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Open thread: What is your longest-running, unfinished house project? 2010 edition

Once a year around this time, I’m going to repeat the question: What is your longest-running, unfinished house project? I asked the question last May… and now 14 months later, I’m super happy to announce: Yankee Doodle! My 8-year project to get my interior window sashes is Done! (Minor pandemonium in progress, pictured above.) .

Ummm, I need to ‘fess up that my DIY-skills on this particular project entailed: Writing a check to nice painter Jim. Painting is something I can and often do myself, and I actually enjoy it. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever hired anyone to do any interior painting in the house — I’ve painted every other room.
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The paint was peeling on the exterior gables — and exterior painting on tall ladders is something I don’t do. So at the same time we called Jim in to do the outside, I had him knock off a few small jobs on the inside as well. Jobs that had been a noose around my neck for years. And woah, outsourcing was worth it. My house has breathed a big sigh of relief. Readers: It is really really good feng shui to finish tasks once started. Bad feng shui to leave tasks undone. I have been bad. I will reform. I will I will.
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Now: moving up on the list to take pole position as my longest-running, unfinished house project is: Hem the pinch-pleat curtains that hang on the now-painted windows in the living room. I cobbled my pinch pleats from an estate sale find. For 7.5 years, the hems have been held together by straight pins. This project, I *will* do myself.
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What about you? Commiseration, please: What is your longest-running, unfinished house project — and why? (And oh yeah, did you finish the project you listed last year, yet?)

  1. Maggie says:

    We moved in March 2009, into our little mid-mod 1956 bungalow. The first thing we did was pull up every bit of 1980’s carpet to reveal 1 1/2 inch oak flooring throughout. And we pulled down wallpaper and painted every room.

    We’ve done lots of projects since, but the half bath is a scary mix of avocado green paint (bottom layer) Hot pink and brown stripe (middle layer 70’s era) and white with boring pastel flowers (1980’s) top layer. It’s also missing quite a few of the white plastic tiles. And is in theory part of an addition we are planning. (adding to it for a master bath) Right now it’s just the scary bathroom where we keep our mop-bucket.

    The other chore that has been put off since we moved in- quarter round show molding. There is none in the entire house, since we tore up the carpet. Shameful!.

  2. CouldBeVeronica says:

    Watch out for that painter’s tape! After a few months, it sticks so fast to the wall that it tears off a layer of paint and paper when you finally get around to removing it. Learned that the hard way . . . sigh. Never did get around to spackling, sanding, priming, and painting the ragged, rough track the tape left behind before I sold the house. I’ll bet it’s still there!

  3. CindyD says:

    Joe, your kitchen is AMAZING! You and Nikki have done a fabulous job – I think the counter was well worth the wait (I’m sure you had your doubts as you endured!). I love the teal tile with the pink Genevas! Have to ask – were they originally pink? I hope you share more photos when you’re finished

  4. Laurie says:

    I moved into my house in 1987. And I have yet to complete the replacement of some baseboards that were missing or damaged. That’s 23 years, folks. Sheesh!

  5. Heather F says:

    Congrats! Would love to see more detail pics of this room and some before and after shots. Looks beautiful! (P.S….I have pinch pleat curtains throughout my 60s ranch original to the house. Some people think I’m crazy.)

  6. carole says:

    Congrats on getting yours done!

    My longest running? Kitchen hands-down. It’s going on ten years. Seriously.

    When we moved in we immediately gutted the galley kitchen. We put in new windows, enlarged the space, opened up a wall between kitchen/living room, bought and had cabinets installed, did the plumbing for two new sinks, installed those, plus countertops, and flooring…All that remained was the backsplash tile (which has yet to be installed) and the window sills.

    Then as luck would have it we discovered that the dishwasher had sprung a leak and destroyed the sub floor. My ‘new’ vinyl (which I absolutely love and is no longer available) may or may not be savable (once it’s pulled back and the sub flooring work is redone we’ll see).

    Since we’re doing as much of the work ourselves as possible, it’s as money and time allow, and when hubby was out of work for nearly two years, everything was put on hold. All excess money that had been put away for remodeling went in to surviving.

    Hubby has promised me that no matter what I’ll have my ‘new’ kitchen, even if we have to replace everything again. lol Since I still love what we’ve done, I hope replacing can be kept to a minimum. One thing for sure, we’re finding out whether or not the elements we’ve chosen can stand the test of time, and thankfully they have.

    We have one of those scary bathrooms.. The previous owner loved dark brown, and this house was brown inside and out. That room is still brown, but it’s on the ‘to do’ list. Soon as that kitchen is finished!

  7. Jen says:

    Ugh . . . the bathroom! After our kitchen was finished a year and a half ago, I was in the home improvement mode and so I started peeling the ugly bunny wallpaper off the bathroom walls. Note that I said “peeling,” not “stripping.” We had a big “bubble” of loose wallpaper on the wall and I just wanted it off there, so I took it and started peeling it off the wall — ditto for any other loose spots. The result is that I tired of that chore after a bit, and other responsibilities soon cropped up, and actually stripping the rest of the wallpaper off the wall quickly fell down the list of things I wanted to do.

    A year and a half later, last month, I finally grabbed the bottle of DIF and a scraper and did the job. I also spackled the parts of the ceiling that had cracked paint on them from going too many years without a vent fan in the bathroom. Now the bathroom is painted (and looks MUCH better), but the ceiling is still waiting to be sanded and painted. In my defense, however, I have also been painting two other rooms of the house, so I haven’t been totally lazy. I’m making progress, but it did indeed take me a year and a half to get the bathroom done . . . and counting.

  8. Alice says:

    Love your photos and that pink kitchen! Are the tiles blue, teal and yellow from ModWalls? Just curious…I’ve been considering that combo and thinking about how the colors might change or deepen once the the adhesive was behind them. Tell us more!

  9. Alice says:

    I too have a whole house as my long-running project. We purchased our mid-mod about 3 years ago and every room needs attention. We are taking our time so that we can learn more about the design of mid-century (much from this great site!). Early this spring, I went through the house and stripped any of the wallpaper that I knew was not in condition to be retained. However, as most of you who have these homes know, the wallpaper was installed with some super-atomic adhesive…so that is still stuck on the walls. On my way to remove the adhesive, I had to stop for shoulder surgery, so now two months later it is still in the same condition. I overheard my husband tell someone that it looks like a crack house. (I’ve never been in one, and to my knowledge, I don’t think he has either…but this must be how he imagines them!)

    Anyone else have the problem that on your way to do something fun and beautiful something else demands your attention…a leaky roof, an exploding water heater, a shoulder surgery…….?

  10. Fiona - Notorious Kitsch says:

    oh my this thread makes me feel so much better about myself! Thanks all!

    I am also the Queen of starting a task and not finishing it and moving onto something else, I hate myself for it!

    I run my own business so I’m extremely busy and my husband is disabled so can’t really take on projects on his own so that’s my excuse HOWEVER last week I wrote a list of projects to finish in the house, I know that July/August is a quietish time for my business so I am going to do my utmost to finish them within a 2 month time period!

    This weekend I painted the fences in our garden, this has needed doing for about 3 years now, if was hard work because it was very hot and the sun was beating down on me but I did it. I felt so good about it I now want to finish all the other projects!

  11. Maryanne says:

    Loving the thread! We’ve been getting jibes from friends and family about our 4 year bathroom project and our 2 year backyard project. The bathroom was slowed down by having to redo all of the plumbing and electrical in the house, car accident injuries and various other time dependent projects. We are close – just need to tile the surround and do the baseboards but have been sidelined again. This time I have a broken arm. Seriously.

    The backyard was a major project including ripping out a wrap around driveway that divided the yard, removing 3 very large and dangerous trees and moving a retaining wall. Two years to the day of the first breaking of dirt we got the sod in last week. Just a few small projects and we’ll be done. Now to start the front yard!!!

  12. gsciencechick says:

    Kitchen, 3 years

    2007: Upgrade lighting while doing bathroom remodels
    2008: Paint knotty pine paneling that was already previously painted
    2009: New DW, range hood, paint cabinets that were previously painted, get new counters and backsplash. sink, faucet
    2010: Induction range and Big Chill Fridge

    TBD: work on storage for the other end of the eat-in kitchen.

  13. judy says:

    I’m a little late to the comment party, but thought I’d share my New Year’s resolution – which is exactly about this very subject! On January 1st (this year) I resolved to finish all the projects I had started…….(wait for it)…….the year we bought the house! That was 2007 (Jan 5th to be exact).

    There is a long list of offenses, but the worst is the really nice vent hood in the kitchen that was hung a little over 3 years ago and never vented. Doesn’t sound to bad until I fill in the rest – the old vent hood was there, ducted through a giant hole in the ceiling which remains and is stuffed full of newspaper now to prevent the kitchen from being open into the attic.

    Yes, I am making progress on some of those tasks. But I have also started new ones in the meantime. A friend once stopped by amid the chaos and told me I have “project ADD”. I think she’s right.

  14. Pingback:What is your longest-running, unfinished house project? « Project Ranchalow

  15. julie s says:

    We first moved into our 1952 ranch house 6 years ago. I was so excited when we moved in, but my teenage sons were not. I assured them that this house was going to be fabulous, it just needed a little paint. I was so enthusiastic, that I decided to take on painting every single room in the house myself, including stripping wallpaper in the bathroom and painting that. I thought surely, this will only take a couple of days. And it did, except my painting job was, shall we say, less than professional. There are terrible drip marks everywhere. Most of them now are hidden by pictures, but I know they’re there. Every year I say “this is the year I sand the walls and fix this once and for all”. Well, we’ll see, maybe this year?

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