27 December 2006

We're IN!

Moved today - All basic necessities are in the house, and no luxuries.

That means we're without cable or internet access, so expect few or no updates for the next week or two, and then lots of them.

See you next year!

25 December 2006

It's always something

Oh, yes, before I forget, Happy Christmas.

We got the bedroom painted last night - well, sort of. We went into this week with the attitude that we'd get the house ready enough to "not get paint on the furniture or plaster dust in the food," as I said elsewhere. The bedroom is painted on all the walls that would be impossible or highly inconvenient to paint with the Great Bed* in the room. That leaves out the end of teh room where we still need to buy another can of spackle to level out the difference between the old closet, the patch where the ex-wall was and the bedroom walls. It's a nice soft, restful cloud grey, and I felt calmer just being in there while we painted it, or that could have been the fumes.

The ceiling isn't painted, but that's not just because of the strip of unfinished patching (though the rest of the ceiling is solid now, after we patched 1908039794856289 nail holes from the removal of the pasteboard tiles). It's also because, if we cannot get it satisfactorily smooth (which is unlikely just now), we're going to paper it with a grey and white marble-pattern paper and just go with it. I know, I know - people who paper ceilings to cover problems are evil. I should know. But it'll be a lot easier to paper than paint the ceiling after the big bed's in there - it makes fabulous scaffolding. And we have to live there, too. So that's my defense.

Here's the Cool Original Detail, before painting over:

It was a simple frieze of wreaths with ribbons, stencilled on the original thin layer of ocher yellow paint (probably milk paint), in green and russet. It was about 14 inches high.

Detail shot:

It's pretty, and it was a real pity to paint it over. At least we were able to document it.

Handy Tip For the Day:
Bicycle handgrips, applied to the non-business end of a paint roller pole really help with control when using it at full length. And you can't drop them paint roller downward when you're up on a ladder...

And now, to this week's installment of "I Thought We Bought That!" : We went to put the outlet plates on in the kitchen and discovered that we had somehow bought three times as many double outlet plates as we needed, and only one box of single plates. Which are all gone, having been installed elsewhere in the house, I guess.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? I bought the outlet plates, and I distinctly recall buying the right number of everything. Well, back to the home store we go. Next week. Or sometime. We've got bigger fish to fry right now.

But our bathroom looks beautiful! Of course, I didn't take any pictures of that...

24 December 2006

a quick note

I'm clearly psychic - here we go to work on the house.

But first, a progress report.

To do today(aka pre-move-in "must-do" list):
  1. patch holes in bedroom ceiling
  2. paint bedroom walls
  3. paint rest of unpainted kitchen wall
  4. put moldings and put down quarter-round in bedroom
  5. change lightbulb in hallway
  6. fix kitchen sink cabinet drawers (if we have time)

In other news:
  • Bathroom is done!
  • Living room is done!
  • Major repairs in dining room are ... done!

We also got the fancy fake part of the beam up over the ugly, real, structural beam, in the dining room. We might even get the panelling and trim up in the dining room bay by new years eve.

Wow, optimism is weird.

We're not even going to talk about the back porch or the dressing room for now. They can wait.

22 December 2006


We are within days of move in -the moving van comes on Wednesday-, and my heart goes pitty-pat, but not in anticipation.

It's stress. And possibly fear.

Read my wailing lament:
We have a huge pile -or two- of salvaged lumber that has to go to the basement, another pile of demoed plaster the size of a live bear, an accumulation of trash on the back porch that I have no clue what to do with (we have no trash service at this time, or trashcans, for that matter), and 3 rooms that MUST be painted prior to move-in (bath, master bedroom and kitchen). I'm sure there's more, but my brain is being kind and refusing to allow me to recall it.

On the positive side, where I'm focusing my energy to stay sane, we have all but completed the bath - it just needs paint, installing the glass shelves (6) and remounting of the light fixture and shower rod, and we're ready to go. The master bedroom is really almost done, we're stripping the last of the wallpaper today, and we discovered a Cool Original Detail under the last stretch of paper at the top of the room - a stenciled frieze of wreaths. The dining room ceiling is closed, if not pretty, and most of the wiring is really done. I got the kitchen cleaned up last night, in prep for painting and move-in.

The hardest thing, right now, is not doing the things that can wait right now - the frieze paper in the dining room, the desk in my son's room, the window-seats, the kitchen faucet. The only optional thing I did was spend a whopping 20 bucks on some cheap xmas stuff and we put a tiny, pathetic tree up. It's only 3 feet tall and looks overpowered by one string of lights and 18 ornaments.

I so desperately want to build those window seats. And do all the other things we must wait on. There is simply too much else to do.

So, we are only taking off Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and maybe not even Christmas Eve.

10 December 2006

Grout and About

We've taken a hill, in our overall battle for the house. It took us nearly all night, but we stand atop this rise and can see the remaining ground ahead. We're that much closer to being able to move in, because, really, a functional bathroom is an admittedly necessary thing. Almost as much as heat.

After much trial and tribulation (every battery for the two drills was in need of charging, we had to mix the grout partially by hand, and really, where do you stand when sponging a floor you just grouted?), we finally finished grouting the bathroom at 1 am. We also finished the plumbing - almost. The toilet works, the sink works (after a last minute mad dash to Lowe's, an hour away, last night), even most of the plumbing involved with the bath itself is functional. However, there is, as anyone else who also chose the self-punishing road of home renovation will expect to hear, one part missing. That one part, typically, is something Utterly Crucial, i.e, the threaded connector that serves to attach the tub faucet to the otherwise hideous and unattractive pipe.

At this point, we now have all the necessary things done. Much of what's left to do can be worked on after we move in, if need be. We are, realistically, two workdays (paint, plaster, tape and spackle, and maybe stripping the rest of the bedroom walls), and a cleanup day away from moving in. Christmas is now a realistic goal.

We find out next week when Chris goes. I hope we do get moved in before then.

08 December 2006


That pretty much covers it. We got to be warm today, while working on the dining room and bath, on one of the coldest days on record in the past couple of years.

We couldn't see it, but it was the same as if we had completed something visible.

06 December 2006

Scraping, Scraping, Scraping

The master bedroom is nearly denuded of its many layers of Vile Old Paper. Some of it, say, the gray-and-pearl stripe with its coordinating ceiling paper and edgings, was okay (not my taste, but tolerable), but others were emphatically NOT. Let's just say that I really don't think that Mrs. Songer (2nd owner of the home, from whose life most of the wallpapers date - the renters in the 40's may have papered too, but the Whites mostly painted, before the panelling went up) and I would have agreed on any decorating decisions. I am especially unfond of the mint-icecream colored floral stripe dating from the 1930's and its posy borders. Made me feel like I was in a perfume box, just looking at it, and I reminded myself that it was the choice of an older widowed lady.

I still like the ochre that the Wolfes painted the bedrooms originally, even if it also covers the ceiling, making it an oppressive color choice. I liked their paper in the dining room and hallway. We're not going with that color scheme, though. The bedroom will be gray, a soft, cloudlike, cool gray, with a coordinating sandtexture painted ceiling and a blue stripe at wallpaper-border level around the room.

We are returning to the Hell of Vile Paper Shreds momentarily, to continue our labors. Surely we must have painted over old wallpaper in some past life to have earned this suffering. O! See How I Lament! Perhaps if I do enough of this in this life, I will never have to do it again.

My happy place for this work is the vision of the soft grey room in which I will sleep, in our overpoweringly large bed with its new curtains. So calming. Our bed really isn't quite so large, but it's close enough to pretend that we have that bed.

Also, the heat isn't on yet. We wanted to get the soaking and scraping done with first, before we dry out the house too much. Hurrah for wrongheaded prioritizing!

05 December 2006

Amazing Progress, Due to Unbearable Pressure

As everyone knows, we are under a lot of pressure around here to get done and moved in as soon as possible. So, with that bearing down upon us, (and the help of our dear friends) we have made some progress.

Thanks to J, the furnace is on a real electrical line (meaning, of course, the electric pilot sparker and the thermostat line), and most of the heat vents have now been vacuumed. The rest will be cleaned out tomorrow, and then the intake filter will get cleaned and we can throw the switch, turn on the gas, light the pilots and work in a warm house. We also magically have lights in the kitchen, with a bonus lightswitch!

The dining room bay has been reframed (where necessary), insulated (Hurrah! now the heat won't be sent directly out of the house from the vents in the bay!), and sheetrocked. It looks astonishingly civilized, barring the untaped seams.

The last remains of the old, nonfunctional, passthrough closet in the master bedroom were demo'd out, and the floor given a temporary patchjob. Relaying the boards and refinishing can wait, honestly. We have a nice seagrass rug I intend to tack down over the ugliness. All that remains in there is to remove Far Too Much Wallpaper, patching where that pesky wall was torn out, painting, and replacing the mouldings. We are now, as of tonight, properly armed with a scoring tool and more blades for the scraper, and I expect to be doing battle with the Powers Of Evil (six layers of old paper with two layers of paint) by Thursday.

The bathroom isn't any closer than last reported, but we did buy the rest of the tile, and found out how to return the extra. How did we end up with nearly 10 extra linear feet of edging tile? You tell me. The math checks out, but I must have overbought. Oh, and we did buy more grout, just in case. We can return that too, if we have to.

Yet to do, and urgently needed, is the ripping out and replacement of the hopelessly fractured dining room ceiling plaster. In addition to the quarter of it that has already fallen away, leaving a breathtaking view of the attic through the exposed lath, there is a large section - say 1/3 - that is partially keyed, but hanging onto lath that has almost entirely separated from the beams down the center of the room. This problem was made worse (as was to be expected) by our re-squaring of the dining room when we added the support posts a couple of months ago. The plaster's not salvageable in the time we have, so it must go. We have already purchased the drywall, and we have a plan of action that includes saving as much as possible of the original plaster, even giving our pressing schedule.

I still need to scrape, patch and paint the West wall of the kitchen, and re-engineer the sink cabinet drawers and doors, but mostly, the kitchen is at a "usable" stage, once the gas is on. There's stuff to do, but it's little stuff, by comparison.

I think we might just get moved in before Chris goes. This is my driving force, to have our home be our home, even for a little while, before he is gone for so long.

No pictures today, and probably not for a few days. The work is more important than the talking about it, but I promise to keep y'all posted on progress, even if it's short.