Friday, August 1, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

A look back at lessons learned in 2012, part 1

By
From page C4 | December 21, 2012 |

As has become tradition, the last two weeks of the year I glance back at the 50 cathartic home columns I’ve written, pull one takeaway tidbit of scenario-wrapped advice from each month and re-share them here.

This year brought no shortage of material. In the first six months I moved into a new old home, met Martha Stewart, moved my parents into assisted living and unearthed the secrets to making a home smell great (a public service).

Along the way I passed on advice extorted from a cadre of experts on whom I rely for my precarious sanity. Here are the lessons from the year’s first half.

In January, after eight months of living in a state different from my husband, I came to miss the many advantages of having a man around. For instance, when the garage door gets stuck, the sink backs up or a towel bar falls off the wall, I’m the guy.

Stephen Fanuka, host of DIY Network’s Million Dollar Contractor, came to my rescue. “A lot of people think DIY is just for men,” he said. “So we have a little more muscle, but you women are cleaner, more organized and more efficient.” I felt empowered.

Lesson: Know builder lingo for when you do need to hire help. “Contractors read you,” Fanuka said. “You should have a few terms that can scare the guy. If you sound as if you might know what you’re talking about, you’ll save 20 percent.”

In other words, saying, “I think the thingamajig that goes to the whoozywhatsit is broken” could cost you.

In February, while touring the New American Home, a showcase for the National Association of Home Builders, I came away with a bad case of — I’m sorry if this embarrasses you — toilet envy.

Kohler has a toilet that features of a wall-mounted LED pad that looks like an iPhone. With a finger tap you can auto-magically raise and lower the toilet lid without touching it, (That right there is better than a European vacation), heat the seat (Men, you will never understand.) and play music. Plus, this smart piece of plumbing sprays, dries and has adjustable flushing. From what I can tell, this toilet of tomorrow does everything but send a urine sample to the lab.

Lesson: The best in life is yet to come!

In March I moved into a 130-year-old home after the house I had been living in and staging sold, which was the point. Now my job was to stage this historic lakefront charmer.

To broaden its appeal I needed to fast-forward the folk farmhouse through 12 decades. The owner was a stickler for keeping with the period.

I called Amy Hughes, features editor for This Old House magazine for moral support. “Just because you live in an old house doesn’t mean you have to live in a bygone era,” she said. “Technology evolves. I can assure you, the Victorians would have upgraded if they’d had the chance.”

In a few days, I moved old pieces out, keeping some, and moved transitional and contemporary furniture and art in, and made a century of difference.

Lesson: Putting new décor in an old space, or vintage pieces in a new space, creates the best of both worlds — timeless appeal.

In April I met Martha Stewart, in person. After nearly 10 years of writing this column in Stewart’s large shadow (encased in a shadow box with acid-free paper and a hand-hewn maple cedar frame), I felt like a Little Leaguer meeting Babe Ruth.

Stewart came to Orlando to judge the firemen’s chili cook off. During her visit she granted one media interview. I scored it. After the chili judging (“No condiments,” she said, “the chili has to stand on its own first.”) I peppered her with questions, including these:
Q. If chili has to taste good without the condiments, a room has to look good without the … furniture.
Q. What’s your best advice for people who want to live well? You have to be interested, curious and passionate. You have to work at it. You can’t slough.

Lesson: The secret to living as beautifully as Martha Stewart is to step it up and care.

In May I gave my old and slightly musty house a fragrance makeover. I called on fragrance expert Helen Feygin, owner of Intuiscent, a fragrance supplier in Middlesex, NJ, for help.

“Every house smells,” said Feygin. (Except ours, right?)

“People often overlook their homes’ smells, because we adapt. We must be mindful that when others come in, what you no longer smell will seem strong to them,” she said.

Lesson: Home fragrance comes in many forms: potpourri, spray mists, electric diffusers, reed diffusers, candles and aromatic salts. Choose carefully and don’t be cheap. “This is one area where price really does equal quality,” says Feygin. If you buy a smaller candle of a higher-end product for a bit more money, you’ll be much happier than if you buy a huge scented candle from the dollar store. The best smells are blends (mandarin bergamot and citrus verbena) that smell like nature. Nothing beats an open window. Ahh.

In June my brother and I made the tough call to move our parents into assisted living. I would have rather removed my own appendix.

We had a plan: Our parents would not age. That didn’t work. As they both turned 90, their living situation grew rickety. Mom took a few spills and was becoming forgetful. Dad was losing weight. My older, wiser brother began The Conversation, eventually convincing them they would be much better off — safer, happier, healthier — in a home with some help.

Dad warmed to the idea of a social life, cooked meals and no yard to maintain. But six months later Mom still wants to “go home.” I can’t blame her.

Lesson: After talking to experts, I learned this difficult decision boils down to five criteria: Safety (they’ve had falls, injuries or driving mishaps), health (balance, memory or stamina is failing), hygiene and housekeeping have slipped, and they’re eating poorly. I also learned the truth in something my parents often said: The right choice and the easy choice are rarely the same.

Join me next week for 2012 lessons from the year’s second half, including home causes I’ve come to believe in.

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.

Comments

comments

.

News

Cameron Park house burns

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Supes delay petition

By Chris Daley | From Page: A1

Fire generated small city, inspired volunteers

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Sand Fire 95% contained

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1

 
Two fires in town

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A3

SUV hits parked cars

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

The weekly Daley: The wrong side of history

By Chris Daley | From Page: A4

 
Billingsley’s bullets: Advice from my psychiatrist

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: A4

.

Letters

EID rate discrimination

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5Comments are off for this post

 
Second Amendment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5Comments are off for this post

Pollock Pines’ Fourth of July Parade

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5Comments are off for this post

 
Water conservation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5Comments are off for this post

Koby

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Debt reduction at EID with Coco?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Time for change in CP

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Olives need less water

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

.

Sports

Camp draws good numbers

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A9Comments are off for this post | Gallery

 
New law tackles gridiron concussion problem

By Mike Bush | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Outside with Charlie: Rafting denied

By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A9

 
Racing returns with big 5-division card

By Bill Sullivan | From Page: A9

Roundup: July 31, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A10

 
.

Prospecting

Sing while you paint

By Placerville Arts Association | From Page: B1Comments are off for this post | Gallery

 
Plenty of golden fun during SlugFest

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Things to do: Aug. 1, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2

 
The making of a champion

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: B2

Art on the Divide is showing new exhibitor

By Art On The Divide | From Page: B3

 
‘The Flu Season’ stirs emotions

By Ovation Stage | From Page: B4

Guitar group performs in Sutter Creek

By Sutter Creek | From Page: B5

 
Time to register for classes at Center Stage

By Center Stage Dance Academy | From Page: B5

Get a groove on in Sutter Creek

By Sutter Creek | From Page: B8

 
Chris Young in concert at Carson Valley Inn

By Carson Valley Inn | From Page: B8

The music continues at Bear Valley Music Festival

By News Release | From Page: B8

 
Sacramento Museums are celebrating

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B9

 
.

Essentials

Weather stats

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
Crime Log: July 17-19

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

.

Obituaries

Larry A. Randall

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Mark A. Smith

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Jeffie “Jeff” Lee Callahan

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Patsy Ruth Wing

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Lisa Oliver Rose

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

Decorating your home by the numbers

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS4

 
Avoiding the deal killers

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

Hilltop home views outrank water-front views

Press Release | From Page: HS7

 
Luxury home sales jump

Press Release | From Page: HS11

 
Pending home sales decrease in June

Press Release | From Page: HS13

 
Sheryl Lindroos joins American Heritage

Press Release | From Page: HS17

Sunny Rosabella exudes a warm ambiance

Press Release | From Page: HS23

 
.

Comics

.

Home Source

Decorating your home by the numbers

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS4

Avoiding the deal killers

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

Hilltop home views outrank water-front views

Press Release | From Page: HS7

Luxury home sales jump

Press Release | From Page: HS11

Pending home sales decrease in June

Press Release | From Page: HS13

Sheryl Lindroos joins American Heritage

Press Release | From Page: HS17

Sunny Rosabella exudes a warm ambiance

Press Release | From Page: HS23