More Ideas...

Last night, I started thinking about the back porch/laundry room/bathroom. It's the most-used entrance to the house, so it's the logical location for a mudroom. Problem being, there's no room back there for mudroom-type storage. Observe:

Picture #1 is taken from the doorway leading in to the dining room and kitchen. This was taken to show how little room there is for the washing machine. It's squashed between the bathroom (lefthand side) and the cabinets, and when the outside door is opened, it covers up the washer.

Picture #2 is taken from outside and shows the little walkway between the cabinet and the dryer. The bathroom door is to the right of the cabinet. You also have a nice view of our dumping ground, aka the microwave. With both of us having work radios, we'll definitely need a "charging statio" in in the mudroom. Other assorted work tools get dumped here was well (flashlight and charger, keys, cell phones). Also visible in the picture are both Bach and C.C. who are eagerly awaiting breakfast!

Picture #3 shows the teeny-tiny bathroom. You actually have to sit diagonally on the toilet because there's no clearance for your legs if you sit straight. Aside from being uncomfortable, I'm sure it's a code violation. Although our inspection didn't catch it, we might not be so lucky next time.

The whole back porch area is 9'4" by 7'7". We're thinking of expanding it to the whole length of the house, which would make it 18'2" by 7'7". Definitely much more room. We'd then have room for a luncry center, coat hooks and storage cubbies, and a full-sized bathroom (possibly with a shower stall). The foundation for the current back porch seems to be just frame, not concrete like I thought originally. Not sure yet if we'd demo the original porch or add on to it. Probably add on. And if I can convince Shayne to let me keep it clapboard, we can see how well that will stand up to the elements (he seems to think it will need to be painted every 3 years or so).


The Carpeted Kitchen

I'm so impatient to begin work on this house... A few more months of saving and we will be in a position to do some worry-free work. I say worry-free, since we shouldn't have the problem of running out of money in the middle of a project if things end up being more difficult and expensive than budgeted. One of the sad realities of home improvement: money will always be a factor. As gung-ho as I am about getting started, I don't want to end up in the middle of a project I can't finish. Until then, I'll just continue to come up with ideas and bug the heck out of my poor husband...!

Today's annoying room is the kitchen. I don't know why it's bothering me so much today, but for some reason, that carpet is just getting to me. I've cleaned it once already, but it's just dirty and stained. I found a piece of the unused carpet in the garage... The stuff in the kitchen is dirtier than I thought. But I don't want to recover the kitchen floor if we're going to redo the cabinets eventually, too. And we are. I want the sink to be centered under the window. And maybe for the cabinets to go all the way to the ceiling, for storage of items we rarely use. The appliance "garage" can go. And the little makeshift shelves next to the window...? Nice idea, but definitely could look a little more professional! Below is a counter-clockwise rotation of the kitchen, starting from the back of the house (east).

Happily, the original kitchen cabinets are out in the garage. I'll never convince Shayne to let me restore them and reuse them, but they will be a guideline of what the kitchen should be. The re-arrangement options are low, though, since there are lots of doorways and such to work around. Next to the refrigerator is the doorway to the back porch laundry room and bathroom. The bottom picture shows the doorway into the dining room, and the chimney next to the pantry. On the other side of the chimney is another doorway, a double-wide that is NOT original to the house. That one might be replaced with a regular doorway so that it can be properly trimmed and a built-in hutch can go on the back wall of the dining room without blocking the existing doorway.

After the plaster is finished and the hardwood floors restored, the kitchen will likely be the next big project. After all my worries about the bathroom, that will probably be last. Even though I don't like it the way it is, it's actually the most recently re-done room, and it's in the best shape. Why tear up a clean, functioning space when there's a carpeted kitchen waiting?


Ideas and project planning

Since I'm not smart enough to have made myself an actual webpage yet, I decided to post a link to Webshots to give access to my "Idea File". You can access that (and other assorted photos of mine) here.

I've been doing lots of thinking about the plaster. After much research, I believe that we can do most of the work ourselves. We can patch any cracks or holes, and if the wall is absoloutely hideous, we can put up wire mesh and use joint compound to recreate a smooth wall surface. This method has already been used in the bathroom (and probably 2 of the bedrooms, as they have no wallpaper and textured ceilings).
click to make it larger...

Another option (most likely for ceilings) is a product called Nu-Wal. You might have seen the ads for it in the back of Old House Journal. Basically, it is a fiberglass sheeting that is adhered to the wall and painted. Same basic idea as liner wallpaper, but supposedly longer-lasting and designed to hide imperfections. I'm not sure how keen I am on the idea, since you're basically covering the plaster with a fake wall... Still, it's a thought, in case the ceilings are as bad as I'm afraid they will be.

The walls between the master bedroom, master closet, and the office will have to be redone, as with the wall between the office and the office closet. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but they're made out of framing and paneling. No drywall. No plaster. Just 1/8" paneling nailed to the studs. Those will be replaced with blueboard with plaster veneer.

So... I think that will be project #1.

Project #2 will be replacing the carpet in the kitchen (yes, a carpeted kitchen...) with linoleum. Maybe that should be #1, since it will be so much cheaper...!


Lazy days

I am a non-blogging individual lately. Not that there's really any progress to report anyways... The weather had been awesome (70s during the day, 50s at night), so I've been outside working on the yard and not inside working on the house. The POs left quite a bit of grass and weeds and their flower beds, and I decided to take care of it before spring. We also have this crabapple tree next to the garage, so there are cherry-sized crabapples EVERYWHERE. I raked half a trashcan-full out of the grass the other day, and there's probably still that many in the flowerbed and again as much on the tree. It's a nicely-shaped tree, and it's in a good location, but I think I'm going to have to cut it down and replace it with something that flowers but doesn't fruit. Maybe a weeping cherry or even a Japanese maple...

S is wanting us to stick with the 6 month waiting period before we start doing any serious work on the house. As much as I want to get started, I'm willing to conceed that he's probably right. I'm going to start stripping woodwork and doors this winter, and I might get the wallpaper down in the office, but that's probably as far as it will go until spring. The woodwork should not cost any significant amount to strip (some chemical stripper, denatured alcohol, sandpaper, and I already have the heat gun), but the wallpaper should wait until we can afford to hire a plasterer should the worst happen. I don't want to have crumbling walls for 6 months while we save up enough to have them repaired.

Patience is a virtue. One that I desperately wish I possessed!


We have cable!!

Woo-hoo for fast internet!! Of course, now that I have it, I can't think of any of the bazillion things I've been dying to look up for the past 2 weeks. Go figure.

Other than that, not much is new and exciting. S will be gone all next week at a class for work, so I'm going to start stripping my dresser on my 3 days off. It will probably turn out to be a slow and painful process, as I've never used a heat gun to strip paint, but if I screw it up, I can always paint over it again. It can't look any worse than it does now anyways.

It's 3 am, and I'm kind of tired, so I should probably get ready for bed. Pictures of various things to come soon, now that I can :)


A-Mazing ducts

The ductwork in this house is frightening. There are new vents and old vents, and ducts going everywhere. The upstairs doesn't get enough air, and the basement gets too much. And there's no way to shut off then vents in the basement, so all of our air conditioning is going down there. Enough gets to the main floor to cool it off, but the upstairs is about 5 degrees warmer than the main floor. Doesn't sound like that much, but there's a big difference between 76° and 81° when you're trying to sleep.

I'm going to look into a way to re-work the ducts to make our heating and cooling more effiicient. In our old rental house, the furnace was located in the center of the basement, with a single duct going straight up through the house. All of the grates were located off of that duct, on opposite sides of the wall. If you were to take the grates off, you could see from one room into another. The neat thing about that arrangement was that in the summer, you could almost completely close the downstairs vents, and the cool air would all go upstairs (and since cool air sinks, it would still keep the downstairs cool). You'd then reverse it in the winter and keep the downstairs ducts open more so that the heat would naturally rise to the second floor. I'm sure there was probably a better arrangement, but that one worked extremely well for that house.

This house will be considerably more difficult, since it is larger and hasa less simple layout. First on my agenda is to find a way to block off the basement vents. One of them is a round ceiling vent like the kind seen in commercial buildings, and there's no way to turn it off. The other one is a wall vent, but it is unnecessary. In a smallish room like that, you really only need the one centrally located vent. I'm going to look for a way to disconnect the wall vent from the system. Once there's less A/C going to the basement, we should get more going upstairs. Just in time for cooler weather, of course. :)


Some random thoughts

Thought for the day: dial-up internet stinks.  I’m looking forward to seeing our cable guy on Friday.  Then maybe I’ll write a bit more, since I won’t have to wait 10 minutes just to log into my blog.  The other bonus of having cable will be that I can host my site through Comcast instead of Blogger.  I’m not horribly proficient with HTML, but with a decent publisher, I’ll be able to make some layout and stylistic changes.  I definitely want to add an “Ideas” page, along with a “Before and After” section.  My friend AJ has an HTML “Bible” that he said I can borrow, so hopefully that will help me along.

Our housewarming party/BBQ was yesterday, and a good time was had by all.  We probably had about 30-35 people stop in.  We met our neighbors to the south, and our 2 neighbors next door to him also came by.  My cousin AM came in from Detroit, which was awesome.  I didn’t expect anyone from out-of-town.  Everyone liked the house, though, and I even got some leads on where I can find a decent plasterer.  

Now that the unpacking is complete, I’m anxious to start ripping up my office.  I haven’t done any further “peeking”under the wallpaper/carpet/ceiling tiles, but it’s only a matter of time.  New concern: The wall between the master bedroom closet and the office is made out of paneling (or some similar material…?).  I’m thinking that the original wall was somewhere in the middle of the closet, since the existing wall covers up part of the door trim in the office.  Will it be possible to move the wall 4 inches or so into the closet and still have enough room in there?  I’d like to reclaim my door trim…  And I’m fairly certain that we can handle the expense of one or two walls with skim-coat plaster.  


What lies beneath?

We're not even completely unpacked, and I already want to start tearing things apart... The mysteries of an older home are killing me! What's under the wallpaper/carpet/Pergo? Where were the walls before they added this closet? What, exactly, is this wall between the office and the master bedroom closet made out of ('cause it sure ain't plaster!)? What built-ins have been lost?

I e-mailed the previous owners hoping that they'd have some answers, but my message was returned to me. They left a phone number, though, so maybe I'll get brave and call them.

I peeked a bit under the wallpaper in the living room, and it looks like there's at least 3 layers, and possibly as many as 5, under there. I also did some peeking in the office, under the window where the wallpaper is already peeling, and this is what I found:

Clicking makes it larger...

I also looked into the bedroom closet, which is one of the few areas where you can see some plaster. This is what I saw when I looked up: Do you think that the paneling is holding up the ceiling plaster? It sure looks that way to me...!

And in the hallway by the stairs, there's a little hole where you can see under the paneling. And what do we have? More paneling. Yay.

Blogger seems to make the pictures darker than they really are, so it's had to see the paneling. But that's what's in the gap up there.

I'm seeing a lot of plaster repair in our future. On the up-side, 2 of the bedrooms and the upstairs bathroom are already done. On the down-side, that leaves the office, upstairs hallway, stairs, living room, dining room, and kitchen. And all of the ceilings of those rooms, too.

Time to start working some overtime...


Some good finds at a junque yard

My mom came over today and helped put the house together a bit more. We got a LOT accomplished. The living room is done (at least until I tear it apart when I rip up the carpet, tear down the wall paper, repair and repaint the walls, and refinish the floors...), and all of the other boxes have been moved to the rooms they belong in. It definitely looks much more homey and inviting now. I keep imagining it as it will look when it's finished, and I just can't wait to get started. It's so exciting to be able to put a house back to the way it should be. It reminds me of an old Rejuvenation ad. It said "If these walls could talk, they'd say, "Thank God you're here. The last people had terrible taste." While I know my house isn't all that bad, some of the decoration is... well, ugly.

Before the homemaking festivities, my mom and I also went up to South Haven for an art fair. In general, there isn't much at those things that I'd put in my house, but I found this awesome piece of pottery by a guy named Brad Patterson. It's a little dish shaped like a maple leaf... Very Arts & Crafts. I gave his business card to my mom, so I don't have his website, but I'll link to it when I get the address. Definitely worth checking out.

After the art fair, we headed up to an "antique" place (I use the term "antique" loosely, the place is more of an old junk yard, but we love going there). they had some archtectureal items, and I was able to find some baseboard trim that matches mine. The finish in it is damaged, but it's in excellent shape. I bought 19 feet, and I only need 11, so I'll have some extra, just in case. What a find!! I also found some over-the-dor trim that matched some that I needed, but it wasn't in very good shape. It was extremely dry and I wasn't sure that I could work with it, so I decided to hold out until I found something better. Still, one obstacle on the road to matching woodwork has been overcome.

baseboard in the living room (with more bad carpet and an awesome heat vent)

"new" trim stacked in the garage


I'm in love... :)

I love this house. It's so nice to have a big backyard, where the dog can run around and we'll have room for a water garden and a patio. We're surrounded by huge, mature trees, which I'm sure I'll dislike more once the leaves fall, but for right now, they're my favorite part of the property.

I've been pretty productive so far today. S and I went shopping and bought the stakes we need to put up the fence on the north and east property line. We still need to get some picket fence for the west (front), but we're not sure yet how much we'll need. I also cleaned the carpet in the kitchen. Why anyone would carpet the kitchen, I have no idea, but carpeted it is. It's going to be ripped up sometime around next spring, so I'm exploring period-appropriate flooring. I want to re-do the cabinet doors and counters, but I think those will have to wait a few years, since there's really nothing wrong with them. They're not even really ugly, they just aren't what I want.

Unpacking is continuing, slowly but surely. Why is it so hard to throw away things you know you don't really use?

And, in other news, we've decided to go with cable internet. At $13 for Basic cable and $43 for the internet, it's about twice as much as our DSL was, but at least we'll have some channels, should we ever decide to watch TV.    


I'm impatient!

Bleh. I'm tired. My life lately has been consumed by moving and unloading boxes... We're probably about 70% done, though. I need to go to Menard's or Lowe's or something and get a few organizers for the closets so that I can finish unpacking all of the little stuff that can go in there. We also need a few more small bookcases. I never realized how many books we had... No wonder my back hurts!

Even though we haven't even finished unpacking, I'm already impatient to begin some projects. I'd really like to see what's under the wallpaper, as scary as I'm sure it's going to be. There are places in the wall where there are some rather large "hills" that I think are bad repair jobs. Either way, I'd like to know, so we can deal with it. I plan on starting with my office, since it has the least neutral (and ugliest) paper.

Bach modeling the ugly wallpaper and carpet in my office

I'd also like to rip up the carpet in my office. It's extremely dated (read "ugly"), and there's no padding underneath it. The other 2 bedrooms upstairs have refinished pine floors, so I know there's wood under there just waiting for me to find it. Well, okay, so I already found it...

I ripped up a tiny piece in my closet, where no-one can see it, so hopefully S won't read this and know I've been destroying things before my self-imposed 6 month waiting period.

I'd really like to post more (and with more pictures) but we've been cast back into the dark ages and are forced to use dial-up internet. And, to make it worse, the fastest I've been able to connect has been 28.8 kbps. I guess that's one of the perks of living in the middle of nowhere. We're looking into cable, but it's about twice as much as our DSL was. :(