Giant Home Project? Break It Down Into Teeny, Tiny Tasks

Giant Home Project? Break It Down Into Teeny, Tiny Tasks

Tess Wilson
Jun 5, 2014
(Image credit: Tess Wilson)

If I let myself consider the fact that we are renovating an entire 3-bedroom house, I will soon find myself lying on the floor reading fashion blogs because clearly that's impossible so why bother. But if I break the project down into a to-do list of minutiae? Totally doable...

It's almost as if my lifelong love of to-do lists has been preparing me for this very project: I trust to-do lists, I rely on to-do lists, I adore checking things off to-do lists, and to-do lists keep me sane. When faced with the fact that we were going to do a whole-house renovation, I may have whimpered briefly before diving into picking out paint colors (the only task I feel qualified to do). Sadly, there are many, many steps to get done before you can, for example, slap paint on the walls, and there are many, many steps to do after. If my to-do list merely said "Paint Living Room" or "Paint Bathroom", I wouldn't have known where to begin. It's a big job! And even after painting those rooms, I would be so frustrated right now, feeling as if I'd gotten nothing done since the rooms still weren't put back together.

Instead, I've broken down each room into a set of totally manageable jobs that I can wrap my head around. You can see one of my lists above, but basically for every single room, I had to...

  • Pry off trim
  • Remove all switchplates/vents/thermostats/etc.
  • Wash the ceiling with TSP
  • Wash the walls with TSP
  • Rinse ceiling and walls
  • Prime ceiling
  • Prime walls
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint walls (2 coats)
  • Wash door
  • Paint door (2+ coats)
  • Touch up paint, especially where walls meet ceiling
  • Replace switchplates/vents/thermostats/etc
  • Sand/clean trim
  • Paint or Minwax trim

There are obviously tons more steps do be done in each room, but fortunately "Replace all pipes", "Rebuild crumbling bathroom subfloor", and "Remove and replace toilet/bathtub/shower/plumbing" are all on someone else's to-do list. I know my tasks, and I check them off, slow and steady, one by one.

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