August 31, 2009

Weekend bullet points

This past weekend:

- I moved a truly staggering amount of cinder block
-learned that cinder block is called so because there are cinders mixed in with cement
-had not quite so epic trip at the dump, only .85 tons
-wore out a pair of work gloves
-swung a sledgehammer for the first time.
- got to play in the ocean with my adorable nephew

Guess what I enjoyed the most?

Guess what hurt my arms/back/hands the most?

Mondays are so painful.

August 28, 2009

Fancy Chair Re-do

The Internet is full of excellent DIY home improvement designers. There is no shortage of people showing off how easy it was to fix and updated furniture up themselves with a little paint, some staples and updated hardware. However there are certain projects that do require a pro in order for the job to be done right. Every good DIY'er should know when to attempt it yourself or to start researching for a qualified professional. Such was the case with my Mom's chairs. She loved them as-is, but they needed a lot of love to reach maximum potential. After hunting down the perfect fabric she carted the chairs off to get professional reupholstered for some much needed TLC.

Meet chair #1- Blue chair came from a antique shop. Size is perfect, shape is classic and fabric is well worn fug.
Chair # 1 After...

Chair #2- or "Lion Head Chair" Rumored to be from an office in Princeton University.

And the Lion Head chair After...

The chairs sat as befores for years while my mom hunted down the perfect fabric. She eventually came across deals of the century for both chairs. The red print fabric was a gift to her by the manufacturer who was so pleased with the work she did for them. Free is the best price tag ever! As for the gold fabric, she found that on sale for... $12 a yard in the NYC garment district. It was the end of the bolt and they just wanted to be rid of it, so she was able to drive down the price to almost nothing.

Until the chairs were picked up they cause quite a stir at the upholsters showroom. There were several requests to find out what shop they were intended for so people could purchase them. My mom is beyond thrilled with the results, as she should be because now both chairs look amazing in her home. She's constantly rearranging the living room and reading nook now to find the "perfect" place for both of these. Where ever they end up always looks good. They just fit her love of traditional and antique furnishings home styling perfectly.

(I've already claimed dibs over my sister on the Lion Head chair)

Showing # 15

This afternoon showing #15 for our house is happening.

Have to rush home (on a rainy friday no less), hide the cat box, stuff laundry baskets up in the attic and vacate the house with both pets.

All in the hopes that this is person who will make an offer on our house.
Slim chance.

August 27, 2009

Epic Day at the Dump

Saturday morning we did a not so quick dump run, from loading the trailer to dropping exhausted into the car's seats after the unloading it took us 2 frigging hours total. All for good reason though, we hit a record weight in refuse... 1.45 tons. TONS.

Good news is that we were able to recycle a good bit of the load! We tried really hard to separate all the old shingles and OSB board from the solid wood parts for the special "wood only" dumpster. Our dump has a separate container for wood only so it can be recycled.

Even with hitting 1.45 tons last week, there is still another load of shed crapola to get rid of. Fingers crossed that its only one more trip until everything is gone.

August 26, 2009

Buzz buzz buzz

The things that you find in an old home's walls always fascinate me. They range from the valuable to the sentimental and sometimes just plain odd. While demolishing what used to be the outside walls I unearthed this....

A well over two foot long beehive. Yikes! I'm pretty happy the bees look to be long gone, cause this is one monster of a hive. The wall must have vibrated constantly from all the hive activity when it was colonized.

August 25, 2009

Construction Self Portrait.

Included in reflection- Broken window. Courtesy of my hammer and a misplaced blow.

Fubar takes on Plaster, and Wins!

Before the Wee house I'd never taken down a wall. Sure I've knocked into and dented more than my fair share of walls before, but I'd never intentionally pulled one completely down. Now that the living room areas were almost completely stripped of their paneling it became time to take the walls out.

At first I was staunchly against taking down our plaster walls, but Pete talked me round to accepting it and now I can say I'm behind the decision to rip them out. This isn't going to be a historically accurate remodel because our house doesn't call for one. Our renovation goal is to take an neglected house and make it a livable home while highlighting any historical charm available. Cracking plaster walls are most certainly not charming.

Enter the Stanley FuBar and a quick lesson on how to use it.
Aim- swing-land on wall. Crack plaster. Pry off lath. Repeat.

I have to say, the FuBar is FUN! And with a weight of 4+lbs I got quite the upper body workout in as I took out the diving walls between the two living rooms and exposed the original exterior wall. All while creating a glorious fantastic construction mess.

Picture of the original exterior wall of the house... hence the window... With the non structural dividing wall mostly down...

Pardon the blurry pictures, my hands were shot for the day. I'd developed a nice healthy set of thumb blisters from the way too large work gloves that I was wearing while swinging the fubar. Ouch.

August 24, 2009

Down go the Cinder blocks!

The view of the shed after an afternoon of clearing the last bits of the roof/wood/plastic from the structure. I liked how it looked like this, reminded me of old ruins we saw all over Ireland. If old Gaelic structures had orange Home Depot ladders in them. And if they were located in New Jersey.

Once the shed was just a shell I let my imagination run a little wild and started envisioning 1,237 various ways to fix it up. But none of those imagined designs were a garage, which is what we need most of all. More than an outdoor dining room with terrace or giant doll house that is for sure, which were my two favorite imaginative designs.

I went inside the Wee house to play with Mr.Smashy and the Husband got busy with taking the walls down. An hour or two passes and I went outside to check on him, being safety conscious I was just making sure he wasn't involved in some sort of freak tumbling wall accident. Husband was fine and in the middle of pushing down a stubborn cinder block wall, I joined in on the fun and soon enough the wall was down!

Cinder block walls are surprisingly easy to push down when rebar isn't used. Note to everyone- use rebar and fill the holes with cement if you don't want some 5'6" Jersey Girl to have the ability to demolish any cinder block structures you build.

Ze' Rubble. I lost a Hydrangea bush in the process. Which made give Pete the evil eye, I'll try to dig up the root system this fall, it might still be salvageable.

After a day of the Husband swinging the sledgehammer and him ( I helped!) pushing walls over. Can't believe that everything is down! Now comes the hard part of disposing all the broken bits. We've contacted a cement recycling facility and they'll take the cinder block for FREE!! Just have to figure out if trailering loads over or renting a dumpster is best.

August 19, 2009

Found in the Shed!

Pete was halfway through of the demolition of the shed roof when he called me outside to see his newest find. I don't know how we missed noticing this before, but we somehow did. Mainly because the shed was so dark and creepy that we would never spend a lot of time in it.

Can you believe this was just sitting in the shed?! I couldn't believe we had something this cool just rotting in there the whole time. Unfortunately the piece is beyond repair. We're going to try and salvage one of the side carvings, but everything else is rotten through.

At first I thought maybe this was a mantle, but then I remembered that mantels don't have backings. So now my best guess is that this was part of an old built-in shelving unit. Something that was maybe torn out to put in the new kitchen? Another casualty of the horrible living room paneling? No matter where its original home or purpose was, I can't believe that it got relocated to be shed shelves! I really wish I could find out the story behind this piece. Such a sad ending no matter its earlier story.

As if I needed another reason for a head to desk moment regarding our previous owners tenure in the house. First was the wood crown moldings and trim turned drop ceiling support, now what seems to be a finely crafted built was used as shed shelves. Outdated is understandable, but to strip the house of its historic aspects? Why?

August 18, 2009

Getting down with Mr.Smashy!

While Pete was outside demolishing the shed I decided to get busy with tearing apart the inside of the house. I grabbed Mr.Smashy, my trusty rusty crowbar, and headed into the living room areas. Plan of attack- get paneling off the walls. Our living room(s) are separated by a partial wall and large opening.

Trim was the first thing I pulled off in the room. Most of it was in the extremely cheap variety, as in plastic and some sort of odd wood Styrofoam hybrid, so no love was lost as I yanked away. Some of the window trim was installed on top of the paneling, which meant in order to get the paneling off I had to pry away. Thankfully finish nails were the only things used to hold anything down and they make for easy removal.

Next came time to work on the paneling themselves. In theory they should be extremely easy to remove, couple nails pop out and you just have to wrestle the unruly sheet down. Theories are for the birds folks. Most of the room had two layers of paneling- Dark Wood and Light Wood! Which is automatically double the work. There was heating duct work , DIY walls and double layers of paneling blocking my every move. Adding to the complication was the fact they used paneling nails, which have lovely rings that make the nail extremely hard to get out.

Taking down the paneling included not only pulling but kicking, jumping and cursing until a I managed to get a piece down. Every time I would get in a rhythm with taking down the panels I would run across a new challenge... or new disappointment. Like when I took down the chimney paneling (flowers!) and saw nothing but plaster and wallpaper behind it. Sigh, I was so hoping for an amazing fireplace with bricks and maybe an inlaid tile pattern. I'm in for a lot of careful chipping if I want to see those bricks!

The front wall was by far the most surprising in that we discovered a hidden doorway behind the paneling! It must have led in from the original foyer. We had no idea that there was anything behind that paneling besides plaster. An window frame was also uncovered , but we knew that was there, since you can see if from the other side of the wall.

Quick notes about this photo-
#1 is pointing out out the BLUE wood paneling that the hallway had.
#2 Shows where our original wood trim used to be! The moulding that was taken off so the paneling could lay flat. The same trim that was pulled off, cut up and used to hang the drop ceiling.
The view from our newly discovered door looking into the room at the end of the work day.
and a tiny blurry Nala puppy looking over my hard work.

Mr.Smashy and I would have high fived at this point. But he doesn't have hands, so I went outside and chilled in the shade with some water instead. The other side of the living room can wait a bit!

August 17, 2009

Even MORE Excitement!

Guess what?! Our kitchen was chosen to be featured on the DIY Show Off as well! That news is almost too much excitement for a Monday!

In response to one of the comments, it is not tacky to ask about the total costs! I don't mind sharing budget details at all. I'm one of those proud budget shoppers who tells everyone how much something costs when it recieves a compliment. Even if they didn't want to know, I still still tell.

Kitchen Budget Breakdown-

Glasstop Stove – Ebay (local pick up) - $150
Built in Microwave - $250
Sink – Lowes Clearance - $25
Faucet - $100
Garbage disposal - $100
Dishwasher - $300
Refrigerator – Sears Clearance - $375
Ikea Bamboo Flooring - $250
Ikea Butcher Countertops - $350
Tile Backsplash - $150
Hardware – hinges & handles - $300
Paint – primer, trim, special rollers, high quality cabinet paint, paint stripper - $100
Light fixture – removed chain from ikea dining light - $50

Total ~$2500 including all new appliances

Link to original post-

Feel free to ask any additional questions!

August 14, 2009

So Excited!!

Our bathroom remodel was featured on this great blog "The DIY showoff"

I feel pretty special that our bathroom got picked :)

The State of the Shed

This weekend we have two completely uninterrupted days to work on the house, and I'm really jazzed about it! You know you have serious house fever when all you want to do is sweat your buns off working in a stinky old house.

Pete ended the weekend last Sunday by loading up the trailer with more of the shed remains and old roof. Now we're able to start the Saturday work day by heading right over to the dump, what a stinky way to start the weekend! Lately my sense of smell is crazy strong and I gag if we get stuck by a particularly ripe spot. Hopefully our straight to the dump strategy will leave us enough time in the work day to load up another trailer and drive back over there for a repeat. The dump is only open on Wed and Sat from 8-3. Since we both work full time, Saturday really is our only available day to get there.

Why not get a dumpster you ask? Cause all this does seem like an awful lot of trouble to go through for disposing the demolition materials... Easy answer. Money!
Dumpsters are quite costly and given the nature of our materials, they would fill up fast! We've come close to filling the dumps dumpsters with a trailer load before, and for only $60 that is a lot easier of a price to swallow than the $300+ it would cost for a 30 yard dumpster in the driveway. One dumpster would not even come close to making a dent in everything we need to do.

The load above held most of the living room panels and all the plastic/wood rigged greenhouse side of the shed. The canvas tarp gets put on top to help with keeping debris from flying out. This trailer load hit over a ton at the dump.

All the demolition stuff is coming along slowly but surely... but there is still so much to clean up!

Inside the main part of the shed. Notice the beam sticking out by the other door? I walked into that last weekend. Gave me a nice little bump on the noggin. Being careful is something I really have to work on.

What Happens...

When there is an open house and no one shows up?

You have two very annoyed home sellers.

showing # 15 and 16 occured last week.
no offers.
The only bonus is a very very clean house.

August 13, 2009

Home Goods Design Quiz...

Since I'm such a novice when it comes to design and decor I thought I'd take the fun little quiz here: to see where I might get classified design wise. I have to say that the results were pretty accurate at getting the style I'm aiming for. Maybe mix in a dash of Classic Preppy and Cottage Chic also...

Eventually I want a house that is eclectically well put together in a style that is easily livable. With colors that are vibrant and make people happy, surrounded by well loved personal items. Anything too serious or severe in design is just not me. I'm too...full of Joie de vivre...

Eva, you are a Bohemian Classic
You have a refined sensibility and bring a sense of history and tradition into your decor. True. I love antiques and believe in using meaningful items in your decor when at all possible.
You appreciate how symmetrical arrangements and beautiful, well-crafted pieces create a solid foundation to a room. You'll find a lot of older well crafted items in my house (as well as some real POS stuff) But you like to shake up this restraint with objects and accessories that express your personality and your love of other cultures. When traveling, you seek out unique objects that reflect what you love, and you use them in a sophisticated way. I'm not classifying my Disney picture frame as sophisticated...You want people to feel comfortable in your home, and cozy chairs, ethnic fabrics, unique pieces, and even a little touch of quirk or humor give your house a laid-back, Bohemian flair. All very true! Especially my quirky sense of humor.
You value creativity. You are stylish and fun loving, and can be an inspiration to others. You have a natural sense of drama (me? Dramatic?! No... never!) and you know you have to be willing to take risks—whether with colors, finishes, furniture choices, or ideas—for your home to stand out. Your home can be happy and lively and the place all of your friends want to be.

August 12, 2009

Sometimes Decor Is Frustrating (now with pics!)

I spend a lot of time reading and pouring over design blogs. There are countless saved pictures on my desktop of inspiration pictures. Every tip and trick is filed away in my brain, just waiting for the time when I can give it a shot. For instance, I remember that using groupings in odd numbers as centerpieces because it gives the table more interest.

Eventually the time came to actually decorate something in my house. My fantastic Target ladder shelf was just sitting at home in the living room empty, waiting to be decorated, its hundreds less than the original Pottery Barn one and looks almost the same. Lets just ignore the fact that the ladder shelf is so 2002 ok? The shelf fits really well in a very awkward corner of our living room. And I like it. Just like I still like Uggs.

Eagerly I went around the whole house and get everything I thought would be good shelf decor down into the living room. There is a fine assortment of stuff in my opinion, I can definitely get this done!

Except I can't.

Nothing looks quite right. Nothing is screaming out "OMG Fantastic! Best shelf arrangement ever!" Everything gets taken down and goes back up in a new location. Unfortunately the repositioning doesn't help, I still hate everything. I can feel liquid frustration running through my veins at this point. This is supposed to be the fun part. This is the part that I looked forward during those long years of living through renovations and having one piece of a sofa sectional as our only seating option.

I think that this isn't fun or easy for me because although our house is "finished" it really isn't. When we decided to put the house on the market we also decided that enough was enough and we would be making it look nice with what we have. No further major investments in time or money. That means no on the paint color I'm lusting after for the living and tv rooms. No new major furniture, curtains or rugs. The spending has to get snipped because who knows what our next house will turn out looking like or what our tastes will be then. Or even when the next house will be at this stage of the renovations...
Its just mind boggling annoying to have a house so close but so far from where you want it to be design wise. I can see everything in my head and I just want a shot to see if I can carry something from an idea in my noggin to full design execution with none of the restraints we've had to work around in previous years.

Decor frustration.
Maybe its just me? I hope I'm not alone.

The shelf is nicely and artfully decorated in a way that I really like now.

1- Homemade wedding frame with a quote from our first dance song "Happy Together".
2- New married last initial- from Anthropolgie.
3- Birdcage with candles inside, used to house a little plant. But the plant died.
4- Collection of old bottles, books and one railroad spike that we've found on the property.
5- Dove from Home Goods- a few books from my library
6- The awesome retro fan we found in our garage, and a clock from Pier One
7- Our Oreo shelf, we have her ashes and collar right near her favorite heat vent (she used to sleep on it all winter long)

The Cats in the bag...

I've mentioned in previous posts that my cat Mindy really really really hates being taken out of the house for showings. Traditionally hard sided cat carriers don't work with Mindy, it's a struggle of epic proportions to shove her into one, during which I'm always afraid of accidentally breaking her legs. Which is why I just carry her out to the car and into wherever it might be that we're going. It's during this brief carrying time that she attempts her brave escape from my arms. Always these attempts involve aiming her claws for my jugular or eyeballs. I've honestly become a little afraid to carry her outside because of her thrashing claws. Even though the pirate look is chic right now doesn't mean I want an eye patch permantly.

Enter necessity as the mother of invention...I had an old giant purse and we had a showing that afternoon. A light bulb went off and I grabbed Mindy. With about 80% less struggle than usual Mindy was quickly inside the purse safely zipped up! Just her head was sticking out and most importantly, the claws are far away from my jugular.

I'm pretty sure she hates me now and this is the reason why she's started peeing in the office again. But that's a topic for a whole nother post.

August 10, 2009

Blast from the past...

There were some surprise visitors to our house this weekend! Saturday morning Pete and I were all ready for a trip to the dump when a strange car pulled into the driveway.

Out came a man and the moment he opened his mouth for an introduction we knew instantly who he was. It was the youngest child of our houses old owner! He grew up in our house and was curious to see what the house looked like now. At one time his family of 11 (!!) was living in the house! The family owned the house from the 1960ish- 2003 We've previously only have met two of the nine children, but could tell this man was related because of the unique and eerily similar speech and voice all the siblings seem to share.

We shelved our current plans of heading to the dump (oh darn) and gave them a tour of the place and all the work we've done. When I say they were blown away... I think that is an understatement.

It was really nice to see their reactions as we walked through the house and hear stories about the rooms as they remembered them. His wife really liked how we opened all the rooms up by "not packing them full of furniture and stuff". She also told me how her late Mother in law was not the best house keeper and she had to sneak a bathroom cleaning once, so it was nice for her to come in a see the house all clean for once.

Of all the rooms, I think the most emotional for them was to see his old bedroom. Its the smallest room upstairs, the one we've taken the door off of and turned into an office. I think they liked it the transformation though. The underground (guest bedroom) room they were most impressed by, he kept saying "It never looked this good! Never!"

Outside he told us about the summer house and all the great memories he had of it. BBQ's, summer sleep outs and parties all took place out there in the past. When I go inside now and close my eye to shut out the years of neglect and peeling paint, I can envision how it must have been a great outdoor room at one point for a family of 11. It's a nice size building that rests underneath two giant trees and the cinder blocks hold out the heat well.

Unfortunately the conversation took a sad turn when we learned that his father died on the property. He was picking beans in the veg. garden out back (that is no longer there) and apparently dropped of a massive heart attack. Someone walking the railroad saw him on the ground, but it was too late.

They left us with nothing but compliments on the house and wished up luck on the new one. Sad that we were moving now that the house was finished, but happy that we did such a good job on bring the old house back to life. Their visit wasn't that long but I'm really glad it happened. Its always nice to hear about your houses past, hear nostalgic stories about the house and what it was like before you came along.

August 6, 2009

Showing #13 & 14

Last night we had showing #13... and Pete thinks that it was a repeat showing based on him remembering seeing the car/agent before. If that's the case it could be good news for us, in that our price drop renewed interest in potential buyers. Bad news, they also were looking at our neighbors house last night too. Which is less than ours, but also is much, much smaller and without garage but its also missing the railroad track in the driveway option our house has( but the property does border the tracks!)

Tonight is showing #14! Thankfully I only have to do a quick sweep through the house since its (amazingly) still clean from last nights showing.

Remember showing #10 and how they scheduled a second walk through with their mother? Turns out...that they knew our previous owners and wanted to see how the house looked now. ARE YOU SERIOUS?! I understand the curiosity. I really do cause I am one nosy person. But there are pictures of the house on the internet. What about calling my agent and saying something along the lines of "I knew the previous owners and would just love to see how the house looks now. When is the Open House so I can stop by? " (Open house is this Sunday BTW)

Because of presenting themselves as serious buyers we had to do the "showing prep clean" three times, one for the time they forgot and didn't show, one for the reschedule and one for the second showing. You have any idea how much that chaps my rear? I hate cleaning. I especially hate cleaning in a such a way that requires me to run around with a time crunch in my non air conditioned house and ends with me stuffing all the dirty laundry into my cars trunk.

I think the rain is making me cranky.

August 4, 2009

lowering the bar

We dropped the price of our house last night.

Ten friggen thousand dollars.It sucks to have invested six years, money and buckets of sweat equity into our house to just slash out thousands of dollars in one instant, but that was our only option. You don't have twelve showings and no offers if the price of the house is right. Or maybe you do since there is a rail road track running right through the driveway.

All we keep thinking about is how different this would have been if we'd put the house up for sale in the Fall of 2007, like we'd originally planned. The whole reason the house didn't get listed back then was to get more money for it once everything was "perfect". The goal of hitting a certain value mark was keeping us working on it.

Not to say we put off listing the house solely for the potential financial gains. The idea of living in the house after it was completely finished was originally our goal. In fact, when we bought this house we really were set on it being our "forever home". There would be no more major projects. No more unusable areas due to missing floors. All those hard years of work and we would finally have our fixed up house! You can imagine how appealing this idea was, especially during the wedding planning. I'm not sure I would have survived major renovations and planning a wedding. My poor little nerves can only take so much.

In the end, all the reasons why not don't really matter. Just the fact that we didn't do it matters. There is no going back in real estate, like with the rest of life hindsight is 20/20. All we can do it go forward with our now altered plans and not let the market or the economy deter us from the ultimate goals we have as a couple. I count us among the lucky ones in these troubled times, cause we got each other and that's a lot.(for love).

August 3, 2009

Showing # 12

The house had another showing this weekend, on Saturday from 5-6. Just waiting on some feedback, but I'm feeling pretty pessimistic and know that no offer will be the end result.

Tonight we're sitting down with our Realtors and discussing how to go forward from here. Showings have slowed down since we first listed and we're fastly approaching Labor Day. Summer is the house selling season, so our days for the best markets are dwindling. Although, the house has been listed all summer with no offer, so maybe we'll be the odd balls that sell in the winter?!