Friday, January 29, 2016

Hallway Reveal

Somehow, I managed to miss posting about the hallway makeover.
Here we have the before photos.
The hallway wasn't really in bad shape,
it just needed some updating and color.
As you can see, 
we decided to go with blue.
I believe the color was Oatlands Pale Flowers
or maybe not, I don't remember
but it is one of the historical paint colors offered by Valspar.
And here is the finished product.
I haven't touched the stairs yet.
I'll need to chemically strip the paint off the steps and the hand rail
because of the lead paint that is sure to be lurking there.
We're also waiting to find someone who can replace the section of railing
that was cut off during the conversion to apartments.
Plus there is the discovery of the ornamental scroll work
that was once on the steps.  
I discovered it on the upstairs edge of the hall,
and I found evidence of it on the steps in the hallway.
I'm hoping to be able to replicate the pattern in paint.
I'm really happy with the color and
with the light that pours in front the front door.
Now to work on finishing the laundry room.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Spring Garden Fever

 Currently, this is what the outside of the house looks like.
And yet, despite, or perhaps, because of it, 
I have a serious case of Spring Fever.

 I'm anxious to start all my outdoor projects, 
most of which are gardening/plant related.
Gardening is my big stress reliever,
and it's been many years since I've had flower gardens
(or potential ones rather)
of my very own.
The digging and planting, the design and enjoying sitting out on the patio
all make me feel relaxed.
And trust me, I need all the stress relief and relaxation I can get.
So now I'm using the last of the winter
to plan out the gardens.
I'm planning things like brick paver patios,
water gardens and flower bed design.
I've also looked into making the property a Monarch Waystation
(I encourage others to look into these as well, no matter where you live!
Especially the Monarch Waystation, Monarch Butterflies are declining rapidly and need help!)

I'm also working on a plan for some added curb appeal-
something the house is in desperate need of!
The steps to what was the upstairs apartment will be removed
once we replace the door with a new window.
The front of the concrete porch I plan to spruce up with stone veneer,
and eventually replacing the ugly iron columns and railings with nice white ones.
I also think I'm going to get 3 large containers and plant an evergreen shrub in each one
for the front of the house on the sidewalk.  
Without a front lawn, the house needs something to soften it up.
I'm also thinking about a planting box on the right end of the porch 
so I can plant some type of climbing plant to grow up that side.
I'm thinking perhaps cardinal vine as it's an annual,
has bright red flowers that will attract hummingbirds and match the front door.
When the columns and railings get replaced, I can plan something more permanent.
And I suspect I'll be butting heads with my husband over design ideas.
I have it in my head to have a cottage garden
with English roses spilling over white picket fences
and climbing arbors 
(which will be featured to the right of the house towards the back yard some),
and I'm thinking he's more of the organized plants in a line sort of fellow.
Really, if that's the case, he should just plan to give in now. 
For now, this is the reality of the yard,
and I've been told I can't rip out shrubs until the ground isn't frozen or too muddy.
Guess we'll see about that.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Kitchen Reveal

It's been a while since the kitchen walls were painted, 
and finally (thanks to being confined because of the snow)
I finished the trim and most of the touchups.
So, here's the kitchen process.
First photo is the kitchen as it was originally.
Note the "table" to the left- 
it was actually a cabinet with laminate counter top.
The fridge had apple stickers on it,
the floor had duct tape over areas that had been worn down.
 First we removed the built in "table".
Then we removed the vinyl flooring,
which revealed hardwood on most of the floor.
We attempted to removed the wallpaper paneling, 
but discovered the plaster walls were in very bad shape.
The decision was made to paint over the paneling.
Primer made a HUGE improvement.
Notice the cabinet by the doorway
(it's white on top, brown on bottom)
It's been the topic of much discussion on what to do with it.
Painted brown it was an eyesore, 
and I was thinking of taking off the top door to see if it made a difference.
 On the agenda is removing the retro lamp.
 We started cutting in.
And I want to say another THANK YOU! 
.to my family who helped.
 When my dad saw the color he wanted to know 
if we were opening a bordello.
(he's also not fond of the red front door)
Here is the finished product.
Turns out the white on the cabinet made a world of difference.
I'm using it as is for storing my small appliances.
The floor isn't done, of course.
There is some serious hope that I'll be able to remove the plywood,
and put down hardwood in the back part of the kitchen.
I don't want to lose the hardwood floors.
This spring, the cabinets will be updated.
I'll be adding some 1x2's to frame the doors and then paint them white.
But for now, they're fine.
Amazing what a few coats of paint can do.
(Note: red paint takes several coats before it's covered. 
 I should have tinted the primer red but didn't.  I think that would have made a difference. 
 I applied about 2 1/2 coats- after the 2nd coat I only had to spot treat the light areas)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Blizzard of 2016

 So this happened this weekend.
 30"+ of snow dumped down on us Friday night and all day Saturday.
And Sunday we began digging out.
 Not only digging out the cars and sidewalks, 
but more importantly digging out a potty area for the dogs.
 We're on our second day off of school
and I've been fortunate enough to be able to work from home.
Of course, I'd be working less if I was at the office
simply because I've been working on chores around the house.
I've finished the painting in the kitchen 
and will soon have the painting done in the laundry room.
Things are coming along nicely. 
The chickens are fine over on the homestead,
and my my emergency preparedness came in handy
when we needed plastic sheeting
 to cover the attic vents when we discovered snow in the attic.
Now we're just staying warm inside.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Calm Before the Storm

Not sure if you've heard, 
but there's a big snow storm bearing down on the East Coast.
Snow totals keep changing,
I'm expecting to measure snow in feet.
This morning on the way to work,
the sky was red and I thought of that old mariner's rhyme
"Red sky at night, sailors delight,
red sky at morning, sailors take warning"

It's been all about preparing these last few days.
I've pulled out my hand crank weather radio, 
washed blankets
and stocked up on bread milk and toilet paper.
Last night was all about prepping the chickens.
I finished covering the run in plastic sheeting
to prevent it from filling with snow
and to offer protection from the winds.
The food and water were filled and the
coop was cleaned and filled with shavings and straw.
I also put straw in the run to offer something to scratch around in and some insulation.
They have 3 suet blocks for added calorie intact and sunflower seeds.
I also hung a cabbage to offer a boredom buster.

Hopefully all these preparations ensure the girls will be safe and secure
through the storm.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It Takes a Village

The saying "It takes a village to raise a child"
holds true for house renovation too.
It takes a village to get crap done.
This past weekend was a very busy one.
Windows were measured 
for replacements.
Thanks to the window sale at a home improvement store, 
we'll have replacement windows soon.
My dad and husband did the measuring, 
and they'll be installing the windows too.
There was a lot of painting going on as well.
My mom and my cousin came to help.
I would not have been able to get as much
accomplished in the painting department if 
I didn't have the help of family
(you'll remember my cousin and aunt helped with the hall and the living room).
These are just teasers of the paint color in the kitchen.
I'm still working on finishing up last minute touches,
so I don't want to share photos until I'm done.
It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do. 
Painting the trim and doors white made a massive difference
in their appearance.
We managed to get the laundry room painted too.
I just need to finish the trim work, 
but the walls are done.
I've been looking at decorating ideas on all the rooms
that have been painted.
And we can't forget all the work on the electrical wires in the house.
Without the help of our friend,
it wouldn't have been done.
So we measured windows, painted 2 rooms and had 2 separate
electric meters converted to one.
So a big THANK YOU
to those who have helped.
Even the dog helped.
You'll notice the white on her ear.
There's also white on the end of her tail,
and she has a red food.
She was oh so helpful.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Rewiring the House: Day 2

A husband, a dad and a blind electrician walk into a house.
No, really, it's not a joke. 
Our electrician wasn't blind, 
but he had broken his glasses so it became the joke of the day
(especially when I used day of the dead skull duct tape to "fix" them).
Anyway, it was a day without electricity in the downstairs of the house.
Dinner was interesting.
The crockpot was plugged in upstairs cooking all day
and the mashed potatoes were prepared at my parents' house, 
brought to my house,
and kept warm on top of the gas heater in the laundry room.
We ate by oil lamp.
My neighbors must think we're really romantic
since we seem to use oil lamps and candles whenever we use the dining room.
 There used to be shelves at the bottom of the basement steps.
I came home from some errands,
 and my dad told me there was an earthquake that took down the shelves.
I imagine he must have thought I wanted the shelves, 
but I had already come ot the conclusion they weren't worth keeping.
What was amusing was that yesterday evening there was an earthquake
centered in a location about an hour and a half away.
The shelves had to be removed to make way for the new larger circuit box
(or whatever it's called).
The guys worked well into the night
and even had the electric company come out.
Nothing like have a giant electric company truck 
in front of your house with flashing lights at 9pm.
At the end of the day 
(really, it was like 10pm when everyone left)
the house is now all on one electric meter instead of two,
and I don't have to walk around with a headlamp. 
This doesn't mean we're done with the electric, 
or that we've gotten the hard part done.
We still need to replace old outlets with new ones,
and run new wire for some things.
And figure out the whys and hows of the work that was done previously.
Like the mysteries of the kitchen outlet that is on a 220 circuit but it's a 110 outlet 
so the 220 has been split and we don't know where it splits to.
Fun times.
It was a pretty crazy busy weekend of house work,
so stay tuned for all the other updates on painting and whatnot.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Whatcha Got Cookin?

This is the latch for the transom window.
It was completely covered with paint
before I tapped it with a hammer to loosen it enough to turn it
the way it's supposed to be turned.
I needed to get all that paint off,
so I decided to try out a pretty simple way to get paint off of hardware.
Use a crockpot.
I put a request out amongst my friends on social media
to see if anyone had an old crockpot they were willing to part with
(cooking items with lead paint makes the crockpot unusable for food items)
Luckily, a friend of mine had an old one that she had been trying to get rid of
and dropped it off.
So, you put in warm water and some dish detergent
(some say about 2 Tbsp, but I just squirt until I'm satisfied)
put your hardware in
and cook it on low overnight.
And when you're done, 
you have totally clean hardware
without the use of chemicals.
Once I've gotten the trim finished, 
I'll be putting the latch back on.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Primed and Ready to Go

This is the kitchen.
There used to be a "built in" table
under that light that was made out of cabinets and counter top.
And against this wall where the folding table sits
used to be a large wall cabinet on the wall.
The plan is to build a ceiling to floor 
pantry here.
Hopefully this summer
as there is basically no pantry space and it's driving me nuts.
This coming Saturday,
myself and my merry band of painters
are tackling the kitchen.
Because the plaster walls behind the paneling 
(the wallpaper is paneling too)
are in very bad shape and we aren't ready to tackle that yet,
we're painting over the paneling to freshen up the kitchen.
That means priming the walls.
Last night I managed to get 2 coats on the walls.
I still need to put a second coat on some trim,
and I have some spots of something 
 bleeding through that I need to try to cover.
(you'd think 2 coats of primer would take care of it)
Even just the primer improves the space.
I can't wait to see the transformation!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Rewiring the House

Old houses typically have old wiring,
unless someone at sometime has taken the time and money
to have it rewired.
No one has had anything rewired in our place.
We still have old knob and tube wiring.
Above you can see the old wire and the pile of dirt under it
which is in fact the disintegrating pieces of the old wires' casing.
Here our handy master electrician friend works on what I considered the scariest outlet.
It had caught on fire at one time
and the wall also showed signs of scorching.
 It's amazing that the house hasn't burned down.
It's lots of fun hearing the electrician say things like"
"What the hell?!"
"I've been doing electrical work for a long time and I'm never seen anything like this."
"What the hell were they thinking?!"
After a while, everyone had to switch to headlamps as the sun
was going down and the electricity was not turned on.
In fact, I was priming the kitchen walls
by oil lamp.
We're still not finished the rewiring process.
We have the whole upstairs to do and the kitchen, dining room and back room
to finish downstairs.
We haven't met an outlet that doesn't have some sort of issue.
Stay tuned for the continuation
of the Rewiring project.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Where the Hardwood Ends

My biggest dilemma so far has been how to save the kitchen hardwood floor.
In the photo, you can see where the original house ended 
and the new house began.
So far, the consensus was that the floor joists in the newer section
were higher than the original joists to make the subfloor even
with the hardwood.
This meant that no new hardwood could be added
because any new floor would not be even with the existing floor.
We had plans to cover the floor with tile, 
but I just couldn't bear to do it.
However, I'm now 99% sure that the consensus is wrong.
We noticed that the bathroom floor is lower than the kitchen floor.
Both are part of the newer section
and if the joists had been made to be higher, the bathroom floor should be the same height
as the kitchen floor.
So I did some poking in the basement, 
and I'm pretty sure
(with my limited know-how) 
that the joists are even and the plywood was added so linoleum could be laid over the hardwood.
This means that we can keep the hardwood we have
 and add hardwood to the newer section to make one big hardwood floor.
I won't know for sure until we pull up the plywood to have a look,
but I'm hopeful!