Open Thread

Topics for the rest of the week:




There will be a new Open Thread started on Memorial Day and  assigned topics for the rest of that week.      There is now a tentative full slate of posts for an entire month,  (Way to go!! )   The tentative schedule is adjusted on the fly to balance serious vs light, insert new submissions that enhance the set list,  and to push back any that duplicate a long tangential discussion.  The goal is to be fully scheduled for three-four weeks out at all times.

Just in case there is still confusion about submitting posts that include links to sites behind a paywall.    All submissions are welcome to either administrator.   If the link is behind a paywall (other than the NYT), please provide excerpts or a summary in the body of the post OR send me (Mémé) an email with a link I can access and I’ll do the work of selecting excerpts.      Some readers don’t choose to establish an email relationship at all, or want to stick with July only.    The Suggest Posts page is for everyone’s convenience.

Also, topics presented on Suggest Topics or via email ready to go as posts will likely end up in the queue earlier than a statement in the regular thread or on Suggest Topics along the lines of,  why don’t we have a post about x topic.


195 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. Ada – too funny and totally agree with all of your shames! How did the person who picked up the cake not notice, and just quietly ask for it to be fixed? Why does everything need to be an outrage?

  2. Ada – too funny and totally agree with all of your shames! How did the person who picked up the cake not notice, and just quietly ask for it to be fixed? Why does everything need to be an outrage?

    – Lark (for some reason none of my posts are showing up on the main threads, though seem to on the challenge thread)

  3. I am sorry I missed most of yesterday – love all the thoughtful comments.

  4. Why do my comments show up when I use anything other than Lark? I need a bird symbol.

  5. It sounds like she submitted an online order and the computer edited it to three hyphens, which is what the store’s baker read.

    In defense of Publix’s software, if you start typing a search for the origins of “cum,” Google stops making any suggestions at that point, which is what it does once it senses any obscenities. So it’s not like Publix is out in the woods here. It seems that its use in the sexual sense dates at least as far back as the 1920s.

    I suppose, given more familiarity with the Latin phrasing, the baker might have called the mother to confirm that she actually wanted cum on her son’s cake, but the potential for disastrous misinterpretation might be too great.

  6. @Ada – Funny! And I agree with all your shames as well!

    Lark – that is very odd.

  7. They offered to remake the cake. Having survived an absolute train wreck of a wedding cake, I can say, you can be humiliated by a cake wreck but you will survive the experience.

  8. the baker might have called the mother to confirm that she actually wanted cum on her son’s cake


  9. Agree with all the shames. Faux outrage is tiring.

    Louise, your wording of cake wreck reminded me of a fun website. If you want to laugh at some true cake wrecks, try The woman who runs the site has a great sense of humor.

  10. Louise — Tell us more about your wedding-cake wreck! Unless the memories are too traumatic… ;)

  11. Lark, I freed your two comments from the spam folder. I do not know why they were caught and I think future comments should go through fine.. But if you do change your handle, I’d suggest avoiding Lark Cum Laude. ;)

  12. Lark I will see whether there is a tweak to release all comments under your name. I am not at home now.

  13. It’s still doing it. Too funny. I’m just going to post under different names.

  14. Lemon requested a Home Improvement Topic. Since she is under a time constraint and it may be a few weeks before we get to it, I suggest we bring it up here right now.

    Relate your biggest regret or never again, good tips, things to avoid.

  15. Home Improvement Topic

    If I had it to do over again, I would make sure all the HVAC filters were the same size and in an easily accessible space that I could get to without a ladder.

  16. Biggest home improvement tip: learn to separate what matters to you from what doesn’t. When we built our house, we had all these grand ideas. Of course, they weren’t in the budget, so we compromised. And then of course we ran over budget, so we compromised on the compromises. Wash, rinse, repeat. And I finally almost broke down in tears with DH and said that it felt like there was nothing “special” left, because we had compromised on all of the things that had led us to want to build in the first place. And that’s when DH said that we should each pick one thing that we weren’t compromising on. So he picked the floors (brazilian cherry, with an inlaid wood compass at the front door), and I picked the countertops (dark green Corian, which I had wanted for years). And it saved the day. Everything else was good enough, and it still felt like it was “ours” at the end.

    Also, set your budget at least 10-15% below your actual budget. ;-)

  17. Home Improvement:

    Our biggest problem was having the windows redone when we did the siding. We didn’t understand they measured them incorrectly – 3 of them – which meant they had to do a different installation method. As these were the only 3 like this, we didn’t understand they were wrong until just recently when we started getting a leak – about 5 years and no longer under warranty later.

    My take away has been to have a general understanding of the work being done so you can spot something that is going awry.

    On the small side of things – I will never install and over the stove microwave myself (ourselves) again!

  18. LfB +1000. We just redid our stairs. I was willing to compromise on just about anything except the handrail. Yep, we waited an extra month to get it, but I LOVE IT!!!

  19. And along the lines of Pseudo’s note: never install a whole-house humidifier directly above the motherboard for your HVAC system.

    Don’t cheap out on things that will be hard to replace. In the end, the biggest problem with our CO house was the builder-grade windows, which pretty much undid the extra value we got from upgrading to 6″ thick walls and extra insulation. Cheap countertops and expensive cabinets are better than the other way around, because it’s easier to replace later. Etc.

    And my corollary to Austin’s note: never install a microwave over a stove, period. At least if you do any cooking and have actual functioning smoke alarms.

  20. Be cautious of renovation fatigue at the very end, when you just want people OUT OF YOUR HOUSE, and thus you don’t insist they correct or finalize the very last details. For me, that was outlets on our kitchen island, which were not installed and I couldn’t face making them come back and do it. Big mistake. There are a couple other details like that.

  21. NoB – I went through tons of wedding cake pictures and picked my perfect cake. I took it to one of the two bakers the wedding reception place worked with. We sat down, had a detailed consultation, tasting etc and he assured me it would be exactly like the picture.
    One day before the wedding the baker said he had a kitchen fire and the picture was lost.
    I was so devastated by this. I didn’t have time to go to to his shop and give him another picture nor did I have a copy. I told him to do his best on whatever design he could do. The alternate design was so underwhelming and disappointing, totally slapped together. I could have gone to any grocery store bakery and bought a wedding cake off the shelf and it would have been 100% better.

  22. Renovation fatigue – Plan for it and more time than is estimated as something always happens. From the start to finish of replacing all the flooring in our house and redoing our stairs was just a few days shy of 6 months. That includes three weeks between the upstairs carpet being finished and the downstairs stairs being completed and the month wait for the handrail I really wanted. When I received all the initial time estimates, I knew four months was too short, so I just decided it would take 6. My friends just couldn’t fathom that long. I didn’t feel the fatigue like I have in the past because the project stayed right on time in my book. Though, since it took longer and it is the end of the school year, none of us have time right now to unpack it all and finish up the small paint jobs that were always in our court. That will get finished once school is out and DD#1’s graduation is over!

  23. S&M – Our microwave has an exhaust fan. Problem #1 – the exhaust fan duct work in the cabinet above the stove (old exhaust fan) did not match up nicely with the duct work on the new microwave, so it took a bit of creativity with sheet metal to make it work. Problem #1 – the wall the microwave hangs on was not flat – just bowed enough that it wouldn’t install easily. A bit of manipulation of the dry wall made it flat enough. Problem #3 – the microwave is heavy – one person has to hold it while the other person screws it in place. Neither of those jobs were easy.

    When we replaced it after almost 10 years, we paid to have it installed. Best $50 spent ever!

    LfB – Our microwave has an exhaust fan and if it sense too much heat coming up from the stove, it turns itself on. It also has task lighting. I don’t love it over the stove, but our kitchen is tiny and there is no other place for it.

  24. Keep them coming guys! I appreciate hearing what others have to say about making tough decisions. The design/rebuild team we are using does not do microwaves above the stove. It is not an option. They suggest a microwave drawer in the island. They also do not do lower cabinets doors. It is all drawers. Unfortunately we have lived in this house long enough to know what we need, so I feel like I don’t want to compromise on anything. Strike that, we already made two compromises – we are not making the kitchen/dining room all on the same level (current kitchen is one step higher), and only having a one sink master bath. The amount of money these two changes would have cost are significant.

  25. “They also do not do lower cabinets doors. It is all drawers.”

    Well that’s just weird. Who the hell are these people?

  26. Do not skimp on stuff such as drawer handles/knobs and door handles. We got inexpensive pulls in DD bathroom and we’re paying the price.

  27. Well, you could ask for cabinet doors, but having drawers for your pots and pans, tupperware, etc. is so much easier than having doors (says the girl that got a splinter on her arm from reaching into the back of lower 1950 era cabinet to grab the colander).

  28. We did all drawers in the bottom of the kitchen and I LOVE it. Could never go back to cabinets.

    I did a test run of a drawer microwave and did not like it. Ended up putting a small, cheap microwave in our laundry room off the kitchen. But, I rarely use a microwave.

    We did cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling, which I love.

  29. I wish I had drawers in all my lower cabinets. The worst, inefficient combination IMO is both a slide-out shelf with cabinet doors. It creates two steps to get your stuff out. Much better are just drawers of various sizes.

  30. Lemon, so the drawers have drawer fronts, instead of the little lip on drawers that get closed away behind cabinet doors? What you mentioned, the ease of drawers over shelves in bottom level cabinetry, is most important, but how did these people get hired for a job that included stuff they don’t do? Why did they even bid on it? You could always have them do the simplest thing possible above the stove & tell them you’ll get a countertop microwave eventually, then do like Austin and have a guy come over one afternoon and make it right. And with the extra step, I assume you don’t want to spend your old age in that house.

  31. Also – Price things even if you think they might be too much and/or ask what options are available. On our stairs, we had wood balusters and assumed we would replace with very similar wood ones after taking off the carpet. Looking at Houzz, the iron ones were much prettier. Had them priced, and based on the pattern we picked, they were cheaper because they didn’t have to be stained to match the stairs/handrail. I was surprised and happy, because I love the way it turned out.

  32. Best decision I made in our last remodel: (1) Bluestar range; (2) matching vent hood; (3) countertops 3″ higher than normal (36″ to 39″). DH and I are both fairly tall and it was awesome to have taller countertops. Now we have the regular height countertops and the sink is deep and it is SO LOW IT KILLS! Of course this kitchen is giant and would be a beast to fix totally (and I am fine with the cabinets and countertops). So without fixing the countertop height, I’d just do (1) new ovens, (2) backsplash, (3) faucets, (4) range and (5) vent fan.

    Worst decisions for our last remodel: (1) being our own GC and not knowing you had to get actual electricians and plumbers to sign off on the permits and close them out; and (2) painting the kitchen ceiling at 7 months pregnant. Never again!

  33. I’m really enjoying Lark’s names.

    S&M – the drawers are just like in the Emily Henderson blog you posted. I asked them to bid on the project because I like this company and I’m familiar with their work over the last 10 years. They specialize in renovating homes from a particular era. They have certain standards and bid out using these standards so you aren’t stuck with a huge upcharge because you wanted granite instead of laminate. They stay away from microwaves over the range due to the difficulty in installing/reinstalling, exhaust, and breakdown in electronics due to steam. Also, i’m short, so reaching at or above head to get hot liquids isn’t ideal.

  34. How many cabinets do you have in your kitchen? I have 6 lower cabinets, but that counts the two that are under the sink and 4 upper cabinets that does not count the half cabinets above the stove or refrigerator. The ones above the stove are useless as they mostly have the exhaust fan vent in them. I have a floor to ceiling pantry that is the same width and depth as the cabinets.

    We may be getting new cabinets and I was thinking about some drawers on the bottom, but what do you do with tall things like stock pots?

  35. Has anyone on here painted a wall to use for a projector? I’ve found one article about it, but the link doesn’t work. I presume they didn’t update it as newer projectors came out. even!
    I may have snorted at their ideas about finishing this off—paint a black rectangle on your wall as a frame. Their idea of having a grey accent wall is marginally better. I know grey is trendy, but it isn’t a color that appeals to me.

    Emily Henderson makes her set-up sound complicated, but maybe a pull down screen is best. With Bluetooth between the projector and speakers/computer, wires would not be a big deal.

  36. The beach bathroom remodel is great, totally exceeded my expectations. The mistake with the shower tile inset is fine, and I may even like it better. Having the bathroom redone completely changes the feel of the entire master bedroom. Amazing. Now I feel impatient to do the 2nd bathroom, but that will have to wait until next winter.

  37. Austin – I have deep drawers for the stock pots.

    We have the following lower cabinets/drawers:
    2 drawers under wall ovens/microwave
    14 lower cabinets (many with 1 drawer on top, cabinet below)
    12 sets drawers
    2 undersink cabinets
    This is including the pantry area (it has a warming drawer which we have never used)

  38. “what do you do with tall things like stock pots?”

    Get a tall drawer. Seriously, mapping out the kitchen according to exactly what you have /need is part of what’s awesome about redoing it.

  39. Currently my lower cabinets are 3 double doors and 1 cabinet of 3 drawers, and for upper I have 2 single door and 2 double door, and no pantry. I can’t even tell you what the new one will have because it will be so many more, plus a walk in pantry that I haven’t added it up.

  40. I had drawers on the bottom only at our old house and have a combo of drawers and regular cabinets at this house and prefer the combo. Some things I have do not fit easily in a drawer. We also have inset cabinets at this house and I didn’t know it until I lived here, but I hate how they look. Too many lines that give me the creeps. I prefer full overlay.

    Things that I would be sure to do – plenty of outlets, including those in the middle of the floor if it makes sense for how you will set up a room, lots of can lighting that is adjustable and don’t do a combo oven/microwave, as the microwave will surely die first and then you have to replace the whole thing.

  41. Also, if you do a tiled backsplash, get a bunch of extras. We were able to swap out countertops and keep the previously installed backsplash because we had some extras to replace the few tiles that got broken during the replacement.

  42. S&M – so far I’ve projected onto our green dining room wall. It worked for our purposes (we weren’t viewing as a TV but testing). I tend to project on a white sheet outdoors.

    I think the idea of gray is important – there’s about 6,000 version of white, and some of them will not work well as a surface to project on. You can choose a very white gray, just not stark white or any of the yellow whites. I also like the border. We move our projector around, so the border will help us line it up perfectly each time.

    Home reno – we are at the tail end of a full bathroom reno. We expanded the shower, added a niche/shelf, purchased custom cabinetry for the vanity, and re-did the closet. So far, I’m very happy. The colors are awesome, and I think this is my best design yet. I keep getting better the more I design these renos. I’m excited to see what I can come up with for our kitchen. My tips – don’t sweat the small stuff. And find a GC you trust. Our GC handles just about everything and leaves us to decisions and last minute fixes. If you’re particular, I recommend drawing everything out. I did this for our tile and closet layouts. Worked like a charm to show our GC. (I also did this with our built-ins and what I received was *exactly* what I wanted).

  43. Most of my comments are already here. We didn’t use a designer and have one double-door cabinet in the island with pull-out trays for pots/pans and the other with an adjustable height `half depth shelf for appliances. (The Kitchen Aid mixer lives in the full-height portion.)

    Given my need for more light with age, we added undercabinet lighting (inexpensive) and 2 or 3 more can lights near the range. We have the microwave over the range for logistical reasons and because the oven/microwave combo was a disaster. We chose to have one-and-a-half of our four outlets near the door with USB plugs, which DH can change to regular outlets if we ever want, to create an electronics charging area. Electronics charging is next to our main [back] door to keep phones and Kindles out of bedrooms overnight.

    We had previously designed the shelving in the pantry to match my particular storage needs (back shelves are now 18″ deep, top two shelves are high enough for organizer cubes in which I store seldom-used stuff) with sloped wire shelves to easily use the oldest canned goods first.

  44. Rhode, maybe I’m picturing the frame wrong. I was thinking of a 2”-3” side frame painted on the wall, which would look weird when the projector was off. But if it’s a pencil-thin outline, it wouldn’t be so bad. Did you use the special paint (it’s a certain kind of glossy, from what I understand, and very pricey) or just a light grey?

  45. Rhode, you drew everything out by hand, or with a software package? Neither of those sounds very easy, despite the ad copy for those apps.

  46. Re: microwaves above the stove: the vent fans are just not powerful enough for the way I cook. Even my GE Profile vent fan is insufficient — I should have gone restaurant-grade, but I liked the look.

    I would also never use a pull-out-drawer microwave, unless they put the control panel on the top of it. No way am I bending down all the time to punch in the time, see how things are cooking, etc. I like my current setup, inset above my wall oven — perfectly at eye height, and there’s still room for vertical cookie sheet storage over top.

    Re: drawers/doors: I am totally with Milo @12:50. I have both and find them useful in different ways. I have two cabinetry runs that are like 30-36″ wide. I used one of them for three drawers that I use for pots and pans and things like that, which is fine — just PAY UP FOR HEAVY-DUTY DRAWER GLIDES. [I cannot emphasize this enough]. But the other one I have cabinet doors and pull-out trays, because it is my baking station, and I keep all my flours and sugars and bowls and mixing utensils in those trays, and I like just having the cabinet doors open while I grab my flour and such from the second tray, without having to get out of the way to open a drawer. I also have two 5′-wide pantry cabinets with roll-out trays that are totally awesome for storing all my stuff and rummaging around if you forget where you put something.

    The other thing to think about: if you build drawers, you are stuck with that setup forever, so if you get larger or smaller pans, it will no longer be as efficient. OTOH, roll-out trays can be moved up or down as you change sizes (my pantry has tall spaces for things like cereal and big jugs of vinegar/olive oil, and shorter spaces for things like cans; I also have one cabinet that current has only two roll-out trays, because I use it for my wok and big stockpot, but it would be very easy to buy a third if I decided I didn’t need that extra height). Plus everyone seems to be selling after-market storage things that you can use to change up the storage inside an open cabinet, so you could start with one insert and then swap it out later for a couple hundred bucks if your needs changed. And many many many of those pull out or roll out and make use of difficult space, like the area behind a blind cabinet. I really wanted something like this – — but we had a beam in the way. I have yet to see a drawer be able to do that.

    And did I mention that you should pay up for heavy-duty glides? Not to mention 3/4″ plywood construction. Especially for any drawer or tray you plan to use to store pots and pans or bags of flour or small appliances or lots of cans or jugs of vinegar/olive oil. No particlewood, period. And 1/2″ ply and lower-end glides will work fine for light-use drawers, like for silverware or aluminum foil. But do not, under any circumstances, cheap out on the construction materials for the heavy-use stuff, or you will regret it eternally.

  47. No time to read the guts of any comments but am so glad I scanned through today and saw Lark’s headline-type names. Hilarious. Please do that forever, Lark!

  48. For all you drawers-as-lower-cabinets folks, how do you deal with the corners? We have a lazy susan, which I LOVE! In our kitchen reno (next up, in about 1-2 years), I plan on keeping that and then figuring out the rest. I have a super small kitchen and really don’t want to reconfigure the appliances, so we are limited.

    S&M – I haven’t really thought about painting a wall to project on. For a couple reasons (1) I don’t have much wall space and (2) we still have a functional TV. If we did, I’d do a ton of research. I have a friend who projects onto a basement wall – typical gloss finish in a true gray (light, but not white). He reports no loss of color integrity. We have the same projector, so I take him as his word.

    You know the fun part about paint right? You can always have a do-over. Try a gloss finish with a super light gray. You won’t even need a pint of paint for one wall (even with two coats, unless you are super thick paint painter and the wall is huge). Maybe 1-2 of those little cans would be fine (and super cheap). If you don’t like it, paint over it or go with a screen or sheet. You can make the screen or sheet like a tapestry so it folds up and stores nicely, yet hangs on the wall like art. You could put a bar/dowel at the top and bottom to hold it smooth, and string a nice rope from the top to hang it like a tapestry.

  49. Laura, so no Ikea kitchens for you!

    Rhode, interesting tapestry idea. I’m surprised there aren’t more people with projectors—or maybe they just don’t feel like commenting

  50. My friends in the art world use projectors. These arty types also are part of the academia scene. But outside of their world, everyone I know just uses a TV or some other type of screen.

  51. “I’m surprised there aren’t more people with projectors”

    What’s the advantage over an LED panel?

  52. I prefer drawers for everything except the giant stuff (Vitamix, rice cooker, coffee maker that we never use, cutting boards, etc.). I have cabinets with pull-outs in the pantry and mostly only use the top pull-out for the sifter, mixing bowls, and cake holder. The rest of the pull-outs hold excess wine and different types of flour. :)

    Also, get the soft close heavy duty drawer glides, so you can slam the drawer as hard as you want and it still won’t make any noise!

  53. “What’s the advantage over an LED paneL?”

    You mean computer/tv screen? Portability and not being connected to tv tech.

  54. “I’m surprised there aren’t more people with projectors—or maybe they just don’t feel like commenting”

    Besides my friend with the basement set-up, I’ve only known 1 other person to use a projector as a TV. He was a college friend and it was a hulking thing (granted this was over 15 years ago…). My friend and I use this projector:

    I have no reason to make it my primary TV, but it’s fun for travel and outdoor stuff. I see no advantage over my Vizio. Except if you want to be fancy and claim you don’t have a TV, so you can “hide” it when the guests come.

  55. “You mean computer/tv screen?”
    No. These distinctions have become meaningless.

    OK, I suppose. If wherever you’re transporting it happens to have a suitable wall for a screen, and the surroundings are darkened (and assuming it doesn’t already have an actual LED flat panel in the vicinity).

    “and not being connected to tv tech.”
    I don’t know what this means.

  56. “Hiding” it when guests come isn’t the point so much as that I don’t want a big ole screen hanging around all the time. That’s part of what irks me about such specific requirements for wall paint. I’m considering this for DS’s birthday in Oct, so have plenty of time to think about it.

  57. S&M – I’m on the fence about portability. I like our projector because it’s super small and fun for what we do (and we paid <$100 for it). We do a lot of outdoor movie nights, so it's worth the splurge. It's also a bluetooth speaker, so I'll put it on the table and listen to music off the music choice app. But for individual viewing, my iPad is great too – and I can do a ton more.

  58. Milo, then what kind of screen are you talking about? The rest of that comment sounds like the kind of screens used for tv/computers are indeed what you mean.

  59. “If wherever you’re transporting it happens to have a suitable wall for a screen, and the surroundings are darkened (and assuming it doesn’t already have an actual LED flat panel in the vicinity).”

    That’s why I’m irked to hear this about the paint. The darkness requirement depends on the brightness of the projector. The one I’m looking at now is around 3500 lumen, so doesn’t need a particularly dark room. And it still sounds like a tv/computer screen is what you are talking about.

    What is there to understand (or not) about tv tech?

  60. S&M,

    Like Rhode I knew some people who had projectors 15 years ago because that was the only way to get an image above a certain size. But IIRC the image quality and image brightness weren’t very good. Although, now that I think about it, it may have been more the brightness that was the problem.

  61. “I don’t want a big ole screen hanging around all the time”
    You need to make sure you always have a suitable wall though. And no matter what room you’re in, that blank wall is now the focal point. You can do a drop-down screen (or a portable screen) like in Back to the Future II, but it’s still either hanging from the ceiling, or in a bag in a hall closet.

    “That’s part of what irks me about such specific requirements for wall paint. ”
    I think that can be part of the fun. You can hack this without spending so much money. And it all depends on how fancy a projector you’re getting. Or how “perfect” you want this to be. For me, a white sheet is good enough. For my friend, his gray basement wall is good enough (though I suspect in a year or so he’ll invest in a fancy screen or paint).

  62. What is there to understand (or not) about tv tech?

    What do you mean by tv tech? They are all just monitors of different sizes now, all the tech is the same.

  63. Rhode, we might go outside with it. More likely the portability will be useful when going from kid’s room to living room, when moving, and in his not-so-far off young adult life (gulp!). He’ll be 16 this birthday, so will probably have a couple dorm rooms /apartments during the projector’s useful life.

  64. Rhett,

    Can deliver the same content as this

    But the tech is not the same. When my parents ask me to help out with their Samsung, I don’t have a clue where to start. Even having a remote is unfamiliar to me.

  65. Also, we already have laptops that are perfectly capable of getting the things we want to watch. We just want to have the pictures be bigger. There is no need to lay the extra $$$!! for a different system to deliver the same content.

  66. “then what kind of screen are you talking about?”

    When you walk into Costco, the type of screens I’m talking about, rectangular in shape, are prominently displayed before you, ranging in size from about 20″ to 75″ or so diagonally, and from about $100 to $1200 in price, off the top of my head. They’re also widely available at other major retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, BJs, and Sam’s Club.

    In popular lexicon, they are referred to as “TVs,” but from a technological standpoint, that term is outdated because 1) in most cases they are not used to display a true television signal, but rather a digital, satellite, or Wifi media feed, or they display the output of an auxiliary device like a BluRay or game console; and 2) many — most? — no longer even include a television tuner.

    “What is there to understand (or not) about tv tech?”

    How about what it actually is?

  67. “And no matter what room you’re in, that blank wall is now the focal point. ”

    Not when nothing is being projected onto it. At least I hope we don’t wind up focusing on blank walls. Having a spot to shine a projector is not an issue. We have some things on the walls, but they are by no means full. I probably will start with whatever paint is there, and then modifying as necessary. First step will be making sure there aren’t bumps in the wall. After that, the decisions about color and gloss can be made together, once the projector has been unwrapped.

  68. I’d weight the options of what you want the projector to do: (1) be a primary TV watching device (2) a toy to bring outside or on trips (3) a combo of both. If (3) is the one you go with, I’d carefully research the type of projector you buy (including the lumens) but also size and weight. How often are you traveling with this thing? Will it be a pain in the neck to move around? How heavy/big will it be?

    If you’re thinking of painting a wall for this thing, you are leaning towards option 1. Which is totally cool. But spend your money making sure you optimize your viewing.

  69. Rhett, I don’t know what the stuff you said means. I just want something that does the equivalent of that monitor you linked to without taking up so much room. The projector I’m thinking of is the size of a binder, weights 4 pounds, and produces a much larger image than that monitor.

  70. AtlantaMom, if you are reading today I’m super curious about who you’re voting for (but probably that belongs on the politics thread).

  71. Milo,

    I think she’s hung up on the multiple MDMI slots. If you wanted to hook cable up to the extra monitor you have in your home office, you’d plug in the MDMI cable from the back of the cable box and it would just work. Same with a firestick. With a “tv” you’d have to go to menu, then source and then select that you want to see the data coming over via MDMI port 4.

  72. SM – The steps you’ll take, and the torturous hoops you’ll jump through, to satisfy your ingrained aversion to ever “owning a TV” grow simultaneously more absurd and comical every year.

  73. “Not when nothing is being projected onto it. At least I hope we don’t wind up focusing on blank walls. Having a spot to shine a projector is not an issue. We have some things on the walls, but they are by no means full.”

    I guess I thought you’d want to project as large as possible… if so, then you will have a lot of empty wall space when the projector is not on. If you have a particular viewing space and things around that space, when the projector is off, then that space becomes apparently apparent. If you have normally blank walls, then you’re fine. That’s not the case in Rhode’s House. The largest unadorned wall is probably our stairway. If we used our projector at home, I’d have to remove something from the wall, or hang a sheet. We’d opt for sheet-hanging. When we tested our projector, it was on a slab of dining room wall smaller than our regular TV.

  74. Milo, fine. Show me a tv that is as easy to transport as a binder that produces a 50” image, can be purchased for $600, and doesn’t require me to learn how to deal with cable.

  75. doesn’t require me to learn how to deal with cable.

    All the cables are the same now.

    If you want to hook up your laptop, your firestick, cable TV, DVD player, etc. they all use the same type of connector.

  76. “If you wanted to hook cable up to the extra monitor you have in your home office, you’d plug in the MDMI cable from the back of the cable box and it would just work. Same with a firestick. With a “tv” you’d have to go to menu, then source and then select that you want to see the data coming over via MDMI port 4.”

    Ick, ick, ick. ick. I have zero interest in moving to a fire stick or cable when half the country is moving to streaming, which works just fine for us.

  77. I can’t get you the binder size to a 50″ image, that’s true.

    But getting a TV doesn’t require you to learn how to deal with cable, or even subscribe to a cable service. You obviously have home internet service. Any TV you buy now can access Netflix, Amazon, etc. over the same Wifi.

    Rather than having a $600 projector that requires 50″ of blank shiny-silvery wall space and a darkened room for viewing, I’d rather just have a $400 TV (or “TV) in that same 50”. The picture will be much better.

  78. “All the cables are the same now.”

    Lol. You didn’t seriously think that, did you? I mean the companies like Spectrum & Roadrunner. Like I’ve been saying, our computers handle what we want to watch just fine. All I’m looking for is a bigger picture. Why would I want to get any of those things you list? For that matter, why would I want to get a hard cable like you show a picture of, unless Bluetooth turns out to be a problem on the projector?

  79. I have zero interest in moving to a fire stick or cable when half the country is moving to streaming,

    A fire stick is what you use to stream. It’s the streaming product from Amazon. Apple’s streaming product is called Apple TV and google’s is called Chromcast and the other major one is Roku.

  80. The other question with the projector is where is the sound going to come out?

  81. The distinction between “TV” and “computer monitor” has become meaningless. They are simply image display devices. We can think of a laptop as being a TV with an attached keyboard, a smartphone as a tiny TV with a data plan, and what you are calling a “TV” as being a big screen mounted on a wall or on a stand, with no keyboard.

  82. “I can’t get you the binder size to a 50″ image, that’s true.”

    Then we are done. The point is a bigger picture, and I’m not willing to give up portability. I told you above that the darkened rooms are for old or cheap projectors that don’t have many lumen. If we were going locket-sized, the room would have to be dark. That’s why I moved up to the size of a binder. I know that for you, bigger is always better. I simply don’t agree. The shiny wall does sound annoying. I’m obviously just starting to research this, 4.5 months out. I may wind up getting one good projection screen and using sheets elsewhere. Projection screens don’t even have to come in hard cases. You can get fabric that can be folded up just like a sheet. I may have just answered my own question.

    “A fire stick is what you use to stream. It’s the streaming product from Amazon. Apple’s streaming product is called Apple TV and google’s is called Chromcast and the other major one is Roku.”
    No. Firefox, Safari and Chrome are what we use to stream.

  83. By “projector”, do you mean those devices we use to display our powerpoints and educational YouTube videos in the classroom? Bleh! Those things are the bane of my existence. Forever going out of focus, always slightly fuzzy, and never have the right connector for the device I need to connect.

  84. Mooshi, yes, they can do the same thing. There is no need to replicate the image-receiving capability when all we need is a bigger picture.

  85. Mooshi, is like to get one that works properly, tyvm. Is your school still using the ones it installed a decade ago?

  86. No. Firefox, Safari and Chrome are what we use to stream.

    You need something for them to run on.

  87. “Firefox, Safari and Chrome are what we use to stream.”
    Those are your browsers. In fact, you are using the Internet to stream, probably via a wifi connection to your laptop, or perhaps a hardwired Ethernet cable (I use both). A Roku is just a device that brings the wifi signal and provides software to a display panel that doesn’t have a browser of its own.

  88. This is like the boat forums when someone asks “What’s a trawler?”

    A close second is “Should I get one engine or two?”

  89. “Rather than having a $600 projector that requires 50″ of blank shiny-silvery wall space and a darkened room for viewing, I’d rather just have a $400 TV (or “TV) in that same 50”. The picture will be much better.”

    Yes. Sound too.

    “All the cables are the same now.”

    I get your point & totally agree with your assessment. But…that’s not QUITE true yet. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have these in all our conference rooms. ;)

  90. I just spent the last 8 hours in an online virtual meeting with 6 other people at a federal agency. My head is going to explode.

  91. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t have these in all our conference rooms.”
    My company upgraded to Clickshare with huge screen tvs in the conference room. It has never been easier to present. And works great to stream March Madness. :)

  92. “By “projector”, do you mean those devices we use to display our powerpoints and educational YouTube videos in the classroom? Bleh! Those things are the bane of my existence. Forever going out of focus, always slightly fuzzy, and never have the right connector for the device I need to connect.”

    This is the reason that we don’t have any of these at work anymore. Instead we have giant “TV’s” (not hooked up to any type of cable service) In the latest remodels, we even took the massive wall-size projectors for meeting rooms that hold hundreds of people down and put up screens.

    I do think the backyard movies/movie in the park are fun though.

  93. I don’t usually have problems with the projectors. But why are these things still so shitty:

    Is there just some insurmountable technological hurdle to building a good one.

  94. Wow, you guys, are we going to have to move TV viewing tech discussions to the politics thread?

  95. Mooshi, yes, damit. The browsers I listed reside on various devises that are connected to the internet. We have several of those. Wtf do I want with another device that can do that part? Seriously, what good would Roku do me?

  96. @Lemon – The new conference rooms use some kind of wireless system, but it’s not rolled out universally yet. I don’t know what you call it – you go to an IP address and then you can share your screen on that particular TV. It’s great….except when the WiFi signal goes bunk (which happens more often than it should). Did I mention that I work for a communications company? ;)

  97. The other thing about cheap projectors is that the audio STINKS. You have to hook them up to a speaker in order to have good sound.

  98. Rhett, how many devices are you going to try to sell me? I’m trying to get rid of crap, not add more. There is no need for a little dongle thingy to lose when we have Bluetooth.

  99. @Rhett – I don’t know, but we got brand new polycoms that look like they are from the robot future, and they still suck. I think it’s because it’s all Skype VOIP though.

  100. Ivy & L, we have speakers (Bluetooth!) that we use for music. I’m sure they will be just fine for this as well.

    Rhett, now you’re just being annoying for the help of it. I neither know nor care what that thing is, unless it is going to make a bigger picture than my laptop screen.

    Mafalda, how about we move the discussion of “all the reasons S&M should buy anything besides a way to make a bigger picture” to the thread I don’t visit, and the rest of us can have a nice conversation about ways to show pretty pictures?

  101. “Ivy & L, we have speakers (Bluetooth!) that we use for music. I’m sure they will be just fine for this as well. ”

    I couldn’t tell earlier how you were planning to connect the laptop to the projector. Was that via Bluetooth, and, if so, can you have simultaneous Bluetooth connections; i.e., laptop to speaker and laptop to projector?

  102. OMG Lemon that may be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.

  103. When they got their beach house, my parents initially insisted that they weren’t going to have TV there. That lasted maybe two weeks, until my dad hooked up a 20″ computer monitor to some sort of tuner. Then they caved and got satellite, and spent a year or two watching TV on that thing.

    One day my brother said “this is stupid” and bought them a 50″ TV, and my mom says “I don’t know how we ever lived without it.”

    She can’t go without her constant fix from HGTV, FOX News. And, as frequently happens, if FOX isn’t getting her riled up enough, she switches to MSNBC “just to see what they’re talking about.”

    Then she’ll message my brother and me on Messenger with “Can you believe what they’re saying on CNN/MSNBC….?!?!”

  104. Personally, I just want to know why online meeting software like Webex still sucks so badly after 20 years of existence. Every meeting, every single online meeting, no matter how high tech the participants, still has about 10 to 15 minutes taken up at the start with people trying to get their audio or video going, and dealing with weird echos and the fact that the meeting software displays differently in different browsers so no one is sure what to do.
    And while I am at it, Fastlane really sucks.

  105. We have this wonderful little device from Amazon that lets us turn any hotel TV into our own streaming display. It used to be that you had to use it kind of surreptitiously, trying to figure out how to change the TV input to the proper input on your own so you could bypass the stupid hotel TV menu and stream via the hotel wifi instead. Now, I have noticed a number of hotels put the input slot out in an obvious place, just assuming we are going to hook up our own streaming device.

  106. “For all you drawers-as-lower-cabinets folks, how do you deal with the corners?”

    We have lower cabinets, but we dealt with the corner issue my not having any cabinets at inside corners where two walls meet.

    We have a peninsula, and the cabinet at that corner is turned around. This also means we’re not limited to a square cabinet for that corner.

  107. Finn, there was a similar issue a while back with the NFL. A professor at LSU wanted to order a jersey of one of her former students who made it to the NFL, Randall Gay. The NFL store website had software to block “unacceptable” words from being put on jerseys, including the word “gay,” so she couldn’t place an order.

  108. “They also do not do lower cabinets doors. It is all drawers. “

    That would seem to render the space under sinks largely useless, not to mention making access to the plumbing more difficult.

    For bathroom sinks, I suggest not just cabinet doors, but full height cabinet doors. I.e., don’t have that fake drawer front at the top of the vanity cabinet.

    We did that for our second set of bathrooms. It made the cabinets a bit less expensive and easier to install.

    But the main benefit is increased usability of the space. It’s very easy to see everything in those cabinets, all the way to the back wall; no need to bend over or squat to look under that fake drawer front. It also makes the space on the sides of the sink usable via pullouts that we got at Costco for about $20.

    The handles are also higher and easier to reach.

  109. @MM – Yes – I’ve noticed that as hotels/rentals upgrade their TV’s that so many more of them are easier to stream on. I usually bring my laptop and an HDMI cable + USB dongle as my laptop doesn’t have an HDMI output. I had Chromecast, but that took up another outlet on some TV’s, and hotels never have enough outlets in the right place, so the cord is actually easier.

  110. “Do not skimp on stuff such as drawer handles/knobs and door handles. We got inexpensive pulls in DD bathroom and we’re paying the price.”

    I’m with LfB on this. Better to skimp on these, which are easy to replace, than stuff like cabinets that are more difficult and expensive to replace.

  111. In other home decoration news, I received my fancy necklace holder today. Here is a pic in situ with watchboxes, assuming I can make tinypic work

  112. Nice! I have a ton of hooks in my closet storage system for necklaces

  113. Finn, as the discussion was proceeding this morning, I was reading month to date yield e-mails with CUM without the YIELD, which would be extraneous clutter in a table. I had never thought of my daily yield e-mails in that light before.

  114. Milo at 4:07, yes.

    Didn’t your parents already have a tv at their other house? You may not have noticed it, because it’s been one little thing at a time, but a lot has changed since the days when we got 4 channels and could record things on a VHS tape that we manually inserted into a machine. That’s the last time I had anything that got the signals that way. There have been a lot of changes in the meantime. It would not be anywhere near as easy for me to learn how to deal with that as to simply get a screen or projector. And, for the thousandth time, the tech to receive images is not free. A “tv set” (in quotes so no one comes after me with the same old tired “tv and computer are merging” crap. If I didn’t know that, I wouldn’t be planning to use the machine I’m on now for what a “tv” is designed for) costs a lot more than a projector or monitor of the same size. Actually, make that projector. Monitors don’t seem to go much bigger than 30″.

    “about 10 to 15 minutes taken up at the start with people trying to get their audio or video going,” That’s just rude. They should get there earlier/ do this ahead of time.

    Mooshi at 4:20, yes, a lot of people already have their own ways of getting the signal and just want to display it.

    Lauren, would your daughter get a charge out of choosing new pulls, with new towels/bath mat to match, for “her” bathroom?

    Rhode, the house I grew up in has cabinets with vertical tray/cookie sheet storage under the oven, then a double wide set of drawers (behind cabinet doors–I think that’s what Laura means by “trays”), a 3-tier turntable in the corner, cabinets (that I think could use pullouts for the trash/cleaning supplies) under the sink, and then the dishwasher. The island is about 6′ x 4′, with an entire long side taken up by deep drawers (not behind cabinet doors). The upper cabinets just have an awkward corner space that’s way back there and can be accessed from either side.

  115. SM – You can buy an inexpensive collapsible/roll up 80″ projection screen on a lightweight stand for 50 dollars from Walmart. You can keep it behind the sofa at home, undo the stand and extend it when you want to watch inside or out. That is much simpler, allows for use of the walls artwork, etc. at other times, and only a few dollars more than a can of paint.

    As for projector technology, connectivity to your laptop or phone/Ipad via bluetooth is not the most current or most satisfactory level/quality for streaming. So if you plan to invest in a projector, you might want to check out those that are set up to connect wirelessly over your home and yard or someone else’s wIFi network to your devices, or that have high quality wired inputs. I am sure your son can do the research to advise you on the best value and best output.

  116. “It would not be anywhere near as easy for me to learn how to deal with that as to simply get a screen or projector.”

    I think that’s where everyone here disagrees with you. A simple, modern “smart TV” to stream whatever content you like is going to be easier and more intuitive than connecting your laptop to a projector and to your speakers.

  117. We bought our house when it was almost finished, but one of the options that we had was to have a projector in the basement. It was super expensive and if I am remembering this correctly, according to my husband, the display wouldn’t be nearly as good as a tv. We didn’t get the projector and instead have a giant tv that I hate (way too big) for less than half of the price, including whatever extra sound things my husband thinks are necessary for movie watching.

  118. “Given my need for more light with age, we added undercabinet lighting (inexpensive) and 2 or 3 more can lights near the range.”

    Can lights, aka recessed lighting fixtures, are also quite inexpensive, and inexpensive to install when walls and ceilings are open.

    I suggest erring on the side of too much rather than too little lighting. I wish we’d added a few more recessed lights directed at counter areas in our kitchen. Dimmable lights don’t cost much more and IMO are worth the cost for the flexibility they provide.

    Undercabinet lighting is helpful (and can come with integrated outlets), but IME tends to light the back of the counters. I wish we had more recessed lights lighting the front of our counters.

    BTW, one way to save on undercabinet lighting, and also achieve a cleaner look, it to use lights with integrated switches.

  119. Milo, just cut it out. It would be difficult for you but, as I tried to explain to you very patiently just now; you and I are not the same person and do not have the same experience with these things.

    Meme, I have tried many times today to make it clear that I was only soliciting advice on one particular question. That question does not include Bluetooth vs WiFi, roku, things that are marketed as “tv”s, or large monitors. The stand under the couch might work. Or I might just adapt Rhode’s idea of how to hang up a sheet, subbing in something like this. As stated earlier, real estate on our walls is not so precious that it would be hard to find a blank spot to project onto.

  120. S&M, here’s how it works:

    1. Plug cable from your laptop into the TV.
    2. Turn the TV on
    3. Push the input to select the input you plugged into. (And once this is done, you never have to do it again if you always use the same input.)

    Are you seriously saying that you can’t learn how to do that?

  121. I think it is late enough to announce my big news. We are moving. Boston area. My husband took a job with a hospital system up there. Waiting until this summer because of the kids’ school, but we have been looking at houses/areas. Throws a wrench in my (new!) job, but it was super boring anyway! It will be weird to leave this area and I am sad to leave our house, but hopefully it will be a good move for us.

  122. Birdie We all look forward to meeting you. Do not hesitate to reach via the blog or Milo to us up here for real estate or school advice.

  123. Congrats Birdie. I am sure Totebag posters will be super helpful in terms of advice.

  124. Throws a wrench in my (new!) job, but it was super boring anyway!

    Things work out for the best. I too was very happy to leave my job when we moved. I had taken it after I had my second kid and although my manager gave me a great review and bonus before I left, I couldn’t get a feel for what exactly my responsibilities were. The best thing I learned from that manager (mother of two adopted kids) is you are the best advocate for your child (so a lesson that was not work related).

  125. Thanks. The school thing for the kids is currently my biggest concern. I have a few former classmates who live up that way and they have been helpful, as well as some of my husband’s friends. I also am not looking forward to packing everything up. We haven’t been in this house very long but seem to have accumulated a lot in these few years.

  126. Schools in the Totebaggy suburbs of Boston are very good. It’s the home prices in those desirable school districts that may be an issue.

  127. Birdie — Exciting news and good luck with the schools search. Please keep us updated on this new adventure. I can’t remember if you’ve lived locally most of your life or if you have ties to Boston. I’m curious if finding a job a high priority for you now, or if that’s that way down on the list.

  128. July – no ties to Boston. I have lived in the DC area for almost 15 years, but had no ties here, either, when I moved here. I am a bit worried because the DC area is mostly transplants (which makes it easy to meet people) and I get the sense that Boston is not as much.

    I am not sure what I will do about employment. I don’t think I can get reciprocity for my law license since I haven’t been practicing in the past few years and I am not keen on taking another bar exam. So, that eliminates most of the job for which I would qualify. I plan on looking for an easy job just to occupy my time, but I have no firm plans and will probably wait a bit to do that until I get the kids settled.

  129. Birdie, awesome!!!! Feel free to get in touch with me re: real estate (DH and I follow real estate closely), schools, and work. :) L juggle atty at g mail.

  130. Birdie, awesome! I hope the school search goes well and that your kiddos enjoy the adventure of moving. My impression of Boston is that besides the long-entrenched families you mention, the colleges provide lots of churn. Keep us posted on how it all goes.

  131. Rhett, we watched Billions and we didn’t like the episode. My DH fell asleep and I had to read a summary in NY magazine tomake sure I got it.

    I am starting to think that they should have just had a brief season and ended last week.

  132. I have a renovation question. If you were to contract with a business for [and I think I’m partially answering my own question in my head as I think about how to phrase this] new stairs, replacing carpet with oak, and using white risers, at what point would you consider the job “finished”?

    I’m asking because the business has told us they’re finished, and while the stairs themselves look beautiful, imo, the white risers are only primed, and the nail holes in the risers are unfilled. Additionally, there was some minor damage and scraping to the existing staircase trim to get the wood planks installed; mainly it’s just white paint scraped off.

    When DW told me, I initially didn’t care, because I’m going to be repainting all the trim, anyway, and this way I can make the risers match the surrounding trim and wainscoting. But then I started to wonder if we were getting screwed, like maybe they looked around and said “eh, they’re installing all this new trim, baseboards are already ripped out, walls are half painted, there’s half-finished, unpainted trim all over the place, why should we bother to finish this part?”

    Or, maybe I’m just learning the difference between, on one hand, hiring an overall general contractor, as we did with projects like the porch, and he was excellent in ensuring the completion of so many little details that we never would have anticipated, and on the other hand, hiring a flooring business to “do the stairs.”

    1) Do you think we got a little bit screwed on the details?
    2) If so, would you do anything about it, given that it’s not a big deal to fill the nail holes with some wood filler, and I’m painting everything, anyway? We have not paid them the second half of the bill, as they also have to add a piece at the top of the stairs over the edge of the hallway carpet.

  133. Congrats Birdie!

    Milo – I can’t get over the size of the master bedroom in Exhibit B. The sitting room is about the size of my living room.

  134. Thanks, L.

    I am excited about all of the seasons other than winter.

    S&M – you are probably right that all of the schools help.

    Milo – I would say that is typical and they are trying to screw you a bit.

  135. Congratulations Birdie! Please keep us posted on the details.

    @ Milo – Have you given final payment? If not, I’d have them come back and finish the final details.

  136. We did what I would consider a minor refresh of our guest room this spring – change carpet, install plantation shutters, new paint on walls and trim, install new closet shelving, replaced all doors with solid wood doors (not the spec-house hollow doors), and replace all door hardware. Everything is finished except the hinges, which our contractor forgot to order. I’m holding payment until the hinges are in and installed, because otherwise we will never see them even though our contractor is great.

  137. Lark – I just called the project manager and said that the stairs look great, but I was surprised that they considered the project finished. He didn’t entirely disagree. He referred to the ticket which said only “white risers.” He said he’s going to talk to the sales guy, and see about getting someone to finish this aspect of it. I told him they could use the paint I already bought.

    Now I better understand why, with other projects, the general contractor would submit proposals with outlined details like “furnish all materials, paint to match existing…” etc.

  138. Birdie, you are going to love Boston! I went to college there, and lived close by in another phase of my life.

  139. Milo – We just did that project – carpeted stairs to wood stairs with white risers plus new iron balusters and new handrail. The first question is what did the bid include? If it didn’t include painting, then it is on you. If it did, then, they should do it. If it was silent, then you can negotiate.
    That said IME, many people who do work other than painting, often do not paint or include painting in their services. If you want it you have to add it.

    Ours included painting the risers and the molding that goes underneath each tread and on the corner of each riser (we have open stairs, you might not have this). We bought the paint as we wanted it to be the same color as the other trim in the house. It did not include painting existing walls. In our case, more wall is exposed now that carpet is removed. We were told in advance that would be the case and the bid didn’t include painting the walls.

  140. Austin – the bottom three or four stairs are open on one side, so I know what you mean that more trim is now exposed there. That’s all getting hit with wainscoting anyway.

    I think you’re exactly right that, if they didn’t specify, it’s open to negotiation after the fact.

  141. Milo –

    When we got the estimate for the basement floor after the flood, the flooring guy said clearly – this includes no carpentry – you repair the dry wall and remove all baseboards before we arrive, and take care of baseboards and paint after we leave. After the concrete pour and the floor install, the install crew subcontractor offered to purchase and have one of his guys install the next day (but not paint) baseboards, which in several areas had to be glued, not installed with nails. I paid him and in the follow up call (are you satisfied) with the flooring guy mentioned how that worked out nice for us. Well, apparently the flooring guy would have been willing to price out and add on that work at a big markup of course. But he was the one who said before I could ask, no carpentry. Most of the guys prefer to work with GC’s, not homeowners.

    I found a great plumber a few years ago, and before he left after completing the work, including a small floor repair, I asked him whether he could arrange for everything needed if I redid the powder room. He said yes. That is the way I will go. When we did the kitchen cabinet refacing, I used one of those companies that swoop in and out. They did the cabinets, counter, backsplash (corian not tile), and installed my own purchased disposal and faucet. I had to arrange for the electrician and floor guy Scheduling the trades was a major headache.

  142. Would you guys say for a major refresh – redoing hardwood in some rooms, possibly redoing a bathroom and painting the whole house – would you employ a GC ? I don’t think DH has the bandwidth given his current job to chase after individual trades people.

  143. +1000 – scheduling a variety of people for the work is a huge headache. I much prefer to have someone who can do it all or who will schedule the other people who are needed. I don’t mind doing it if they really are separate projects – like our upstairs carpet and downstairs hard flooring for example.

  144. Meme – Thanks. If they had said that from the start, I wouldn’t have been annoyed. And you’d think a large store with several different locations would have that process down to make sure customers are absolutely clear. WTF were they thinking?

    As customers go, we’re about as easygoing as you can get. I’d think at least 60% of people, particularly those who aren’t doing this project in the midst of a bunch of other work, would be livid.

  145. Louise – We use a guy who works almost exclusively alone and does a wide range of work. He is also a perfectionist. He did our hard flooring throughout the house and has done 2 bathrooms at 2 separate times for us. The only thing he does not do is large scale painting. As we had to move everything to get the floors done, we painted ourselves as we went through. If we couldn’t use him, I’d go the GC route.

  146. Louise,

    I’d at least get a quote. I feel GC’s have a lot more leverage because they are a source of ongoing business vs. a homeowner who might only need their floors redone ever 10 or 20 years.

  147. Milo – You would be surprised at the turnover of employees and the level of expectations the stores have of customer knowledge about what is “typically” included in the project they are purchasing. We have done enough work to know to ask things like – will you replace the base boards, will you paint, will you haul away the debris, etc. and then, if not included, ask if they can do that as well.

    One of the craziest things, is a local stair company that will do the project you just finished, but they will only install unfinished treads. Then you or someone you hire has to stain/paint them in place. They are getting awful reviews.

  148. Congrats Birdie! A new adventure awaits. I hope it’s great for you and your family.

  149. Austin – The main problem for me is that I don’t realize the details of the project until after it’s done, or at least in progress. It didn’t even occur to me that baseboards have to come off. I also didn’t realize that stairs have that piece of trim you mentioned under the step, and that, with painted risers, I’d have to decide in 5 minutes (at work, over the phone) if I want that piece to match riser of stair. (A coworker knew what I was talking about better than I did, and Googled images for me to help me decide.)

    If you’re going to have a fancy sales showroom (several actually), wouldn’t you think their system would have you make these decisions when you’re in the showroom? If there’s high employee turnover, make it a standardized form, or software program.

    Dave Ramsey would say that they don’t have the heart of a teacher.

  150. Milo – Correct, no heart of a teacher, but maybe they operate under the “oh, you want that too?” approach to add more charges as you go along. Also, for some, they don’t mention things because they just don’t want to do them.

  151. Milo – I agree that a little customer service could go a long way. And this is where I think the internet has hurt us. In the past, it very well could have been the laid out very clear about is and isn’t included because the customer didn’t have any resources to research. Now, the customer is expected to have spent hours trolling the internet on every single purchase item and service. Companies have gotten lazy and just wait for the customer to tell them what they want. The company can now add all kinds of charges to comply to your wants, and if the customer doesn’t mention something, well than it is less work for them.

  152. Congrats, Birdie! I’m sure it is intimidating & exciting, but you are certainly getting out of DC at the right time of the year – right before swamp season. :) I hope the job will great for DH as well.

  153. We will get one more swamp season! We will probably move in Aug (we need to get serious about finding a house and selling our current one) this al happened very fast and out of the blue. I wasn’t planning on moving at all, but if we are going to do it, I want to do it in the summer and when the kids are young enough that it won’t be too hard.

    Rhett – I have been advised that we should look at suburbs like Newton, Belmont, Wellesley, Needham (I think). Does that make sense if we are going for inner ring suburb like where we live now or something like Bethesda?

  154. Birdie,

    Newton could, depending on who is counting, have the best public schools in the world. So there is that. I would say Needham is the lest expensive and more down to earth of the four you mentioned. Relatively speaking of course.

  155. Birdie – Definitely communicate with L. For very good schools and more bang for the initial housing buck (although taxes are high), I recommend Acton, but that may be too far from downtown or on the wrong train line or you may require town water and sewer (depends on neighborhood). A lot depends on your budget. Public Schools in most towns that you are likely to consider are good. There are highly rated towns that a local can advise on – different strokes for different folks. Even coming from you current town, it is not so much sticker shock but the choice of included amenities in a comparable home that sometimes requires some change of perspective.

  156. Rhett – just browsing online, it looks like Newton is more expensive than where we live right now, but that maybe being able to forego private school because the public school is so good will make up for that (especially for my 3x; at some point, we were going to have all of the kids go to the same school because it is logistically hard to have kids going all over the place, and it seems a little unfair when I actually experienced the differences).

  157. Acton is outer ring. I would also look at Winchester in inner ring. The houses in Belmont are likely a bit smaller than you would like. Newton and Wellesley are in the different strokes categories mentioned above. Needham is at a lower price point than the other three. What are automatic go-tos for lots of people in the hospital world because of location and other factors may not be the best choice for your family. My good friend just sold a lovely 6 bedroom in Newton for 2.5M, but it sat on the market a while and they had to bring the price down.

  158. Newton is both expensive and has really good schools. I think you can go with public schools in many MA towns – education is pretty good there.

  159. I liked the inner ring suburbs especially where you could take the T to downtown. In a two income family, commute time is important.

  160. “Everything is finished except the hinges, which our contractor forgot to order.”

    So do you have an open doorway and a new doorway sitting around waiting to be installed?

  161. “Would you guys say for a major refresh – redoing hardwood in some rooms, possibly redoing a bathroom and painting the whole house – would you employ a GC ? I don’t think DH has the bandwidth given his current job to chase after individual trades people.”

    If your DH doesn’t have the bandwidth, then the obvious question is, do you?

    If not, then the answer seems clear to me. Either you go with the GC, or hold off on the refresh until you and/or your DH has the BW to chase after individual trades people.

    Another factor to consider is the current state of your local construction industry, and your prediction for its state in the near future. My guess is that in a hot construction industry, chasing down individual trades people will take a lot more BW.

  162. Birdie – no private schools needed! We have friends in both Newton and Needham and the schools are great – Newton tends to be more pressured than Needham IMO. Depends on which hospital and what the commute will be like of course – I can give more specifics if you email. :) If you want inner ring, you don’t want to go farther out than Needham – basically 128 marks the inner ring suburbs.

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