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

Up next.

So that's done.

I could go into great detail about all the minutiae involved with the new floor that bother me, but I'm too tired. I was up until 3 am last night/this morning finishing things up. A series of tricky cuts around the basement stairs/pantry/other steps area slowed me down.

It's done, though. Now onto cabinets and other things. Hopefully electrical today. Oh yeah, and the oven we bought in the fall of 2007 (!) is coming today, too.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Kitchen floor progress. Day one.

This blog is not unlike a podcast. I do the thing, then post the pictures later. But we'll all pretend it's happening in the now.

So we started this yesterday, working around all the ridiculous things we usually have to work around in our house -- which I won't even bother to go into.

OK, enough talk. Every picture tells a story, don't it...?

Speaking of podcasts, I'm listening to one in the above photo. Or music, maybe.

Ye olde style plumbing, which will need some updating.

1/3 finished.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The floor.

This is my job for the next two days. Or so.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The kitchen is no longer just a black, soulless void.

It's blue!

We're thiiiis close to putting in the maple floor. Just have to do some gas line work for the oven, and we'll be ready. Pretty much.

The beadboard ceiling is painted. The crown is painted. The walls are painted. Once that floor goes in, we can drop those cabinets. Then it will officially be a kitchen again. It will!

Here are some photos of the priming and painting procedure:

Robyn's a UNC hoops fan, but our kitchen won't be Carolina Blue. This is just the primer. Although, I would like this for a kid's room.

A closeup of the detail on that outside miter, courtesy of our carpenter-friend Nathan Geier, who luckily will work for cinnamon-raisin bread.

The final shot of primer-only.

Jonsie, rollin' it.

Sweet Jehova -- a light fixture!

More photos to come...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Few Shots of the Kitchen, Mid-Reno.

So the thing we're in the middle of right this very moment is the kitchen. It was the first thing we wanted to tear apart (after the carpeting) once we bought the place, because it was so heinous. Please see initial blog post for a photo of it before.

Last Fall we just started ripping it up. Holidays intervened. Financing worries intervened. Malaise intervened. But now we're so close to being done with the thing, and we already have most of the materials, so we're plowing ahead.

The following photos are some I took the day we installed the beadboard ceiling. You may ask yourself, "why is there 1/2" plywood sheathing on the ceiling, underneath that ridiculously warped and knotty (and cheap) pine beadboard?". The answer to that is twofold. First, we installed plywood with the intention of putting up tin, which turned out to be too expensive. Second, we have a major tearout planned for the 2nd floor bathroom, which resides directly above the kitchen -- so, to avoid any damage to our sparkly-new kitchen ceiling, we used the plywood to protect it. Which is kind of why we thought we'd do tin...it's kind of confusing.

Anyway, enjoy the following photos. Within a couple of days, I'll show you what it looks like now, with primed crown molding, a professional drywall job and baby blue primer all over the walls.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sabbatical, Bloody Sabbatical

I've been away from working on the house lately.

Concentrating more on trying to find a job...and my latest back injury (not a bloody one, as the title may imply, btw).

But I'll be back at it again soon. We do seem to have a need for a functioning kitchen, what with three kids under 7 and all.

Until then, here is a photo of our messed up (roller coaster-like) kitchen ceiling in mid-install:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Be on the Lookout

I'm trying to find 2 matching registers. If I could find 3 of these (the 3rd needn't match, except for dimensions), I would freak. But two will definitely suffice.

Below is a photo of one of the back to back registers in two of the 2nd floor bedrooms. There used to also be two of them in a third bedroom back to back with the 2nd floor bath. But when 1960's man is butchering an old house, why not go all out? So the duct outlets were covered up and the registers disposed of in some capacity. But now I've redirected the duct work back to the same spot, and I need the registers.

The dimensions of the opening in the baseboard is 9" high x 11.5" wide. The outside dimensions of the existing registers is 9.75" high x 11.5". So something in that ballpark that looks kind 1905-y. That's what I want.

Can anybody help me????


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Catching Up.

Ok, we've lived in this house now for exactly 2 years. We began tearing things out and putting things in...and re-tearing things out and re-putting things in immediately. And I started the blog four days ago. So I have a little catching up to do before I can get to the current project (the kitchen) (oh, and the mudroom...currently on hold).

I'll be posting these little catch-ups as much as I can. Today, it's the exterior. Also a current project, currently on hold.

Here is a BEFORE photo, of sorts. This was taken on January 23, 2008, which was more than a year after we'd actually moved in. We'd (I'd) already started to take some of the siding off of the house...you'll notice the front porch looks a little nekkid. And we'd already removed the funeral home-esque hedge that used to sit in front of said porch. Yes, that's our X-mas tree still sitting out there.

And here's the exterior of the house, as it pretty much looks right now, back in July of 2008. We'd just torn off all of the siding and discovered a lot more work than we'd (I'd) anticipated. So the cost estimates for repair and painting ended up being more than we could swing. This has now been moved to summer 2009. Which is rapidly approaching, I know.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Begin Here.

I hate movies that spend the first 20 minutes spewing exposition. So I'm not immediately going to go into a long, detailed explanation of who we are and why we're tearing the living hell out of this house.

But I'll give you a thumbnail.

We (Patrick, Robyn, Reghan, Conlan and Rowan - who was in-utero at the time of the move) moved into 216 Cottage on January 10, 2007. Our first official act as owners of the house was to tear out every inch of cat piss-scented carpet in the place. That, of course, left a lot of old timey wood floors that are in need of some repair and refinishing. We still haven't done it and will probably leave that job for last.

We'll get into the bathroom remodel we did last winter, the half-done mudroom/laundry from last summer and the half-done kitchen we're currently struggling to finish. Oh, and I may even get into why I decided to tear off all of the aluminum siding last summer even though we didn't have the money to repair and paint it. File that under Wild Hair...

So for now, enjoy a lot of BEFORE photos. We'll get into DURING and AFTER later.

The master bedroom. Nice room, save for some rotten, moldy carpet and a lot of cracking and peeling plaster. We probably won't do much to this room except floors and plaster repairs.

The upstairs hall. You may not be able to tell from these heart-breakingly low quality photos, but that's exposed (textured and painted, though!) duct work on the wall to your right. I didn't want to buy the house because of this. But it's currently being taken care of.

Beautiful pine and oak staircase. Stanky carpet, gone.

Foyer. Now also carpet free.

The kitchen. Everything you see here is gone. Well, the windows and doors are still there. This was an exercise in wasted space.