29 May 2006

houseblogger on bedrest = rehab nightmares

The absolute worst thing that can be done to a pregnant woman working on a house is putting her on bedrest. Especially if that bed is not IN the house she's working on. It's been almost three weeks now and I've been going insane. Obviously, I'm worried that we won't get the house done enough to live in before Baby 2 arrives, but I had begun to adjust to the idea of it.

I'm also worried that I've lost my housefixing muscles. Then there are all the unfinished projects to avoid thinking about. AND I'm worried, constantly, unreasonably, about the house. I have nightmares, of the late pregnancy variety, except they are all about the house.


The carpeting dream. I dreamt that when we pulled up the carpet in the house, to reveal the lovely floors, there was more carpet, patchy, 1970's psychedelic, stained carpet, underneath. Shag, indoor/outdoor, etc. Like six layers. And under that was hideous linoleum. The last layer was glued down with construction cement that laid in huge blobs on the formerly pristine wood floors. I woke in a sweat, and spent several minutes calming myself down by recalling that I'd peeled up carpet corners all over the house just to assess the condition of the floors.

Next, the fire dream. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had this dream during the rehab of an older house. I put it down to it being rewired and my being forced to not go out enough to be reassured by the house's quiet, unbothered appearance as I go by.
I've been tempted to get up and drive over to check on it more than once, though.

The flood dream. We've had lots of rain this spring, like most everyone else. The old dryer exhaust tends to collect water in rainstorms (this is on the List of Things to Fix), which isn't a problem as our cellar floor is actually graded to drain towards the drain on the downhill side of the house, and that water is a fairly small amount. But, I keep dreaming that the whole basement will fill with mud and water like a huge swimming pool, followed by the collapse of the house into the muck.

The vermin dream. Just a simple ick-factor dream, about finding a sudden, massive termite/ant/cockroach/rat/mouse/etc infestation that causes the house to become irreparably uninhabitable.

Augh. I'm off meds and bedrest on Thursday. Maybe I'll stop with the crazy, if I can at least get over there and finish painting the boy's room.

14 May 2006

Pictures, and progress.

Or is that "Pictures of Progress?" I'm not sure. Anyhow, here are some images of what I've been ranting about recently. Updates to my in-progress phots are here.

First, I was talking about filling in the open archway between what had been originally intended as a den and the dining room, so that my son could have some privacy (and so that we could make use of otherwise wasted space). I wanted to do something really Stickley-style, like a fabulous built-in. We really don't have the money for that and all the other things we need to do first, so I had to figure out how to do this in a sympathetic, period looking style without spending any real money, as well as doing a temporary thing.

Why temporary? Well, in five or so years, we plan to have two bedrooms and a bath built in the cellar, for the boys, as well as a completely finished laundry room, workspace, and finsihed storage areas. When that happens, we can turn our den back into a den, and I'd like to be able to put in abbreviated Craftsman-style cabinets with square pillars inside that archway. So anything we do now is just set dressing.

Here's the before pic, with the PO's non-sympathetic solution (vinyl accordion curtains):

This is taken from the dining room, looking west into the den (my son's bedroom). Not pretty, but it worked for the PO, an elderly woman in need of constant care.

Now, a series of on-the-way-to-after pictures, taken from the same vantage point:

This is the built-in, mostly done. I think it looks fairly good, and is sympathetic enough to the original style of the house. It's naked, though.

This is halfway or so through staining it with Minwax Polyshades Satin in Old Maple. It looks like a good match, so far!

And this is the staining nearly complete, without the last trim pieces. I realized I'd have an easier time with the trim and stain if I stained the panel above the shelf, then applied and stained the trim sections. It still looks really good. I'm happy with is, and can hardly wait to see how the room looks all done.

This is a demo-in-progress image of the dining room bay addition. It's slightly less ugly right now, but we have some fairly major work to do here. First, we are going to put in posts and a support beam, as you can see some bowing where the bay was cut into the wall. There will be four posts, two at the ends, mounted flush to the walls, and two set in about 2' from the ends to create an open but divided space. There will be wainscot panels done in the same style as the archway fill-in in the bay, from the corners and under the windows, a built-in bookshelf under the center short window, and I'm going to build two window seats into the otherwise wasted space in the ends of the bay as well. I think this will all work together with the built-in panel in the arch, to increase the "Craftsman" feel of the house. I see a larger can of Minwax Polyshades in my future.

Now for the view from my son's room:

This is the built-in on his side, about half finished. For practical reasons, I'm having to alternate painting and finishing his built-in furniture. There will be a desk built below the single shelf that divides his frog mural, and in that corner that's full of salvaged lumber for the project, there will be an open "closet" with a shelf at top and bottom for more storage. I used two layers of salvaged acoustic tiles (pulled from the ceiling of the MB) to give him some soundproofing so we don't have to be super-quiet when he's asleep. They will also function as a bulletin board, where he can pin things up.

These are all shots of the part of the paintjob that had to be done before I could get back to cutting and screwing things up ... er ... together. There will be clouds painted on the walls, and the ceiling will be a deeper, more vibrant blue with stars and a moon on it. I'm debating painting in a wainscot strip with related, A&C type elements. That will probably depend on the time available before we move in.

And, I still need a radio. The talking to myself is really out of hand. I've been talking to my tools ... more than usual.

08 May 2006

Recycling = more beauty from ugliness

And it's almost free! If you don't count my time spent, that is. As I'm not gainfully employed at this time -there being no payscale for mothering- I'm not counting it. I'm literally making beauty out of ugly things, not just patching or covering it up, so I've got that to be happy about too.

I needed to create a fill-in between the den (which will become my older son's room) and the dining room, inside an arch, in such a way that it can be removed later but also in such a way that it looks like a built-in or other deliberate design element. The arch had already had awful vinyl accordion curtains screwed into it, which we reomved, so attaching a framework inside it was not going to create any more damage or future work. That was the easy part. It took about 3 hours, including measuring and cutting, and sifting through the demo'd out 2x4s from the old 70's drop ceiling for good lumber. Recycling phase 1.

Once I had the framework in, I stood around puzzling about what I wanted to cover it with. I looked over the hideous fake wood paneling we had ripped out, and noticed that the backs of the sheets (those not badly damaged or befouled by glue) were actually quite attractive, if I sanded off the product information stamps. I selected the two most attractive, cut them to size and tacked them up. Recycling phase 2.

Now what? "It looks like a big doorway with fairly nice plywood tacked across it. Hmmm. Better, but not the look I want." Thinking ensued. Some of those old furring strips were nice and smooth on one side, and if I pulled out all the staples and nails and scraps of polystyrene tile, might just sand up to something tolerable. Oh, and we did have lots of original salvaged mouldings of various types from demo'ing the old closet wall and making our bedroom large enough to use. Some of those looked promising. Like the casing from the closet doorway...

I sat on the floor after assembling all the likely pieces of wood and thought intently, then decided to go buy myself a drink. Not alcoholic, though I have certainly thought about that enough, between the house and general other drama. However, as Miller Time isn't for another month and a half, I must needs wait.

Back from my jaunt, I cleaned up enough furring strips to make vertical trim pieces on my new paneled wall, Craftsman-Style. I set a baseboard in, measured from there to where I wanted the "chair rail" (more like armpit rail...), and got out my handy wee saw. Then, with all five trim parts cut, I became distracted by a good idea. "Hey! What this needs is a mirror!" As we had one that had been hung on the bathroom door, that was actually less of a leap than you'd think.

Of course, now I had to figure out how to frame the thing. Originally I had meant to just use furring strips for all the trim, horizontal and vertical, but adding the complication of a built-in, framed mirror made that less than workable. Back to the casing from the closet door that was no more. Hmmm. Inside the closet, the casings hadn't been stained, but outside, they had, so I had some pre-matched mouldings to work with on my fakey-craftsman "built-in" piece. I think there may even have been a lightbulb hanging above my head. More measuring and cutting ensued, with me pulling the mirror down, measuring it, forgetting the measurements, and running back and forth between the mirror and my improvised sawhorses.

Eventually, I got the framing mouldings cut, and notched correctly for the mirror, and hung on my false wall. I even remembered to put the mirror in before it was all tacked up, and there was only one episode of not-measuring-correctly in the middle of it all. Recycling phase 3 was now complete.

Today, I got a wild hair to add a shelf above the mirror, before measuring and cutting the last several furring strip trim pieces, and that's what I did. There was a great deal of swearing involved, as I really needed more hands to do this, but the result looks good. I made that out of most of the old knicknack shelf the PO's dad had made 30-some years ago, plus the mitered offcuts of the door casings. Recycling phase 4.

Of course, there are no pictures. There likely won't be until the thing is all assembled, possibly not until it's all stained and shiny, depending on whether or not I can be bothered to remember the camera. Hopefully my gestating offspring hasn't absorbed my very blue vocal expressions (also known in my family as "Carpentry English") too terribly much today.

And, yes, I still need a radio. The crazy is getting distinctly ... crazy.

03 May 2006

It's like frosting a cake - a giant, inside out cake.

They (who are these people, anyway?) say that skimcoating "is like frosting a cake." I suppose that's great if you're any good at frosting cakes. I'm not - I have recently been converted to fondant for my son's cakes, and I'm grateful that there will be no more mangy peeling birthday cakes in my future.

However, it's also a lie in another way. It's only true if you are used to frosting enormous, inside out, square cakes, with windows and doors, using putty knives. That would be me. I'm really good at mudding, taping, skimcoating, plastering, anything that involves smoothly spreading some sort of pasty substance on a hard substrate. Cake, by the way, IS NOT a hard substrate, and frosting won't hard-set on you like plaster or stay workable for a long time like spackle.

So to continue the theme, I'm almost done frosting my son's room, as of last night. There is an incomplete ring around the top of the room left to do. The part that requires shifting the ladder every six inches or so. I got tired (lazy) and went home. The big news, though, is that now that there are some lights in the house, I can do some work at night. What a huge relief. More working time equals more time, and I can always get behind that.

However, I get a little odd when I'm working alone at night on a project. My mind gets bored, and I start thinking crazy things. Like coming up with a talk show in my head about house rehabbing and how it makes you crazy ("Tomorrow, on Rehabbers Anonymous, we'll hear about how fake wood panelling is the work of Satan, and we'll interview a couple who divorced over their house"), or inventing bizarre superhero names (The Night Spackler!).

I think I need a radio...