One of the best parts of my job is helping home buyers settle into their new homes. It's the perfect time to paint walls, hang art just the way you want it, and generally get everything ship-shape.
One of my recent customers moved into a very nice apartment, but the walls were all white and very bland. My first job was to personalize the rooms with a few accent walls. (Accent walls are perfect for apartment owners, because it's easy to have them painted over when you move out.)
My customer really chose the colors well. I'm surprised that this blue coordinates so well with the taupe trim. Perhaps it's because the blue already has a lot of gray in it.
Just having a little color in the space gave it personality. But it really came together when I hung the pictures...
...lots and lots of pictures! She had a lot of beautiful paintings, not to mention the prints and sculptures, and we filled the walls with them.
The great thing about working in the Asheville area is that so many of my customers love art, and I love to hang it for them. I've been developing a few "tricks of trade" lately that make it easy to hang two pictures side by side at the same level... I can even center them on one another if they're different sizes.
Remember the boring white bedroom that I started with? Look at what a difference a little paint (and a lot of good taste) can make.
If you need someone to paint your walls or help you hang your art, give me a call. I really enjoy helping new homeowners make a "house" into a "home."
It's not even November yet, and I've already gotten a couple of calls from clients who are ready to winterize their homes. And according to the almanac, it's going to be a looooonngg cooooolldd winter. (Brrrrr.)
With that in mind, I thought I'd show off a few options for preventing drafts and saying warm during our Asheville mountain winters.
Especially in historic homes with old-fashioned fittings, it's quite possible that your front door is letting in a draft. Storm doors can stop drafts, and they also let in light on sunny winter days. I can measure the door for you, pick it up at the hardware store, and install it. You don't even have to lift a finger.
The newer doors are also very subtle and attractive.
Interior "Storm Windows"
This is another great way to stop drafts without having to replace all of your windows. Bonus: I've recently learned that they're the preferred choice in historic districts such as Montford, because they won't change the exterior look of your home.
These aren't the heavy, expensive Plexiglass windows that are so hard to put in and take out. The latest product is a super-heavy-duty plastic film stretched on a frame that friction fits into your window opening. And as the title implies, they're "installed" from the interior, so you can take them out if you want to open the window.
They're also very subtle in appearance, and they come in white or bronze. Here's an example of a white one:
You can barely tell the difference.
Here's what they look like up close:
I really like these as an alternative to the old Plexiglass windows. They're cheaper, they're easier to install, and they work.
Another common winter problem is drafts around otherwise solid doors. In those cases I recommend weatherstripping.
Now, you may harbor a few grudges against weatherstripping. It's true that the cheap stick-on stuff is awful. It's made of a low-quality foam that quickly degrades and leaves an ugly mess.
However, I can install a heavy-duty silicon rubber weatherstripping that lasts a lot longer and really stops the drafts. I can also install a permanent metal-and-rubber door sweep along the bottom of the door to prevent breezes from blowing in under it.
If you live in Asheville, Weaverville or Mars Hill, and you want to keep Old Man Winter at bay, give me a call, I'll be glad to help you stop those chilly drafts.
I'm always reading tips about the best time of year to buy clothes, or a new woodstove, or a car, and it struck me that nobody ever seems to write about the best time of year to hire a handyman.
Of course, one answer is obvious: the best time to hire a handyman is when something breaks. For example, if you accidentally step through your attic "floor" while putting away your Christmas ornaments, you don't want to wait around.
On the other hand, there are lots of home improvements that can be postponed until the right time. If you're just looking for someone to swap out a light fixture or paint your living room, you can plan ahead.
Like most things home-related, the handyman business tends to be seasonal. For some reason, people are more inspired to start new projects in the Spring and Summer, even if it's indoor work like installing a new closet system.
That's when you can benefit. Waiting times for handymen are often shorter in winter, so you'll have more craftsmen available to offer a home repair estimate, and you'll get your project done much sooner.
The "off season" starts shortly before Thanksgiving. (While everyone else gets distracted by thoughts of turkey and seasonal shopping, you can get your home remodeling done in a jiffy.) Oddly enough, I find that I get a little bit busier during the New Year; there are always a few people who want to start the year off with a clean closet or a fresh coat of paint in the living room.
Then as February rolls around, the end-of-winter blahs set in for many people. Take advantage of that moment to shop around for the right person. But don't wait too long; once the sun starts to shine, many people start to notice those repairs or updates that they've been putting off all Winter.
While you're planning your home repair project, keep in mind that there are a few projects which simply aren't feasible in wintertime.
For example, staining a deck must be done during a week of warm, dry weather if you want to do it right. (In fact, the timing is so difficult that I no longer offer this service. Luckily, it's not hard to do it yourself using my tutorial.)
But for most projects, the "winter doldrums" are a great time of year to start a new house repair project. You'll have more craftsmen to choose from, you'll get your job done sooner... and you might even beat the winter blues while you're doing it!
Credit for image of blue closet: Rubbermaid
Now that winter is really settling in, you're probably noticing all of the little ways in which cold air can seep into your house and raise your heating bill. With that in mind, I've dug into my archive of unpublished pictures to show you some of the winterization I've done for my clients this year.
As you can see, there are lots of ways I could help you stop those cold drafts from getting in. Then you could kick back with a mug of hot chocolate and say, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"
My most recent job reminds me of this old song:
If you go exploring in the mountains around Asheville, you will discover many little churches tucked into the curves of the road or nestled in the little hollows. Many of these churches have been here for many generations, and the old-timers tell of times when the little churches were so crowded that the women and children sat indoors while the men stood outside the windows in order to hear the sermon.
Times have moved on, and most of the congregations have dwindled to a little handful of people, but the churches still stand. I was recently hired to do a little maintenance on one of these churches, Price's Chapel:
The church is just a few feet from the road; it was built before paved roads and fast cars. Back then the traffic past this church was mostly on hoof or foot. If you look at the roof line, you can see that the central part was added first, and then the wings on each side were added as the congregation grew.
One of the first things the congregation wanted me to do was get the door cleaned up. It had been painted at one time and then later stripped to reveal the old wood. The refinish job was probably really beautiful at one time, but this door is on the side that catches the wind and weather (not to mention the road salt). After consulting with the congregation, it was decided that a simple paint job would probably be easier to maintain.
I did a few small repairs indoors as well. The most important one was fixing the ceiling fans. The original fans were cheap and tended to clank and wobble. Apparently the clanking was so bad that some of the church members couldn't hear the Sunday school lesson.
I made a point to match the old fans. The new fans are very similar, but of much better quality, so they won't be as likely to squeak and hum as they age. Aesthetically not much has changed, but now everyone can hear the service.
All in all, this was an enjoyable job, and I'm glad I got the chance to help maintain this historic little building.