Procrastination Regrets

woodwork in need of refinishingThis post is going to be in the “I should have known better” category. As I wrote last week, we have put our house on the market, and we started showing it this past weekend. The realtor had scheduled the first appointment for noon on Saturday. Oh man! As I said to Gideon, “You wouldn’t think that getting a house ready to show would be so much work when I really try to keep it in good shape all of the time.” Jim was still finishing up the basement ceiling which had had to be repaired because of this mysterious leak that turned out to be caused by water overflowing from a plant pot in our entryway.

(Ahem.  We won’t go into the question of whose plant it is.) The guy who repaired it had to come back on Friday to finish up, and then it had to dry overnight, and then Jim had to get it primed and painted Saturday morning, along with a lot of other stuff, so there we were, racing around like jackrabbits and thinking we had 15 more minutes when the doorbell rang. So I put on my game face and opened the door to the young couple and the realtor. I smiled and made a few nonsensical remarks and then we all headed out the door. We had three or four showings Saturday and at least a couple on Sunday, so we had to be out of the house for most of that time.

The “I should have known better” part comes from my thinking that we’d get several offers and even the much-desired “bidding war.” But we haven’t. And one piece of feedback that we got was that the “interior needed updating.” Well, was I upset! “Updated,” indeed! Every square inch of the walls in this house (and many of those on the ceiling) was painted after we moved in, with the exception of the living room. I, personally, put three coats of paint on the family room walls. I made curtains and window treatments for every single window. And those windows were replaced by us. We refurbished the kitchen cabinets. We had the floor refinished. We put in new carpet. We had a glass shower door custom-made for the master bathroom. What on earth were these people talking about? Our house is bee-you-tee-full.

And then I realized, They were probably talking about the doors. One of the nice features of this house is its woodwork. Instead of painted doors and trim, all the wood is stain grade and has a warm cherry finish. However, the house is over 30 years old, and the wear and tear of normal life, plus dogs, cats and children, has taken its toll. Once you actually start looking closely, you can see lots of scratches, scrapes, and some mysterious smears. Our bedroom door, for instance, looks as if it had something thrown at it. (The picture shows it after I cleaned it with Cabinet Magic; it still looks pretty bad!)

So what did I do back when we first moved in? Well, I have to say that I did make a stab at refinishing them. I went over the door with mineral spirits to clean it and take off the gloss so I could put another coat of sealer on it. Then I went over the scratches and dings with stain that matched the original finish to blend them in. Then I put on a coat of sealer. I did this for the doors to the office, the downstairs bathroom door, the entry closet doors, and the inside of one of the double front doors. The problem was . . . well, for one thing, it took practically forever just to do one door. Then there was the problem that if I went over the sealer coat too many times with the brush the underlying coats would start softening and “wadding up.” The front door ended up looking bad enough that we paid the guy who painted our house to come in and strip it, which took him just about forever. I don’t remember how much we had to pay him. At that point I pretty much gave up. Periodically, especially when I’d notice our bedroom door, I’d have a pang. ‘I really should do something about that,’ I’d think. But that’s as far as the thought went.

And now it’s too late. I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, but I do regret not pursuing this maintenance problem further. It would have cost a fortune to have the 20-or-so doors refinished professionally, and I certainly wasn’t up for sanding them down myself. But it’s too bad that we’re probably not going to make as much money on this house as we could have, even though we’ve done a superb job (if I do say so myself) of maintaining and improving it, just because there’s a cosmetic problem that I never solved.

The situation makes me think that, once again, I should pay attention to that little voice in the back of my head. And I should set goals. Maybe if I’d stuck to it, and done the doors first that didn’t matter as much, such as the ones in the laundry room and garage, I could have honed my technique a little better and been able to do a nicer job on the ones that show. But, as I say, it’s too late now. I can’t plunge into the middle of a big door-refinishing project while we’re in the midst of showing the house. So I guess I’ll have to hope that a woodworker looks at the house and sees the doors as a challenge.

Is there something hanging over your head that you know needs to be done, if you could just scare up the motivation to tackle it? How could you get started on it?

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