Wishlist: Home Improvement


February 28, 2012 by Leah

Before I got pregnant, I hoped I would not morph into a stereotypical neurotic first-time mom. Even after getting pregnant, I was fairly confident I would be able to be a shining beacon of austere motherhood, armed only with cloth diapers and a Moby wrap. Somehow, lately, all that has changed. I’ve become totally acquisitive. We have a crib already that we were just going to sidecar, but suddenly we have a “gently used” Arm’s Reach Mini Co-Sleeper coming our way via the magic of eBay. Redundant? Probably. Unnecessary? Possibly. Adorably adorned in a pattern called “Sage Leaf?” Why, yes.

My problem doesn’t end with baby stuff. The impending baby has me scrutinizing everything from a new point of view. Specifically, our house. You know, the one we just bought. The old one with lots of character. I kind of don’t like it right now. Take the carpets, for instance. The previous owners put down new carpet right before selling. It’s nasty synthetic stuff that doesn’t feel good to touch and clogs up Mr. Robin Norris (our Roomba). Worse, every time I look at it, I just see a seething swamp of toxic chemicals that is slowly poisoning all of us, and will probably completely disrupt Sprocket’s endocrine system, rendering it impossible for the child to develop normally.

Yes, I know it’s possible to rip up one’s own carpet. It’s even probable that we have hard wood underneath it, somewhere. But for someone who is accident-prone, in the third trimester of pregnancy, and who hasn’t had a tetanus shot since 2005, removing four rooms and a hallway’s worth of carpet doesn’t seem like the best DIY project to tackle at the moment. So, I will just never let the baby touch the floor. (And then it will never learn to walk, which will definitely keep it from developing normally. Oh well.)

Another problem: our heating system. We knew when we moved in that our motley assortment of electric heaters (baseboard in some places, wall heaters in other places) would be a headache. On the one hand, it’s kind of nice to be able to heat each room as we use it. On the other hand, electric heat is supposed to be expensive (although I’m having trouble finding good information on the environmental and financial ramifications of electric baseboard vs., say, forced-air gas heat). It’s getting harder for me to get down on the floor to adjust the heat in every room. I’ve never been able to operate the dial on the heater in our bedroom, which is a problem I solve with extra blankets whenever Aaron leaves town. Worst of all, baseboard and wall heaters severely impair creativity.

Perhaps inspired by the impending great-grandchild, my grandma has offered to send us a truckload of antique family furniture from New England – and sooner rather than later, so I don’t have to deal with moving furniture when I’m “very pregnant.” (Her words.) This is fantastic. We are grateful and excited. I fully expect that many of the new arrivals will just replace some of our Craigslist pieces. Still, it’s been troublesome to arrange the furniture we already have thanks to our stupid heaters, so I’m a little worried as to how we’re going to manage with more.

We have talked about converting the electric heaters to gas. We have a gas line to the property, and we have a one-story house with a crawlspace, so there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to get some kind of duct system in place. In the grand scheme of home improvement, hiring a contractor to convert the heating system and buying a new furnace probably wouldn’t be the most heart-stoppingly expensive thing we could do. It might even help our energy costs and eventual resale value. That said, clearly none of this became at all important or urgent when it was just an energy efficiency sort of upgrade; however, now that we have an impending interior design crisis, I am freaking out.

The Sustainable Living Center, a local non-profit, offers free home energy assessments. We could even get an energy Performance Review (those words still strike fear into my heart from back when I had a real job) for the subsidized price of $150 and add some kind of fancy infrared scan for an extra $50. This might not be a bad place to start, as certainly a home energy inspector would be able to shed some light on the electric baseboard vs. forced air question. They might even be able to recommend contractors who do this sort of thing.

So. If Aaron’s on board with the whole heat conversion plan, I guess there’s a chance we’ll at least be able to position some of our new furniture in a pleasing manner. I’ll just have to ignore the fact that it’s all sitting on itchy, toxic carpet.


2 thoughts on “Wishlist: Home Improvement

  1. lahancock says:

    We only have carpet in two rooms. The boys room, which they still never sleep in and my sewing/guest room. The boys carpet is crap….that I picked unfortunately. I wanted to have some awesome wood floors in there,it previous owner glued the padding to the concrete slab. I looked at Eco friendly carpet, but I decided the boys weren’t going to be in those rooms much and if they screwed it up, it was cheap carpet. Some babies spit up frequently and it lands on the floor. Just make sure you have a good steam cleaner for the floors until you replace it. Maybe get some nice rugs to go on the places where the baby might lay.

    Can’t wait to see the new furniture,

  2. Josh says:

    Make sure you get a complete home energy audit before you do anything. There are a variety of tax incentives and credits (or at least used to be) that one could get for doing energy efficency upgrades. But to prove you did the upgrades, you need the before inspection as a baseline.

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