Decorating "scope creep"

Sueb20March 20, 2014

Or, "If you give a mouse a cookie..."

Does this happen to any of you?

We bought a new mattress to replace our 12 year old sagging mess. At the time, we hoped we might be able to upgrade to a king size, but it was not in the cards -- which was a bummer for a few reasons, including that I was kind of excited to have an excuse to buy all new bedding and a new headboard. So maybe that factored into what happened next.

New mattress arrives and, well, it sits up a couple inches higher than the saggy old one. Gee, now our nightstands look too small next to this higher bed! What to do? Look for new ones. We can put the old ones over in the sitting area off the bedroom, on either side of the loveseat. So I find, and order, new/bigger nightstands, on sale at RH. They're arriving on Sat.

But wait! The new nightstands are black. My current ones are cherry, and the lamps that sit upon them are black. Well -- that won't do. I can't have black wood lamp bases on a black wood nightstand. That looks dumb. So I order new silvery lamps.

Well, while I'm thinking of it, maybe I'll get new knobs for our existing/staying bureau and the chest that the TV sits on, so everything is nicely coordinated. Maybe silvery ones to match the lamps.

So then, as I'm envisioning how the old nightstands will look in the seating area, I think, gee, that small space looks so naked -- what else does it need? A rug, maybe? So I find, and order, a new rug.

Next: new toss pillow for the loveseat in the sitting area. Then, I THINK I might be done. For now.

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I recently decided that my new house (50 years old, new to me) is an expensive habitable shell. I like its current overall looks but the entire HVAC, plumbing, and most of the electrical systems are being replaced along with all new bathrooms and kitchen-that's not exactly decorating but my scope crept before I ever got to the esthetic fun stuff.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 5:42PM
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LOL! Before you are finished, your room will look totally different which is sort of what you wanted, isn't it?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 6:09PM
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Be careful if you ever decide you need new carpets. We needed new carpets because ours were almost 30 years old (life and kids and lack of money got in the way of doing anything earlier) and were falling apart.

Before we knew it we were moving out of the house for 6 months and doing a complete gut of the house down to studs and plywood. We never did get new carpets. We went with hardwood.

I still can't believe that happened. We had reno-creep, scope-creep, budget-creep, decorating-creep, we had all the creeps there are to have.

I'm just glad that others fall into the same pit that we did.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 6:28PM
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Then there was DH who wanted a new umbrella for the patio that turned into a deck and two story addition.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 6:38PM
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Holly- Kay

So several years ago I bought DH a new tv for the living room intending to put it in our old tv cabinet. Oh no, it doesn't fit so off to look for a cabinet. While looking for the new cabinet I saw office furniture that would look great In my home office. Wait if we get the furniture we need new carpet as the older carpet was looking a bit worn and while we are at it we'll carpet the master bedroom. Before we put carpet in we have to paint. New tv cabinet, office furniture, carpet and paint all because of a new tv.

Fast forward a few years. I need a new fridge but can't fit a 36 inch model in my kitchen. Well the cabinets do a look a bit dated so new cabinets but before we do new cabinets we need new flooring and since we are doing hardwood lets take out the old living room carpet and do hardwood there too. Oh, let's also take the hardwood back the hall. Now new cabinets and new hardwood but wait. We changed the layout of the kitchen so new cabinets dictated new counter tops. We got the new fridge that started the whole ball of wax but we can't have the old dishwasher and old range and I always wanted a double oven. So now we had all new appliances and of course we had to have it painted and since we painted the kitchen area we really should paint the living room and the library. The new hardwood floors looked marvelous but made our old furniture in the living room look shabby so we needed new furniture. I still need a floor lamp and drapes and then we are finished until I tackle the master bedroom. Then I am done and I am not touching another thing unless it wears out! This is a case of scope creep on steroids!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 6:49PM
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There was the time I bought this marvelous old antique toliet paper holder, then I had to buy a house to go with it.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 10:41PM
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Sue this post is so funny and I can so relate! We have been paying for two large storage lockers of furniture for eight months and now that we found a house 70% of the stored furniture will not work. I thought or hoped it would but it's just not right...mainly due to scale but a bit on style as well. $$$$$ yikes!!! Even my squeaky husband is starting to agree (and that says a lot)!

This post was edited by jterrilynn on Thu, Mar 20, 14 at 23:17

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 11:05PM
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How about planning/dreaming of building a new home, but don't know where/when, but still continue to look at floor plans on line, finding one you love~year, 2001. I'm living in Ca condo at the time.

Fast forward to 2007 DD/DH decide they want to start a family, but don't want to raise a family in Ca. SIL approaches his boss, telling him their dilemma~boss asks, where would you like to go? SIL tells him Austin. Boss(unexpectedly)opens office, DD/DH buy a house, have 1st baby(3 years later, second baby). I sell my condo in a bad market within 3 months and the rest is history. I made the move a year later(2008), found a builder who was offering a build almost identical to my 'dream' plan, including the stone and brick in the original plan! I had printed out the house plan, and have kept it as proof with the date at the bottom, and the similarities of my dream house and my real house!

I also purchased 2 antique mirrors at an antique shop 6 years earlier to use over the MBath vanities I 'would' have.

I like to think dreams do come true.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 12:11AM
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In the midst of my version right now: son moves to new apartment, and asks for help decorating including getting seating for his LR. I say, go ahead and take the huge leather recliner that you love to sit in when you're at our house (and which you have sorta kinda loved to death so it is a bit worn anyway). Then I decide it will be silly to get rid of only one of a pair of huge leather armchairs so I tell him go ahead and take the matching chair too. He mentions he has to get a tv stand so I throw in the stand I've been using for years as a catch-all storage piece in the LR.

Now I'm looking at an echoing large living room, so I think well, even though I have now gutted most of the seating and storage in the LR, the hidden benefit is that now I NEED new furniture. And of course secretly I thought the matchy-match look and bulk of the departed chairs wasn't really working anyway. Off to Ethan Allen to get some ideas, where I note they are having a sale on dining room furniture and since it's an L-shaped room I can also freshen that area as well because what's in the DR now is a table that belonged to my mom and a matching china cabinet I bought years ago, both of which are in her style that is far, far from mine (Early American maple in a room I dearly prefer to be tropical/british colonial/island decor). I've been idly thinking for awhile that I'd like to get furniture in there that reflects my taste. Sidebar: fighting major angst at getting rid of mom's stuff even though the table and rush seat chairs are pretty worn and the buffet was pricey 20 years ago and oh the sentiment! Ahem, moving on...

At this point I realize I can't picture the best way to use the space and if I'm left to my own devices I will buy more matchy-match stuff.

So I ask for help from a designer at Ethan Allen. She comes, measures the space, and then 2 days later I sit down and order a new DR table and chairs and 2 new recliners and have a pending list of a new DR marble-topped chest and new LR accent chair I'll get when they go on sale.

And now here I sit, surfing around for a big sisal rug for the LR which she also suggested, and nervously waiting for the custom chairs I ordered and pondering whether the Pier 1 storage shelf/basket combo that I admired in my Pilates' trainer's office and which is also on sale now will look good replacing the now departed tv stand cum catch all.

At this point, I've got thousands of dollars committed, redesign of 2 areas in progress and it all started with my son asking me to help him find something to sit on. In HIS apartment.

Oh my.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 8:17AM
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"Decorating scope-creep" is a song we sing around here in a fairly regular basis. With our current basement renovation we also experienced "frozen pipe scope creep," which at least is not really our fault.

Our worst scope creep incident occurred in 2010-2011. We had a built in, outdoor spa that was here when we bought the house in 2005 and used a lot more than we thought we would. When the motor had to be replaced, we decided to just get a new spa. But should we get the same size, or a swim spa, with currents for resistance swimming? Well the swim spa, of course--- that will be so much more useful! But the swim spa is very large and the area will have to be dug out, new retaining walls built and a large slab poured. At this point we are still just replacing a spa and building a deck around it with little understanding of how it will look when finished. As the retaining wall is going up, I notice it is EIGHT FEET tall. I ask the crew leader, this wall is huge, what is it going to look like when it's finished? He answers casually that it is going to look like a prison wall. Not even wanting to think how he knows this, I tell the workers they are excused for the day. I call an architect and beg him to come and sort it out. He is too busy but recommends a former employee who has struck out in her own. I call her and leave a crazed homeowner message about an architectural emergency. She drives over that day, and within 24 hours has emailed a sketch of a beautiful deck, railings, brick columns and knee walls with railings, landscaping. It is fabulous, I okay everything and two days later we have construction drawings.

When this is finished of course we now want to re-landscape that area. And the brick columns and gate make the path to the tennis court look a little tacky, so in goes a path of huge stones. And then they make the stained concrete patio and paths look so dated! So we redo those areas with variable size exposed pebble aggregate, and heck, while we are at it, let's extend the patio around to incorporate that staircase, cause that's how it should have been done in the first place, right? Only now the new deck and railings have made all the existing decks and railings look terrible, capital T. Worse, we have two different kind of railings! So now we have all new railings that tie everything together beautifully. And in the process find out that the deck off our master bedroom is sinking, and the three wood columns holding up the screened porch are BOWING. In fact, we find that one of the main supports of the master deck is not even on a concrete footing, it is sitting on a couple of bricks at the bottom of a hole and that end is a good FOUR inches lower than the other one!

In short order we have hydraulic jacks holding everything up. And as long as we are replacing this stuff, the carpenter says that Georgian columns would look great, and he can use steel posts as the actual supports and build custom columns around the steel and use Azek that will never rot and I agree without asking if there are any cheaper options. At this point I am in a virtual zombie daze of check writing and have long ago ceased to ask how much anything is going to cost.

Finally, the decks are gorgeous, the patio is fabulous, all decks now have the deckbrella under deck ceiling, not just under the screened porch ( and the original deckbrella had to be taken down and stored during construction, then reinstalled at a cost almost equal to the original installation five years earlier!). New ceiling fan-- of course-- and while we are at it let's move that hose bibb somewhere else so the hose isn't stored in the middle is the patio and a rustic stone creek type pond less waterfall would really finish it all off, would'nt it?

And then everything else looked so wonderful that I was embarrassed we had that tacky diagonal pecky cypress on the walls of the screened porch, so we re-sided that with 8" hardiplank lap siding (and a new fan, of course, to match the one in the patio below). Finally! It was all finished!

But new spaces have to be decorated, and we bought three museum banners from closed art exhibitions, new rocker gliders for the master bedroom deck, a new Sunbrella remote controlled retractible awning over that deck and new custom cushions for everything outside. Are we finished yet? DH asks hesitantly.

Almost. We enjoy the spa so much we have the awning company install a remote control movie screen that rolls up under little awning that, naturally, matches the bigger one. And we spend many happy evenings watching movies while relaxing in the new spa--- which, theoretically, we could have done 18 months earlier with a new motor in the hot tub and a waterproof iPad holder.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 8:30AM
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Oh yeah...scope creep, budget creep. Live with it all the time. A couple of years ago I wanted to rip out the 12 year old shrubs and replant new in the front of the house. After talking with a couple of LD's decided to go with doing more. About triple the budget I first envisioned, we were done, but it was beautiful and just exactly what I wanted and then some. It went around to the back of the house and expanded some beds, replanted a Japanese Maple and a lot of other stuff.

For about 5 years I had wanted to replace the Corian in our master bath (bad choice and I hate that stuff for countertops). Last fall, we finally pulled the trigger, only it turned into a total master bath reno.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:05AM
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I'm enjoying everyone's scope creep tales. Love that term, scope creep!

We were planning to install new flooring in our FR this summer. We are now up to custom cabinets for the TV & storage, maybe a wet bar too, a built in desk, a place for fireplace wood storage, rearranging electrical outlets, new insulation, new paneling, and of course, new rugs & furniture.

Should I go horizontal or vertical with the paneling? After I decide that, I'll pull the trigger...on the project, I mean.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:41AM
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Holly- Kay

This is such a fun topic!

KSWL, holy cow girl, you have my scope creep beat by a mile and then some.

AWM, your trigger comment had me rolling.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:55AM
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Sueb20 has come up with the best descriptive term for it ever hasn't she?? I knew it was a problem but not that it was a widespread condition. That does make it easier......not my fault, just normal scope creep.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 10:15AM
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We needed a new kitchen faucet. I found a really beautiful copper one. I love copper and I already had a large copper range hood. Well, the faucet did not fit behind the overmount sink we had, so I wanted a new under mount sink, which would not work with the 4" tile counter from the 80's. So, I picked out some great granite, along with a new copper backsplash. Then I decided I did not like the old appliance garage and had that removed so I could see more of the granite. Then we decided to refigure and widen the space for a new fridge, then the old wallpaper came down and the kitchen was painted. Then, the tile floor hurt my knees and back, so we decided to replace with cork. While the sub floor was exposed, I decided to repaint the kitchen because I did not like the color with the new cork floors. After all that was done, the lighting did not look right, so that was replaced, and then the cabinet hardware needed to be replaced to fit in with everything else. So....... But, I did not replace the cabinets. They were in excellent condition and the design was very functional. So, beware when you need to replace a faucet!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 12:37PM
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kswl - your story is really good. Anything that involves hydraulic jacks is major and definitely beats my experience.

runninginplace - Now I'm getting excited about one of my kids eventually moving out because then I figure that I , too, can get new LR and DR furniture. I can see it now - "But, but, but runninginplace got new furniture when her son got his new apartment." she says to her DH. LOL

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 12:38PM
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I'm an amateur compared to most of you! Just to keep up...I might ALSO paint the back wall of my built-in bookcases in my bedroom.

However, in our beach house, we started out adding onto the second floor over the garage (to add a bedroom) and over the sunroom (to add a bathroom) and ended up pretty much rebuilding the entire house. Including landscaping and a new patio, screen porch, driveway, and outdoor shower.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 2:53PM
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I don't know, sueb.... adding a BR and BA and ending up rebuilding the whole house sounds like the scope creep winner!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 5:07PM
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Oh, it happens. I just get tired of the sofa and it turns into a whole LR/DR redo. I can see my kitchen from there and it has to at least coordinate if not kinda match.

Decorating scope creep is a tiny thing located in the pituitary gland of women. Who knows exactly where in that gland, smaller than a garden pea, but I bet if a man could find it, they would all find surgeons who are paid well to remove them.

This post was edited by patricia43 on Fri, Mar 21, 14 at 18:19

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 5:55PM
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These are great stories. I'm not sure if their value is more as cautionary tales or as horror stories to use to demonstrate the current project isn't as bad as it could be.

"Honey, if you think this is bad, wait until I tell you about (fill in whichever story above makes the situation seem better). You'll be grateful our project is still this much under control."

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 6:13PM
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I love this thread because I can validate to my husband that I am not the only person with this, creative vision? Around here we call it "project creep".

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 7:44PM
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Great stories and laughed hard at some. As far as mattress stories - what a day to find this post! I have waited over a month for a box springs mattress to arrive, truck gets here today & they have a twin size NOT the queen size I ordered and paid for - OMG! I guess we are out to shop for a new bed this week-end, not ordering another from JCP!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 12:50AM
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My scope creep has come to a sudden halt. First, the rug I ordered is not available until the end of May...after consideration, I decided that not only did I not want to wait that long, I also came to the conclusion that I would rather go with a neutral rug (the one I ordered was colorful) so that I have more options with bedding, etc. So I cancelled that order. THEN, the furniture delivery co. called and said the nightstands didn't pass QA inspection so they had to send them back. They hope to call about a new delivery in about a week. So sad.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 10:40AM
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If it makes anyone feel better, this phenomenon has been around forever. It was hilariously documented by Frank Stockton in his story, "Our Fire-screen", originally published sometime before 1899, about what happens when a man living in a nice comfy Victorian home gets his wife's latest embroidery project framed up in the Eastlake style. (Also a very interesting look at contemporary opinions about Eastlake/Mission/Arts&Crafts stuff.) You can read the story online at the link, if interested.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 10:54AM
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Holly- Kay

Thank you writersblock. I loved that story and it makes me feel that indeed my labor of redoing and refurbishing was small in the grand scheme of things.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 11:27AM
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