Then again, maybe not

Just when I thought I had the next year in home improvement all laid out, we started talking again about remodeling the bathroom next instead of the dining room. Why would we do this? For starters, we HATE the bathroom. It's functional, it's clean, it's not falling apart, and it's even fairly aesthetically pleasing. It even has plenty of storage. However, it is easily our least favorite room in the house, beating out the torn up office for that honor. We don't really have a good reason for disliking the bathroom, other than that everything but the floor tile and sink cabinet is half-assed and/or cheap. We even had a nicer bathtub in our rental hovel...

So, for the sake of being able to take a bath again, and have an oasis in the chaos, we're seriously thinking about doing the bathroom.

Due to it being the only full bathroom in the house, the plumbing to the bathtub can't be disconnected for very long. We can shower at work if we have to, but it would be better if it didn't come to that. At least not for any length of time. Of course, we also don't know jack about plumbing. I can install a water filter, and Shayne can unclog a drain, but that's about the limit to our experience. We're going to have to hire this one out.

It's looking like every fixture in the room will be moved. I can't say that I'm thrilled with that, but the current layout sucks and doesn't leave us with much useable floor space. By moving the fixtures, it will open up the room and make it feel larger than it does now. It might also cause problems, since the long wall is an outside wall... Below are the current and expected floor plans. The boxes next to the tub and sink are ceiling-height cabinets.

We've got the basics figured out for the materials: beadboard wainscot, subway tile shower surround, 1" hex tile floor, pedestal sink, and a cast iron drop-in tub. I really wanted a clawfoot tub, but Shayne's dimensions apparently aren't standard enough for a standard tub. 14" of water in a 5' tub means that almost all of him will be out of the water, making a bath rather pointless. Kohler's Tea-for-Two tub is the deepest (19.5" of water at the overflow!) cast iron tub I can find that is under 6' long, so I'm hoping to find one of them on sale...!


Happy Anniversary!

As of tomorrow, we'll have lived in the house for 1 year. We've owned it for a year and 1 month now, but we couldn't move in until August 24, 2005. Happy house anniversary to us!

Here is what we've accomplished in our first year:
  1. Removed the ugly shower door and replaced it with a rod and curtain
  2. Painted the basement
  3. Removed the carpet, wallpaper, and ceiling tiles from the living room and upstairs hall
  4. Repaired and skimcoated the plaster in the living room and upstairs hall
  5. Painted!
  6. Refinished the living room floor (twice)
  7. Installed an "invisible fence" to teach the dog where the yard boundaries are
  8. Tore out 4 yew bushes in the front of the house and replaced them with a raised flower bed
  9. Tore off and rebuilt the roof of the connector between the two garages
  10. Stripped and sanded lots of woodwork
  11. Tore out the carpet in the upstairs office and closet

It hasn't been a super-productive year, but we are learning as we go. With both of us working full-time jobs and having limited funds, I think we're doing okay.

Here is what we hope to accomplish in the year to come:

  1. Completely finish living room and purchase furnishings
  2. Remove paneling, wallpaper, laminate floor, and ceiling tiles from the dining room
  3. Repair dining room plaster and skimcoat
  4. Paint the dining room and install board and batten wainscoting
  5. Refinish dining room floor
  6. Install built-in cupboard
  7. Remove carpet, wallpaper, and ceiling tiles from the kitchen
  8. Strip, repair, and repaint the original kitchen cabinets
  9. Build new cabinets to match originals
  10. Reconstruct smaller original doorway between the dining room and kitchen
  11. Run new duct to the office in its original location

Sounds a little ambitious, doesn't it...?

We have a yard! And a garage!

Even thought I haven't been posting, we've been busy doing maintenance-type stuff here at the Prairie Box. Most importantly, we finally cleaned the garage. It's been a MESS since Shayne rebuilt the roof connecting the two garages, and we finally decided to do anything about it. That took about 4 hours on Saturday. Then, Shayne put together the wonderful grill that my mom bought us as an early Christmas present (since Shayne and I both have birthdays in December, Christmas in July is becoming something of a tradition...). I'm also in the process of weeding all of the flowerbeds one last time before we put down mulch. The front bed is done, and the large back bed is nearly so. The side flowerbed that borders our neighbors fence needs lots of help. It's been taken over by evil life-sucking vines and blackberry bushes. The utility easement on the north side of our property is also in need of help, but I think that might have to wait till spring or fall, since it's way too overgrown right now to even attempt. Since it's woods, though, it doesn't look bad, but I know it should be more open and less weedy. In spite of all the work that still needs to be done, the yard looks better now than it has all year. I'm going to plan better for next summer and make sure that my projects are wrapped up enough to work on the yard more and the interior less.

I've also been plugging away at the stairway. The railing is a bitch to strip, and I'm not sure if there's a way to make it go faster. I've been using steel wool and denatured alcohol to trip off the shellac and remaining paint flakes. As with everything worth doing, it is tedious and labor intensive. But it looks so much nicer without the paint!

We are having a cookout/open house on September 16, so we are going to be busting our butts until then to get the living room totally finished. We might not have our furniture by then, but I plan on having the woodwork, walls, and floors completely done. That gives us 3 and a half weeks to buckle down and "git 'er done!"


The Stairway of the Damned, Part II

A few months ago, I posted an entry about the difficulties of stripping the stairway. It's not the stairs themselves but the railing, balusters, and newel post that are the problem. Space is tight, crevices are plentiful, and some of the finish had worn away before they painted, making the paint a pain to remove. If I could dismantle the whole thing, it would be much easier, but since it's so solid, I don't want to even try. I'm afraid that it would wobble after we put it back together. That, and I'm not even sure how it would come apart. There are no nails that I can see.

Maybe it's time to suck it up and buy some Peel Away...


Idea File: Exterior Color Scheme

I was putzing around on the internet a few days ago and came across a website for a restoration company in Atlanta called Laughing Sun Renovations. Although I don't like everything they do, this picture of a Foursquare really caught my eye. I'm aware that it will be years before we're ready to tackle the exterior, but it's never too early to start thinking! I mocked it up on BHG's Home Designer, and this is an approximation of what it would look like on the Prairie Box.
Hopefully, our porch will have columns and stairs(!), but I really like the green. All of the houses in the area are either white, cream, or gray, so it would really stand out.

The Craftsman Living Room?

Now that the living room is kinda-sorta-almost done, we've been thinking a lot about furnishings. Particularly, how much period style do we want the room to have. Obviously, we still want the room to express our tastes and style, but we'd also like to remain true to the Craftsman ideal. This quote by William Morris perfectly condenses the ideal that we are striving towards: "Have nothing in your home which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

Sounds simple, right? In the end, it will be. For right now... We already have a surplus of non-useful, non-beautiful items, but as we decide how the living room will take shape, I'm confident that the beautiful and useful items will rise to the top, and the rest we can donate to Goodwill.

The issue that I'm most struggling with right now is the couch. Specifically, since we don't have one, what kind of couch would look good in the living room. We really, REALLY like leather, but I'm afraid that a dark color will not look right against the dark walls (and neither of us is fond of light-colored leather). I'm actually considering getting a new frame for our futon, since it has a nice mattress with springs, and it could double as a guest bed until we get the upstairs done. I found a futon frame online at Creative Futons that looks like Craftsman-style sofa, but is actually a futon. And, best of all, you don't have to move it away from the wall to turn it into a bed.

Once we get a little closer to completion, we can take a look in town to see if there's anything comparable.


A Good Shellacking

Shellacked living room floor eye candy!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I'm still going to put one more coat of shellac on, but it looks awesome. The floor is glossy with a depth of color that is amazing. I've been doing the happy dance for the past 2 hours, since I'm so relieved that I didn't screw it up this time...