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Thumbtacks vs. Nails (Or Marriage and Home Décor)

June 7, 2011

Everyone has heard the expression, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that this same sentiment can be said about Bryan (my husband) and my approach to home improvement projects. But with us, it’s more about thumbtacks versus nails.

Let me start with my approach. I’m a simple gal when it comes to decorating. Meaning, I love to adorn my walls with art and photography, but when I want something hung, I want it done right away. So as I’ve covered my walls over the years, I’ve come to use the easiest things I can get my hands on – thumbtacks and the occasional double-sided foam tape. And I don’t measure; I eye-ball. I’m pretty good with my estimates, although I have been known to leave several pin holes as evidence of my work.

Bryan, on the other hand, is not like this at all. Bryan’s approach is to take the time and do it right. This is really the preferable method; but it doesn’t always jive with my, “Do it now” mentality. Bryan gets out the level, tape measure, pencil, electric screwdriver, a variety of nails and drywall screws. Bryan takes great patience and precision when mounting anything on a wall.

So you can imagine that Bryan cringes anytime he sees a newly-framed photo hanging by a thumbtack. He will gladly hang all my artwork within minutes if he sees me even approach a bare wall with a mounting tack or tape. This happened a few weeks ago when I wanted to hang all my photo art. Bryan grabbed the pieces from my hands and immediately went to work attaching the little “teeth” hooks to the backs so they would hang properly. I was in charge of keeping Sophie and the animals out of Bryan’s way.

Bryan and I also differ in our learning/teaching approach to hanging home décor. Meaning that Bryan has one; I don’t. The one time in our marriage where I thought one of us would walk out the door was during the infamous hanging of the Pottery Barn ledges in our first condo.

I recognized that mounting wood ledges was way beyond tacks and tape. This was early in our marriage and Bryan thought it would be “helpful” to teach me how to mount a ledge. I had to measure and use a screwdriver. This was NOT something I was even remotely interested in doing. Between my pissy attitude and Bryan’s frustration, it’s a wonder those ledges ever got hung. But eventually we mended our ways and the ledges looked beautiful in the family room (no thanks to me). Now Bryan does not assume I will help in these endeavors, which is best for both of us.

So there you have it – the nails, tacks and truth about my marriage. Even if half the art on our walls are hung with drywall screws and the other half with tacks, we still have a nicely decorated home with our personal touches all around (even if my “touches” are remnants of sticky tape and multiple tack holes).

Now THAT’S a nice hanging job (thank you, Bryan)!

41 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2011 11:28 pm

    I’m like you. I will take the easy path. Takes more effort and time to do it Bryan’s way, although his is a job well done, but I’d rather focus my energy on other things, like writing. But when I do hang stuff, I do use a hammer and basic painting hook. But I never measure. I just start hammering away! 🙂

    • June 9, 2011 10:04 pm

      I don’t even go so far as the painting hook. Good for you!

  2. June 8, 2011 5:02 am

    Leah, we should all be married to a Bryan! Lucky you! With me it’s the other way around. I’m the nail fan and the Significant Other prefers the thumbtack method. I hate making holes in the wall and want it done right the first time, you see! It drives me crazy to want to hang up something and ask him to do it because I know that the picture, frame or whatever is it he’s hanging up will surely fall to the floor by the end of the day!

    • June 9, 2011 10:03 pm

      I know, I am lucky! And in no way am I complaining about Bryan. It’s different styles and we’ve learned from each other. I think there needs to be one in the relationship that knows how to hang things properly. Glad it’s you in your case!

  3. June 8, 2011 5:42 am

    That sounds just like us! After a few unsuccesful attempts to “teach” me how it should be done, Bruce seems content for me to plan (hang it here, no here, no here) and then to be an extra set of hands to hold the tape measure, the level, or the drill while he calculates the precise location of the nail.

    Your photos are amazing!

    • June 9, 2011 10:02 pm

      Thanks, Shary, about the photos! I’m glad someone else can relate to this. I guess it’s more common than we think!

  4. June 8, 2011 5:54 am

    I can soooo relate! Thanks for the smile first thing in the morning.

  5. June 8, 2011 6:17 am

    That sounds just like my husband and I! I would just pick a spot that looked good and hammer a nail in and hang up the picture, but my husband also gets out the tape measure and screw driver and all that to make sure that the picture is exactly where it should be. Of course, I’ve never had the problem like you with trying to help hang things. I just stay out of the way because home improvement projects and such are just not my thing! 🙂

    • June 9, 2011 10:01 pm

      Exactly! Not my thing either. I have different skills that contribute to this relationship. Home improvement projects are not among them.

  6. June 8, 2011 6:17 am

    I think it’s entirely possible that you & I are twins and Brian and my. Husband are twins!

    • June 9, 2011 10:00 pm

      Seriously?! That’s great! We can share stories.

  7. June 8, 2011 6:20 am

    So funny. At our house it’s the opposite . . . I’m the one with the laser leveler! I love that thing! If he doesn’t already have one, it might be a nice Father’s Day gift for Bryan.

    • June 9, 2011 10:00 pm

      Oh yes, Colette, Bryan has a laser level and he’s not afraid to use it. I am, however. 😉

  8. June 8, 2011 6:26 am

    Lovely pictures!! We don’t have the nails vs. tacks/tape differences probably because we have such larger scope problems like: plaster vs. sheetrock, 2×4 vs. 2×6, rip down and start over vs. strap together somehow. However, I will say that during our most intense renovation period and our tempers were short, we had probably the biggest fight of our marriage involving a french door we purchased at home depot–when I was unable to help lift the very-heavy door into a truck. UGH. The funniest part? Two years later we renovated AGAIN and removed the door. I agree so much, Leah, nails vs. tacks or things bigger, different styles can cause issues! 🙂

    • June 9, 2011 9:59 pm

      That’s funny about the door! Doesn’t that always happen like that? We probably don’t have those bigger issues because I will not have ANY part in those larger home improvement projects. I can’t handle it! You’re good for working with your husband on the projects.

  9. June 8, 2011 7:10 am

    I identify with your need to get something done quick, fast and in a hurry. I’m not known for patience–to say the very least. I’m also obsessive, so once I decide on something, I’ll often go to the ends of the earth to make it happen. My blog isn’t called The Neurosis Files for nothing.
    I love the way you describe the differences between yourself and your husband. Very amusing.

    • June 9, 2011 9:57 pm

      Ha ha! Thanks for your comment. What can we say? When we want something hung, we want it now! Who cares if it’s not done the “proper way.”

  10. Dawn Levey permalink
    June 8, 2011 7:19 am

    Wow!!!! This happens in someone else’s world? I love this!
    This is my marriage in a nutshell. When i want to go somewhere or do something it is always NOW, no time to wait and plan or research…My sweet husband is always the one with the head on his shoulders.
    I am now banned from hanging things and have zero interest in learning the “proper way” so it is always his job……Thanks for sharing, Leah!

    • June 9, 2011 9:56 pm

      I knew you’d appreciate this one! I think that’s the key to a good marriage.

  11. June 8, 2011 7:25 am

    Ha, I love it! Many of men (read: my dad and a boyfriend once) have tried to teach me about the beauty of a level. I don’t understand the mechanism, and like you, don’t want to! I’m glad you and Bryan figured out what works best for you guys!

    • June 9, 2011 9:56 pm

      Thanks, Caryn. The way I see it, we have many other talents that our husbands/boyfriends benefit from. Who cares if we don’t learn our way around a level!

  12. June 8, 2011 7:37 am

    I smiled all the way through this post. We’ve had so many similar experiences in our marriage. I like how you said that your husband was going to teach you something early in your marriage, but now he doesn’t assume to help. That is my husband and me exactly. We’ve learned each other’s limits and respect them. Marriage is so much easier now, isn’t it?

    • June 9, 2011 9:55 pm

      Yes, it is easier! It’s all about learning each others styles, what works and what does not. And now, 10 years later, we get along great and still have nicely hung art.

  13. June 8, 2011 7:57 am

    Loved your nuts and bolts of your marriage. Dad and I are definitely the same way! However, I do use picture hangers and an occasional nail 🙂 I eye-ball everything just as you do and it’s usually pretty right-on. So, rather than double sided tape and thumb tacks, try the nails :-D. Your photos are beautiful, Leah. I’m always impressed with your photography pieces. I especially LOVE the pumpkin one. As always, great post. ❤U

    • June 9, 2011 9:54 pm

      You may eye-ball, but you do know your way around a drill and level!

  14. June 8, 2011 8:09 am

    My husband and I sound just like the two of you! As we’re getting ready to move into (and decorate) our new home, I’ve been contemplating hanging tea cups from the ceiling…yep, tea cups. I saw them displayed in a chocolate shop in Edinburgh, Scotland and absolutely fell in love. Randy said, “You mean you’re gonna put all kinds of holes in the ceiling?!” From his tone you would’ve thought I was going to blast the ceiling with a shot gun. Oh, well. Perhaps we’ll reach a compromise soon. 🙂

    • June 9, 2011 9:54 pm

      I love that idea! I think if you can’t put them in the ceiling, then Randy needs to install a shelf for you just for your teacup collection. That is so original though! Love it!

  15. June 8, 2011 9:00 am

    I have to side with Bryan on this one, I’m afraid. I am a measuring tape and level type gal myself. Actually, if you think I’m bad, you should talk to my father. He is evan a tad more anal than me and has hung quite a few things in our last two houses when he comes and visits. 😉 No matter how they’re hung, your gallery is amazing! Hugs! 😉

    • June 9, 2011 9:53 pm

      You do have a lovely gallery of art and photos hung. So you (and your dad) are clearly doing something right. 😉

  16. June 8, 2011 10:41 am

    Totally the same way. I have no tolerance for measuring… and generally, i’m way more successful when I just eyeball something. 🙂

    • June 9, 2011 9:52 pm

      Yes, thank you! And I just commented to someone that I think I’m more accurate than the level.

  17. June 8, 2011 9:37 pm

    I’m with you girl! If I ever leave my apartment there will be a hundred holes in the wall. What is it with guys and finding wall studs before they hang something also? All that wall tapping and hovering drives me crazy! When I was married my ex-husband and I had sewing issues also. He would staple his trousers up and I used masking tape. Embarrassing or what?!

    • June 9, 2011 9:51 pm

      Oh yes, the stud finder! I completely forgot to mention that one! Okay, that’s crazy and odd at the same time – masking tape?!

  18. June 9, 2011 6:47 am

    I love this line : Bryan and I also differ in our learning/teaching approach to hanging home décor. Meaning that Bryan has one; I don’t.
    You can just change name Brian to my husband’s name and yours to mine this will be a post about my marriage 🙂 I don’t see anything wrong with eyeballing vs. measuring….

    • June 9, 2011 9:50 pm

      I’m so glad we’re n the same page here! Clearly we know what we’re doing 😉

  19. June 9, 2011 1:17 pm

    My husband’s thing is he always uses his level to make sure something is level, but I just eyeball it, like you. Sometimes I don’t think it looks level even when the level says it is. I think he should listen to me, not the level, but in his mind, the level never lies!

    • June 9, 2011 9:50 pm

      Completely agree with you! I think we are so much more accurate than the level.

  20. June 9, 2011 11:44 pm

    Yeah, we’ve had some pretty tense moments when it came to hanging things up on the walls, and measuring and the leveller and the kids running rampant through which ever room we happen to be in.

    Drama, drama.

    He hardly ever walks upstairs, though. And the tacks behind the framed artwork is my secret. 🙂

  21. June 10, 2011 3:46 am

    Great post; My hubbs has the # of a great handyman .. He likes to drink coffee and give direction while they do the work! 🙂 MJ

  22. June 12, 2011 4:05 pm

    OH my gosh was I laughing. This is THE scenario that takes place in our home. I eyeball everything, try tacks, try tape – and am never happy. I simply don’t have the patience to do it right, but then fret when it isn’t “perfect.” Thank goodness my husband is just like Bryan – making sure things are even, proper hardware is used, etc. Maybe this is a male-female thing? All I know is that it sure comes in handy during the holidays when we go CRAZY with decorations. He’s very, very meticulous.

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