April Progress & May Goals

I can’t believe April has already come and gone. I had so much planned for April, and somehow the month totally got away from me. I worked hard, and yet there wasn’t a single item I could cross off of my 2018 Master List of Home Goals during the entire month. But I suppose any forward progress is something to be excited about, right? 🙂

I managed to get one Greek key drapery panel finished for my living room (and even made a video showing how to make the Greek key design!), and I got very close to finishing a second drapery panel. But the two for the front windows haven’t even been started yet.

light purple DIY drapery panel with Greek key design

I wanted so badly to finish those before doing anything else so that I could have my breakfast room back in order (it’s currently looking like a drapery workroom with a huge felt-covered table), but once the rain went away and the gorgeous weather set in, I found it difficult to be inside. So I put the draperies aside and headed outside to build my DIY board and batten shutters for the studio. I finished installing those early yesterday morning, and shared the details here.

navy blue DIY board and batten shutters with black hinges pulls and shutters dogs

But I still have two windows on the other side of the house that need shutters, so I can’t technically cross that item off of my list yet.

I also did a fun little lamp makeover for my entryway, and now I have this happy orange lamp that greets me each time I walk in the front door.

table lamp makeover - lacquered orange lamp with orange and white shade

And finally, I spent a couple of days making a knock-off of an $1850 scalloped mirror that I saw and knew I wanted to go above my piano.

DIY triple-layer scalloped mirror in lacquered green finish

Right now it’s looking a bit lonely in there since I’ve done no other decorating in that room, but I’m still amazed at the difference that just one colorful item makes in a room.

So what does this month hold? Honestly, I don’t know. I think I’ll just play it by ear this month and see where it takes me.

I ordered these no dig ground screws to use for setting the posts for the handrails on the front porch steps as well as the side studio steps, and they arrived last week.

The reviews looked really good, and this seems way less intimidating than renting an auger, mixing and pouring concrete, etc. I’ve done that process before, so I’m familiar with it, but if these screws can make the process easier, I’m all for it. If you’ve used these before and have any tips for me, I’m all ears.

The corbels I ordered for my window boxes also arrived, so I have everything I need to get started on those.

I’d also love to get my entryway finished. It’s so close to being done, and it would be so motivating to have one more area completely finished and off of my “to do” list.

I’ve decided to stick with solid white for the credenza, so that’s a quick fix. I need to paint the teal frame around the grasscloth, and also the inside of my front door. And the biggest project will be upholstering that chair that I’ve had in storage for years. But as far as upholstery projects go, that one should be pretty easy. Then it just needs a little more decorating, and it’s done. It’s so close!

And then there’s the studio. Y’all, I’m having such a hard time with this. I finally got an electrician over here to give me a quote for the studio, and the price he gave me was $1800 for labor only. The cost of materials would be extra. I don’t know why, but I’m having such a hard time committing to this. Matt is getting frustrated with me, and wants me to just call and schedule the electrician ASAP. But my thinking is that that’s $1800 I could save doing it myself. And with the walls open right now, and the studs completely exposed, wiring is super easy.

And to be honest, I’m just feeling a bit irritated with the whole contractor thing. I’ve really tried to do better about hiring out jobs and relinquishing my death grip of control over everything, but y’all. Seriously. Every single time I hire out jobs on my house, I’m disappointed. I find that I have two options. I can choose to watch them like a hawk to be sure they do everything to my liking, in which case I may as well do the work myself since my time can’t be used doing other things. Or I can relinquish control, spend my time doing something else while they’re working, only to find later that something wasn’t done like I asked.

The struggle is very real for me. And I want my studio done right. I feel like I could take two days, wire the studio and back rooms, and be done with it. And save $1800 in the process. But Matt isn’t thrilled with that idea. *sigh* I need to stop dragging my feet, though, because July 5th will be one year that the studio has been in progress, and that was kind of the deadline I had set in my mind. At this rate, and with me dragging my feet on things like electrical work, there’s no way I’ll make my self-imposed deadline.

So we’ll see how my no-specific-goals idea work out for this month. Hopefully it’ll be a very productive month!

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Some times we just need to dig in deep and get sh*t done. I say this as I’m a Master Procrastinator and can feel overwhelmed just thinking about doing a simple task. Save the $1800 and do the electrical work yourself. Even if you just commit to an hour or two a day. You can do it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Because you are knowledgeable and comfortable doing electric, do it. Beats sitting around watching your dollars at work in this case. I would consider someone to do the ceiling wiring though if you you need anything at the way top!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Theresa P
    May 1, 2018 at 9:57 am

    I hate to disagree with Matt (Sorry Matt!), but I think you should save that $1,800 and do it yourself. Use that $1,800 to outsource the sheetrock. With the walls open, you can easily do it yourself and do it without having to crawl around in a scary, dirty attic or under a yucky crawlspace. That way you’ll know it was done right. When we updated most of the main spaces in our house, we hired an electrician to put new outlets and faceplates everywhere (we’re talking upwards of a 150 outlets, switches, etc.). Well, even using a “real” electrician, we still had one place where they miswired a switch and we went for over a year with an unusable switch and outlet before getting someone to come back out and fix what the “real” electrician had done wrong. So, anyway, if you can do it, I would suggest doing it yourself. Then have some strong dudes come out and sheetrock that vaulted ceiling! EEEK!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Cheryl Smith-Bell
      May 1, 2018 at 10:11 am

      Agree and show us how you do it! I would love to be better at this kind of thing, as my old house needs rewiring!

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        May 1, 2018 at 10:49 am

        Yes! Do it yourself and take us along for the ride. Help give us some confidence in being able to do it ourselves. I love your blog and look forward to every post.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 1, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      Save the $1800.-take the 2 days and hire the sheetrocking and mudding/taping!
      Love your work!
      Hope the puppers is doing well, too!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 10:12 am

    I agree with all above! Do it yourself! With the walls open, it will be easy and probably quick! I’m currently getting my house ready to sell, and in the past four weekends, I’ve tackled so many house repairs and projects that I’ve procrastinated on for yeeaarrssss because I was overwhelmed or scared they’d be hard or I had a hard time committing a weekend to them because they’re not fun and I only get two days off a week! But now I’m like, hey, this house doesn’t seem so bad anymore 🙂 And trust me, everyone in my family told me not to tackle it on my own because electricity/roofing/power tools/etc. are scary and should be left to the professionals! You won’t be happy no matter what a contractor does, don’t think anymore and just jump in! You can do it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Dori Garbutt
    May 1, 2018 at 10:27 am

    YOU. YOU do the wiring yourself, since the walls are open and you know how. HIRE OUT the sheetrock. Just saying. =D

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Marlyn Bisher
      May 1, 2018 at 11:18 am

      I agree. Wiring is much better than Sheetrock. Hot weather is coming!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 10:29 am

    This is going to sound harsh . . . and I really don’t mean it to be! But you started off saying you weren’t able to mark anything off your list from April and I understand how projects go. I think you accomplished a whole lot more than you give yourself credit for – but still I get that actual check mark! You said 2 days – TWO DAYS!! – and you could have your studio wired – THE WAY YOU WANT IT WIRED! Get all Nike on it! Just do it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 10:30 am

    I have to agree with you on the contractor thing. I’ve never been 100% happy with anyone we’ve hired. 😦

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 10:32 am

    If I thought i could do it and save the moolah, I’d do it. Two days of intense work compared to dishing out 1800 and having to watch them the whole time? no question! press on. However, that said, I’ve always trusted that I’m to follow my hubby’s lead. So that’s a toughie.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sheila F.
    May 1, 2018 at 10:41 am

    I must agree with the majority. Do the electrical and hire out the sheet rock. You can do the electrical in a few days. Sheet rock is a B!/&h! My husband and I rewired our 1896 Victorian, without removing the plaster and lathe, that was a Job and a half. I would have hired it out but no electron would touch it because pulling the wire was so time consuming. But that time was worth saving those precious walls. You have accomplished so much in April. And you seem lighter. Spring and summer are definitely your seasons!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 10:43 am

    Looks like the you do it’s have it! But realistically my bet is that it’s a 7 day project.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 11:11 am


    My husband is the SAME way. He’d like to hire things out but is NEVER happy with the result. Now when he asks what we should do I just roll my eyes. LOL

    I agree with the ladies above who said do it and show us how. Then use that 1800 on something else.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 11:16 am

    So I will be the naysayer here and agree with Matt. The question isn’t if you can do it, it’s when. Sometimes you just need to move the ball forward and a contractor can help with that. Money does not seem to be an issue, so I would hire out the electrical and the drywall, then you can get down to the fun stuff. It’s a huge addition to the house, what’s $1800 in the big scheme of things? You have saved thousands on all of the other projects you do, splurge here.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 1, 2018 at 12:45 pm

      I agree. Pay the electrician. Do the drywall yourself, if you want to. Maybe you can follow behind the electrician and check his work as you both go along with your project.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 11:17 am

    What is your husband concerned about? Is it a safety issue, feeling it should be done by an electrician? If so, maybe find a second set of eyes to doublecheck your work. Never hurts. Good luck. You are an inspiration.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Another thing to think about is once your studio is finished you will have a space to complete all of your projects. I would become overwhelmed if I had to either drag my supplies out and put them away everyday or just leave them out until the curtains are completed. I really think you are jumping around on projects because you hate messing up your completed beautiful rooms. I would love to have a studio that i could work in and at the end of the day turn off the light, shut the door and walk into my beautiful home.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 11:26 am

    First I would complete the other drapery panel and get your breakfast room back in order. You can make the other drapes when your workroom is complete.

    Then I would hustle and wire your workroom and back area. Then you can let the HCAC and Sheetrock workers do their thing while you work on your outside projects. Just remember how hot it gets in TX. That ought to motivate you to get electrical done quickly so you can complete outside projects before the heat arrives in full force.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 1, 2018 at 3:51 pm

      Well said! I would follow this path from May to June. Your Apri was awesome!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Dear Kristi, I’m with the comments above! Not even so much because of the money saved but because of the pain contractors will definitely cause. It’s exactly as you describe it: if you follow them around all the time, why not do it yourself (as you know how to do it!)? It’s so uncomfortable to be the hawk watching the contractors all the time, as well as time-consuming, but if you don’t there will definitely be mistakes coming up causing even more inconvenience.
    I’m not at all in your position in that I cannot do a lot of the projects you face, but you’ve shown me time and again that it’s worth to try and tackle at least some of them. Which I have done over the years and feel very grateful for your input and proud about having done them by myself 🙂
    And: When the studio is finally done, you can leave projects such as your curtains in there and not disturb your house peace by obstructing rooms for weeks on end 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 11:28 am

    How about doing it yourself but hiring a helper? The project would go much quicker and you would know it was being done to your specifications. Even if you hired a handyman, their cost would be much less that an electrician.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 11:36 am

    I’m gonna add a day because going up/down a ladder all day can wear you out… With that, think of it as paying yourself $600/day. Or at worst 60/hr with 10hr days. The month wasn’t wasted, you researched and learned. Stuff got chosen and shipped. As soon as the drywall’s up in the studio, you’ll have a space to work on in bad weather.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 1, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      If there’s a portion you aren’t comfortable with (don’t know what was established already panel-wise or nervous of code related issues), but particular about what you can do. You can start what you know (running wires or just place your boxes) and an electrician can finish to keep costs down.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 11:36 am

    …and this is the “problem” for people who are Artists, they have a VERY hard time finishing anything. Although she may not consider herself as one, Kristi is an artist.
    1,800 dollars would be all the motivation I needed…but I’m NOT an artist.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jo Ann
    May 1, 2018 at 11:38 am

    I think you have accomplished more than you realize. What about the front porch! You slaved over it for several days and
    nights. And it’s wonderful. Give yourself a break and start a new list. You go girl!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Marianne in Mo.
    May 1, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Go ahead and do it if you know how! I know sometimes it gets complicated, and if that’s the case, it’s better to let a pro do it. You don’t want to have a fire by doing it incorrectly! But, you know how contractors are…they promise to come, then don’t show!!!! That’s 80% of the reason so many of us learn to DIY!!! So knock it out, hire and schedule the HVAC and drywall guys! It’s getting hotter by the day, and in a couple weeks it will be unbearable there.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 11:52 am

    “When in doubt, DON’T! ”

    Do the wiring yourself….sorry Matt…. she’ll do it right and will be so happy!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Did you get additional quotes on the electrical? Because that seems very high for a job where the walls are wide open. You are basically giving them a blank slate. It should be a fast job for them that I would think would be cheaper than that. I can’t believe that quote wasn’t even the total either. I would try to get some additional quotes and see where they end up. If everyone is charging an arm and a leg, I guess doing it yourself would be the best bet. In my personal experiences with hiring out work, I have found that the best people I found were the little companies where it is just the owner who does the work himself and actually has pride in his work. Sadly, that is something that isn’t so common these days. Good luck!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 1, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      I think they have so many jobs to choose from, they purposely bid up a smaller job. In the Bay Area, it is almost impossible to find ANYone to do the job, much less someone good.

      (I hope young people are aware of the opportunities in the trades! Good jobs and good pay!)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Alma Miranda
    May 1, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    I hear you. We paid $700.00 to clear a small place in the yard to put some pavers. My husband and I had to remove them and start again.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    You need to make your lists more specific, and then you’ll have plenty to cross off!

    For example: make shutters for studio, check! Make curtains for fireplace wall, (almost) check! See how much more you’ve accomplished already, lol?

    Anytime I’m making to do lists, I like to be as specific as possible, just so that I can get the satisfaction of crossing things off. Usually that keeps me motivated even though it means the list is longer. Sometimes I’ll add things I’ve already done to the list just so that I can cross them off.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Connie in NJ
      May 1, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      I do the same thing. Break large items into the different steps required to complete the task. Sometimes it’s much easier to do lots of small tasks, especially if you only have a limited amount of time during a part of the day. When sewing, I will break the list into purchase supplies, layout, cut, sew, hang, etc! When refinishing furniture I break the list into gathering supplies, sanding/stripping, staining/painting, poly, etc. I also keep separate lists for rainy/very hot day tasks that are indoors and outdoor tasks for nice days.
      In the end, don’t beat yourself up over what you didn’t get done–I do this all the time. Find one small thing each day that has been looming, but is easy to do and just suck it up and do it–such as painting the trim around your entry way paintings. It’s an evening project (won’t take time away from outdoor projects in nice weather) and it’s done! Same with completing the stencil shadowing in the music room, painting the inside of your front door or finishing baseboard painting!
      Regarding the electrical, I would say do the job yourself it you can. Do you have to file a permit and have electrical inspections when you do major work like that? In NJ you have to practically get everything inspected! Good luck with May!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    Do it yourself….imagine all that extra money—could mean a splurge on flooring!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    What about finding someone to apprentice under you? I’m sure there are plenty of women in your area who would like to learn from you. Maybe you could set them up to help with some of your less complicated projects and work up from there. If you have to watch over someone’s work, at least they would be willing to do it your way and you’re not paying them!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 1, 2018 at 7:28 pm

      If I lived in Texas, I would absolutely offer myself up as an apprentice to Kristi. I can sew, paint, and am not afraid to use power tools, I have a creative streak and love to do any sort of artsy/craftsy or even minor construction-type project and would love to learn to do bigger things. I’m also a perfectionist, so no sloppy work from me!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 1, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    Wow! Things must be very different in your area than mine. We wouldn’t be allowed to wire such a major project without having a licensed electrician signing off on it.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Elaine Ness
    May 1, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    There is no question you can do it and get it done right. From what you said, it isn’t just a matter of skill, saving money or getting an exact result. You have another person’s opinion to consider and he has weighed in on the question. Matt must have a strong reason to feel as he does. Are you both clear on why that is so? Maybe more conversation would lead you to a decision you both would feel good about.

    For all, I know you may have already done that. If it is a mutual ‘go’, saving big bucks (since you know what to do and it is easy for you,) seems like a no-brainer. Lots of other great ways to spend that kind of money.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sharon C
    May 1, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    Kristi, take 2 days and do it, especially with all the walls opened up. You know you can do it and save that $1800 to hire out the drywalling work. I too think you’ve accomplished a lot this month, the outside curb appeal alone has really been transformed already with your April projects. If it was me, I would probably finish off that second drapery panel first, then the fireplace wall is done and I’d do the large window draperies later after the studio wiring and the front outdoor projects/steps etc are done before the hot summer. You’ll be in the cool of the studio sewing in the summer.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 2, 2018 at 9:16 am

    You have made a lot of progress even though you didn’t completed too many projects. A good month of May (weather wise and project wise) will see a lot of things completed, rooms complete and probably some new things started. Happy Productive May!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 2, 2018 at 9:51 am

    I read the reviews on the ground screw and the manufacturer posted that the screw was intended to hold a mailbox, and not meant for force or load-bearing. And, part of the reason I wanted to check it out is that I also need a handrail, and this looked like – cool, man! But I don’t want my handrail shifting when the ground shifts or freezes or gets wet. So it’s out for me. But I also have seven steps up to the house. Maybe it will be fine for your (relatively) few steps up.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 2, 2018 at 9:58 am

    I haven’t read the comments yet, so maybe you’ve answered this, but I’m just curious as to why Matt does not want you to do the wiring and prefers you to hire it out?

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 2, 2018 at 10:27 am

      It’s just a time issue. Nothing more. He’s trying to be nice and take some of the things off of my “to do” list by hiring them out.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 2, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Well, from your older posts, I doubt Matt wants an electrician to do it, he probably wants it to be done and over with, isn’t it so? For me, planning and discussing and hesitating goes on forever (about 50x as long as actually doing what needs to be done), so at some point I usually just face it head on and be done with it. So that’s my suggestion for you too: spend this time you would be discussing to just sit down now (now!), draw your plans, get your materials, drop everything (like the shutters that Matt doesn’t care about) and just spend the next two days to finish that. You will be happy, he will be happy, and you can spend that money to get your wall guys to come finish the walls while you go back to your shutters (you have good guys for the walls if I recall? and it’s a thing you don’t need to be over them all the time).