Tuesday, December 30, 2008

If the Key Fits...

Yesterday I met Jim down in New Bedford at New England Demolition and Salvage. I had a few goals:
1. Get rid of the old balusters (hopefully for some trade credit)
2. Find some neat backplates and hinges
3. Find a key that fits in the door lockset

I think we were sucessful in one and a half of the goals...

Not only did we find one key, but actually found 5, and bought the 3 best fits.

They wouldn't pay anything for the old balusters, but they gladly accepted them for free. Unfortunately, that was after we already paid for the keys. I suspect that he would have done a trade, but too late. Hopefully, the balusters will eventually go to a good place. For now, some other pack rat can keep them around in his 80,000 sqft warehouse. Don't worry - I kept 4 of them for myself. Perhaps to be made into some creative something or other.

Now, for the backplates and hinges... they were sorely lacking in cool-ness. Plenty of plain stuff - but I already have plain stuff, so there's no need to buy more. I may look at some other salvage yards, but the repro stuff is looking better and better.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Peeling Paint

I finally finished scraping and sanding the paint off the first bathroom door. Yesterday I brought all the hardware upstairs and contemplated back and forth about getting new (though period reproduction) hardware, but because of my analysis paralysis, decided to go ahead and clean the old stuff up and see what I had under all those layers of paint.

I remembered reading somewhere about boiling paint off old hardware, so I Googled it to figure out what the actual directions were. Seems several other renovators have used this method and had relatively good things to say about it (paint removal kinda sucks, no matter what) Here's some directions from This Old House magazine.

Here's what I started off with:

I don't actually own an old crock pot, and wasn't about to make a trip to Goodwill. BUT I had just gone through my cabinets to finally throw out old mismatched pots I had from college... so I pulled one of those back out of the trash and used it. The other thing is that I didn't have enough patience to wait overnight to cook the stuff off. I'm not entirely sure it really needed it anyway.

Mmmm... yummy - door hardware soup in a lead paint broth - maybe an entry into next year's soup party??

And here's the final result for the backplates and the doorknobs:

Not too bad for paint removal... but not that exciting of a result. I suppose like most things Folk Victorian, it's pretty plain. The hinges are even less exciting.

The latest project house for TOH has some hardware pictures that are making me salivate...

My searching has me narrowing it down to something like these from House of Antique Hardware for the backplates (at around $30 each):

The dark one only comes in that finish, but I can get the brass one in other finishes... (I can't deal with shiny brass)

There's something wrong with the website right now, but I also found some neat backplates and hinges at Historic House Parts. I like some of the styles in their HHP classics collection...

Ah... I love hardware. Maybe I should take a trip to a few salvage yards while I'm off this week and see what they have... The only bad thing about that is that it's not likely that I'll find enough to have all the doors match. Then again, I'm not sure I really need all the doors to match.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

White Christmas

I grew up in southern Indiana, where while it was cold enough to occasionally snow, we never really had much snow, and I'm not sure I remember ever having a White Christmas - though I distinctly remember singing the song in grade school and thinking how nice that would be. Living in Massachusetts for the past 8 years, I'm not sure I remember ever NOT having a White Christmas. And so it goes this year.

I know this latest storm swept through most of the northern United States, so I'm probably not alone in this snowy magic land. But our storm started Friday afternoon (I worked from home to avoid the 6-hour commutes of snowstorms past) and while it was reported to break Saturday morning and start back up Sunday, it never actually stopped.

Here are some pictures I took Saturday morning:

Jim loves his Ariens snowblower. For 3 1/2 years we shoveled every single time it snowed and then he got the snowblower last year off of Craig's List for some massive good deal. It has heated hand grips, a headlight, and crazy powerful moter to cut through the nasty stuff at the end of the driveway after the plows go by.

We also love our Subarus (yes, we have more than one) because while there is a snowstorm that just won't stop, we are not snowbound the weekend before Christmas!

Now if I can just convince myself to go downstairs and finish scraping paint off that stupid bathroom door...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Everybody Feng Shui Tonight

Thursday night I went to a Christmas party at a friend's house. She's a decorator by profession and has an absolutely beautiful house. She took a couple of us for a tour of her house to see the upstairs bedrooms. Recently she's been studying feng shui and used a lot of the principles in those bedrooms to do some rearranging, and really feels like it has had a big effect on the relaxation in the rooms.

Since that party, I've been thinking a lot about what she said and looking at my bedroom. It made me think that there's got to be a better way to lay out our bedroom furniture - not that I have a problem sleeping or relaxing in that room - I just don't think it has the best layout.

So I went on line and googled Feng Shui. From what I've read, I'm not sure that an old house is the best for acheiving Feng Shui!

And here's what About.com has to say about Feng Shui bed placement:

Feng shui commanding position is the area further from the door / diagonally from the door, but not in line with the door. In other words, you want to be able to see the door while in bed, but not be aligned with the door.

All the walls are broken up by windows or doors or radiators. The only unbroken expanse of wall is where the bed has already been located, and it's both right next to the entry door (which we don't typically use to enter the room) and right in front of the bathroom door (which we do use to enter) - my apologies for not really "making" the bed -

As you can see, when you walk in from the bathroom, you practically walk right into the bed:

And this is the intermediate placement I came up with, also as viewed from the bathroom door:

I know there's still some Feng Shui principles being violated here - I don't think you're ideally supposed to put a bed in front of a window - or 3 windows, for that matter... and the headboard isn't "solid" - but there's no way I'm giving up my antique headboard. Still, we're going to try this out for a little while. My initial response is that it makes the room feel way more spacious.

And hopefully next week, my friend is going to come over and take a look with me, and we can make this as Fung Wah as possible. Oh wait, that's the Chinatown bus... Feng Shui. We'll get it Feng Shui, old school!

The Cast Iron Surgeon

Considering our pipe predicament from the last post, we decided that there were essentially 2 option - either
-sleeve the hole, or
-tear out a huge chunk of that cast iron pipe and replace it with new pvc pipe.

While the "y" in the cast iron pipe right at the location of the rust hole was one factor against the sleeve option, Jim also mentioned that he didn't want to be represented in this blog as doing crappy (excuse the pun) plumbing. (My words, not his) So tear out and pvc replacement won out.

Jim started out cutting the pipe with sawzall Saturday afternoon.

Then the battery ran out, and he decided he wasn't sure he wanted to wait, so he pounded at it with the hammer. My favorite part of this picture is how he looks like a wild man because of the red eyes.

Utlimately, the rusted cast iron pipe was no match for his hammer, and it went down. Then with his pvc skills, a replacement pipe and new toilet flange were soon in place.

It was a somewhat unexpectedly quick fix. In the meantime, I stripped paint of the other side of the bathroom door. Unfortunately, I think that one of the bulbs on my silent paint remover is again out. blah!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Disaster Waiting to Happen?

So Saturday afternoon, after working for several hours on a school assignment, I finally started stripping paint off of one of the bathroom doors (1 of 3 - yes, that's right, our crazy house has a bathroom with 3 doors... well, we took the door to the back closet room off years ago - but still the house is definitely crazy)

Here's the door dragged down to the basement, with the hardware taken off, getting ready for some therapeutic stripping...

And then here's me, a few hours later, after Jim had come home, working away with the Silent Paint Remover...

Now, let's take a closer look at that picture... as Jim continued to walk around the basement taking pictures, he found something... Notice now the giant cast iron pipe behind me, circled in yellow. This is the pipe coming down from the 1/2 bath.

And here is a closer look at it:

Is that a little bit frightening? Well, here's another view:

Yikes! That's right - there is a HOLE in our sewage waste pipe (according to Jim, also known as a "stink pipe")

The amazing thing is that so far, there is no sign of ... um... spills. We're not entirely sure what to do yet...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One Day Dreams

Jim and I have talked quite a bit about what we'd like to change with the house. He (obvious to those who know him)wants a bigger garage - a wider & deeper double-storied carriage house type garage. I would like a mud room with a stone floor so people don't walk directly into the kitchen from outside. Then we get really going, and it becomes a bigger addition with a new kitchen and a master suite upstairs.

Of course, at this point, it's all just a dream because there's a roof to pay for and money to save before it could ever happen. Oh yeah, and the economy is in the dumps right now too. But, it's fun to dream.

Jim drew this pencil sketch of what he thinks the ultimate addition should be (apologies for the horrible scan):

Ah - how nice would it be to not have to go outside in the winter to get to the car!

Then the other day I was driving to the grocery store and saw this work being done:

The house is fairly similar in size & scale to ours - here's a view of it from the other side:

I sent these pictures to Jim, and I think he's been drooling at them ever since.

In other news, I started the comforter cover. But I didn't get very far, as I was easily distracted this weekend.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hot Soup on a Cold Day 2008

Well, maybe it was more of an "unseasonably warm day" - but we still enjoyed celebrating our end of the (exterior) working season with friends.

This was the largest gathering we've had at the house since I moved in. It was also many people's first chance to see the house, so there were lots of tours and pulling out of the "before" photo book. My friends Tom & Jen even drove up from Long Island and stayed the weekend - it was so nice to have them here!

This year's soup party was a potluck, with prizes going to the crowd-voted "Most Delicious Soup" - and there were 13 incredibly delicious soups! Our honorable mentions were Candice's fresh pumpkin soup and Andrew's (Ancient Chinese Secret) hot and sour soup. Yummy! Here are the winners...

This was first place - Steve & Katherine's Mexican taco soup - with all the fixin's:

This was second place - Kate's gourmet tomato, basil, and pancetta soup:

This was third place - Jen's carrot ginger soup - her mother's recipe:

And the winners - Jen, Steve, and Kate with their prize loot:

We're definitely doing this again!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I See Copper

So we got the roofers back to put copper in the valleys. It was a little more money, but we decided since this was a once in a "lifetime" roof, we should go ahead and get what we really wanted.

I feel a little bit guilty not doing anything the whole time they were working. Well... ok... so I wasn't "not doing anything" - but I wasn't working on the outside. We were busy cleaning up the inside - leather cleaning & polishing, slipcover washing, mopping, dusting... It's amazing how filthy dirty the place gets on the inside when you're focused on the outside.

While cleaning the house, we had HGTV on pretty much non-stop. It's a bit of a love-hate relationship. Especially the "My Big Amazing Renovation" - or whatever it's called. We have absolutely no sympathy. And we're not sure we believe the "What's My House Worth", where a homeowner has spent lots of money on a renovation and want to know if they've increased the equity in their house so that they can do more renovating. Of course, I haven't seen an episode yet where they didn't increase their equity... And then, there was a show where they took a perfectly quaint bungalow and turned it into a modern decorating monstrosity - complete with an "art piece" of copper tubing and glass knobs screwed to a painted board.

But there's also a Love part of the relationship - and we just can't stop watching it. Like right now. We're watching the 25 Biggest Decorating Mistakes and of course, comparing our own decorating... we just... can't... stop... watching!

So we are pretty much at the end of the outdoors season. With the cleaning and all the HGTV watching, we've been thinking about all the different things to do inside over the winter. Like
-Stripping the interior doors with a million layers of paint on them.
-And I bought some fabric to make a new comforter cover.
-And I need to put new baseboards in a few of the rooms.
-And the kitchen radiators could use some covers
-Oh - and I'd love to have a dishwasher.

And then we start thinking about bigger things... like the dream addition. I'll post some drawings that Jim put together.

And then that brings us back to "not until the roof is paid for"
But, what a pretty roof.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Roofers in Progress

It's so much faster when you're not doing it yourself... oh, and when it's professionals working in teams...

Yet another dumpster in the driveway (only this one will probably be gone the fastest):

The only wierd thing is that we could have sworn that we were getting copper in the valleys. So when I saw the valleys this morning:

I was a little bummed out. I went back to the contract we signed, and sure enough, it says "Weave all valleys" Jim swears that he talked to them about copper in the valleys, though. Not sure how we missed it on the contract. ALWAYS THOROUGHLY READ YOUR CONTRACT! I think we were so focused on the type of shingle and making sure that the right parts got done or not done (like the center of the bay between the first & second floor). It's not going to kill us, but it is a little classier with the copper. Jim's going to call O'lyn and see what's up.

But I think the color and the look is nice. I wish I could take a picture from the second floor of the neighbor's house - but I think that's the teenager's party room. "ALEX!!!"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Roof Teaser

Very early yesterday morning, a flat bed truck parked in the street just outside the house. I had just come home from the gym, and was in the midst of my frantic morning routine - and freezing because I was wet from gym sweat and because it's now cold outside. I looked out the front window, and definitely saw that our singles were on the truck.

I thought, this is great - I was working from home that day - so I'd be able to watch the progress.

I showered (during which time, the dog barked incessantly) and then came back downstairs, to find the 3 pallets of shingles in the "courtyard":

I waited all day, but nothing else happened...

Jim left me a text this morning saying they were going to start today - I can't wait to get home and see how it looks! the anticipation is almost killing me...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dueling Ladders

I finished the 1/2 posts this weekend Here's a view post painting on Saturday:

As I was finishing these up, Jim went to Homer to pick up some hardi-plank/board-fake-wood stuff to cover the crappy porch soffits (no way we were going to strip thick paint while looking up - imagine neck aches, paint chips in the eyes, and no way to leverage the scraper...) Anyway, he comes back with the materials... and a new ladder! He was so excited about his new ladder, I had to capture it on camera. Warning, though - this is rated PG-13 for some gratuitous use of mild profanity... sorry Mom.

Just to put my reply in context, we've been using a little 6-foot wooden step ladder, left in the garage by the previous owner, for the past 4 1/2 years. Jim likes to say that it wobbles, but I contend that has more to do with the uneven ground than the actual ladder. Besides, if you follow ladder guidelines and don't step on the top two steps, it's all good.

So anyway, Jim used the new ladder to put up the cover-up soffits

And I used the old ladder to paint.

Luckily, both ladders do their job!

Then today we put the remaining railing and balusters up. It was not without problems. But I won't point them out, because we don't think anyone will actually notice them. Here's the pictures

A couple of side notes:
-The roofers are scheduled to start sometime this week.
-We turned on the pellet stove for the first time this season.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thank Goodness for Columbus Day Weekend

I'm in a bit of a frantic panic to get stuff done today before I'm off to class, so only a brief description of what we did over the weekend....

I continued prepping and filling the 1/2 posts... they need time to cure, so I probably won't get to painting them until next weekend.

We also bought the beadboard for the porch ceiling. (note that the Homer guy was irritated at me asking him to cut the 16' boards, but was very pleasant when he came back over to help and Jim was present)

We painted those boards on Sunday,

and then on Monday, we were able to put them up. Looks pretty good too. We're getting better and better at doing the miter - a skill that will now be useless, since the floor and ceiling are now done.

It was very nice to have the lights up, as it got dark around 6:30, and we didn't finish until 8.

Well, "finish" is a slight overstatement - we have a very short final board 2" wide to fit on the front... and then there's also some moulding that needs to be put up. But at least now the trick-or-treaters can come to the house without (too much) fear.

Oh - and I significantly chopped down the rhododendron. Still there, just much smaller.