Fix those ‘icks’ in your home
You know the feeling.
Maybe it was an open house, or a tour with a real estate agent by your side. You’re going from room to room, generally liking what you’re seeing. Maybe you’re even mentally placing your furniture throughout each room, picturing yourself there. You’re running the numbers in your head, figuring out what your opening offer should be.
Then you get to that room, that part of the house, or maybe it’s the backyard. But something about it doesn’t sit well with you. Something’s off.
You say to yourself, “Ick.”
A house that was making its way to the top of your shortlist is now crossed off completely. In fact, you can’t get out of there quickly enough.
Or maybe you’ve found yourself of the other end of this situation, where you own the home that has the ick. Maybe you noticed the problem when you bought the house, and you’d planned on taking care of it soon enough, but that had kept falling down to the bottom of your to-do list until it had fallen off completely. Or perhaps the ick went from an eyesore to something more serious without you noticing—until now it’s firmly in the ick category.
Either way, we’ll help you identify some common icks that you may come across—or you’re currently putting up with—and ways to fix them.
What is an “ick?”
Before we go any farther, we should define what an ick is. Online and in social media, it’s often used to refer to a dealbreaker in a potential romantic partner. Urban Dictionary defines ick as “something that someone does that is an instant turn-off for you, making you instantly hate the idea of being with them romantically.”
So, what does that mean in a home? Similar to a potential love interest, this can only happen in a home that you like, that you would consider buying. So we’re going to say 95% of the home is all positive, maybe even a higher percentage. But the ick in the home has to be so egregious, so off-putting, that it negates all of those positives and puts the home in 100% do-not-buy category.
Common icks and how to fix them
Some of the most common icks are the ones that, at one point, were probably pretty popular. These trends have seen their popularity fade over the years, sometimes decades. And they most likely have picked up some wear and tear over the years, as well. That’s why a trend that seemed so perfect at one time can now leave a room feeling dingy and depressing. Like:
Fake wood wall paneling
Wood paneling is a trend that comes and goes. The shiplap craze of a few years ago is proof of that. But some earlier versions of fake wood paneling haven’t aged well. And the disadvantage of those old panels is that they can often make a room seem dark as well as outdated.
But there is hope for that old (fake) wood. Depending on what underlying material the panels were applied to, you may be able to remove the panels and repaint the walls underneath. This work especially well if the panels were applied to drywall or plaster walls. A little bit of spackle to fill in any holes, and you’re good to go.
You can also simply paint the wood panels. Using a lighter color like an off-white or grey can brighten the room quite a bit. There will still be the texture of the panels on the wall, and that could be an interesting design element.
Shag carpets rose to popularity in the ‘70’s, and has since earned a negative reputation as a relic of that decade. But honestly, shag has also come and gone in popularity since those early days. You may decide that the shag carpet you’re sick of could be salvaged with a through carpet shampooing. The long material that gives shag carpets their name can attract more dirt and mud, along with getting matted and flattened after years of being stepped on.
Not only can you rent a carpet shampooer at most major hardware stores, but there are also carpet rakes and brushes that can give your shag new life. They can remove built up dirt, fur and hair, though they won’t get out stains. After all this work, you may find that the shag that had given you the ick is now back at the height of style.
Or you can simply replace the carpet. Depending on what you have underneath, you can leave a bare floor or replace the shag with an area rug.
Bad bathroom tile
Many homes built in the 1950’s followed the popular trend of using pink tile in a bathroom. Not only perfect for creating a special space for a daughter; the bright color was also a cheery change of pace from the boring grays that were prevalent during the WWII years. But pink isn’t for everyone. And this is just one example of bad bathroom tile jobs, not to mention broken or degraded tile that are pretty common.
Replacing the tile is one option, but that can be a pretty expensive project that may require some extra financing, like a personal loan. If that is not a viable option for you, here are few other things you can do with unsightly tile:
- Clean the grout! Dirty, moldy grout is one of the ickiest things you can ever see in a home (especially if it’s a potential romantic partner’s home) so get out the baking soda and get the grout shiny again.
- Distract with a pretty shower curtain.
- Cover the floor with a vinyl floor cloth. You can cut it to fit around your toilet base and anything else in the space, while covering up old tiles that have seen better days.
The standard height for a ceiling, according to the National Building Code, is eight feet high. However, nine-foot and ten-foot ceilings are now common. So a ceiling eight feet from the floor, or lower, is likely to feel low to you. And you don’t need to be a basketball player to know that when a ceiling feels low, the room can seem oppressive or tight.
One way to solve this is to trick your mind into thinking that the room is taller than it is. Vertical lines on the walls can give the impression of greater height, and shorter furniture will leave the impression of greater headspace. And taller window curtains, that go from floor to ceiling, are a great way to make the room seem taller.
No backyard privacy
Imagine you love the house that you’re touring, but you take one step into the backyard and see the neighbors are basically right on top of you. Or there’s a loud, busy street just past the property line. It may not be enough to make you say no to the house, but it’s definitely an ick.
The solution to a backyard with no privacy and too much noise is to create a privacy guard. Planting shrubs, bushes and trees that can block the lines of sight from interested looky-loos will help you feel more alone when you’re outside. Another solution could be a tall wooden fence. They also do a great job of blocking any noise from the street (or from raucous neighbors). A water feature, like a fountain, will also help to drown out the noise.
Doors that won’t open all the way
Sometimes you come across an architectural decision that you just don’t understand the logic. A common one is a door that won’t open all the way. Perhaps it runs into another door, or it’s too close to a wall. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but when you own the home, it’s something that will bug you every time you open that door.
The solution to this is simple and stylish. Replace that swinging door with a sliding barn door. As it runs on a track parallel to the wall, the barn door won’t get in the way of anything.
Financing your fixes
As we’ve shown, some of the ways to fix these icks are through pretty simple DIY projects that can be completed over a weekend. But some will likely call for you to hire a professional. And we didn’t even mention that types of icks that aren’t too common, but are certainly icky: a toilet in the kitchen, the only stairway upstairs located in the first floor bathroom, and major damage caused by water or mold.
Talk to your loan officer about ways to finance your fixes, you may find that you can include the cost of the project in your mortgage.