Monday, January 08, 2007

Clever Hands

I was watching Design on a Dime on Home and Garden yesterday. For those of you who have never watched it, the show takes a room that the owners aren't happy with and, with a $1,000 budget, designs the room to suit their taste and needs. It is fun to watch, to see the transformation from a room that isn't suiting the owners to one that delights them. Most of the time they paint at least part of the room, they will make furniture, often building it in to the room, create attractive storage, do window treatments, find carpets or other flooring, and just whatever it takes. The designers take us with them as they shop, and in the process discuss why they are making certain choices -- i.e., cedar gives exactly the grain that they are looking for, but it is too expensive so they are going with another wood (sorry, I forgot which one) that, with the correct stain, will give the same effect.

I just found this program this weekend, actually. I was sitting there enjoying myself no end, trying to figure out what it was this was reminding me of. And then I remembered. My ex-husband, Dick, used to do things like this. When we were first married, we moved into an apartment on Potrero Hill in San Francisco. There was a back porch off the kitchen that had been enclosed some time after the apartment was built, with a window between the porch and kitchen. Dick took the window out and built a set of irregular shelves/window boxes into the frame. Another time he dragged home an old, wonderfully aged, wine barrel. It was fascinating to watch him, because he knew all sorts of things I didn't, like to number the barrel staves as he took it apart so that it would go back together, and to number them on both ends. Then he cut a square out of the center and when he put the barrel back together, he built a wooden box into the hole for me to put my cookbooks in. Finally, he added a top so I had a workspace. When he put up shelves in the living room, he hung them from the wall with molly bolts and rope.

I'm not sure where he learned to do this, although I suspect that since he was an actor some of it may have come from building sets. And some of it may be just regular guy stuff, knowing how to use tools and what hardware was appropriate. But it was wonderful to me -- he was able to see and solve problems that I wasn't even aware of.

8 comments:

J said...

I like some of these home improvement shows, and I always wish we were handy enough to do things ourselves, and that we had space to keep the tools we would need...

Betty said...

I enjoy watching H&G, too, especially like House Hunters. I love to see the layouts and how they are decorated at the end of the show. Should I have been a Realtor, or am I just a voyeur??

kenju said...

My father was like that; he could repair anything around the house and he could always be counted on to come up with a solution for any household dilemma. Mr. kenju has talents - but they lie in other directions entirely!

I love watching the home decor shows on HGTV and Discovery, etc.

Py Korry said...

I think Dick was schooled in more than just guy stuff. To do what he did around the house was probably the product of maybe "Wood Shop" at school, or perhaps he learned some building technique from a family member. Pretty cool that he could put do those sorts of things.

Ginnie said...

When you mentioned labeling the staves it reminded me of when I bought a hand-made small cabinet with 12 drawers that a man had used in his shop. I decided to re-paint it and took out all the drawers. I almost went crazy trying to get them back as they were...they'd been individually made and only fit certain holes!!

Anvilcloud said...

Clever indeed. That gene bypassed me.

Joy Des Jardins said...

I haave always admired people who could build things with their hands. I love watching some of the home decorating shows. At one time my husband was pretty good at repairing things, but he never really got into building anything. I think there's nothing more beautiful than a handmade piece of furniture.

joared said...

I have gotten caught up on occasion watching some home improvement shows, thinking, I could do that. They make it look so easy like any good professionals. I have successfully done a couple of minor wood things, one of which involved using a miter box, but what you describe sounds pretty advanced and creative to me.