Tag Archives: Home improvement

The HGTV Drinking Game

Ever since we got into the market to buy our first home, we’ve been watching a lot of HGTV. Whether you’re looking for design and decor ideas for your own house, or just want to gawk at the way other people are living, Home and Garden’s got something for you.

We especially like to watch on weekend days, which is prime time for domestic projects and a time when there’s typically very little else on the air worth watching. Of course, weekend days are also the best time for brunch, and it’s this happy coincidence that led us to invent the HGTV drinking game.

The Chop's favorite HGTV show? The Unsellables, of course.

HGTV features dozens of different shows, but they all basically fall into one of three categories; interior design makeovers, buying and selling, and total renovation. As you’d imagine, there’s plenty of crossover among those categories, so you can still play the game effectively whether you’re watching Color Splash, Bath Crashers, or Property Virgins.

Since we’re talking about brunch and daylight here, it’s important to note that this game is best played with a Bloody Mary, French 75, Madras, or similar cocktail. No Jameson shots or canned beer shotgunning here.

Take one sip when you hear the words:

  • backsplash
  • lifestyle
  • entertaining
  • neutral
  • ugly
  • green
  • distressed
  • repurposed
  • walk away from
  • mid-century
  • counter space
  • stainless steel
  • surprise
  • granite
  • short sale

Take two sips if:

  • the homeowner overpaid during the boom
  • anyone complains about anything in relation to ‘double sinks’ or ‘a true master suite’
  • a homeowner is hit with a surprise added expense during a renovation
  • the room makeover is < $50 under budget
  • anyone demands an open floor plan
  • you spot anything from ikea
  • someone uses a dining room as anything other than a dining room
  • the show is filmed in Canada
  • the homeowner has a stupid hobby
  • anyone makes a cheap headboard from scratch

Three sips if:

  • anyone has to design around a big screen TV.
  • someone’s parents are paying part of their rent/mortgage
  • there’s a marriage proposal involved in the episode
  • anyone thinks they’re in a ‘bad area’ or ‘dangerous neighborhood’
  • a property is priced over $1,000,000

Drain your drink if:

  • the show is filmed in Baltimore
  • a real estate transaction falls through at the end of the show
  • someone sustains a fairly serious injury during filming
  • someone cries for any reason

These are just a few suggestions. You can add more of your own, or even subtract a few if things get out of hand. Ideally, you shouldn’t be passed out by mid-afternoon, but should be just buzzed enough to say “Why yes, I do need to go to Pier 1 and buy a creepy glass head like right now! That’s exactly what I need in my life.

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In Praise of the Workbench

We’ve got some wasted space in our bedroom closet.

It’s not much space, really. 31″x21″x20″ About 8 cubic feet we’d guess. In a Baltimore rowhouse though, closet space is a precious commodity, and the waste of any of it is silly and shameful. For one such as the Chop, who shops for clothes regularly and likes the room neat and orderly at all times, maximizing closet space is imperative.

So we went to Home Depot and looked for a shelf. We didn’t expect we’d find one that was exactly 31″x 21″, but we were dismayed to find that we couldn’t even come close. We couldn’t seem to find any shelving broader than about a foot.

You can accomplish a lot with a good workbench. Just ask this guy Edison.

It was then that we strolled over to the lumber aisle and found some really nice planks of maple. ‘This’ll work.’ we thought ‘We can cut this to size, use the cut piece as a shelving front, and attach it to the walls, et voilà, custom shelving. We’ve even already got some antique white paint at home to match the trim, or stain and lacquer to match the furniture.

But we quickly realized just how impractical this plan is. Why impractical? Because we haven’t got a saw. Buying a circular saw isn’t out of the question, although it is a very small project to justify the purchase. Even if we had a saw though, we’d probably cut a hand off with it- for we have no workbench.

We don’t even have anything even remotely resembling a workbench. No old folding tables, sawhorses, nothing like that. Without a proper workspace, even something as simple as joining two pieces of wood becomes much harder than it should be. Ditto for painting it, so we’re setting aside the shelf idea for now.

When we enumerated our New Year’s resolutions a few weeks ago, there were a few of them we left out for brevity’s sake, and one of those is to build a workbench area in the basement. We’ve been wanting to do this since before we moved in. Even touring the house with our Realtor we thought that sectioning off a part of the basement for a bench was a great idea. Then roommate moved in, and our basement filled up quick with toys, action figures, T shirts, and sundry other junk which should have found its way to eBay or the dump a long time ago.

Having a bench handy will not only enable us to build and repair things around the house, it will also enable us to build up a decent collection of tools as the need for them arises. As it is now, our humble set of tools is in a box. Not a toolbox, mind you, but a cardboard box. They blend in very nicely with the rest of the junk down there, and we’re hesitant to bring home anything for which we don’t have a place.

Aside from all the practical concerns though, we’ve got to admit that we’re also drawn by the sheer goddamn manliness of the workbench. While we’ve been able to knock out every repair or improvement we’ve faced so far, we anticipate many more in the future around here, and having the right tool for the job and getting it done in a space you’ve designed and built yourself has a deep inherent satisfaction, and we suspect that chasing that satisfaction will have us spending more of our Sundays accomplishing home improvements, and fewer of them sulking around, listening to Belle and Sebastian and looking at the sex stories and personal essays on nerve.com.

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Home Improvement as Self-Improvement at The Loading Dock in Baltimore

One of the things the Chop loves best about Baltimore is that its a city of open secrets. Anyone tuned into the right gossip channels (of the offline variety) doesn’t have to do too much digging to get to the dirt. The Chop was clued in to a particularly incredible open secret some years ago, which we stored in the back of our mind and only this weekend went to check out for ourselves.

What's for dinner? Stoves and other working appliances sell cheaply at TLD.

Yesterday we also added The Loading Dock to the list of reasons we love Baltimore more than any other city in the world. Much like Bookthing and the Baltimore Free Store, The Loading Dock takes a common sense idea and moulds it into something seemingly radical, but entirely practical which is a model for community development throughout the entire nation. How simply radical are they? Check out their mission statement:

Our Mission is twofold. We strive to increase the supply of decent, affordable housing for lower to moderate-income families by facilitating the reuse of materials that would otherwise be thrown away. At the same time we are saving precious environmental resources by taking reusable material out of the waste stream.

Insert rug-munching joke here: excess carpet rolls to fit most rowhouse rooms.

Okay, so even that may not sound terribly radical, but once we had a chance to walk the warehouse and see the stock, we were awed. TLD is literally packed with tons of building materials which would otherwise be completely wasted, and the prices for everything in the place are astonishingly low. Whether you’re in a pinch and need to suddenly replace a broken toilet, need to tile or carpet a basement floor, fix a broken windowpane or accomplish anything else around the house, you can get it done with serviceable materials at a fraction of the price of new, and save the earth at the same time.

Your window on the world: all manner of windows for installation or craft projects.

A $10 annual membership will allow you (and one additional cardholder) access to both the entire stock of materials, as well as a regular calendar of DIY workshops like the upcoming Greening Your Home and Drywall Repair clinics, among others.

A throne for every castle: all manner of plumbing fixtures from antique to modern.

Still doesn’t sound radical? Compare it to the new big-box corporate monster hardware store that’s trying to move onto 25th Street and the difference is pretty clear. If green, sustainable home improvement matters to you, we strongly urge you to oppose the plans for big-box development in Remington by getting involved with the efforts of Bmore Local at their site or join with over 700 of your neighbors on their Facebook Group. You can also follow development news on the project at the Baltidome Blog, who have been on top of the story since the beginning.

The Doors of perception are open: Doors for hanging or to be used as coffee tables, headboards, room dividers, workbenches, etc.

So the Chop is spending our Sunday watching the O’s on TV and putting in work on a little project we dreamed up, which is going to look like we spent over $300 dollars on, but thanks to The Loading Dock, was actually less than $30.

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The Loading Dock is located at 2 N. Kresson Street (map). They’re open Monday through Saturday, and more information can be found on their website, loadingdock.org.

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