If you give a dad a project…

Todd Pack – author, father, home improvement guru, renaissance man. What doesn’t he do? As best I can tell, he is not a barber. Beyond that, he does it all. Todd was kind enough to take a break from his blog and many duties to contribute a post during my Guest Post week. Get a sense of his writing here, then go read more. Then go buy his book.

Do you know the children’s book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”? The idea is that if you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll want some milk to go with it, and if you give a mouse a glass of milk, he’ll need a mirror to see whether he has a milk mustache, and on and on and on.

The idea is that one thing leads to another and another and another.

This is like that.

A few days ago, my wife and kids reported that the towel rack in the kids’ bathroom had fallen off the wall.

It was your basic, entry-level towel rack, and it came with the house. It wasn’t very sturdy, and it wasn’t anchored to the wall correctly and eventually fell down, although I’m sure no one tugged on it or abused it any way, especially the kids.

You’d think it would be an easy repair — my wife and kids certainly did — and you’d be right, up to a point. It doesn’t take a lot of skill to hang a towel rack.


When he painted the bathroom, the previous homeowner painted around the towel rack. It would have looked better if he’d undone a couple of screws and removed the towel rack and painted the entire wall, but he didn’t.

So, when I removed the towel rack, it left behind an eggshell-colored square.

This wouldn’t have been an issue if I’d picked a replacement towel rack that was a) the same shape and b) the same size or slightly bigger.

I didn’t, though. I picked one with a round base.

Before I could hang the new towel rack, I would need to paint the bathroom wall.

And before I could paint the bathroom wall, I would need to sand the area around where the old towel rack had been. You don’t think about it, but paint has depth, and if I’d simply pained over the white square, you would have seen the outline of the old towel rack.

So, I sanded, to smooth the edges, and then I repainted. Luckily, the previous owner left several cans of paint in the garage when he moved, so I could just touch up the area around the towel rack. I wouldn’t have to paint the entire wall.

That was yesterday. Today is Day 2 of the Great Towel Rack Replacement Project. Once the paint dries, I’ll have to drill holes in the drywall, insert a couple of those little plastic anchors and hope they’re sturdy enough to support the towel rack, but, of course, they won’t be. So, then, I’ll have to go back to Lowe’s to find a sturdier wall anchor, and that’s going to take this simple repair a 3-day job, at least.

(It isn’t like I have a big block of time to get everything done at once. This is a project I’m having to work on in between other projects, like mowing and cleaning the kitchen and taking the kids to softball and soccer.)

Also, since I’m replacing the towel rack, I’ll need to replace the toilet paper holder so they’ll match.

With any luck, I’ll complete Phase 2 of the Great Towel Rack Replacement Project by Christmas.


31 Comments on “If you give a dad a project…”

  1. Laura says:

    Oh, hey — while you’re replacing toilet paper holders, would you do mine? The two ends are just a few millimeters too far apart, which means the roll will fall if I’m not extremely careful when replacing it.

    • Todd Pack says:

      The replacement toilet paper holder I picked is one of those with a single arm. You just slide the roll on and off, meaning I won’t have to worry about lining up the ends. That was on purpose.

  2. kizzylee says:

    at least your actually doing something about it, my hubby would not even bother looking up from world of warcraft as he muttered something about us not needing a towel rack anyway, so i think you’re brilliant even if it is turning out to be a week long, full in depth decoration of the bathroom 🙂 ours hasnt even been painted its still only got plaster on the walls ! thanks for sharing have a great day without any mishaps 🙂

    • Todd Pack says:

      Then you know what you’ve got to do: Go to Lowe’s, get a can of paint and some rollers and brushes and painters’ tape and get ‘er done! I dread getting started on projects, but once I start, it isn’t so bad, and once I’m done, I feel like I’ve accomplished something, even it’s only hang a towel rack that’s going to collapse the minute Thing 2 decides to use it as a monkey bar.

      • kizzylee says:

        i am not allowed to do any jobs around the house on account of jobs i have attempted before apparently hubby still bears the scars and the trauma 🙂 he hides all things like hammers and saws i am not allowed near them, specially hammers on account of the wall i removed, but like i said it was getting in my way 🙂 so i guess i will always live in a house that needs tlc 🙂 keep going though on yours i am sure it will be brill 🙂 have a great day 🙂

  3. However.

    It’s always the however , isn’t it?

    In the words of Roseanne Roseannadanna’s grandmother, “You’re going to need new towels because the old ones clash with the new paint color”

    This is a Todd Pack Classic, Toddster. I give it ten thumbs up (because when it comes to projects like this, I’m all thumbs.)’

    • Todd Pack says:

      Thanks, Hipster! I’ll bet you could hang a towel rack. I started teaching myself how to do this stuff after we hired an electrician to come undo the damage the previous owner did to our first house. I’m watching this guy, and thinking about how much we were paying him, and I thought, He’s not smarter than me. I could totally do that.

  4. Simon Elmes says:

    Love this post, with Baby number two on the way my list of “10 minute jobs” is getting bigger,the first one is not even three years old yet, and I’m fairly sure I did the same jobs when we were waiting for him to arrive aswell

  5. My husband had to putty the wall and paint before he could hang the new one. And it’s now hanging by a thread. I feel your pain!

    • Todd Pack says:

      That’s a problem I run into when I’m trying to hang curtains. Previous owners hung curtains and puttied over the holes, and now there’s no good place to anchor the rods, so I end up hanging the curtains higher up and farther out.

  6. omawarisan says:

    Towel racks should follow the workman like example of toilet paper holders. Paper holders never give up the ghost like those slacker towel racks.

    If I had a nickle for every time I read “If you give a mouse a cookie” or “If you give a moose a muffin” I’d have half as many nickels as you would.

    • Todd Pack says:

      I thinking “Cookie” came out first. It was kind of clever. “Moose” came out second. I thought it was derivative and totally predictable, like most sequels. Two thumbs down. WAY down, for “If You Give a Moose a Muffin.”

  7. Blogdramedy says:

    The word “just” is right up there with “however” when it comes to home improvement.

    Me: If you want to put the dryer in that way, it won’t fit.

    The Mister: That’s okay. We’ll just move the wall.

    This was three weeks ago. I’ll get back to you around the holidays. 😉

  8. […] I’m hanging out over at, which is run by the great and powerful Omawarisan. I can’t say enough nice things about Oma […]

  9. writerdood says:

    Why are the fricken studs never where you need them to be? Sheetrock screws. What a joke!

  10. Sooooo…what you’re saying is…you can do my bathroom in January?

  11. Debbie says:

    You had me with “If you give a mouse a cookie.” I read that thing over and over to Domer, who never seemed to tire of it. Your towel bar hanging project reminds me of the old saying about getting a new sofa for your living room — suddenly, everything ELSE looks shabby, and you wind up replacing the tables. And the carpeting. And the paint. . . .

  12. Current Facebook wisdom says, “Ladies if a man says he will fix it, he will. There’s no need to remind him about it every six months.” So glad to hear this sentiment doesn’t apply to handyman Pack.

  13. Lenore Diane says:

    Your a good man, Todd. Truly a good man. I’m afraid such a project in our house would remain a ‘to do’ item until we decided to move. After covering up dinks and dents in the hallway wall from various incidents over 4yrs ago, my husband just got around to sanding and priming the areas. We don’t move very quickly in our house.

    Most excellent post!

  14. Lea Ault says:

    This post is very comforting in an I’m-not-alone way. I have a curtain rod issue – the screws are slowly pulling out of the wall, working up the nerve to leap right out. I figure our walls are made of cheese and rice paper because screws and anchors just fall right out immediately. Our solution to the curtain rod issue is to forbid anyone touching the curtains at all so we just use the venetian blinds instead. The curtains aren’t even heavy ones, just decorative cotton Ikea ones. But they’re hanging by a thread, so to speak. I do the DIY around our house and screws/walls/anchors are the bane of my existence. Totally stymied by hanging pictures; after hours of measuring and much money spent on fancy hanging systems the end result looks like I put on a blindfold, banged in a few nails, hung the frames and called it Good. Sigh.

  15. Ain’t it the truth, Todd! I have tons of “little projects” that I need to get done, but whenever I think I’m ready to start, I realize it’s really a 42 step process or some such craziness. And so, I just live with it. I am totally awesome at ignoring crappy paint jobs and gaps in the tile and nail holes in the wall and…

  16. Sonnewoman says:

    This is almost exactly how I ended up competely renovating one of my bathrooms and my living room. Those were followed by the kitchen. You’re traveling a dangerous path, Todd! Step carefully.

  17. shoutabyss says:

    Wow. I don’t think I could have dealt with it. As soon as I saw that square discoloration around the base, I’d pass out and hit my head on the sink. If I lived, I’d probably do something like put a doily underneath and call it art nouveau. That would take much less effort.

  18. The Jagged Man says:

    The song One Thing Leads To Another by The Fixx is wafting through my head right now. Why? Thanks to your post I am now thinking about my next “project” and it is causing me great stress : Replacing the Kitchen cabinets! Nice!
    Great post and good hunting the next Fixx!

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