Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Here I am.

Everything involving our house is still partially done. Don't ask about the kitchen, please. You may get a sock in the jaw.

But I do have news of a (sort of) completed project. This one involving the exterior. For reals, yo.

Our bay window on the east side of the house is part of the staircase that leads to the second floor. The sociopaths who installed the aluminum siding 35+ years ago, decided that it would be a good idea to hack off the lower 2 or 3 courses of rounded cedar shingles, so their crappy siding would affix itself to the house more effectively. I fixed it over the past few days:

This is from a year ago, when we first tore off the siding. You can see the butchery of the shingles on the bay.

Just getting started on Saturday.


End of day, Saturday.

More progress.

End of day, Sunday.

The end. Now I need to repair the rotted clapboards that butt against the bay. In due time...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Countertop Affair

We finally just up and did it. We figured out a way to finance some quartz countertops, and get a free undermount sink and sink installation -- which saved us about 750 bucks.

Initially, we'd resisted solid surface or stone because of price. But one of the salespeople (who we didn't actually end up buying from, incidentally) mentioned that investing in granite or quartz could mean the difference in selling the place or not. That sold me, even though I was personally sold on our old house in Waukesha by something as seemingly-miniscule as the built-in clothes hamper in the 2nd floor bathroom.

Maple butcher block for the island, too, by the way. Someday I'll feel like dragging a camera back in there to show you all the "progress". I've grown weary of this kitchen right now, though.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I can't say enough how displeased I am with myself in our choice of countertops. We ran through a series of options -- solid stones of different varieties, maple butcher, granite tiles, ceramic tiles, slate tiles.

In the end, we decided on maple butcher block for the island -- which I think will be killer -- and slate one-inch mosaics for the L. I like the earthiness of slate, and it goes well with the color scheme we have in the kitchen. I also like the randomness of small mosaic patterns.

But now, after the majority of them are installed, I'm struck at how ridiculous an idea this was. It's like I never put an instant of thought into this thing at all. Which isn't even close to true. We went back and forth on this for months. Robyn's preference was granite tile, which I wasn't into. My preference was (and still is) soapstone, which was too expensive. I thought maple butcher block on everything would be a great compromise, but we both had reservations about over-mapling the kitchen.

But once I had 99% of the tiles installed, I immediately had reservations. I love how it looks. It's absolutely stunning. But I began to worry about the tiles flaking off or chipping. And the unevenness is a little too...uneven. I'd read some pros and cons about slate, but apparently decided to only pay attention to the pros. And the slate that all of the pros were so pro about, was slate from the northeastern US...NOT the cheaper imported Home Depot stuff.

Why didn't this occur to me? Why didn't I spend an extra 400 hours thinking about this, so I could have come to this conclusion BEFORE installation?

I may try to remove the tiles and salvage them for the laundry room countertop, then just go with maple all around. But if we can't remove them, I hope I'm just experiencing a major case of paranoia.

UPDATE: Okay. It's Monday morning. We had some time to think it over, and the slate countertops are currently being delicately dismantled to be salvaged for the laundry room thingy. We're going with maple. It will be awesome. Calm blue ocean calm blue ocean calm blue ocean calm blue ocean...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Glacial Kitchens, LLC

I'm still working on that day-gum kitchen. It's looking like something, sure. Not sure, though, if the something it looks like looks something like a kitchen.

I think it does, though.

A little aside to all of you people out there in computer land who have a deep desire to buy junky pressed wood cabinets for your own kitchen: be prepared to use up a lot of plywood in an attempt to make them strong enough to handle a countertop with the carriage of, say, anything more than formica. We completely blew it when we bought our cabinets, and I will never and can never forgive myself. We'll do better next time, though.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Whatever the exact opposite is of the nick of time.

I love This Old House, the TV series. I also love This Old House, the magazine. We subscribe.

The magazine, as well as the website, are invaluable (which I love to pretend kind of means "not valuable", it's an inside joke I share with myself. Which is probably why I keep it inside) resources, when I'm stuck on a project and I need Norm or Tom Silva or Richard Trethewey to help me out of a jam.

But lately (in the two most recent issues) they've published articles I could have used to help me with that @#*! kitchen crown moulding project, had they been published earlier. Certainly, this isn't the fault of anyone at the magazine. It's just bad luck. Kind of maddening, though.

I'll use the info on our next house. If I remember where I stashed those particular issues, of course.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Looky what I did tonight...

New staircase. In 3 hours or so.

So we have this little staircase that descends into the kitchen from the south. It's kind of weird and was originally some sort of closet, with doors on either end. We plan to make it a coat room, of sorts. A coat...case...maybe?

Now follow along with the photos.

This one.

And this one...are the way way before shots. Day after we moved in. I feel only nausea upon viewing these photos.

Now this is more like it. They look great in this before pic. This was earlier tonight. I'd scraped all of that linoleum off a year ago. More, maybe...? But the look doesn't seem to go with the new floor. Plus, that bottom step was split, and people were slipping on it.

Just after I popped the top. No C.H.U.D.s under there, much to my surprise. I more than half-expected a subhuman baby skull or something. Maybe a cat carcass. But only boring 100 year old cobwebs and a 1974 penny.

This is skipping ahead a bit. As you may be able to see, I buffeted up (and straightened out) that center stringer quite a bit. Lots of shims and screws and nails and bits of plywood and things. Glue.

An almost-after shot.

And...there it is. It took about 3 hours, I think. Maybe 4. I was having so much fun, I lost track of time.

I may have skipped over the part where I miscut the first two stair treads and had to cut little wedges to fill in the gaps on the sides. And the part where I mis-placed the second tread and had to tear it out and glue-up and nail together the part that broke off before re-placing the tread. But beyond that, it was a fairly straightforward and relatively simple job. Comparatively speaking.

Phase two of this project will involve cutting a hole in the bottom riser for the cold air return grate (yet to be purchased), caulking the gaps, priming, puttying the nail holes and painting the treads slate gray. The woodwork and risers will be white. Walls will be a TBD color.

Now it's bed time.

Thursday, March 5, 2009