Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lighting Take Two, or Three

Lighting has been the name of the game around here. I've been trying to rustle up some antique replacement fixtures and E has been hard at work rewiring all of the lights in the house with
good ol' romex.

In the antique lighting department, I had success today with finding a replacement for our badly corroded and spotted bathroom light. My first attempt at finding a replacement was through a super mega sale at Restoration Hardware. Once the light showed up at our house and we got around to holding it up in the bathroom, E and I came to the same conclusion. "No". Back went the light and onward went my search.

I spent a few days trying to find just the fixture sans glass shade but sadly, the cheapest fitter that was the correct size ran $30 and was just that, cheap. I'm all for a good deal but knowing what the $30 fitter was made out of, it was likely to rust up on us again in 3-years. Armed with this knowledge, I went to e-bay. Ta-da!
Isn't she cute. I shall call her Minnie. Minnie came in under $17. Go Minnie!

On a more technical level, E installed our super-duper-amazing-tech recessed lights in the kitchen. They are lit up like a frat boy on New Year's Eve. I am feeling a bit cocky about the placement and number of lights in the room. After hours of deliberation and fretting, it seems we do indeed have enough light, and, for those circumstances when it is too much light, we have a multi-location dimmer. "Oooooh". "Aaaaah".

Next up, I am on the hunt for a fixture to go with our porch shade. The original was an unlucky casualty, but it did have to sacrifice itself for the better good. The fixture's screws were rusted and painted into an impenetrable barrier that necessitated the use of a fancy power tool by my handy Schwiegervater (father-in-law). I've convinced E to keep the original shade which has turned purple through sun exposure. I am holding out that I'll find something on eBay again but if I don't these are the two possibilities from Rejuvenation:
After starting this post, at 6:45pm, E and I went for a mocha around 7pm then went to work on wiring the remaining lighting. It is now 11:20pm. Time flies. We made a nice little discovery in the living-room. We had been thinking about adding sconces to either side of the fireplace having lucked out in our last house by finding sconce boxes already tucked into the wall hidden behind a mirror. No such luck this time, but we did find a lighting box in the center of the ceiling which means we are going to shake things up a bit and go with the original lighting scheme for the house. Now to find yet another light. Ideas?
E hard at work uncovering the hidden light box.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Still raining

I learned to lay old school linoleum, general contractor style. I began my hunt for linoleum glue two days ago. The true linoleum glue comes in 4-gallon and 1-gallon cans. I, not wanting to spend $40 on 1-gallon of glue for 12-square feet of flooring soon to be under a behemoth of a water storage tank, went the road less traveled. Getting my information from a paid general contractor, I lowered my sights and went hunting for 1-quart of sub-floor construction adhesive. Not able to find it in 1-quart form, only in tubes, I trotted out of the hardware store feeling plucky and creative. I was going to use a caulking gun to lay the adhesive out, then use the flat side of a trowel to spread it, then the 1/8" grooved side. Once I got home, I gathered all of my tools, measured twice, cut once using a shiny new utility blade. I used a square to get nice straight lines, scored the heavy duty linoleum several times, snapped it on the line and set
about installing it.
I did a dry run, everything fit. I thoroughly cleaned the area, swept, vacuumed, swept. Then I cut open my first tube of sub-floor adhesive. It all started well. My lines were small, close together and evenly spaced. Then the caulking gun broke. It would only squeeze on one side of the tube. I had to rotate the tube and squeeze at the same time. Nothing was coming out so I increased the size of the tube opening...blam! I had adhesive and lots of it. There was no stopping now. Not even the leak in the ceiling that started up again could stop me now. This stuff is not water soluble and I dry time is pretty quick. It was do it now or have a royal mess on my hands. And a royal mess it was.
I didn't realize until after I took the picture and looked back on it that the ceiling had leaked just enough to prevent the adhesive from sticking in that area. Charging ahead with my project, I quickly smoothed, sort of, then troweled, sort of. Using a 2x4 to flatten the backing of the linoleum to the floor, I ended up with a pretty decent approximation of installed flooring. (In my defense, the mess on the hardwood in the photo is not from my adventure).The pros have been at work on the house as well. Our tankless water heater is in along with most of the kitchen plumbing.E is in the midst of updating the electrical and tidying things up. Outside, he removed two old conduit, increased the size of the one left and then had me thread, one by one, each wire through under the house. When they tell you a conduit can only carry a certain number of wires in it, they aren't exaggerating. I even think they were begin a bit generous. They eventually all fit and things are moving right along.Several days ago, E dug the ditch from the house to the street for our new water-main. Not deterred by the gallons of water dumping from the sky, E made his $200/hr. (We opted out of having the plumbing company call in their trench digger for $350). The trench has since filled and spilled over with water. We have our very own tributary complete with a custom mud dam to keep the water running down to the driveway.

Tonight E hooked up several circuits under the house, braving the crawl-space for two hours. I stayed above ground and hooked up the light in the utility closet, removed the heinous old fan in the hall and began installing new outlets in the dining room.
RIP dirty, dirty fan.

Monday, January 18, 2010

RAIN. Not rain. RAIN.

Monday: rain
Tuesday: rain
Wednesday: rain
Thursday: rain
Friday: rain

Monday: rain
Tuesday: rain
Wednesday: rain

I'll spare you the saga about how we woke up this morning to pouring rain. Ran to the house to check the water levels in various buckets about the house. I won't tell you how our new drywall in the utility room began to stain from a new leak, or how E cut a large infant sized hole into the ceiling of the utility room to find the source of the leak, not having any luck climbing into the attic. I won't include the bit about running to the neighbors again to borrow stacks of towels to lay down in the master bedroom windows and doors to prevent a small pond from forming. I will tell you that I am more than anxious for our plumber to finish poking holes in the roof so that we can get the roofer out here.

My in-laws came by again this past weekend to help out. My father-in-law helped run wires in the wall to update the electrical. Those two came up with some pretty ingenious ways of avoiding cutting into the plaster. My personal favorite was how E went about re-routing new wire in the wall for the dining room light switch. It started out by tying a bolt to a long piece of thin rope, then E climbed into the attic, army crawl style on his stomach, then attempted to thread the bolt on a string through a hole the diameter of my middle finger near the switch box from 6' above. It worked, three times. After the first success, E came to a sad conclusion that having chosen the smaller of two holes above to begin the process, he could not thread the three pieces of wire through it. So he had to test his coordination and fine motor skills once again by starting all over though the larger of the two holes. Then as luck would have it, the whole thing came sliding down through the wall. An hour later, success.

While de-popcorning the small bedroom I came to fully understand the enormity of a seemingly small situation. It goes something like this: One evening while socializing with our new next door neighbors, we learn that the attic access in the bedroom wasn't all it appeared to be. In fact, the "attic access" came to be mid sale of the house. Upon entering the first open house, our neighbor was aghast that the home would be on the market with a gaping hole in the ceiling. The second open house the same neighbor was even more distraught to see that the hole was disguised to look like an access door to the attic. The hole wasn't fixed but cheaply disguised in gaudy makeup and fake pearls.

The poor dupes that purchased the house went about their business and decided to try and remove the door from the attic access while taking down the popcorn ceiling in the room. Much to my mother-in-law's horror, the 2'x2' piece of plywood along with several sticks of trim, a few chunks of plaster and a bit of lathe and a lot of dust came pouring down. We have a hole. Not a big hole in the sense that we could put an attic access if we wanted to, but a hole that consists of 3'x3' of missing plaster with a surrounding area of roughly the whole ceiling threatening to come down as well. Good news. The popcorn ceiling in the small bedroom is no more. The bad news, the ceiling is pretty much no more as well.

The electrical work is moving along swimmingly. All of the outlet boxes are in and the lights are ready for wiring. The plumber only has several days left of work. Tomorrow E and I take turns digging trench for our new water main and the plumber will install our tankless water heater. Onward.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


In an attempt to delay the inevitable, de-popcorning of the living room, I have delved into the world of design blogs. These are the ones that make money or if they don't the people writing them make money designing things. Unlike this blog which spins the sordid tale of a crazy couple, dog and cat who knowingly took on a renovation and are simply providing updates for family, friends and the neighbors (What could they possibly be doing over there at 11pm?).

Today's find is from www.apartmenttherapy.com (a daily favorite of mine). The image is of designer Miriam Dillon's work whom I know solely through the post, sorry Ms. Dillon:The point of all this being, the paint colors. The blue in the bathroom looks quite similar to a color I have picked out for our bathroom. Low and behold, the green shown in the bedroom is close to a color I've recently landed on for our master bedroom.

My mom and I laid out a rough color chart on the kitchen table when she was here visiting. It took several days of fiddling and several paint store visits (two of which were to stores that no longer existed). But throughout it all, she was infinitely patient with me, but she is an old pro at it. I suppose years of hours spent while I was a child being patient have finally paid off, right mom?

Anyhow. The color chart was helpful but this picture has all but sealed the deal.

O.k. Enough procrastination. Hi-ho-hi-ho.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Opening the box with our smoke detectors from Amazon seemed such an innocuous task. It seems someone made an accidental addition to the order. A copy of "Daily Wisdom, 365 Buddhist Inspirations" lay right on top. It was daring me to return it. Well, $12 being $12 and a tiny bit closer to a new roof, I returned it, but not before reading today's bit of wisdom, you know, just in case.

"The present moment is changing so fast that we often do not notice its existence at all"...etc. Be mindful.

In the spirit of noticing the present moment, I give you:

built-in ironing board, current state 1/12/10

(May8 - 1945 Germany Surrenders)

P.S. It rains in our house. Not on our house. In our house. I am so noticing the present moment.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Messy Me

More popcorn bit the dust, rather, made dust.

Step 1: Cover the floor and any non movable items with a thin plastic disposable drop cloth. Tape edges well.
Step 2: Wet ceiling with water, I used a weed sprayer. Scrape, wet, scrape, wet, shake out muscles, scrape, cuss, wet, stand around, wet,
Step 3: Take pictures of the mess and newly discovered ceiling while regaining feeling in arms.
Step 4: Let mess dry a bit.
Step 5: Remove drop cloth, sweep, vacuum, sweep, wipe down walls.
Step 6: Take a 2 day break then return to vacuum, vacuum, vacuum around the picture molding and window sills.

Stucco went up to patch where the chimney went down.

Back in September when we signed on the dotted line, we received as part of our "buyers package" a Home Warranty. This is pretty standard practice. In our real estate agent's infinite wisdom, he negotiated an additional coverage option - the roof. While we were made aware that our roof was not in prime condition in our home inspection, it has become more and more apparently that the roof had its final hurrah 10 years ago, maybe even 15.

The Warranty Company agrees with the assessment that the roof is dead and gone. They sent out a repair technician to fix the two newly sprung leaks and after receiving his report, they offered us a nice sum of cash. No repair is possible. New roof. We are now on track to get a new roof up as soon as we are done purposefully poking holes in the old one (plumbing, skylight, etc). Hope sprang eternal for 1 week when we thought we could put off a new roof until the summer but a toffee colored stain seeping down the new drywall in the utility room proved us wrong. This was even after E's heroic efforts to glue the roof back together with sticky black goo in a squeeze container.

I'm trying to convince E to guest blog again since he has been working like mad on the electrical. Most of which is located under the house and since my mad cat incident, I haven't been very willing to crawl down there. I'll leave it for him to explain. It is all very fancy stuff, or so I'm told.

Tomorrow the rest of the electrical boxes and perhaps lighting goes into the kitchen. I may even get to cleaning up my mess from the dining room popcorn removal.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Room

We have a room, a real room. We have a roof, walls, and a floor to boot. It is beyond amazing. granted the walls and the ceiling are merely studded out and lack drywall. We have a humble sub-floor, a level sub-floor though. The door and window have plywood over them and are studded out shadows of their futures selves but I love them just the same. Since I last wrote we have had a litany of problems and solutions. Work has been done.

1) Mud-room floor leveled to kitchen floor,
2) Wall between kitchen and mud-room moved back 1' and studded out,
3) Doorway between kitchen and dining room studded out,
4) Kitchen door and window roughed out,
5) Kitchen skylight roughed in and purchased,
6) Office electrical outlets increased in number and in the process of becoming grounded circuits thanks to E,
6a) Discovered dry-rot between Office and Bathroom during electrical work,
6b) Dry-rot wood removed and replaced,
7) Laundry room appliance electrical boxes placed. It was a late night. The work light was clamped to the ceiling rafters and tools were no where to be found. My mom was in town and helped measure and re-measure and re-measure. I'm a bit neurotic with details.
8) Entry way popcorn ceiling removed via my personal brawn and brain,
9) Office popcorn ceiling removed again via my brawn and this time my mom's brains, things were a bit tidier this go around.
10) Utility room received final coat of mud,
11) E installed a super quiet fan in the front bathroom (no wiring yet) and put a hole in the ceiling above the tub for a can light.
12) I hunted and gathered a salvaged built-in ironing board. Needs work. Needs new fabric. Two contenders:
13) A great paint color hunt has begun. Zeroing in on colors. Office (graphite), Front Bath (deep eggplant), Back Bedroom (dusty lavender), Dining Room (indigo), Kitchen/Mud/Laundry (glacier blue), Living Room (TBD latte perhaps), Master Bedroom (TBD green of sorts), Master Bath (soft mint). All colors are approximate and names are pure figments of my imagination.