Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mrs Fix-It: Window Screens

Over eleven years, our house has seen a few hail storms. I've been ignoring a few holes in our window screens for the past two or three years, but lately we're looking at our house with new eyes, and having holes in some of our screens large enough to let large wasps in the house is not particularly attractive.
I am a bit of an HGTV addict (though over the past 2-3 years I've watched little or no TV that didn't involve dancing singing vegetables and animals). But I've watched enough home improvement shows to know that fixing window screens is not that hard. So today, we're tackling two of the worst offenders. You know what? It isn't that hard.

We started with the kitchen window, a monstrous 4'x4' window over the sink. My husband had to hand the window out to me on the deck. The old screen is held in to a channel by a thin rubber strip, so removing the screen is a matter of digging one end out and pulling. Once that is done, you cut a new piece of screen fabric a little larger than the frame, and go about cramming a new piece of rubber divider into the channel to hold it in place. Then put the screen back in the window. Et voila.
There is a 2-ended tool that we picked up at Lowes specifically for screens that cost about $7. One end is like a hooked utility knife, and the other is a roller that will push the rubber channel into the groove. The channel itself comes in different sizes. You take apart your window then go shopping with a scrap of the original. I didn't realize about the size thing until we were standing in the store aisle, so I bought a kit that had 3 sizes of channel and compared it to the real window once we got home. We already had the screening material sitting in the basement from an abandoned craft project. My new screens are a bit of an upgrade, as the old screens were a nylon-y fabric mesh and the new screening  is actually metal. Maybe the new metal screen will better withstand the next hail storm.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shall We Stay or Shall We Go?

When my husband and I bought our house 11 years ago, it was my dream house. It is much bigger than the house I grew up in, with a bigger kitchen and more than twice as many bathrooms and just so much space. And oh the closets. Our house has lovely closets.

But time changes and expectations change and occupants change. When we moved in as a newly engaged couple, four bedrooms meant we had a master suite for the two of us, a guest room for visiting family, and we each had our own office. So what if my kitchen cabinets were filled not long after we moved in, there was still room at the top of the little pantry cupboard for extra serving platters. And once we bought dining room furniture, our good china could move out of storage and into display.

11 years is a long time, I think. And since then we have added two children and two cats and more dishes and bicycles and a lawn mower and have I mentioned toys? Our two-car garage is really just a two-car garage. Not a two-car plus two bicycle plus lawn mower plus trashcans and power tools garage. Our guest room is now my son's room, and my office is my daughter's bedroom. The dishes that don't fit in the kitchen are stored partially in the basement and partially in our closet. The one unfinished storage room in the basement is bursting at the seams. And I keep running over the wheel of the lawn mower (since it's either that or I hit my husband's car trying to squeeze mine into the garage.

We are at a crossroads. Do we stay where we are at, or do we move to a bigger house?

We have no room to expand. The basement is finished and the lot is too small to add on. I might be able to squeeze a few more square feet of cabinet space into the kitchen, but it will likely never hold the double-oven that I really want for the big family dinners I like to cook. And our house was one of the bigger floorplans in the neighborhood. We are already at the top end of what a buyer in the area might be willing to spend. If we remodel, we will simply be spending our money and not investing it.

But we have friends in the neighborhood, and a subdivision pool, and a quiet little park in walking distance. We are not in a high-traffic area and we are convenient to major highways. We have generous sized rooms and generous-sized closets and we have already painted and re-arranged it all to our liking. (Ok, so we've painted and re-arranged most of it to our liking, sometimes more than once). And planted trees. And built a beautiful deck. And upgraded the kitchen/greatroom floor and replaced a sliding door with a french one.  We have taken care of our house like people expecting to live here forever.

The things we don't have in our house and can't get in our house are easily another part of the metro area. We would have to sell our house and move. Probably move up in cost, a bit, too.

So, we have a decision to make. Our daughter goes to private school, so a move will not uproot her from her friends. It would, in all likelihood, move us closer to them. We would have longer commutes to work. We might position ourselves in the middle of the housing price spectrum instead of at the far end. We might not be able to sell our house.

Thinking about moving is scary. Thinking about staying and doing enough minor remodelling to make do is exhausting.  Adding up the cost of a move or a remodel is not as horrifying as I feared. Either way, I'm hoping that over the next year or so, our housing situation will improve in some form or another. Whether we're just doing massive closet clean-outs or trying to re-purpose the laundry room as a mudroom/pantry, or whether we're spending hours in the car with a realtor, or in various showrooms with a builder or general contractor. It will be an improvement. Won't it?