Today I have a sense of triumphant exhaustion.

Such is the life of a DIYer. A weekend warrior who happens to also sacrifice many weekday evenings as well. Little to show for the efforts but a tremendous sense of victory having won a minor battle amidst the chaos of a full scale war.

This feeling has nothing to do with finishing a project. It's not caused by a major breakthrough or significant accomplishment. No legendary blog posts were penned. And it has no roots in the fact the Browns finally beat the Ravens yesterday afternoon (though that was really nice).

Though all of the above is very true, I woke up this morning with an aching back, beat up hands, tired eyes, and an odd feeling of anticipatory butterflies in my stomach. Why? Because this weekend I started a little project that I've been waiting to start since we moved into our house on January 17, 2003. How you like them apples?

This weekend we took a major step towards our dream of having functional and fully restored original and period appropriate windows. More importantly, I tackled the task on what is the single worst, loosest, most decrepit window of all of the windows in our house -- the master bathroom window.

This window has been one of the banes of our old house existence. Drafty doesn't begin to cover the description. This window's sash ropes have been broken since before we moved in.

The weight pockets showed the signs of years of neglect and rot from poor water drainage.

The zinc weather stripping, added in a futile attempt to stop the cold, had seen better days and was now doing more harm (by trapping water) than good.

In addition, the sag of the house has resulted in the lower sash's failure to even close. In general, this window is a complete and total mess. As Norm from This Old House would say, "It's in tough shape."

Though I'm hopeful and relatively sure this completed endeavor will ultimately result in lengthy blog guides on various aspects of window restoration, as well as soap box mounted diatribes covering the advantages of old windows versus their modern counterparts, today I'm basking in the glow of a project that's not yet even reached its midway point.

I'm now racing against the weather that made its appearance on this near freezing morning, doing the best job I possibly can while simultaneously worrying about the coming winter. I'm also juggling the fact I have a day job that I regrettably can't just stop attending. I wish day jobs understood the plight of the DIYer and the importance of allowing me to work when I want and how I want.

But alas, I have a hole in my house while I'm at work, and I can only imagine that Wendy is sitting at home trying to keep warm below a laptop and mound of blankets and pets.

I do hope they make it through the day and into the evening when I can return home to continue my restoration efforts. Completing the started project is what I really need to make my exhausted exuberantion (I know, that's a questionable word right there) worth all of the effort. But until then, I'll look back on this weekend's efforts and ponder all that I accomplished, in spite of the realization that in reality I didn't accomplish much and only started a new project. Such is the life of the tortured DIYer.

Did you start anything new this weekend? Or did you do the unthinkable and actually finish a project? Do you experience the same emotions I've outlined when you start something you've been waiting to do?

Comments 14


11/4/2013 at 1:20 PM

Couldn't you temporarily nail a piece of plywood into the space when you are not actively working on it to help keep some of the cold out? Not sure of your weather but I'm freezing to death & I'm in Florida! I've never tried to restore a window but I'm guessing it takes more than a few days when it is that condition and you have a day job.


A great question, Cheryl! Alex may have failed to mention that we had to have a..."discussion"...about putting plastic up while he wasn't actively working in the window.Alt smile It's freezing here this week!

11/4/2013 at 4:15 PM

I'm getting cold just looking at that - if not plywood, at least a tarp?


You're not the only one, Deirdre!Alt smile Lulu was hiding under the covers last night. Team Plywood (me) has been making its case, and hopefully we'll have something a bit more weather resistant up there soon!

11/4/2013 at 4:58 PM

Lousy work and their rules. Don't they know we have better stuff to do?


For reals. Work is so inconvenient! ;)

11/5/2013 at 9:07 PM

I feel ya. I've been working on the front doors, so there have been a few days with them off and the front wide open. Sunday was particularly cold. Hoping to take tomorrow afternoon off from work, as it's supposed to be 64, so I can finish them off. Got to make hay while the sun shines, as they say. WINTER IS COMING!!


Oh man, tell me about it. I think we're going to have three more days of nice weather before it gets nasty, and I've got to get the paint on the window and rehang the sash before the winter winds blow in. Can't wait to see the end result on your doors. It's looking awesome from what I've seen on IG.

11/5/2013 at 11:56 PM

I favorited this tutorial on how to build a temporary storm window, thinking I might have to do this while I'm working on windows. (Or to supplement my crappy outer storms.) With your mad skilz, you could knock this together in no time.


Thanks for the link. I think I'm going to build some of those when we need to remove the sash for full on restoration, since it will definitely take a bit longer than just a few days to work those bad boys over.

11/6/2013 at 10:25 AM

Plywood, yes.

Or, air panels:

Or, Step 1. start window project in September. Step 2. finish window project before November.


Your steps seem far too logical to fit properly in our renovation plan. I think we've actually got it under control. We have a few nice days here before it gets really cold, so we're going to knock out what's necessary to have a functional (albeit imperfect) window with a plan to do more work once storm windows (yep, still working on those) are in. At that point I'll probably also make some air panels for the period when we actually restore the sash.

11/10/2013 at 6:16 PM

I just found your site. I am trying to paint wood windows & they just look terrible. I can' get a smooth finish & tried you wet sanding & all the primer came off. I tried a palm sander and it does not smooth the parts where the paint chipped off. Now, it is good enough is going to have to do. I hate the new windows & every house has them--the only house with wood windows.

I liked your door a lot with the 1-shot but no place to get the primer.

I try to caulk to no avail & every suggestion turns out wrong. It is above my head eaves between the boards & it just stops mid stream & falls off.

Anyways, you kind of gave me a bit of hope & then this goes nowhere.

12/15/2013 at 9:19 AM

I'm going to be following this closely. Every December, I make a New Years resolution to finally fix all the windows in our 1880s Italianate. It always looks easy until I start to pull things apart and realize just how many little tasks there are that I have never done before. Looking forward to seeing how the project progresses!

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