MCM CAT – Mod Litter Boxes & Litter Recommendation

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You live in a Mid Century Modern and you want it to look swank, but you have cats.  Your kittehs are hip but the litterbox not so much?  No worries, I have two groovy litterbox reviews for you.

The first one, pictured above is my favourite.  But we have an older kitty very set in her ways and paranoid of anything new, so we have runner up reviewed below, which is her choice.

The ModKat Litterbox Kit includes a nice scoop, very nice reusable liner, comes in colours too.  And I’ll admit, $129.99 sounds like a lot, especially for a box that isn’t self cleaning, as my other one that’s in storage does and cost less actually.  But that thing was way bigger than it needed to be, didn’t have an effective lid to contain the spray of litter and was absolutely in the way and a mess.

On the Modkat, the box has a flip top lid.  See the square button up at the top in the picture?  You gently push on that en voila, the top opens up so that you can  clean the box.  See the inset spot toward the back side?  that is where the scoop attaches.  You must remove that first, then push the button to flip the lid, preferably when your kitty is not on the top of it.  I bought a 2nd liner so that I can thoroughly periodically clean the liner and let it air out but the liner is sturdy!  Hydra really sinks her claws into it every time she tries to cover her scat and the thing maintains.

Now, I believe I bitched about the fact I had wanted to order a 2nd liner at time of purchase, in fact yes, I know that I bitched about it!  When I ordered my groovy litter box, I had to order that liner separately and had to pay extra shipping  for that.  So, you can do yourself a favor and click on this link for the Modkat litter box plus 3 extra liners, $169.99.   This doesn’t help me now, but it helps you.  🙂  I am just happy they listened to me…to help you.

This box won design awards and really is stunning eye candy.  We actually get compliments on it and who does that really, you know…walk into somebody’s residence and exclaim what a nice looking cat box they’ve got?  Anybody?  I can assure you that, prior to this puppy coming through our doorway, nobody EVER complimented us on our litter style.

This is a well made, well designed item, it holds up well, is easy peasy to clean, contains odor and litter well and I love it.  The cats, with the exception of Seven, who is 12 and uses the other litterbox I’ve reviewed directly below, love the box too.

And now we move along to the French designed Poopoopeedo, ($89.99) which also comes in colours.

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This box comes in fun colours like hot orange, that we have, hot green, a lovely dark gray and like the other box, it is roomy and easy for the kittehs to get in and out of.

This box is solidly made.  The top lifts off for cleaning.  There is no liner.  There is a paw print cut out at the top that is both cute and allows you to grab the top and remove it.  Inside the top a think scoop is provided.  It is a bit flimsy but works and is made the way it is so that it will fit neatly inside the top of the box.

It makes a great 2nd box.  Also, this one too, garners compliments.  I don’t know about you but my day is just not right unless somebody woos over my litter box choices.

I’ll state right here that there are a few great looking boxes on the market and I am reviewing the top two in my opinion and the ones that I chose to buy myself.    We have one fairly sizable cat, one old cat and 2 rambunctious kittens so I wanted to please everybody, including my design ethic.  Some of the other boxes look great, but are too big for our space or too cramped for a big kitty.  These are both accessible and roomy while not taking up alot of real estate.

What one will you choose?  Know your Kitty!  I knew Seven would never think of hopping up and down into a box to do her thing after years of stepping into one.  Yes, she is very capable physically, but mentally she is too skittish.  So she (and the other kitties) like this box.  The kittens use both boxes basically and Seven only uses the Poopoopeedo.

Regarding cat litter, I adore the Okocat Natural Wood Cat Litter.  We just have it on auto ship.  It is now the only brand we use, after going through numerous brands to try and squelch the level of stink enough to please my husband.  After years of suffrage, he no longer complains.  I cannot expound enough to you how damn good that feels.  Click on the green wording to check it out for yourself.

Between these covered boxes and this litter, life is golden.  4 cats and I scoop the boxes 2x a day.

Meow!

Mid Century Zen Landscaping

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I adore planning landscapes and remodeling.  This landscape featured above was all grass.  It is an expansive corner lot, on a slope, which flanks two driveways which form a circle under the original car port of this Mid Century modern home.  The home was well sited, it just needed some pizzazz and the owner wished to reduce their $300.00/mo water bill during the hot Dallas months.

We played up the angles by doing a mix of stone in angle patterns to accent the driveways and add interest in the hill top landscapes which went from grass to a Desert Palm Springs vibe with succulents, agave, A Spanish Dagger and several palms.  We retained one wild flower area for wildlife and butterflies that reside under some old growth trees.

Xeriscaping is both popular and gorgeous in its simplicity.  And you have gotta love the ease of maintenance!  While your neighbors are out mowing and watering, you can smile and walk back into the house after getting your mail.

If you are daunted by your landscape, not sure how to make it more modern, I suggest beginning with your Curbside or Parkway.  This is usually easiest, least expensive and can set the tone for what you do next.  Step 2 would be to take on the plantings and elements directly in front of your house, all flower beds and shrub areas.

We chose gravel, in Tejas Black & pink Granite, for its longevity and colour contrast to pick up the pinky tones in the brickwork and the slate painted wood of the house.  Mulch can also be used with mixed colours as well and provides a softer look.

Whatever you choose, you will definitely want to till everything up and lay a barrier down or you will end up with a mess of weeds and grass growing through your newly elegant space in no time flat.

Here are some resource books that will help you on your  Xeriscaping path.  As I live in Texas, I am featuring Xeriscape for Central Texas By Gerre Boardman .  The Professional Designers Guide To Garden Furnishings, by Vanessa Gardner Nagel is a fantastic reference tool.  When we do our gardens, it isnt just about the plants but also about the furnishings of our outdoor spaces to bring it all together.  This book is very helpful for that.

MCM Homes Can Extend Your Life!

 

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The world out there can be rough. Having a home that makes you smile when you drive up to it, helps lower your blood pressure and give you a sense of accomplishment.  A home which brings you peace when you turn the key and walk through the door, is actually life extending.

Mid Century Modern architecture has alot of styles and ethos wrapped into it, including Feng Shui principles which are health and wealth building.  I believe it is for this reason that so many folks are discovering the design and falling head over heels for it! Everything is moving faster, work hours are getting longer and the pace is too much.  We need ways of coping and dialing it back down.  Opened up living encourages us to de-clutter our surroundings.   Window walls that invite the outdoors into our living space and vice versa bring us closer to nature, helping us to unwind and meditate.

To fully embrace the design ethic, fill your home with beauty and only with things you use and love. Pass on anything weighing you down that you no longer need, use or want, even it if it is a gift.  Letting things collect add to the task of dusting and if you are not loving the item, it psychically weighs you down every time you look at it while taking up real estate something else could have squatters rights to.

My brother, as his house was small, agreed with his wife early on in their marriage that if something wasn’t used in 6 months, it was out. Well, I find that a bit extreme only because there truly are a few things which only get used annually, such as holiday stuff, a punch bowl perhaps, or big turkey baster.  But I loved his message and incorporated that in our home as every 12 months.  Stuff not used within a 12 month period is out.

When you rid yourself of unnecessary layers, you open up your space and yourself to receive more of what you truly want.  Also, not banging your shin and thigh on furniture and too much stuff as you dodge around your home is freeing in and of itself.  Why create obstacles in private spaces you control, when the world has plenty for you outside?

This means making great use of all storage your home has.  You can really expand your options by using a custom closet organizer such as this one from Rubbermaid.  Or this PrinceHanger Quadruple Wire Shelf Unit, or the Quaduple Wire Shelf Unit in steel, both of which is so versatile and easy to move!

I like to clear the dishes and counters off every evening so that the first thing that hits me in the morning is a clean kitchen.  It just begins my day so nicely.  As my home wraps around an Atrium,  it’s the very first thing anyone sees when they step through the entryway.  So I assure the space is clean and clear, pillows fluffed on the chaise, coffee table wiped down and plants nicely arranged and happy.  My office overlooks the Atrium and I keep my door open so I can look out and take in the green.

Keeping your window walls sparkling will invite good mojo into your home and help lift your mood.  Editing down your life to fit into the MCM mindset frees up time otherwise spent on dusting too much stuff.  The lifestyle is all about simplicity; key pieces, pops of colour and chill.

By embracing the calm, minimalist zen groove that these homes embody, you will find yourself detoxing from too much stuff overload.  Instead, enjoy key pieces and marvel at the architecture of your lovely home.  Let your eye be drawn from beam to window to the outdoor scenery and enjoy a lengthier life too!

Cheers to that!

Unique Nest Feathering in Rose Gold

Today, I found some rather rare treats, some the stock is very limited, but all are with an emphasis on Rose Gold and items complimentary.

Lillian Rose 45-Piece Mixed Glass Signing Stones

This lovely vase is by Urban Trends and is a delightful little pop of Rose Gold.

Bella Home Chloe Round Coffee Table, Brushed Rose Gold  – 

What a stunner of a table!  I love the roundness, along with the lightness created by the white top and open banding.

Wow, just would you look at this groovy coffee table by Zuo Modern!  Very elegant and rose gold is always stylish and classic.  The top is black tempered glass and the company also makes a complimentary side table too!

Also by Zuo Modern, this gem coffee table in rose gold sets a lovely and unique tone to your decor.

When it comes to decor, I try hard to locate things that are cool, funky, that represent the period, but are not something that I am going to see just coming and going.  That stated, I have always loved this chair, it is a classic and this price is off the chain!  Mid Century Modern Lounger  – A classic in rosewood and only $488.88.  Wow.

 

This is a sweet little Rose Gold side table, by Bella Even.  Compact, gorgeous and just the right size to place where needed.

By Zuo Modern, I adore this classy Rose Gold GERANIUM COFFEE That is truly in a timeless, elegant style.

Wanna just add some Chic Rose Gold to your happy hour?  Check this 8 piece set by ChicChic for your bar.

Mod Ghost Living – Lucite, Glass, Acrylic Oh My!

Especially great in tight quarters, but equally magnificent in larger digs,  Lucite, Glass and Acrylic take command of a space by offering a fresh, cool and crisp look.  High end pieces can totally define a space while allowing light to transfer right through it, creating farther eye travel and the illusion of more square footage thusly.  So here are some fabulous featherings in clear drama.  Enjoy!

The CB2 Acrylic Tray Table!  Sometimes you want just a pop of lucite to sit a plant or drinks upon.  This could be a mini bar or look fantastic in the bathroom with parfume bottles on it. Such a space saver and it folds and stows easily too.

Tamus Salt&Pepper Napkin Rings, so cute!

Tamus Clear Acrylic Salt & Pepper Napkin Rings (Set of 4)

Or, how about these from Two’s Company,  Napkin Holders that have a sweet bud vase built in!

 

I cannot take my eye off this piece!  Great for a side table in the living room, great spot to put books, magazines you are perusing, remotes in the drawer below.  One Lux Clear Acrylic book case or bed side table

Clear Acrylic book case,lucite bedside drawer table

Go ahead, click on the green writing above this photo and take a good look, I know you want to.  I had to catch my breath, could this be any more groovy?!?    Made of high quality Acrylic, solidly built and gorgeous.

And from the same company, One Lux has a coffee table i can appreciate.  No accidentally knocking the bottle of Merlot off the table, it is safe in it’s personal nesting spot!  What is drinking a good glass of wine and reading a shelter magazine?  Heaven!  This table has a nice clean shape and a great size.

I promise you won’t see this one at your neighbors house either!  Both mad groovy and practical for storage in the base, this table is brought to you by Fab Glass & Mirror.   And it’s very reasonably priced, with colour options.

And this square beauty, the  Charlotte Modern Classic Acrylic Hinge Coffee Table,  weights 100lbs! I love the solid massiveness of it!

The Luxor Modern Classic Square Crystal Cut Acrylic Coffee Table
What a gem and just 62lbs!

And, lastly, this one which is drool worthy!  The Mesec Acrylic Coffee Table below.  How is it this is not ensconced in my home yet?

Acrylic Coffee Table

This handmade item sells me with sexy brass style on the corners!  What a beautiful table that will add an element of style while making your room seem larger and brighter. Made from acrylic square rod, 1/4″ polished glass, and aluminum corner braces coated in a metallic paint, this table’s design is solidly built and made to order.  The size can be custom sized ranging from 36″ square to 24″ x 48″ rectangle – larger or abnormal sizes can be requested but may be subject to price increase. Standard height is 18″ but this can be adjusted a bit as well.  Its well priced for all the options contained.

 

This is a great sized stool for extra seating or to toss magazines or a potted plant perhaps.  The X-Leg by One Lux Lucite Stool
X- Legs High Transparency Acrylic Lucite Vanity Stool,Perspex Ottoman ONE LUX Bench ONE LUX

 

This stunning Mid Century Modern Sculpture by Allessio Tasca (signed by the artist) is for sale.

 

And, lastly, I leave you with the swingin’ Bubble Chair, by Fine Mod Imports!  Oh, if I had rafters!!!  A pair of these would look fantastic in an Atrium or lounging by the fire place.

Shaggadelic Groovy Laundry, Baby Yeah! Patchouli Laundry Soap etal.

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and fell in love with Hippie perfume oils as a kid.  When I was searching for more natural, non chemical/non toxic laundry soaps, I also began a search for great smelling ones too.  The green font below will contain links so if you find your laundry jam, you can just click there to take you right to the product for a closer whiff. 🙂

My husband is not very into smells, so for him we buy Charlies Laundry Detergent. It is low to no discernible order and cleans the clothes well.

I use Indigo Wild, Zum Clean Patchouli Laundry Soap.  It leaves everything smelling delightfully hippie.  Ironically, Mr No Smell (my husband) accidentally used my soap once and got completely hooked on it!  He enjoys the compliments he gets at work.  Yes, this is a soap that people will notice if you use it on your clothes.  For the fall, I sometimes get their Frankincense & Myrrh scent too!  And it is completely yummy on the bed linens!

As I reside in a Brady Bunch hip kinda house, I try to fully embrace that with my choice of eco friendly, groovy laundry soaps.  And there are quite a few now on the market to choose from if Patchouli doesn’t float your boat! Meyers Clean Day makes a yummy Lavender Detergent!  Or how about Vermont Soap Organics LemmonGrass Zen?  This is a castile soap that can be used on both your laundry and your person.  What if you are torn between Mint and Lavender or you have hard water?  Check out Rockin Green Soap HardRock Remix, which takes me back to my KZEW DJ days with names like ‘Motley Clean’ and ‘Funk Rock’, you just gotta groove.

What else can you do about serious odors like cat pee or cleaning out your washer occasionally?  I love BioKleen  BacOut Fresh Lemon-Thyme scent!  It works so well.  I use it on towels, furniture, and in the wash.  Its is great to spritz on clothes to get cigarette fumes off too.

Laundry dose not have to be boring.  As you can see from the choices above, it can be a rather hip olfactory experience.  Since we have to sort and do laundry we may as well make it as fun an experience as possible.

Happy Laundry day!

 

 

How to Clean & Maintain Quartz Counters & Stainless

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Welcome!  Every well kept Middy home needs some great cleaners on hand to maintain and protect it.  For me, 3 things are important – 1 – It must be natural/organic so that it is non toxic, having no harmful chemicals in it that I or my kiddos will somehow ingest.
2 – Its gotta smell good.
3- It needs to work and earn its keep amongst the plethora of cleaning & polishing supplies I use and try out.

I won’t knowingly bring toxins into the home, not outside to kill bugs, not inside either.  That shite ends up on the bottoms of your feet where you absorb it, your pets lick it off their paws, it gets into our water supply (all water flows) and creates bad mojo downstream.  The companies that create this toxic stew just want to sell their product.  They are mostly not interested in the big picture.  But we should be and we vote every day with our wallets.

Cleaning is great exercise, you get moving, breathing.  I like to make cleaning sort of a SPA experience for both me and my lovely home, taking my time, not rushing it.  For the SPA experience I speak of, this means smells.  Mmmmmm!  I want something that smells exceptional, but not overpowering, and that smell is going to be derived from natural ingredients.  I am big on alternative health and eating a raw, plant based diet (see my other website blog PureTempleHolistic.com and PureTemple.org)

But back to smells.  Let me give you a bummer smell example here so you understand what I mean.  One of the products we use, that’s great, is Charlie’s Laundry Soap.  My husband is NOT a smell person and loves this soap as it has no odor.  (See my separate Shaggadelic Laundry Soap Review)  So Charlies is all natural and works great.  I bought their All Purpose Cleaner too, for the home.  Yes, indeed, that product worked, but have you ever let old air out of an inner tube and accidentally huffed that air into your lungs?  It stunk just like old stale air from an inner tube of a tire.  If you have never experienced that odor, I do not suggest adding it to your scent vocabulary.  Just know that it was a complete Debbie Downer for me.  I couldn’t use the product.  We do keep the laundry soap on hand.

Many MCM homes have laminate counters or Quartz if updated.  There is a heated debate going on about updating with Quartz but I look at it this way – following the architects intent, were the product available then, would he have chosen it?   You want to get the vibe right, while maintaining the integrity of the space and making it usable for your needs.  For us, this meant updating our kitchen to Quartz counters.  My husband is a chef and we use the kitchen a lot.  We roll out dough, and I find the quartz perfect for that, with no scratches or damaged spots that the flour would get into.

Although Quartz is a very hard and solid surface, I baby my counter tops.  I never cut directly on them, I always use a cutting board.  And I keep them wiped down too.

General Maintenance – Zum Clean Sea Salt Granite and Counter Top Cleaner has a light and lovely oceanic scent.  This is one of my favorite products.

Im also a big fan of Method Daily Granite.  In fact, click the green for an incredible deal of a pack of 6!  The smell is Apple Orchard, nice and fresh and doesn’t linger.  After using this product for years, I switched off to the Zum Sea Salt for a change, but the product does work and smell terrific.

Puracy Natural All Purpose Cleaner – Particularly great on Stainless Steel and Glass.  This has a nice Green-Tea Lime scent that I love.  I generally use it on glass and all the stainless appliances and work with the grain, using a paper towel or soft cloth.  It takes seconds to have all finger smudges etc removed and have a clean pretty fridge and dishwasher!

How To Counter-Tops – I first go over my counters with a damp wash rag.  Using a soft cleaning cloth or paper towel, I then spritz my cleaner onto the counters and wipe them down.  En voila!  I have a great smelling, clean counter I could eat directly from and not get toxins.

Stain Removal – For stains, I use Clorox Cleaner and Bleach.  And I know I just said earlier that I don’t bring toxins into the home.  This one sits on the fence, depending upon how you look at it, since it is ‘natural’ but I consider this a dangerous product.  Leading with that respect, however, this is a product you can spot spray and let sit a sec, then wipe off.  I feel relatively good about my choice to use it because its use is very minimal.

We are wine drinkers and I also use some beets and fresh ground turmeric a lot in raw juices I drink daily.  Stains occasionally happen. This stuff knocks them right out in seconds.  It also works well behind the sink where the grout line can get dark and dirty.  For that, I spritz on carefully and allow it to sit several minutes before wiping down.

The end result is a sparkling clean and smooth counter-top!

Happy cleaning!

Mod Stylish Air Purifiers – Rabbit Room Air Purifier Review

Why we love the  Rabbit room air purifiers.

We live in a polluted world.  And many times, the air inside our homes is the worst to breath!

Below is a link to Dr Axe for more information, but unless you are very careful to use only organic and natural cleaning agents, and environmentally friendly and toxin free furnishings, the average home contains about 10 gallons of synthetic chemical products.

From cigarette smoke, to pesticides,  from paints to household cleansers, to candles and incense or other air fresheners all can distribute toxins throughout the home.

https://draxe.com/indoor-air-pollution-worse-than-outdoor/

We now have 6; 4 being this model, which I think is the sleekest.   Plus the customization is great!  We have the fish, pictured, and also one with the Julius monkey cover and we are on auto-ship for the filters.  The filters typically last 1 year going 24 hours a day, or 2 years otherwise and are also customizable.   I have owned some ugly air filtration systems in my day and am thankful now that I no longer feel the need to sacrifice style for health. Rabbit offers the Artists Series featuring images by Gustav Klimt, Katsushika Hokusai and original designs by Rabbit Air’s creative team, to offer you a sophisticated answer to stale air.

I leave mine on auto so that they automatically adjust the fan speed high or low as needed to filter the air in the entire room as much as twice an hour.

The Minus A2 – SPA 780 filters as much as 815 square feet while the Minus A2 -SPA 700A, filters as much as 700 square feet.  The unit stands on its own base or you can opt to wall mount it.

I totally dig the mood light, the LED lighting may be turned on so that it provides a soft mellow glow of soothing colours.  It automatically sense when it is dark or ‘nap time’ so I like to read in bed, then turn the light out for bed, watch the colours for a bit while I get myself organized and poof, it goes out a few moments later.  Perfect!

There are six stages of air purification and you can customize, as noted earlier, for Toxin absorbing, pet allergy, odor, germs.  Many people who keep birds choose this filtration system since birds are very sensitive to bad air.  You will feel a difference in the air quality. Our bodies are self-cleaning, however, they were never ever meant for the pollution we are confronted with today.

Because we cannot hide them in our modern home, we wanted something that worked well but while also being sleek and gorgeous!  We have people over and they comment on the filters, because they present themselves as art.

MCM Gardening Relief! Giovanni Cool Mint Lemonade Salt scrub For Your Body

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YUMMO MINT LEMONADE SALT SCRUB!

We have been having a major landscape overhaul done on our massive (by city folk standards) front yard.  As it is MCM, I have been channeling Desert Palm Springs so we have various agave and 2 types of palms, a tall Spanish Sword and the I wanted 2 kinds of stone.  One is pinky red crushed granite to bring out the brick on our home and the other is Tejas Black which looks like chips of slate, to bring out the woodwork trim that is painted a sort of slateish colour.  Couple with the size and scope, we reside on a hill with some steepness to it.  While I am far to lazy to be doing all of this myself, we hired an amazing contractor/landscape architect to help out, it still involved me picking out rock, stone, plants and then alot of me pointing what went where, in this bloody hot Texas sun.    In the summer months, after yoga, a long walk or standing and pointing what plant and what rock goes where in my yard, I love Giovanni’s Cool Mint Lemonade Salt Scrub.   I actually have to add more hot water to the bath or shower due to the terrific cooling of the mint!  And the smell fills the room in this intoxicating aromatherapy as you chill.  The formula was recently changed.  The salt granules were very fine.  This has recently changed to a more invigorating larger granule.  All plant based ingredients are organic which I believe to be vital as we have enough drama avoiding toxins in our day to day lives.  The product is also moisturizing with safflower oil and glycerine.  For winter months, or when I am just craving dark chocolate, I switch up to the Giovanni Hot Chocolate Scrub (the link here is the best price, you buy 5) is yummy!

When (And Why) To Hire A Contractor VS A Handy Man

Welcome Home!
Welcome Home! This is a shot of our kitchen after a sensitive remodel.  We added quartz counters in the same colour of the original formica, which matches the terrazzo floors. My husband is a chef, so we replaced the tiny double gas wall oven with a HUGE American Range double oven.  This meant building out a new cabinet space for it. All original hardware was reused.  The light featured is original to the home and is one of three George Nelson lamps.

 

Hi everyone!  We’ve all been here before where we want to save money but also want the job done right.  Whether its a small thing like clearing debris or renovating a bathroom, every task matters, but the skill level necessary can be quite different.

Many folks get confused between what a handy man does and what value a contractor has so here is the primary difference:  A Handy Man typically is an individual working for himself who generally does all of the work himself.  He may, on a larger job, hire a buddy to help him accomplish the work.  When that happens, you are relying on how good his buddy is or isn’t.  Typically a handy man is doing work part time or perhaps just starting out or may just be comfortable with smaller jobs here and there and they don’t really seek out larger projects and generally are not up to the task of a large one either, even if they state that they can do it.  They cost less than a contractor for sure and for the tiny stuff, that is where I go first!  But I warn you, you cannot just let a handy man go and do work unsupervised!  They are not at that skill level.  Therefore, YOU become the Project Manager or Contractor, overseeing all the work.  And it is this reason that they are cheaper.

A contractor is essentially a Project Manager.  You should come to the table with a fairly clear idea of what you want. Check out this software for some ideas.  But the contractor should know how to do all work involved, enough to hire the right people for the various tasks at hand as well as be experienced enough to comfortably get in there and get their hands dirty along with their crew.  I encountered a contractor once, which we used for some large projects, where all they did was oversee, never actually touching the work themselves.  That contractor used a 85-95% of his time flitting from one project to the next rather than paying full attention to what was going on at my house.  There was Scope Creep, where the project took significantly longer (and therefore cost more) to complete.  Also, the work done was not at the best level.  Mistakes got made that were never addressed.  Sad because most of us really don’t have the money to do things twice.  We don’t hire him any longer.  Its sad, really, but alot of folks who cannot ‘work for a boss’ become their own boss when, if they are honest with themselves, they already know that they are not equipped to do it adequately.  When you hire a contractor, you are paying a salary and that makes you actually the boss.  A smart contractor (and handy man) recognizes this and tried to stay present and get the job done to the best of their abilities.

To drive this point home, I conduct interviews along with asking for quotes.  I want to get references and I also want to gain a level of understanding on what this person knows and how willing they appear to be to do the work.  We had a handy man once who’s work was stunning, but the man was plain lazy.  We had to light a fire to get him to finish any project he started.  He actually bailed on the very last project we hired him for,  claiming somehow that painted columns he had repaired, were not his responsibility to touch up and repaint, even though that was included in the original bid and he had bought all the paint to do it.  I was upset; he would not budge.  A year later, I let him know, by way of a mutual friend, that we were doing a major renovation and that we were hiring someone else since he never completed his last job on the columns.  Through his friend, he stupidly stated he would finish the columns if I gave him the other job.  I explained to his friend that where I work, if I did not complete a project assignment, I would be let go.  I absolutely would NOT get another project to work on!  You can lead a man to books, but you cannot make him think and the good lord knows nobody can fix stupid.  The man did great work, when he showed up.  We’d hired him for many years and a smart man would have understood that not completing a job would mean severing ties.  Sometimes great people think they are irreplaceable.  I have to explain to them that they are only as great as their last work.  I hold myself accountable with the work I do and my employer absolutely does.  Why should this be any different for people I hire with my hard earned cash?

So When do I hire a Handy Man vs a Contractor?  If I am having a hole dug to plant a tree, a doorknob installed,  getting ceiling fans or light switches installed, or maybe a small bit of Sheetrock done in an inconspicuous place or perhaps patch painting said Sheetrock, I may hire my Handy Man for those kind of tasks.  For any important painting or Sheetrock, such as a focus wall,  something that will be noticeable and seen every day, or a large undertaking like counter-tops or kitchen/bath remodel, large landscape project – all of that goes to an experienced contractor (landscape designer/company).  And wherever possible, I start with a small job to see how they do before I engage them in a larger scope of work.  We moved last year and a contractor I love and work well with was busy on other work.  So we initially hired another individual.  We provided 2 months notice for our remodel so that our contractor could  block that time out with his people.   We wanted all or at least the bulk of the remodel finished prior to moving in.  First, our contractor was  a bit slow on the draw to come out, to measure etc.  I had kitchen countertops I wanted along with cabinetry work done for a new double wall oven going in.  We thought at the time we only needed a roof patch and the Atrium floor was uneven, with cheap broken tile.  The Atrium is a focal point as the entire home wraps around it with 3 sliders opening up to it.  The Atrium had to pop and had to be done right away.

God Does You Favors Sometimes – This worked out very well but at the time was quite upsetting.  This contractor I’ll call Ed, said he got another much larger project so that he was going to take that work on instead.  While he could do me the favor of still getting my counters done, it was clear to me that he would not be focused solely on my job.  Plus I had really, for the sake of cohesiveness, wanted to work with ONE contractor to manage ALL the work needed.  Right in the midst of my meltdown, my favorite contractor, Francesco, had stopped by.  I explained my upset, no Atrium work would be done and this way cool ‘Knife Edge’ I wanted on my counter-tops,  Ed’s stone guy said ‘just isn’t done’ with no further explanation as to why not.  My explanation that I had just seen Knife Edge done in a design store kitchen, so maybe they should go see that and report back to me met with a blank stare.   So I was not happy.  I’m not a contractor but I really hate feeling like the village idiot when I come up with an idea and that idea gets dismissed as stupid.

Francesco,  had just wrapped up one project and the other had been pushed out leaving cycles to do the work I needed.  We discussed atrium cement, how it would need to be a lot bigger in scope than what Ed said.  Our Atrium ceiling has a big hole I call the moon roof in the center of it.  The cement would need to be ground level yes but also ground down in order to make it even with the threshold once new tile was applied.  A french drain should also be added.  All this to remedy a corner of our Atrium from turning into a pool during heavy rains. Honestly I want a pool and my husband has assured me I would be found dead in it if that were to ever happen.  But I sure don’t want a pool in our Atrium!

Later, Ed showed up and when I noted all the cement grinding needed to match the threshold from the Atrium into 3 sliders going into our house, he said ‘I never thought of that.’  His quote to do the Atrium work was a full 5k less than what we paid Francesco but where I had heartburn at the job going from 5k to $10,500, it was a blessing hearing those words from Ed which confirmed the additional money was well spent.  Rather than having a botch job where it would never be right until it was redone, it is done now to last a lifetime.

As a Project Manager, I understand that a contractor is essentially a PM who oversees all work done on the project.  As a PM, I also understand the intrinsic value to hiring one(a good one).  While you pay extra for this individual, a good contractor is a worthwhile investment.  For example, I once had a contractor and the job he did was beautiful.  One of his workers, who was great on the project, gave me his card as he did a lot of smaller jobs on the side.  I hired him just once directly.  The work was poor quality.  The work was actually night and day from his level of efforts when working for the man rather than himself directly.  I wonder if he wonders why I never called him back for more work.

Things to ask in your interview – Beyond overseeing the overall project, will they be doing any of the work themselves?  What is their level of experience?  How long have they worked for themselves?  Do they enjoy the work and what part of it do they like best?  Are they insured? Who are their references?  And of primary importance, will they be wrapping up or initiating new business while they are working for you?  You want someone that will be dedicated to your job rather than flitting from one project to the next as this translates to scope creep and errors made.  He cannot watch over his people at your project if he is elsewhere.

Scope – This should freaking go without saying, but it seems I have had to point it out on so many occasions that now I just as a habit do so.  We discuss the scope of the work and as I noted earlier, I try to start them on a small project first.  I explain that to me, regardless of the size of the project, it’s a big deal for me. i am paying for it and its something that I will be seeing often and something that should last where i am not having to repeat steps more than necessary.  I am connected with my neighborhood, with my neighbors, I am a business woman and I know people.  I love to share out great reviews on folks who have done exemplary work for me!  I am also part of a neighborhood board that posts companies and individuals  and shams to avoid.   I explain that I always maintain my property well and I have expensive taste, so something is always going on.  This means that if we work well together, there is going to be an ongoing relationship and more work, more projects.  The smart people get it.

Cost – Again, hiring a contractor to PM your project is going to cost you more.  That stated, a good one is well worth it.  The contractor I use, I have used repeatedly.  He is a bit more expensive than everyone else, but the job is done right, flawless and he is ready to address any issues.  As one of my good friends put it, he signs his work.  He takes great pride in what he does.  For our landscaping project, currently underway, he has hand picked every boulder going in.  Rather than just order gravel to be delivered, he drove around looking at the gravel first because he wanted the sizing and colour to be a certain way. He hand picked each plant and tree.  He is also great with advice and ideas, very creative, a cross between a designer and a contractor and the best of them encompass this ethos.

After spending years undoing and redoing someone else’s shoddy workmanship, discovered later, much of it ‘no warranty’ I have found a great contractor and now always use that person.  I do the very same for good handymen, Carpet/ductwork/floor guys etc.  Anybody who does me right, I retain that info and I am happy to pass that to my neighbors to generate business for them.

Don’t be cheap.  If you have found someone that does great work, pay the little bit extra to get it done right.  Life is full of enough drama without adding more to it.  Please post comments are ask any questions you may have and all the very best in your next remodel project!