I have two particular bits of home-ownership advice for you that aren’t exactly “hard-won”, but that at least weren’t obvious to me when we moved in and have helped us out quite a bit.
The first is, in hindsight, very obvious. Now that we own a new place, we’ve been slowly putting in furniture as needs have arisen and nice pieces have been sought out or just stumbled across. The problem was that for the first three or four months of that we’d periodically see something nice that might fit in that space, but might not, and maybe we should measure it, and how big is that space anyway, and what about the window sill… you know, just a bunch of stupid going back and forth. So I bought an art notebook, and spent two hours making some reasonably accurate line drawings of all of our wall and floor layouts, wrote all the measurements down and clipped the paint chips we’ve used for our walls into the front. Then I bought a cheap tape measure and I leave it with the book, in the car. And now the question of will it fit in that space, match that color, whatever, it’s just a non-problem.
Might be obvious to you, but I’ve never heard of it before, so here you are. It sure has saved us the trouble of bringing home things that won’t fit in that corner or up the stairs more than once.
Ok, number two: let’s say you’ve got a place in the Toronto area and you’re thinking about repainting it, you know, to liven it up or make it your own or whatever. You just moved in, just bought a place, you’re tired of the old color or you’ve been watching too much learning-channel reno porn, whatever. If you’re thinking about repainting your place and you’re unsure about colors, materials, tools, whatever, here’s what you do: on the corner of Queen and Carlaw there is a paint store housing a fellow named “Ed”, his merry band of employees and their collection of color chips and paint brushes.
Go to that store, and explain your situation to Ed. Maybe show him a picture of the thing you’re painting.
Then do exactly what he tells you. Do not deviate from his instructions in the least measure. Couldn’t be simpler!
Over the course of our first year of home ownership here we have routinely had conversations, maybe a dozen of them, with Paint Guy (for months, until we found out he was Ed, he was only Paint Guy) that went very much like this:
“So, we need to repaint the (whatever), and we’re thinking of (whatever).”
“Well, in an older house like yours, you might try (this colour) with (that colour) as an accent. It’s a very (adjective) combination, but I think it will look great. You’ll need (item), (item) and if you don’t have (chemical) you might want a quart of that, too.”
Now, that looks like some sort of pedestrian, suburbanite mad-lib thing, I know! But every time we’ve tried deviating from the do-exactly-what-he-says plan, we’ve ended up not really liking the result, going back and doing it again. Which can be pretty onerous. But I swear to you, he’s some sort of colour-psychic chromatic-savant, and our results have been uniformly great.
It’s actually kind of eerie. We’ve just finished repainting our staircase after waffling back and forth for a few weeks about colors, materials, all sorts of stuff. And when we went to see him today, he said maybe three sentences about what color to use and how to do it. So we did that. And now we’re staring at the results, on the verge of pissed off about how easy he makes it look. It’s exactly the right color. What the hell? He’s never even set foot in this house! How is it that he can see this stuff just like that, in five seconds, but we waffle about it for weeks and get nowhere?