On crookedness and DIY gone wrong

Or, why I need a lot of caulk.

The title of this blog is “Cozy Crooked Cottage”, which could indicate a great many things. “Crooked” could imply that nefarious deeds and general mischief goes down on the premises. It could also infer that we are in fact a band of thieves.

No, not that Band of Thieves

Since neither Mark nor I make a habit of pilfering (although I don’t deny that mischief does go down in this house on occasion), so the “crookedness” that I refer to in the blog title must in fact be the REAL kind of crookedness.

The kind of crookedness that has eggs rolling off of a counter.

The kind of crookedness that has me rescuing forgetting to rescue round dog toys from under the couch (sorry, guys).

The kind of crookedness that gave my visiting brother-in-law “vertigo” (I’m still kind of mad at him for that comment).

The kind of crookedness that has me scratching my head and saying “what were they thinking??” many, many times.

Before you start freaking out that our house was built on top of a sinkhole and is slowly sliding into the bowels of the earth (like I did at first), stay calm. I summoned my best Nancy Drew impression and conducted an investigation. We my grandfather bellied into the crawlspace under the house with a flashlight – I don’t even know everything that calls the subterranean depths of our abode home, nor do I want to! Judging from the bumps and bangs I hear emanating from the crawlspace on windy nights, I can only assume that it is a herd of miniature elephants. I WAS NOT GOING TO CRAWL IN THERE. My husband would have me believe that it is wind blowing through the pipes & ducts, but pshh. What does he know? The spider gods were feeling merciful as my grandfather returned from the crawlspace unscathed having learned that at some point the floor had been jacked up, presumably to counteract the effect that years of gravity tend to have on middle-aged homes. Instead of turning back time and returning the house to its proper level however, the house had been over-jacked on one side, resulting in, well, general crookedness.

The couple who bought this house a few ago in all its crooked glory to renovate/flip did nothing about this. Bad form, guys. Bad form! I’m no construction expert, but IMO, the first step of any renovation should be to make sure the walls & floors are level and square.

I asked my grandfather if we could either lower the jacks on one side or raise the other, and he said that at this point with all the new flooring, tile work, trim, doors, and windows that had been recently replaced, changing the level of the house again would actually create more problems than it would fix. As a carpenter and contractor for over 40 years, this guy would know, and my little DIY-happy heart was completely crushed. As much as I love digging into a good project, creating problems instead of fixing them? Not my cup of tea.

If you don’t believe me when I say our house is crooked, bless you! I carefully stage many of the photos I put up on this site making sure to show this old house in the best possible light. I looked back through the photos, though, and realized that you can still see evidence of the previous couple’s many poor DIY choices.

Gap along doorframe in living room

Gap along baseboard in living room

Uneven trim around windows

Uneven doorway trim and gaps around ceiling trim, living room

Hallway before painting stripes (it’s easier to see what I’m talking about in this Before pic):

Before painting

In a fit of frustration, I decided to disguise the ridiculous crookedness of this door frame by painting the wall white to match.

After painting

It’s harder to tell how crooked it is until you look closer. But the crookedness? It’s still there. I call this the “Madonna Effect”– add enough makeup, hair products and good lighting and you’ve got a glamazon! But you still know what’s lurking underneath all that jazz…

From this…

To this!

Maybe next time I hear thumps and bumps from the crawlspace in the night, I’ll imagine Madonna crawling around down there. Although I’m not sure if that’s preferable to a herd of mini-elephants…

Obviously all of the trim in my house needs to be ripped out and re-installed or replaced. But since 1. that takes $$ and 2. that takes time I haven’t got right now, the plan is to arm myself, with a gun. A caulking gun, that is! After I caulk along baseboards, door frames, and ceiling trim, not only will the gaps stop visually impairing every photo I take but I have a feeling the house will be more air-tight as well. After caulking I need to grab some wood filler and try my hand at smoothing over some of those window and door frames.

While I’m on the subject of terrible DIY ideas- don’t ever use flat paint on doors or trim! Use satin at the very least, semi-gloss preferably. Our white doors and baseboards were all painted in flat paint when we moved in, and I haven’t had the time to repaint them yet. They have attracted so much grime from hands or shoes- it doesn’t wipe off! Flat paint is more easily touched up, but grime just sticks right to it.

I guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend! Do you have any fun plans around the house? Or not around the house?


P.S. I really do love our house! I call it the “cozy crooked cottage” for a reason…it’s a cozy cottage that just happens to be crooked. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world- but since we’ve got the mortgage payment, we’re allowed to complain as long as it leads somewhere constructive;) There is always room for improvement, whether it’s your first home, or you’re a veteran house flipper!


2 thoughts on “On crookedness and DIY gone wrong

  1. If you would have moved into my old house, you would have been amazed. I have literally barred myself from attempting any sort of DIY what so ever. I even contact Yale Doormaster when a simple lock problem arises because of my past experiences. This is really nothing to the DIY disasters I left in my last home haha.

    I liked the reference to the Madonna effect though! That really made me laugh, the variation in the pictures is enough to make me giggle.

    • I’m glad you appreciated my post, and the Madonna reference=) Many times I look around the house and think, we should take care of this! And this! And this! But life isn’t an HGTV show, where a kitchen gets gutted and rebuilt in a weekend. If only life could be how it looks on HGTV! Lol

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