The Paint Roller Stops Turning Thrifty finds and lessons learned

If you’ve been following along in episode 1 or episode 2 of As the Paint Roller Turns, you know that Cane and I caused Grace some moments of anxious worry by beginning two big projects days before a party she was throwing.

thissortaoldlife family room two projectsAnd you know that it all turned out well in the end, even though the stairs looked horrible and are still very much in-progress.

thissortaoldlife family room and stairs after collageNow that the whole event is in the rear-view, I’ve got enough perspective to pull a few lessons from it.

Lesson #1:  Paint gives the biggest bang for your DIY buck.

thissortaoldlife family room window wall b&a

Paint is relatively cheap, doesn’t require much skill, and doesn’t take that much time. I didn’t change much of anything else in the family room, and it feels like a whole different space (in a good way).

(To see what can happen when you start painting, check out Linda’s blog, appropriately titled It All Started with Paint.)

Lesson #2:  Little details are important.

While paint is high-impact and probably makes the biggest easy difference to a space, it pays to figure out which small details matter the most. The other things I did change were small:  I hung some art and added some pillows to the futon couch.

thissortaoldlife family room art

I found the art by "shopping" our garage and pulling out some things we've been storing. Is this vintage poster (an old thrift store find) my favorite thing ever? No, but I like it much better than the blank wall.

I took some pillows that were no longer working in the living room and supplemented them with a few more I found at Goodwill the morning of the party. (Had to do something while the paint was drying!) Now the not-so-comfortable couch is a whole lot more cozy (and for only $12).

thissortaoldlife family room pillows

(If you want some inspiration and instruction on the subject of thrifting, check out Her Library Adventures. All kinds of retro-cool stuff there, and on Sundays a link party in which lots of other bloggers with a good eye share their finds. Another new favorite of mine for retro thrifty treasures:  Parsimonia.)

Lesson #3:  A deadline can be a godsend for a perfectionist.

Did I enjoy racing the clock to get the room painted and put back together before the party?

thissortaoldlife family room in progress

Yeah, I kinda did.

I knew it was going to be over by 4:30 on Tuesday afternoon because a car full of kids would be showing up.

thissortaoldlife party

Grace's big brother promised a limo ride home on the last day of 8th grade if she earned straight A's in middle school.

That meant the project would be done, to the best of my ability to do it, in two days. Period. No lingering. No starting over. Just getting it done. It felt great to get it done. Huge sense of accomplishment for me.

(This is something I want to get better at doing in all areas of my life: Setting a deadline and sticking to it. I really appreciate Darren Rouse’s take on perfectionism in blogging–and how it can kill your productivity. Been there, done that–too many times to count.)

Lesson #4:  A deadline is a great excuse to immerse yourself.

When I don’t have a deadline looming, it’s all too easy to get side-tracked from my projects.

thissortaoldlife tomatoesThere are always meals to cook, laundry to wash, groceries to buy, stuff to pick up and clean and manage.

My DIY projects are always getting pushed aside for the more mundane (and necessary) tasks that our daily lives require.

It was nice to have a good reason to let them come second for a few days. I had a lot of fun painting, and I got to watch TV while I did it –something I almost never do. (Finally know what the Mad Men fuss is all about.)

Lesson #5:  The house matters, but it doesn’t.

Grace had a great time. Her friends had a great time. I got about 50 “thank you”s from all of them over the course of the evening. She even commented on how nice the table looked (and she’s generally not a fan of our thrifty mismatched 70s ware).

thissortaoldlife 70s glassware

The flowery and gold glasses were another thrift store purchase Tuesday morning. We were a little short on glasses, which was a perfect excuse to start a new collection. (I've got about all the plates we could ever need.)

No one cared that the stairs looked horrible. Grace explained that her crazy parents decided to tear off the carpet and weren’t done working on them yet–and no one looked twice at them again.

The kids all had fun because we had good food, they are good friends, and the space was comfortable (not perfectly styled).

thissortaoldlife dessert table

Yes, brownies, ice cream, cookies, whipped cream, and soda. As the kids say, YOLO.

This week I really appreciated Megan Finley’s advice on Offbeat Home about making your house a destination for friends. As she says,

“…you don’t need to be Martha Stewart to throw a good party. It’s not about decorations, signature drinks, or Pinterest-worthy menus. If your friends are comfortable and you’re having a good time, that’s all you really need.”

Lesson #6:  Living as a family is about meeting everyone’s needs.

Was I thrilled to come home and find Cane tearing the carpet off the stairs days before the party, when I’d already told him I was going to paint the family room?

thissortaoldlife stairs with sander

Not exactly.

Was Grace upset with both of us? Oh, yeah.

And was I OK with how she expressed it? Again, not exactly.

In the end, though, we all got what we wanted:

Cane has a better idea for what to actually do with those stairs, which he couldn’t really formulate until he could see what was under the carpet. (To see what someone else has done with stairs covered by ugly carpet, check out Rhoda’s stair transformation at Southern Hospitality. And, Rhoda’s also got a Sunday thrifting link party, if you don’t get enough from Her Library Adventures.)

thissoratoldlife salvaged wood

Coming attractions: Our plan for the stairs involves this salvaged wood.

I have a family room I actually want to spend time in, which is important for the coming months when we will all be together a lot more and will want to really use that space.

thissortaoldlife family room towards media center

This room gets great morning sun and stays cool in the afternoons, making it a place I want to be as the weather warms up.

Grace had a great end-of-middle-school celebration.

thissortaoldlife party

A little Wii, a little Twister, some movies and junk food.

None of us was entirely happy with how it all went down as it was going down, but we all got what we needed and made allowances for each other’s personalities (and all the quirks packed into them). In the end, it was all good.

thissortaoldlife happy party

I’m sure there are other lessons I could pull from this one, but I’m trying to work on that perfectionism/procrastination thing–and I’m wrapping this one up.

We’d love to hear about your adventures/lessons when it comes to fixing up your house, throwing parties, battling perfectionism/deadlines, or just about anything, really. Hope you’ll share in the comments.

thissortaoldlife watermelon bowl

In addition to the pillows and glasses, I also scored this green bowl in my mad dash to the thrift stores the morning of the party.

(Sharing this post at Southern Hospitality and Her Library Adventures–links are above–as well as at Pancakes and French Fries’ William Morris Project.)

If you want to catch up with previous episodes, you can find them here:

Episode 1: Best laid plans

Episode 2: (Sorta) pulling it off