Sunday, June 16, 2013

Four more years?

We renewed our lease this spring, which means we're staying in the apartment for another year at least. It will be our fourth year here, which is a little hard to believe. Every year we casually toy with the idea of relocating (mostly because I love the thought of a new space to start decorating), but whenever we start looking at what else is out there we're reminded of what a gem we have (especially given that the rental market around us seems to be going especially crazy this year). This is the first year our landlord has raised the rent, but it was a very modest increase and he's replacing our old oil furnace with a high efficiency gas heater so I think we may end up saving money in the end.

We always use the lease renewal as a chance to negotiate a few additional perks for ourselves -- our landlord rents the place himself (rather than going through a management company), and we've been good tenants (he always comments on how he loves what we've done with the space when he's here) so I think he's happy to do what he can to keep us. Our standard lease add-on is that we like to keep flexibility in the end date -- we always ask to have the lease written so that we can choose whether it ends August 31 (the original term) or July 31. That way in case we decide to move any given year, we have the option of doing so over the summer as opposed to Sep 1 when the entire city of Boston seems to move (and thus trucks and movers are ridiculously expensive). The deal is that we just have to tell him by the preceding April which we'll want it to be so he can search for new tenants accordingly. Of course so far we have yet to trigger either end date, since we keep renewing. But we always think it's a handy option to have. This year we also asked him to cover the cost of repainting the kitchen if we decide to do that (just supplies, we'll do the work) -- we figured that going into our fourth year, it's a reasonable request to want to freshen things up a bit.

Anyway, in that spirit I've finally been motivating myself to start tackling some maintenance projects that are less exciting but I feel are worth the time since we're going to be here at least another year (and quite possibly longer). The things that probably no one else notices but that I sit on the couch and stare at and obsess over until I finally work up the energy to fix them. Top of the list right now is the chipping and yellowing trim around the doors, windows, baseboards, etc. Actually I can't tell if the trim is yellowing or whether it's supposed to be a cream color, but what I do know is that it's definitely not white and I want it to be white. The decorative trim is one of the things I love about our apartment -- it gives the place more character like the old house it is, rather than cookie cutter. But frankly it's also kind of gross right now.

Like this:
(to be fair, this is after I made things worse by scraping off a bunch of flaking the yellow part at the bottom used to look less terrible, at least from a distance)

Same went for the fireplace in the living room...the things I ignored about this mantle (chipping paint, markings everywhere, etc) must have felt so unloved as I spent my time making curtains and painting furniture. It must hate everything else in the living room except the walls, which are similarly unloved. I'm sorry mantle.

(How could I have ignored this???? By putting a vase on top of the worst parts and also being short enough to not really be able to see the top of the mantle that well. And also just a lot of denial. For those of you who have visited my home, I'm sorry you had to be in the same room as this situation.)

What it looked like as I started putting on the first coat of white paint:
What is that black stuff everywhere? (Note: I thoroughly wiped down the surface before painting, so this is permanent discoloration not dirt.) Where did this horrible filth come from???

Fortunately for everyone's sanity, some simple sanding + wood filler to cover the worst holes + two coats of paint solved everything:

Before                                                             After
(If you can't see the difference, just humor me and pretend you can)

Of course, painting the mantle just made it even more obvious how much the rest of the living room trim needed to be painted. So I did just that.
     Painted mantle + original trim                    Painted mantle + painted trim

Of course, now it's abundantly clear that I need to continue my trim-painting spree in the study, since the trim in there now looks even dingier than before compared to the pristine white living room trim.
   Dingy trim in study ^                  ^ White trim in living room

Also as Sam pointed out (just to goad me): now the living room walls look terrible. Joke's on him, as I informed him that he was right and we will just have to paint the living room walls now.

I'll close with a question to ponder (as my Strategy professor this past semester would say, "the question to think about in the bath" (read with British accent)): am I a terrible person for not painting the trim that's hidden behind couches and curtains? For instance, I didn't paint any of the trim on the three windows along the outer living room wall, since they're entirely hidden by curtains. Basically what this means is that I'm leaving the future tenants to deal with this issue -- since when all our furniture and curtains are gone, suddenly there will be huge patches of cream-colored trim. I'm going to tell myself that the landlord should completely repaint when we move anyway since it will have been so long since he did so, but feel free to let me know if this is a decision of questionable morality. If so, you can come help me paint the rest of the trim.

No comments:

Post a Comment