There’s a bit of immediate success in making minor repairs for people that Charlotte enjoys, which is part of what drew him to volunteer for Jewish Family Service of Charlotte NC. When he first called to inquire about volunteering more than four years ago, he had to do a little explaining.
“I called in and they said, ‘What is it you need fixed?’ And I said, ‘Nothing.’ And they said, ‘Why are you calling?’ And I said, ‘I have a skill set that may be useful for you guys,’ ” Mayer, 73, recalled with a chuckle. “And thus it began.”
Mayer, a retired mechanical engineer who ran his own business in Pennsylvania before coming to Charlotte, estimates that he spends between 10 to 15 hours each week working on projects for JFS Fix-It Service. The program trains volunteers to provide additional assistance to older adults and their caregivers through minor home safety repairs and modifications, according to the program’s website. Volunteers provide a safety inspection of each client’s home before making any repairs, which can include installing wireless doorbells, mounting handrails, repairing window screens, installing handheld showers, or smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.
He’s done repair work all over the county — including in Matthews, National City, and Mint Hill — and each job is different. The tasks can range from changing light bulbs to tracking down electrical problems or resolving plumbing issues.
“It sort of sounds silly to change somebody’s light bulb, but if you’re 85 and your kitchen fluorescent fixture goes out, what are your options?” he said. “You can call a fix-it guy who will charge you a lot of money and you’re letting strangers into your house, or you can call an organization like ours.”
In the time that he’s been volunteering with JFS Fix-It, he’s seen the need for the service grow considerably, he said, and he believes the organization would be able to do even more to help others with more financial donations. In the meantime, it feels good providing a service to others.
“This work, particularly, gives you instant gratification,” he said. “If you go into somebody’s house and you install grab bars and smoke detectors, and you leave, you know immediately they’re better off than they were before you got there.”
Gleaming, oversize subway tile set with thick ribbons of matte grout: It’s the last thing you expect to see in a foyer or a dining room. But when the work is done with paint, the result can be a perfect, playful visual effect.
Decorative painter Ingrid Leess “tiled” this foyer wall in two days, using 1-inch-wide delicate-adhesion painter’s tape and latex paint in two colors and finishes. “The exaggerated grid delivers a lot of punch, and it certainly goes up faster than the real thing,” she says.
For maximum effect, she used a base coat of flat gray to create the look of grout lines, and high-gloss gold to make her glazed-ceramic-like tiles. “Strong colors work well,” she notes, “but the impact comes from the contrasting finishes; you could also choose flat white and glossy ivory.”
Read on for the step-by-step process, from blank wall to trompe l’oeil.
Tip: Any color combination will do—even two shades of white. But contrasting sheens are key. Choose a flat finish for the base coat (the “grout”) and a high-gloss finish for the top coat (the “tile”). Draw a brush through the wet paint to give the tile subtle texture.
Owning a home can be a dream come true, but the world of home ownership is more than just relaxing weekends on the deck and intimate evenings in front of the fireplace. It requires a commitment to keeping your private oasis safe and running smoothly. Making occasional repairs is part of the bargain, and even if you aren’t a dedicated do-it-yourselfer (DIY), there are a few around-the-house fixes you should become familiar with.
Few things will sour a homeowner’s disposition faster than a stopped up toilet or runaway faucet drip, and that’s just bathroom and kitchen stuff.
Roll up your sleeves and take a few minutes to master five home repairs that you can do yourself without dangerous tools or complicated instructions. Even though spending a few hours regularly on DIY home maintenance and repairs may never become your hobby of choice, knowing how to perform a few simple fixes will keep your costs down and help get the work done on your schedule instead of your contractor’s.
5: Prepping Your Paint Jobs Like a Pro
Whether you want to paint a whole room or just need to cover a nail hole, nothing helps to maintain or improve the appearance of a room like paint. You haven’t owned a home very long if you don’t have paint spattered work clothes in your closet and a couple of paintbrushes in your basement or garage.
Sprucing up your rooms with paint is one of the best ways to show your home to advantage, but before you start collecting color swatches, there are some things to keep in mind. Painting, when it’s done well, can increase the value of your home and add style and flair to your space. When the job isn’t done well, and it’s easy to see roller marks, spatters, and sloppy trim paint, it’s almost as bad as leaving cracked and peeling paint on the walls.
You’ll achieve the best results when you prepare for the job. Where painting is concerned, prep is king. Good preparation takes time, but it also makes the actual painting easier.
Start by removing any fixtures or hardware that might get in the way of your project. Loosen up fixtures and remove curtain rods, switch-plates and door hinges. Yes, it does take time, but it isn’t extra time. If you leave things in place that will create obstacles for your paintbrush or roller, you will be wasting time trying to cover or paint around them later. You’ll take more time, and the end result won’t look as professional as if you’d cleared everything away to start with.
After you have an unobstructed shot at the walls, clean them with a damp sponge or a dry cloth. Grease, dust and grime buildup will keep paint from making a good bond on your walls, and could cause streaks. Give the room a once over, and be on the lookout for nail holes, gouges and other imperfections that need to be filled with spackle and rough spots that could use some sanding. Little repairs like this, especially in older homes, can make a big difference in the appearance of the final paint job. Once you’ve cleaned the walls and done a few minor fix-ups, apply primer to any sanded areas. If you’ve sanded large areas, you might consider using a paint that has primer incorporated into it and eliminate the need to prime the walls as a separate step.
Now you’re ready to mask any molding, built-ins and baseboards with painter’s tape and start laying down drop cloths. After that, painting your room will be easy.
On the next page, we’ll knock a little sense into your favorite interactive room divider, the door.