Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


June 17, 2013

TIDBITS: Be wary of home improvement shows

CROSSVILLE — Sometimes I think home improvement stores need a screening tool of some sort, perhaps some kind of licensing or reference check. For example, before one can walk in and buy that handy dandy table saw, they need three people to vouch that they aren’t likely to cut off a bodily appendage.

Of course, this would eliminate me for a host of do-it-yourself home improvement projects. I’m pretty certain my coworkers would never recommend me to own a saw, a blowtorch or a nail gun. I think they’re also a little leery of my owning a gas grill and a vinyl siding house, but really, that was years ago! Lesson learned, folks. Lesson learned.

The fact is, I’m great at following instructions for a project, and don’t care a bit to do the unglamorous tasks, like pulling 15,000 staples out of the subfloor before putting down new laminate. I’m not so good at some of the other parts of home improvement, like knowing how to use a saw or that the folks who sell lumber have come up with an ingenious way to confuse the buyer. (Did you know a 2x4 is not actually two inches by four inches? They are actually 1 and 1/2 inch by 3 and 1/2 inches. You can see where this might cause a problem when determining the dimensions of a project.)

And picking out paint colors is such a challenge. I either go too light or too dark, too cool or too warm. It’s never just right. Recently, I decided it was time to make my mark on my new home. I’d lived there more than three years and it was still the same neutral beige the builders painted it. Over time, that beige had endured scuffs and a few areas had the remains of spider guts (I smash them where I see them. Otherwise they might get away). I had been unable to match the existing color and it didn’t really “pop.” It’s a big room, and I didn’t want to paint it only to hate the color, so I consulted with those who know better about such things. A lovely golden hue was chosen that went well with my décor. There was enough left in the bucket to paint over earlier color mistakes in the master bedroom and bath. Green isn’t my color, apparently. At least not that particular green. I liked it for about a day. I’d been wanting to change it for some time now.

I’ve also learned to be wary of those home improvement TV shows. They may be able to put down a new floor in a weekend, with their army of experienced workers, but little ol’ me and knowledgeable friends needed significantly more time allotted for the task.

Despite my not so successful home improvement attempts, I still like to look through magazines or wander up and down aisles making plans in my head. Wouldn’t that light fixture look good in the dining area? And, of course, the light needs to be moved over because it’s not centered where it should be. And then, with that done, converting that recessed lighting to trendy new pendant lights would be great! And don’t forget the outside. A retaining wall and patio would be lovely!

Of course, with each new project and undertaking, I learn a little more and I get a little more experience. That means I’m not calling in a panic for help with a project and becoming just a little more self-sufficient with each project.

I’ve saved some money on these projects, too. For example, paint isn’t a high dollar project, and it can really pack a punch in terms of changing the look and feel of your home, but paying someone to paint your home gets pricey. Of course, I’ve also discovered several projects where I’ll be calling the pros the next time around. The aching back, the not-so-clear-cut instructions and the overall time involved make it totally worth the expense.

I’ve also learned that TV home improvement shows are liars, or at best, misrepresent-ors. That’s not a word, I know, but it fits them. However long you think a project will take, double, triple or quadruple it. Also, add to your budget because you’re not going to get everything you need in one trip, no matter how well you plan.

But the best part of a do-it-yourself project, in my opinion, is sitting back after it’s done and looking at what you’ve accomplished with your own hands. It’s quite a feeling. It reminds me of seeing that newspaper roll off the press after pouring blood, sweat and tears into get it done, and then having something tangible to show for my efforts. It also helps build skills in team work and following instructions, and fosters a sense of camaraderie when tackling a project with friends or family.

• • •

Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published on Tuesday. She may be reached at

Text Only
  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

  • GARY'S WORLD: The chance to speak your mind

    Are you tired of hearing people complain about the way things are run in Cumberland County? Or, do you like the way the county government is run and operated in our beautiful county?
    Are you happy with the way things are, or would you like some change?

    April 3, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Digging beneath the headlines

    Our media have been focusing on two important events that have taken place overseas during the last several weeks.

    April 1, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: SNAP, health and work

    A recent letter from Representative Diane Black to me states that she voted for the farm bill (with $8 million in Food Stamp (SNAP) benefit cuts) because she, like me, is a supporter of food stamp benefits for Tennessee families who qualify. That’s a lot of families, as most recipients are families with children and the elderly. Now, recall that there was already a major cut to the food stamp program back in the fall. But for some Republicans, that was not enough.

    April 1, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice