13 posts categorized "Kate's Stone House"

Double house update

I  spent most of yesterday at my daughter's house.  She needed help reassembling a metal storage rack I gave her that came out of my office.  She is in the midst of more renovations,  a stonemason has been working on the exterior of her house for about  a month, on and off; mostly off, due to all of the rain we’ve been experiencing.  This summer has been much like I imagine living in England is.


A  before picture of a section of the stone wall...




Once the exterior stonework is done I think it’s on to the new roof, but I’m not sure if there is enough time left before winter.

She has also engaged the new contractors to finish the attic/loft, and re-do the remodel of the shower because the first builders didn’t do it correctly and it’s falling apart.  She has been living at her house but showering at mine for the last year.  (There is a longer story there, but it’s not for the public.)

The bathroom in her house is comically small, so this time she’s stealing some space from one bedroom to set the shower further away from the toilet, so one can pee without setting one’s feet in the shower.  That is something her mother suggested during the first remodel, but mothers don’t know anything.  ;)


I was tired and in need of a nap when I came home from my daughter's house. Instead of napping I decided to finish the siding on the front of the house. I did a shit job of it. It’s nothing that can’t be hidden with trim, but I will have to glue in shims so that I have something to glue the window trim to.  I’m unhappy with it, but it will be okay in the end. 


I have been watching TV during drying times. I should be making books and accessories for the inside of the build, but that would entail cleaning off a work surface, and I’ve recently discovered The Great British Baking Show on Netflix.

I did did get the third side sided and painted today, correctly.  On to the fourth side, tomorrow.


little stone house update

Life with roommates only lasted about two or three weeks before Kate told the couple to leave, then another 5 weeks or so until they were gone.  They were supposed to move in with three cats, all spayed, but moved in with four cats and four kittens, and only the old man cat was neutered.  That wasn't too bad, Kate loves cats, and all but one was a pleasant animal, but the roommates didn't clean the four litterboxes they spread out over three floors in a 900 square foot house so the cats were forced, after a time, to go to the bathroom on the floor.  Nor did the couple make veterinary appointments to get the cats spayed, and the females were constantly in heat; one started to spray and had to be locked in the basement.  Kate had no choice but to buy litter, clean the litterboxes, and litter train the kittens herself, in order to save her house.  The whole process was a stressful drama with much lying and resentment, a lost friendship, and a break-up.   Thankfully the cats didn't go to the bathroom on the hardwood floor on the main level, there would have been no saving it.  A thorough scrubbing of tile and an airing out of the whole house got rid of most of the stink.

Ordinarily I wouldn't tell you all that, it's Kate's personal life, but you have to know a broad overview of the background for the next batch of house renovations to make sense.

The only good that came out of their brief stay was that Kate kept two of the kittens, Gomez and Belle (though Kate calls her Belly, because she loves belly rubs).  They, of course, have received their vaccinations, were spayed and neutered, have been leash trained, wear tags, are cleaned up after, and cared for.  They are cuddly, friendly little munchkins who deserved a responsible owner, and they keep Kate from being lonely.  She didn't intend to incur the expense of pets until she was settled in and more financially stable, but it's a good thing it happened now, I think, Kate needs the cuddles.


The cat-pee soaked carpet and plywood subfloor had to be removed from the upstairs attic area that was ready to move into, that is to be Kate's bedroom.  When that was removed fire damage was found on the floor underneath in quite a large area.  Thankfully, the char only went halfway down through the floorboards and did not damage the support underneath.  The floorboards, then, had to be removed as well, then she and a friend gutted the entire attic, to make sure there was no fire damage on the walls and ceiling that had been covered up with drywall.  There was no further damage....nor was there much insulation, which explains the ice dams on the roof in the winter which cause leaks.  A company is scheduled to come next week to spray foam insulation in the attic and around the new headers in the basement.  She and her friend should have the new plywood subfloor installed by then.  The subfloor is taking longer than expected, because the original support beams are made from reclaimed beams, probably from a barn, and don't provide a level surface.  They are adding additional support where needed to ensure the new subfloor is level and, hopefully, quieter than the old one, which creaked.


When they gutted the attic they removed the walls that divided the space into sections and are planning built in storage, etc, to customize the space for Kate's needs.  She intends to make the absolute most of the space she has.  Right now she is using the two small bedrooms downstairs, that she intended to rent out at least one of, so has no rental income coming in, while the repair costs keep piling up.  She can meet all her financial obligations without a renter, but not with as much money left over as she feels comfortable about socking away for when an emergency pops up.

One of the girls returned her house key when they moved out, but the other did not, so Husband bought and installed two electronic keypad locks on her front and back doors last weekend.  It is far easier to add and remove codes for renters than have locks re-keyed.  Plus, they are more convenient, we have them on our house and love them.

I'm sure the cats will be disappointed when the attic is finished, as right now it makes a wonderful playground.


The previous owners hadn't done any work in the attic, but they had in the basement, covering the walls with pink board insulation, and painting it.  The pink board had to be taken down because of cat spray damage.  Plus, after the broken sump pump/flooded basement issue last spring Kate was concerned there could be mold growing behind it.  She didn't find any mold, but did find that the main support beams holding the house up were rotting away.  She had her contractors put in new beams and headers where needed.


Still on the to-do list, hopefully before winter, are to remove the asphalt driveway and regrade the property away from the house, and to tuck-point the stone walls.  Kate bought scaffolding from Craig's list, and has done much research on tuck-pointing.  It's maintenance that has to be done yearly, which she is learning to do herself.  "It's all part of owning a stone house", she tells me.

Still on the to-do list, but put off until next year, due to lack of funds, is re-shingling the roof, and installing a new, more energy efficient and reliable hot water heater.  She also wants to tear the mudroom addition down to its studs to see why the ceiling has started to sag and the tiles are popping off the floor.  I suspect she'll find the heavy looking tongue and groove board on the ceiling wasn't adequately attached, and the tiles were put on a floor that hadn't been leveled first.

Also on the to-do list, dated 'eventually', is more work in the basement.  She wants to paint the walls and floors, which need some cosmetic repair work first.

All in all, Kate is full of regret, and wishes she had bought a small piece of land and a new mobile home to live in until she saved enough money to build a house.  When she bought this house she knew it needed a bathroom remodel and new doors and windows.  She didn't anticipate having to have all the plumbing and electrical redone, etc.  She still loves the cute little stone cottage, but has twice as much money into the house, so far, than what it is worth.  Fortunately, the small house is on a large double lot so she has room to add on when the need arises and the time is right.  I keep reminding her that she did all the right things when she made the purchase, she was there to witness the thorough inspection, and that no one can see through walls.   I tell her she can't go back, she can only push forward, and this experience is certainly teaching her much.  Besides, eventually she'll have repaired everything, so she will have a new house, but inside old stone walls.






moving in to the stone house

Done! Done enough to move in, anyway. I have no pictures because we mopped our way out of the house last night.

I announced that I'd had enough, we could knock the rest of the things off the to-do list with one long, hard day, and went into project manager mode. I was out at the house bright and early, after I'd had my morning coffee, to finish the touch up painting in the blue bedroom. Husband came out a bit later to mount a deadbolt, hang smoke detectors, put on register covers, etc. Kate came out after she got out of work at 10 am. I washed walls while Kate cleaned out all the construction odds and ends. We swept, mopped, scrubbed, etc. I taught Kate how to use her drill...she drilled holes for and put on the cabinet knobs she bought for the kitchen. Etc, etc, etc...it was indeed a long, hard day. We came home, had a late dinner, and went straight to bed.

Kate was getting so discouraged, with everything that kept going wrong, but seeing the house in a liveable state instead of as a construction zone has lifted her spirits considerably. My muscles ache, but today we start moving her stuff in.

I'm sick of the little stone house

Spring sprung here three weeks ago, but it only lasted a week before winter shooed it away. Everything is covered in snow again.  It's cold, dreary, and depressing.

Work continues at a slow pace at Kate's house.  Just as her 60 hour work weeks were going back to the normal 36 the new nurse got sick, so she got called in.  She, her future roommate, and I have been painting whenever one of us can get out there, but we all work full time, so it hasn't been as often as we'd like.   Kate's exhausted, I'm sick of painting, we both want the renovation to be finally DONE already so we can rest.  I'm looking forward to my Chicago trip in a couple of weeks!

She had an electrician out last week to run modern wiring and replace some outlets in the living room and kitchen.   Her roommate's Uncle came yesterday to replace the broken sump pump in her flooding basement.  There were two sump pumps in the basement, one broken and one working, when she bought the house.  We didn't realize the second sump pump was necessary until all the rain and thawing snow caused water to pour into holes in the sides of its basin, overflowing onto the floor and rushing across the basement to the second, working, sump pump.  He told us "this town is wet", we'll always have the issue, everyone with a basement does, but as long as the sump pumps are working the basement will be dry.  She is still going to have the property re-graded this summer, though, as the ground currently slopes toward the house and garage instead of away from them.   (That's not noticeable when one buys a house in December and the ground is covered in a foot of snow.)

While the new sump pump was being installed Kate spent hours scrubbing the last of the residual grout haze from the bathroom tiles while I primed and painted the ground floor window recesses. 

The list of things to be done is getting shorter. The painting is almost done now except for touch up painting on the walls of the blue bedroom, the trim around the front door, and the trim in the mudroom.  (The mudroom and front door need to wait for warmer weather.)  There are some odd and end tasks to take care of...cabinet knobs installed, outlet covers put back on, curtain rods hung, have a mirrored front made for the custom built medicine cabinet, etc.  Mostly it just needs a good cleaning.  The professional cleaning she was gifted doesn't look like it's going to happen, the cleaners her realtor knows are either out of the business or unavailable, so Kate and I will do it ourselves.

The drywall was slightly damaged around the living room outlets when they were replaced, and rather than try to repair the damage Kate bought new, larger, outlet covers.  She fell in love with these resin ones, but they didn't come in white, so "I'll just spray paint them!"  Sigh. 

I explained they are too detailed for a non-expert to spray paint without making a gloppy mess, then brought them home with me and am painting them for her.  I was going to brush a coat of enamel paint on them, because it will wear well, but she wants them to match the rest of her trim.  Thankfully I insisted she buy a good quality paint with ceramic in it.  Here's the first with a coat of gesso....once I'm sure the gesso adheres well I'll coat the rest.



studio time

I didn't have to labor at Kate's house this weekend.  She has been working 60 hour weeks the last few weeks and wanted to catch up on her sleep.  The contractors finished their work this week, there is some painting Kate needs to do, the electrician has to finish up this week, and the cleaner has to come out (the professional cleaning is a gift from her realtor).

Since I had the weekend for myself I caught up on housework, went to my favorite antiques store, and spent some time in my studio.

The new porch railing has been assembled....am waiting for glue to dry.  I had a brief "oh shit!" moment as I placed the last magnet in the jig, when I realized I hadn't paid attention to which way was right side up when I glued the balusters in.  They're fine; either I've been doing this long enough that it was habit, or I got lucky.


While I was waiting, I began alterations on a Reutter Porcelain resin owl statue that is too tall to fit on a bookcase shelf.  Here he is with a large portion of the base removed, and the tufts of feathers that make the "horns" sanded down...


I am going to turn him into a spectacle owl....here he is after his first coat of paint....


I'm using oils to paint him.  I rarely paint with oils because I'm generally impatient about dry time, but each time I do I'm surprised anew at how much I enjoy them.  I have the same reaction every time I listen to the Beta Band's 3 E.P.'s album.


 Saturday I finally found the perfect antique chair to use with the antique desk my husband bought me for Christmas.  I've been looking for one the last two months.  Pardon the odd angle of the photograph, the desk is sitting in my dining room, waiting for Kate to move into her house...I've got dibs on her old bedroom.


 I also bought myself a shot glass.  I love etched glass, but don't have room to display much, so this was perfect.  I bought Kate a piece of pink depression glass. 


Because Kate's house is tiny she needs a tiny dining table....something no larger than bistro size.  I saw this gorgeous tilt-top table that would be perfect, so snapped a pic to show Kate.


 I also snapped a pic of this citrus reamer,  as she has been complaining that she can't find a deep one....and she has a weakness for vaseline glass.


 She was intrigued by both pieces, so we went this morning to check them out.  She passed on the table because she didn't like the color of the finish.

"It's the same brown color as all the fake wood table finishes.  I don't like it." 

"But you know it's solid wood, not veneer, right?"

"I know.  I don't like the color."

"It's the perfect size for your space."

"Yes it is."

"It has a beautiful shape, and I love the base"

 "I've seen better ones on Etsy."

"At this price point?!?  And this one has no shipping cost."

"I hadn't thought of that.  I don't like the color."


She got the reamer and an awesome tea cart for her kitchen.  The bottom shelf is loose from the legs, but it's nothing some wood glue and clamps can't fix.  I can teach her.


updates galore

I've only a couple of hours to myself this morning before I'm off to help Kate labor at her house.  I've got two week's worth of updates to share, since I slacked off with only a single picture last week.  I implied a relaxing Sunday with that picture, but it was merely staged, I've been a busy, busy girl.

Let's start at Kate's house....

Last time I was there the front entry door had been installed, the windows redone to sit further forward toward the exterior, the window trim started, and more was completed in the bathroom.


Instead of wood to frame out the windows they used Trex, which is an eco-friendly composite material usually used for decks.  It was her contractor's idea, to make them maintenance free.  The wood that had framed in the old windows was rotting.  Kate picked the gray color, clam shell, I believe it's named, which blends nicely with the stone and the sandstone colored windows.


Kate's mudroom addition has several finishes going on....one wall is stone, with an antique dark wood and glass door...another is stone with a white painted wood door and a dark wood milk delivery door....the wall opposite that was painted green, with Kate's new purple door and a white trimmed window....the fourth is finished in dark shiplap, which continues onto the ceiling, and has three white trimmed windows.   I painted the green wall white to match the window trim and the white door opposite.  Everything looks complimentary now.  Kate was going to change the color later but I insisted now was the time to handle it, before they put the interior trim up around the new windows and door.



I finally got a chance to drive my parents out to see the house.  They were delighted and proud.  Both think the house is adorable and well suited to Kate.

The bathroom is coming along.  They installed the sliding glass shower doors I told her repeatedly she didn't have room for, which have since been removed because there isn't room for them.  The new toilet and vanity are in, as are the beadboard, edge tiles, and wooden trim, which matches the wooden trim in all the other rooms.


We stopped at an estate sale a couple weekends ago.  It was the last day, everything was marked down by half....Kate got this gorgeous cedar chest, along with a pressure cooker, waffle maker, other kitchen odds and ends, and a nice garden spreader, all for ninety-some dollars.  Score!


The estate sale reminded me that I bought a fold-down shelf/table thing at a garage sale last summer, which was promptly shoved in my closet.  I dug it out and Matthew installed it under the dining room window for Ester.  She loves it.  It was definitely worth a dollar.


Spring is in the air here, the snow is melting, the birds are singing...  We had a couple of days in the 60s this week, so I played hooky Tuesday and Matthew and I drove around Leelanau Peninsula.  We stopped at Fishtown to walk and enjoy the warmth.  It's much more relaxing when it's not tourist season, even though all the little shops were closed....plus, there were no other people there to get in way of taking good pictures.



We had fresh lake perch for lunch in Sutton's Bay, then wandered downtown.  I saw these fantastic bicycles in a home decor shop.  They aren't scale pieces, but they're the right size.  It was a tough decision to pick between the red and the green, so I brought home both of them.


I did find a few hours, but only a few, to begin work on the contest house.

I microwaved and tore apart the porch pieces.  The balusters didn't want to cooperate, but those were the pieces I wanted to replace, so I broke them out, then sanded the top and bottom rails smooth.  I will use my table saw to cut a new, skinnier, groove in them to insert the new baluster sections.




A big little stone house update

Most of the windows and doors were installed last week.  The front entry door and it's storm door, and one of the basement windows, aren't in yet.  None of the windows have been trimmed yet.  Still, it looks so much better already!  Kate picked white for the interior side of the windows and sandstone for the exterior side.  The sandstone compliments the stones nicely I think.  She selected it because it's not as eye catching as white, so that the stones are the focal point instead of the windows....she put a lot of thought into it.  The new storm door will be sandstone as well, and the entry door will be Metropolitan Orange.


The new kitchen window is shorter, so now the bottom of the window is above the counter, instead of below it.


In the spring they're going to fill the gap on the exterior with stones, so you won't be able to tell there used to be a larger window there.


Of the four window holes in the basement, only one had a window.  One was broken and boarded up, one had been removed and boarded up to run the dryer exhaust through, and the fourth had been removed and boarded up to vent the furnace through.  Kate had them all opened up.  It made a tremendous difference....no more dark basement!  The window above the dryer has a section to the right of it where the dryer and furnace will both vent.  Once the pipes are done to reroute the furnace vent over to the window above the dryer they can install the final window.  Also...the plumbing has been redone in the whole house, and the new washer and dryer have been delivered.  The new refrigerator was delivered too, but I'll save kitchen pictures until after the new shelving is in.


Today we painted the bathroom....two coats of primer and one coat of pink...Valerie, it's named.  Tomorrow morning we'll paint a second coat.  We primed the walls top to bottom, to seal the drywall (no idea if we needed to), but are only painting the top half (and the ceiling) pink, since beadboard will be installed on the bottom half. 


Now for the bad news.  The roof leaks.  We knew, based on the home inspection, there was no ventilation in the roof and the shingles are old, so the roof would need to be addressed within a few years.  There were no leaks evident during the inspection, but after the first snow melt a few small ones appeared.  Also noticeable were ice flows on the stone, from the roof to the ground, because the roof has almost no overhang.  Kate's Uncle Bob, an architect, came out today to take a look, and is going to meet with her builders next week.  We were worried the whole thing would have to be restructured, but Bob says no, that the rafters look great, additions can be sistered in to form an overhang and then this, and that, and the other...sheeting, insulation, powered vents, etc...  She's planning on putting on a metal roof to match the relatively new metal roof on the garage.

They also had a lengthy discussion about regrading the property, which has to be done sooner rather than later, as well.  It's going to be a very busy year.




little stone house update - bathroom progress

The bathroom is coming along nicely (but slowly...I wish dry time was instantaneous).

She's waiting now for the drywall guy, who is having fits about the condition of the driveway.  Kate's contractors ran her snowblower yesterday, but we will have to go out this weekend with ice picks and shovels to clean out the end, where there is a hump of snow packed down as hard as cement.

New windows and doors arrive later this week.