35 posts categorized "home renovation (life sized)"

Odds and ends and freezing

The English Cottage Kitchen is back in my studio to have its roof thatched.  This time I used a coir mat as a base and am gluing the coconut fibers over that.  It is a very messy job, and very burny ouchy, as I'm using a hot glue gun.


Before the holiday break I took my paint chips to the yarn store to purchase yarn in my new reno colors.  A friend turned the yarn into this...


It was supposed to be mainly teal but ended up mainly neutral because the teal and berry yarns were a slightly lighter weight than the neutrals.  I did know to check the labels to make sure they were the same there, but did not know to compare the actual yarns.  No matter, I love it, it looks fantastic in my living room, and it's long enough to cover my tall husband without his feet poking out the bottom.

I also got a hat, scarf, and stocking, because she was on a roll and bored.  Another co-worker got a hat too.

Nothing else has gone on in the home reno, and I feel a bit guilty for not stripping wallpaper in the dining room during Christmas break.  I would like to have that done before the spring, when it will get warm enough to paint again, but that's a few months away yet.  It's still freezing cold here...below freezing.  Brrr.


Have you ever received a much too large box from Amazon with only a couple small things in it and a ton of packing paper?  Ester loves it.  It's a playground wonderland.


I could make a life sized version of Nancy's yucca plant with all this paper.



Renovation update #7

The arborists were here yesterday. Now I can show you the before and after pic of the exterior.

 August 6th...

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October 27th...


Mine enemy the half dead, scraggly pine tree has been vanquished.  I wish they would have let me wield the chainsaw for the last cut, it would have been very satisfying.  I did do a little dance on the stump.

The rest of the trees have been trimmed, most noticeably the pines between ours and the neighbor's house.  They were drooping on the roofs, especially in the winter, now the lowest limbs are ten feet above the highest peak.  Our neighbor is very happy!  The other trees had dead limbs and suckers removed; an oak, a maple, and the locust had limbs removed that were hanging over the roof.

You can see the new windows, door and roof.  I like the new shingle color.  Still on the to-do list is new seamless gutters and a new garage door.  I imagine I may have to move a few plants next summer, I'll have to see how the shade loving plants in front of the house fare now that the pine is gone.  We are  going to plant a new tree, a little further out in the yard; a magnolia, I'm thinking, but I have to wait until spring.  


Renovation update #5

 This post should be subtitled:  Keli's misadventure.

 I had plans to finish the kitchen this weekend so that I could show it off this morning in all of its new glory. Saturday morning all I had left to do was paint the cupboards above the laundry machines, touch up and reinstall the baseboards, hang the last of the kitchen cupboards that I'd gotten painted during the week, and install a new kitchen faucet.

I spread an old sheet over the washer and dryer, walked into the dining room, picked up the gallon of primer, and, shaking it while I walked across the kitchen, dropped it in the middle of my kitchen floor.  The lid came off, primer went everywhere.  Based on what's left in the can I'd estimate a half gallon spilled on the floor, ran under the stove, and spattered upward.  Lots of spattering upward.  There is only one newly painted cupboard door which isn't now freckled.  It spattered onto the stove, refrigerator, the newly painted walls, the countertop, the new window, the clean dishes in the drainboard...I could go on, but I'm sure you get the picture.

I got as much of the primer up as quickly as I could, then poured dishwater onto the rest of the puddle so that it didn't dry.  Because I'm short my pajamas bottoms drag the ground, so I pulled them off before they started smearing the mess.  Picture me, in my underwear, on my hands and knees with a pile of rags, sliding around on a soapy floor like a fawn on an iced pond, hand bleeding into the mess because the bottom edge of the stove slit the tops of my fingers open (but I can't stop I have to get the primer up), bawling and hiccuping while I frantically scrub because I might have ruined my pretty new floor, and because the more I wipe the further the white cloud is spreading out.

Luckily, I did get all the primer off the floor.  It was then that I thought to myself I should have grabbed the small shop-vac out of my studio.

Sunday I cleaned primer speckles off all the appliances and countertops, rewashed all the dishes, etc.  Now I only have to figure out how to get the screen out of my new window so that I can clean it, and touch-up paint the walls and cabinets, then I'll be back to where I was Saturday morning.  Maybe I'll have the kitchen done after this next weekend.

This is where it stands now.  Zoom in on the cupboard above the bananas or the drawer below.







renovation update #4


I've got all the wallpaper stripped from the kitchen and have another section of cabinets painted.  I am painting the cabinet doors on my dining room floor, which I covered in cardboard, so only have room to paint a few at a time.  I also updated Ester's breakfast bar on the bottom of the macrowave stand by placing a piece of leftover vinyl flooring atop the wood shelf, to protect it.

Before I finish painting the walls Matt is going to update the electrics for me.  There are two outlet/switch combinations on the wall.  The one to the right of the sink has the switch to the right of the outlets, so that I have to reach over the plugs to turn on the light; I'm going to have Matt flip them around.  The one to the left of the sink has a non-functioning switch (I presume it was meant for a garbage disposal); I'm going to have Matt exchange the switch for outlets, to replace this monstrosity the previous homeowners left us and we continue to use.  Ug-ih-lee.


The roofers are here.


Matt doesn't remember what color shingles we selected and I won't remind him, it's driving him nuts.  They are supposed to have the house shingled today and the garage tomorrow, then will do the fascia work.

I took the day off yesterday to give my arms a rest.  Scrape, scrub, brush...my arms are going to be buff when the reno is done!  I went antiquing.  Of particular joy is my new desk lamp, which I fell in love with about three years ago but didn't buy because I didn't have a place/use for it.  I couldn't stop thinking about it and went back for it, but it was gone.  :(   I've continued to keep my eyes out every time we've been in the antique store, but never saw it.  I found it yesterday in a different booth on a different floor. :)


I also bought a orphan etched-glass cordial, which I've assembled a small collection of over the years, a copper jelly pot which will look fantastic as a stock pot in the English Cottage Kitchen, and a tarnished silver bowl because I felt sorry for it.


The bowl polished up beautifully.  It says Tri-State 24, Ninth Place, 1960.  If a silver bowl was the trophy for ninth place I'm curious what the trophy was for first.



renovation update #3

Wallpaper stripping is coming along slowly.  I got another little section of wall done.


Upon the advice of a professional colleague I bought a bottle of DIF wallpaper stripper.   All the home renovation TV shows that tell you fabric softener is the best stripper, that it's some kind of trade secret...they're lying, the lot of them.  

I bought new pulls for the kitchen cabinets.  I was going to buy new silver hinges to match the silver pulls, but couldn't find any that matched the hole pattern of my current hinges.  Then I took an SOS pad to the hinges and happily discovered they aren't brown, they're copper.  Yay!   I love copper, and it looks wonderful against the teal.

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I was all set last weekend to paint the rest of the cabinets, but then my direction was shifted.  Matt wants to bring his CD racks back into the house, and wants to move them from sitting side by side to the left of the door to sitting one atop the other behind the door.  He brought the first rack inside, looked at the wall, then me, and said "Oh.  I suppose I have to wait until you've painted there first, don't I?"

Since it doesn't matter what order the painting is done in, as long as it gets done, I spent last weekend painting one end of the living room.


I was going to replace the closet doors, because of the gap at the bottom, but then I priced new closet doors.  Outrageous!  I decided to live with the gap, and painted the doors the same color as the wall.  I bought new silver nickels levers to replace the old brass knobs, and will most likely replace the hinges too.

Over the course of the workweek my brain got stuck in a loop of whether to finish the contest miniature or work on the life-sized reno.  Which is more important, one has a deadline, what if I focus on one during the week and the other on the weekend, etc, etc, etc.  I finally decided that I am going to wake up each morning, ask myself what I want to work on that day, then do that.

Yesterday morning I wanted to paint the worn, flat black dresser that sits in the entry before I roll it back against the new walls and floor.  That's what I did.  She looks smart.  I bought new knobs with a deeper projection because Matt had worn the paint off the front of the drawer behind the knobs.  She needs one more coat of polycrylic on the top then can roll back into place.


There was much conversation yesterday, between coats of paint, about Matt's CD racks.


I understand why he wants to move them, they aren't very functional sitting behind the end table, and will be less accessible once I add a lamp to that table.  They won't fit side by side behind the door, and if one is cut down so they can sit one atop the other he'll lose two shelves, which means he will have to pare down his collection a bit, but, worse than that, I pointed out, it leaves no room for growth.   Possible other solutions were discussed, and it was decided he will make a new rack to fit the space, in the same manner he built the rack in the kitchen.  We are also discussing lighting options so that he can see the CDs, but have yet to reach agreement on that solution.

This is the kitchen rack he built for me a few years ago when I couldn't find a functional microwave stand that was also attractive.  It is made from threaded steel rod, nuts, washers, rubber feet, and stained furniture grade pine.  It has proven perfectly functional, and is extraordinarily adjustable.  When I bought Bob the roomba I had Matt raise the bottom shelf an inch so Bob can fit under it to clean.


Matt is out in the garage building the new rack now.  I should take him a glass of water, it's very hot today.  Ester and I are inside enjoying the air conditioning.




renovation update #2

I got the wall behind the stove and refrigerator, and the walls behind the washer and dryer, stripped, washed, washed, washed, primed, and painted, so that I could move the appliances back into place.

Before we moved the washer and dryer back I had Matt buy and hang a couple of ready-to-install unfinished cabinets to replace the shallow open shelves that were there previously, which I had hung a curtain in front of so I didn't have to look at cleaning supplies.  There was a shelf high on the wall opposite the back door where seldom used large pots were kept, which I gleefully eliminated when the pots were relocated to the top of the new cabinets.

I also relocated Ester's food dishes, which sat on the floor in this area and Had to be stepped around when I did laundry.  She now has a "breakfast bar" on the bottom shelf of the microwave stand.  She has shown no opinion about it.


I left the 1970 wallpaper in place on the wall behind the appliances.  I am going to paint the cupboards the same beige as I am painting the walls.  I may paint the bit of back wall above the cupboards beige too, I haven't decided yet.

I had planned to paint the walls a light gray before the new flooring was installed, while I could still use the old flooring as a drop cloth.  I'm glad I didn't.  After the new flooring was in I knew gray walls would be too much gray.  I took some leftover carpet and vinyl to the paint store to pick out a new neutral....Benjamin Moore's Hillsborough Beige.

After much back and forth we decided on new colors for the kitchen cabinetry.

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Matt wanted to paint just the doors, as had been done previously, but I think that's ugly.  I wanted to paint the doors and the boxes, but he thought one block of color would be ugly.  We reached agreement on painting the uppers and lowers different shades of teal.  I think we're both going to love it.  (I put just enough of the cupboard doors back on to show you the new colors, I'll put the rest on later.)

This is the other side of the kitchen...consider it a before picture...


I was going to have the countertop replaced, but the original 1970 white with gold fleck laminate looks good with the new color scheme, and is still in great condition, so I'll leave it.  I am going to replace the sink and faucet though, because the faucet leaks at the base and there is a lot of ugly mineral build up that I can't clean off.

Notice, in that last picture, my new window.  My new windows and doors were installed over the course of the last two weeks.  I had the double-hung in the kitchen replaced with an awning window, so that I can reach to open it without standing on my tiptoes and stretching.  I love it.

The rest of the double-hung windows were replaced with new, energy efficient, modern double-hungs.  The bow window in the living room was replaced with a new bow window.

Here's the old bow window...


Here's the new...


On the old window only the two lower, outermost, panes opened (well, only one did, because the other was broken), now I have full casement windows on each side.  Yay!

It was discovered when pulling the old windows and doors out, that while most of the windows were original to the 1970 build, the bow window and the doors had been replaced at some point.  The bow window wasn't screwed in!  It was held in place by a balancing act and the nails in the trim.  When I think of the number of times I kneeled on the base of it and leaned on it to wash it....I could very easily have landed outside in the garden, cut to pieces.  There was a one inch gap on either side of the window that was not insulated, and a slew of old mouse nests above it.  Neither of the doors were sealed, which explains why I had yellowjackets building a nest in the back door threshold a few years ago.  Yikes!  The new windows and doors are so well secured and insulated that our boiler is now setting off the smoke detector when it comes on (we're getting some cold nights already).  We need to add a vent from the furnace closet to the outside since we're sealed up now and have created a vacuum.  Apparently the heating guy should have installed that vent when we got the new boiler a few years ago, to bring us up to code, but....

What I like best about the new windows is that now I can't hear cars drive by, or the young girl across the street playing (she's a screamer).  I can't wait to see what my electric and gas bills are this winter.

We ordered the new front door with a window at the top.  It lets in a surprising amount of light into the front entry.  I love the color.  Winterberry.  It matches wonderfully, coincidentally, my husband's leather chair.  The new back door has a larger window than the old, letting more light into my laundry area.

I eliminated the storm doors, aka screen doors.  It freaked Ester out.  She wouldn't go through the new doorway, I had to carry her out the first time.  She's used to it now.


The new carpeting looks solid gray in the picture, but is really a mix of cream, tan and gray fibers.

Next on the reno to-do list is to paint the rest of the kitchen cupboards, purchase new cabinet handles, replace the blue closet doors in the living room (the new flooring has created a gap at the bottom of the doors), and finish stripping wallpaper and painting the walls.  I also have to call the roofer to see if he has a date in mind yet.

Let's see, what else....

Oh!  I splurged on the latest model roomba.  I named him Bob.  Bob cleans under my sofa, under the beds and dressers....I love Bob.  Ester hates Bob, but she'll have to deal with it.