :-)
11/15/2012 at 12:08 PM
I never thought I'd become a person that could deal with half finished projects. And then it happened to me to. It's hard to try and see your place through someone else's eyes. But then you do, and you realize you've lived with some weird shit and it was okay. I think this is the best sort of motivation to get that stuff fixed/finished. We've all been there. Best of luck!
LOL! Yes, we've been living with some weird shit indeed. I guess on one hand I'm grateful for the excuse that we need to fix this crap, once and for all!
11/15/2012 at 12:12 PM
I hate to admit it, but I would probably be acting the exact same way you are if I were in your shoes, Wendy. Guys just don't get it. Good luck! I have a feeling that one way or another it will all get done.
Thanks, Elizabeth. I hope you're right!
11/15/2012 at 12:13 PM
You guys are DIY Rockstars, though, and I have every confidence that you'll get done what absolutely needs to be done, and make fabulous those things that YOU feel you had to make-do with!!
Granted, I understand the pressure you're feeling, but now that you've had your freak out, get back to work!!!! :D And you know, try to have fun :)
Thanks, Whitney. You're right on the getting back to work. Freaking out isn't going to get anything done!
11/15/2012 at 12:14 PM
I would probably just cheat and throw a quick coat of white paint over the "crappy paint" areas. I did this for a few spots around my house (where I had torn drywall paper showing), and it disappeared pretty decently (to be fixed later).

The light switch cover seems like an easy fix?

The issue, though, is the chair. I would NOT rush an antique restoration (not if it's an heirloom and you want a good final product). Could you just ask a friend/relative/neighbour to borrow a suitable chair or piece of furniture for the house tour?
I think we'll be doing something similar to your paint suggestion. Doing a full paint removal will take too much time, so we're looking at scraping the bad parts, sanding it smooth, and putting on a fresh coat of paint. I'd also like to repaint the shoe molding in the house, but I think a Mr. Clean scrubbing will have to do.

Good point on the chair. We'll play that on by ear.
Thanks JC, and I totally agree on the chair. In the photo above, you can see that it was in rough shape. What you can't see if just how bad of shape the wood and finish was in. As much as it pains me now, before we knew better, we sanded the whole thing. We were young and stupid, and we felt it was in too bad of shape to do anything with. So now we have a family item that's been sanded and need to apply a finish to it. The sanding lost a lot of that original and wonderful patina, but I'm keeping my head up and moving forward. I'm thinking of giving aniline dye with a shellac top coat. I know you have tons of opinions on this. If we're looking for a deep, dark, and beautiful color, is this the way to go?
11/15/2012 at 12:28 PM
I completely understand! I do the same thing to myself. We are restoring a 1905 Vicorian cottage and waited three years before even having a housewarming party because I didn't want people to see all the unfinished projects. We ended up having the party with a completely bare fireplace (raw, soot-stained brick and all) as we have to build a new mantle for it (as the original had been removed years before our purchase of the house). I felt like I needed to explain the story to every person who came but most people didn't really even notice. (Here, I'm thinking, "How can they NOT notice?!") But, there just wasn't enough time with scrambling to finish all the other projects. I think the only way I get something done is with a deadline...but it makes me a raving lunatic in the process.

I'm looking forward to seeing the photos from the home tour. I'm sure it will look amazing!
We can totally relate. We waited 9 months to have a housewarming party, except we thought the place looked great (knowing how far we had come). Looking back on the pictures now, it was a total wreck!! :-)
11/15/2012 at 12:39 PM
I can understand you so well. That's me before every big invitation. But. My place was an actual mess, because I have/had (working on it) a clutter problem. Your home is gorgeous already, or the wouldn't have chosen you for the tour. Always keep that in mind!

Make a list, and identify the must-dos and the optionals. Some things would be lovely, but if it just elevates something from gorgeous to more gorgeous, I'd skip it. Especially if I might ruin something by rushing it. So I'm with JC, don't try to quickly finish the chair. You would not give it the attention it deserves, and it would still take time that could finish three smaller things at least. I think your sunporch looks great! And you want to have something left for next year's tour, don't you :)

For decoration, like the lamp that's wrong, maybe you can borrow some beautiful tings from lokal shops in exchange for a discreetly placed card that tells people where they could buy it? That way you don't have to spend money on something you're not convinced about or would've wanted to deal hunt.

Or ask your neighbors. I bet they would spare a lamp or chair for a day.

And whenever I panic, I try to remember: drops in a bucket!
Read here to understand: swistle.blogspot.de/2010/07/in-bucket-in.html

You'll be fine!
Thanks so much for the reassurance, Judith. Great suggestion on making a list in order of priority, and for borrowing items we may need!
Jill PP
11/15/2012 at 1:16 PM
I totally feel your pain! I'm exactly the same way when we're working towards a deadline (but that also seems to be the only way we actually get things done). We have some family coming up for Thanksgiving, and it will be their first time staying in our house. We're going crazy trying to fix all these little things before they arrive AND plan and cook Thanksgiving dinner. After it's over I'll be drinking copious amounts of wine!
Project list + major cooking endeavor + family = stress! I'd like to suggest you begin consuming copious amounts of wine right now! :-) Good luck!
11/15/2012 at 1:26 PM
I'm so sorry you're feeling this way, take a deep breath! I am actually the opposite, I like having a deadline b/c it makes me get things done. We try to invite friends over for dinner regularly so we have reasons to hang pictures, curtains, vacuum, etc. otherwise we get home from work and we're like, hmm... let's open a bottle of wine with dinner and watch Homeland instead of going through that pile of mail on the dining room table... haha. Your home is lovely and the people coming through on this home tour will be checking out the holiday decorations, not your half-scraped door jamb :-)

Some hopefully helpful suggestions, 1: safety pin the curtains to "hem" them temporarily. 2: have your decorator put a dog and cat themed mini xmas tree in that corner instead of rushing to finish that chair (since Lulu and Mel seem to like that spot)! 3: Good luck and repeat "serenity now, serenity now" :-)
We are pretty much the same on the "let's open wine and watch TV" front. If Homeland were on like a soap opera (as in, every day), our life would come to a halt. Such a great show!

Not sure if you saw it this weekend, but if you didn't, you have to watch the SNL Homeland Sketch.
11/23/2012 at 10:36 AM
I just watched this, soooooo hilariously spot-on. I won't be able to watch the show again without thinking about Brody's tiny mouth or Carrie's twitchy chin, haha.
11/15/2012 at 1:27 PM
Our home was on our neighborhood's annual fall tour of historic homes last year. Of course we went to work on 20 different projects to cover in about 2 months, only a handful were completed! As overwhelming as it is, your home will show beautifully. People will be in awe of all you have accomplished and the beauty of your home decked out for the holidays. Take a deep breath, pour a glass of wine, and tell your designer to pull out extra sparkles to distract the masses!
That sounds like the best plan yet! :-) Thanks for the encouragement, Laura!
11/15/2012 at 1:39 PM
We needed to get our "leaky, just moved in, in a state of disrepair and using moving boxes as furniture" house into top shape for a TV reno show we were going to be on. The house had to be clean top to bottom, tidy & organized, and void of all logos and copyrighted material. They would be shooting every single inch of our home from our basement to our closets to under our sinks, then broadcasting it to millions of people around the world. I almost lost my sh%t when we got the call saying they'd be there to film in 48 hours (almost two weeks earlier than we expected them.)

Guess what? It got done. Did every tiny little get perfected? No...but all the big stuff got done, and everything else we shoved into rubbermaid containers and hid it in the basement...
Whoa, every nook and cranny on television? And two weeks ahead of schedule? Yeah, I would have lost it for sure. So how did the show turn out? By any chance is it online so I can check it out?
11/15/2012 at 3:31 PM
The show was amazing, they saved us from our leaky leaky house. In Canada its easy to watch www.storefrontlife.com/how-it-all-started/, but in the US I cant seem to find it streaming on HGTV.
Here is the show info in the US and it does list when it airs (of course it was on yesterday) www.hgtv.com/holmes-inspection/moisture-madness/index.html

One caveat; no making fun of my dorky crying!
11/15/2012 at 1:39 PM
speaking as someone who has been to your lovely, lovely home, i guarantee you that you are the only person who sees these things. the vast majority of people who are seeing your home for the first time will be too busy oohing and aahing over all the hard work that you guys have evidently put into restoring and decorating your place. they will all seriously be blinded by beauty! that being said, i totally understand the panic and good luck getting it all done! :)
Thanks, Gretchen! I know you fully understand impending deadlines at the moment. :-) Hope all is going well with your kitchen and "addition"!
11/15/2012 at 1:57 PM
Everything will be okay. Just take one issue at a time and deal with it. Find the most egregious and focus on that until it's done. Then work your way down the line. And what you can't fix, cover with greenery. :-)
Ha ha! Cover with greenery. Love it! :-)
11/15/2012 at 2:04 PM
I realize you don't know me from Eve, but it sounds like you need a sister to walk in and give you permission to relax. I know, easier to say than do. I'd say-don't try to take on any more new projects--like the chair--use tape or staples for the curtains, cover the switch plate cover... Your less than perfect house will actually help people relax and realize your house is in transition and that is just fine. Perfection is over-rated.
:-) Thanks, Monica! All great advice. One thing at a time, right?
11/15/2012 at 6:43 PM
I cant imagine quite the same pressure, but I can tell you that I personally wouldnt notice that stuff, not on a walk through that is mainly to see Christmas decor. I mean, I would absolutely be doing the same thing that you are and freaking out, but from the pictures of your house that are posted, I wouldnt notice the little stuff, and even if I did I would only think "Oh hey check it out! They are human too!"

Does that make sense?
11/15/2012 at 8:51 PM
Breathe, Wendy, breathe. Remember, home tours are about staging ... just the latest term for 'smoke and mirrors'. Christmas decorations can hide a LOT.

Just wanted you to know that I now feel a whole lot less inadequate now that I see that I'm not the only one who lives with half stripped doorways and other stuff like that. Hopefully, telling you this will make YOU feel better, too.
11/15/2012 at 11:25 PM
Breathe, focus, move. You're going to nail it! And whatever isn't finished will be fine, because people well appreciate the work in progress. All the work you guys have completed will over shadow any projects that remain.

Oh yea, and I agree. Holiday decor is like mulch and paint. It will cover a multitude of things! :)
Since you've not signed in yet, you will need to fill in your name and email below. If you have a Facebook account, save yourself a step and use Connect to login.

Denotes a required field.

Please enter full URL, including http://

You can use Markdown syntax in your comment. And you can also use lots of Emoji!
  • Search

  • Login
  • Follow
  • Advertising

If you're looking for information on advertising and sponsorships, head on over to our sponsorships page. You can purchase site sponsorships in a few easy clicks. 

Toolbox Tuesday
Open Housing
  • We're Featured!

Old Town Home has been featured in the following places and publications:

The Washington Post
Washingtonian Magazine
Old House Journal
Apartment Therapy House Tour
Washington Post Express Feature
Home & Garden Blogs
© 2024 OldTownHome.com. - Privacy Policy

Unexpected Error

Your submission caused an unexpected error. You can try your request again, but if you continue to experience problems, please contact the administrator.