Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Home Improvement

Radiator covers: how hard could they be to make? That was our thinking when we assessed our apartment last week in preparation for the ReloCube’s arrival. The radiators in the living room and bedroom are so long (73 inches and 53 inches, respectively) that we lose valuable wall space and wind up with industrial-looking focal points. How hard, really, could a radiator cover be to construct? It’s just a box with metal grating in the front. And so began our first home improvement project.

There was a moment, this weekend, when we felt we’d suddenly jumped in over our heads. Several moments, actually. The first was when we found ourselves at Home Depot on Friday night (we’re so married!), instructing a guy in the lumber department to cut a huge sheet of plywood into pieces in a variety of sizes. (We arrived at Home Depot without even a sketch, so deciding on the sizes took a fair bit of deliberation, as the lumber guy looked on warily.) Soon we had a cartful of plywood, as well a box of nails and a can of woodstain. We slid everything through the window of the Volvo and headed home.

(A note: Andrew, perhaps an engineer in a past life, devised an ingenious way for us to transport very long items, like two-by-twos and Ikea bookcases, despite the fact that the back seats of our Volvo don’t fold down: we slide the front passenger seat as far back as it will go, lower the back of it till it touches the backseat, and put everything into the car diagonally, through the passenger-side window. It works like a charm, even though I’m the one folded sideways into the backseat as we drive home.)

Anyway. In theory, radiator covers are not that complex. But on Saturday, when we laid out all the plywood pieces in our backyard for staining, it seemed far less easy than we’d thought. Another trip to Lowes on Sunday yielded decorative metal sheeting and a selection of other items. But once again there we were again, a bunch of wood surrounding us outside. (The fact that we actually have a real backyard is itself kind of surreal.) Building radiator covers was my idea; and I’m pretty sure Andrew was cursing me more or less nonstop from Friday night on.

Yet we did it. Somehow everything fit together, and—even more remarkably—somehow the covers even ended up looking really nice. We felt quite proud of ourselves. Perhaps a future in custom radiator-cover-building is in our future. I’ll post some pictures soon.

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