Handy Hardware Stores and Home Ownership

When did browsing in a hardware store become such fun?

Years ago, I could never have predicted that I’d enjoy this, but I must confess that I look forward to a trip to Lowe’s, or Home Depot, or any kind of a hardware store.  This week I needed to shop for two ceiling fans, but I put off the trip until I knew I had a couple of hours to kill.  Time just sort of disappears when I roam the aisles there.

This morning, I got my basket and immediately headed for the ceiling fans.  While I wanted two 52-inch fans that were just like the one I have in my kitchen, there were only two — one 52-inch fan and one 42-inch fan.  This particular fan style comes with the light kit.  I contemplated other styles.  Back and forth, up and down the aisles, and I ended up right back where I started.  The two fans went into the basket.

From there I headed through the tile and mosaic aisles.  Not that I’m doing anything — yet — that requires tile or mosaic tile.  Not yet.  But maybe once I get a new countertop.  Of course, that won’t be happening for a few more months.  Planning ahead, though, doesn’t hurt.  Thus pre-emptive shopping forays into aisles where I don’t need to make purchases yet.

Once I’d surveyed the new possibilities, I aimed the buggy for the tools.  One of the things I’ll be doing in the kitchen soon is prying up the stick-on tiles that I put down 15 years ago or so.  After searching in three different areas, I found a tool just made for stripping off old tiles.  Also into the buggy:  a large bottle of stuff to take the adhesive off the floor once the tiles are up.  This will make for a lot of fun over a few days.  I figure with the right music, an iron to loosen the vinyl tiles’ adhesive, the stripping tool, the right gloves, and the gunk to take the adhesive up, I have a fighting chance.  Needless to say, I don’t look forward to it.  Necessary, though, if I am to get new roll vinyl for the kitchen.  Why not some other flooring?  Well, this is an old house, and there’s a hump in the floor near the stove, where the flooring settled decades ago.  Such is life in an older home.  Oh, and my home is a cottage style from the 1920s, built on piers.  It’s not on a flat foundation.

Two tasks checked off the list.  Next:  a paint sample for the color that I think I want to paint my house.  If all goes well, and if it doesn’t decide to rain for thirty days and thirty nights, I hope to get the house painted in October.  My cousin and her husband have the spray equipment, and I’m game to try.  Hence the paint sample.  It is, I’m hoping, close to the salmon color that was originally on the house when I bought it and repainted it.  The exact color name is gone, but I think this is close.

One small sample mixed and in the basket.  Time to leave.

That took a couple of hours.  If I’d had more time, I’d have wandered many other aisles looking at all sorts of things.  However, I needed to move on to a craft store where there was a special on framing orders; I had two items that needed framing.  That stop took another hour or so, selecting frames and styles.  Then a few more purchases, and it was time for coffee.

There’s an old-fashioned hardware store on Ryan Street, too, one that is perfect for certain items.  It’s not a box store.  It’s local.  Once in a while, that’s the hardware store I need.

And if I’m at the beach?  Well, on Bolivar Peninsula, the Gulf Coast Market (also known as The Big Store) has a hardware store inside of the store.  In fact, the GCM includes many different areas that call out for casual browsing.

If I need something that the GCM doesn’t offer, then I have to go onto Galveston itself, to Home Depot.  I was there only a couple of weeks ago, getting a weed-trimmer when the one Kay had brought to the house died.

Maybe the urge to wander the hardware aisles came with the acquisition of the house itself.  I’m not sure.  I just know that it’s strangely inspiring to look at so many things on offer.

And then there’s the HGTV factor, too.  Yes, I confess — I watch far too much Home and Garden Television channel.  In fact, that’s what’s playing right now, and though I can’t see the television, I can hear the program.  Sometimes, I can watch programs for hours on end.

Over the nearly 25 years I’ve owned the house here in Lake Charles, I’ve become rather handy at some kinds of home repair.  I also willingly tackle painting.  I’ve done some small tiling projects on backsplashes and tabletops.  I’ve taped and painted sheetrock.  I’ve helped to put down flooring of several types — from sheet vinyl to vinyl tiles to commercial vinyl tiles to laminate.  I’ve taken mineral spirits and steel wool to clean hardwood floors.  I’ve painted wood floors.

So when HGTV premiered, I was an obvious junkie waiting for a new fix.  And it didn’t take long before I was hooked.

Sometimes Dad helped me with some projects.  Others, he wasn’t able to, but gave me advice.  I liked to tell him that watching him fix things around our house gave me the inspiration to work on my own house.  And he helped by giving me tools, too.

Oddly, though, he was always reluctant to give me a power saw.  I’ve got one now, but haven’t used it.

What I do need to find, though, is a sander.  I know I’ve got a couple.  But where they might be is sometimes a challenge.  There is a bag, though, in the storage house in the backyard.  I’ll look there tomorrow.

There’s a new decoration project I want to work on for the beach house.  Kay and I found two paddles in Dad’s garage.  They’re old and worn and peeling.  I’ll sand them lightly.  Then I’ll stencil the name of the beach house (The Warehouse Too) so that the two paddles (placed so that the paddle ends meet) spell out the name, use a woodburning tool to carve the name out, and finally I’ll paint the two paddles.  They’ll get placed on one of the piers at the beach.  Then I can put up the metal lighthouse that has the house numbers on it.

For here, for Lake Charles, the floor project –mundane and boring– will take precedence over anything else I have to work on.  At least for a few hours a night.

Handy hardware stores have an allure that amazes me still.  I can’t wait for my next foray into those aisles.

In the meantime, I think I need to go and watch the Property Brothers renovate some house.  Pointers are always welcome.

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2 thoughts on “Handy Hardware Stores and Home Ownership

  1. Pattie Burns

    Cheryl, I share your fascination with hardware stores. I love to browse and dream of the projects that I could do. It is kind of funny that my hubby does not share my enthusiasm. When he needs to go, he looks at the gleam in my eye and tells me that I cannot go with him because he wants to get what he needs and leave. How boring! The next time you are in Houston, you must go to Bering’s Hardware on Westheimer. I love that store. They have the usual hardware plus fine china, specialty foods, lotions, shoes. I even got a Saints house key made. 😉

    • Isn’t it strange, Pattie, how things get flipped on their head? I mean, we always thought that hardware stores were guy places. Ha!

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