January 31, 2011

peace out paneling

We finished with the removal of the paneling up in the one bedroom. It went along swimmingly well! It was almost too easy to pull the panels off and throw them out the window. Even though I bent Mr. Smashy in the process. Who bends their crowbar?

There is something so gratifying about tearing out those ugly panels. You see such results in short order that it helps to motivate you along to tear out more! I especially love seeing the real house behind the panel. Gives me a better feel of the house, the history of it and what it might have looked like before the invasion of wood paneling.

Like the different wallpaper I found behind some panels. Pure freaking love. At one point in time, this house was styled in fabulous wallpaper. I weep for the fact that it is no longer there. Can you imagine how different this house would look if all the paneling was never put in? They would have never destroyed the original trim in order to put the paneling in! Everywhere you looked would have been awesome vintage wallpaper bordered by chunky wood moldings.

I wonder if there is anything we're doing to the house that makes people want to punch us over? Or give us a good smack upside the head? I'm sure there is...

January 29, 2011

BYOG- Bring Your Own Gloves

We just got our oil tank completely filled up.

My wallet is gasping for breath.

No wonder we keep the house at 55 during the winter.

Excuse me while I go get a hat and put on my fuzzy blue robe.

January 25, 2011

Back into the swing of things...

When you start demo'ing a room it helps to have a plan of attack. Even if the eventual goal is to have that entire room torn down to the studs, you still have to have the steps planned from A to end point Z. It seems almost ironic to you need to plan out the mass chaos that you are about to impart upon the room. But taking a few minutes to mentally plot out your crowbar attack saves such frustration and effort that plotting the destruction is so worth it!

Here is how I started with our upstairs bedroom. I knew that paneling would be the big thing that had to go and that was my main objective item to get out of there.

First up was to tear out the makeshift closet up on the back wall. After that 'closet' came down I looked up, which is when I realized that the ceiling tiles should/had to come down before the wall panels did. I had to take the ceiling down first for this room, but it is also usually best to work from the top down when demo'ing a room.

Closet bar and shelf are now on the ground hanging out next to our amazing propane work heater. That heater is the best way to take a work space from freezing eyeballs temperature up to a pleasant frostbite feeling. And as an added bonus, it looks kinda like R2D2. Almost.

The ceiling tiles were a lightweight pressed paper product and thankfully were tongue and groove style stuck up there. Which made them really easy to pull down when I didn't have to worry about any errant bonks on the head. Crazy easy to jam my crowbar (Mr. Smashy) up and just pull pull pull, they came down with almost no effort. I started stacking each tile into neat(ish) piles. Right next to the second makeshift closet of the room. Who know you could have so many faux closets in one room?

Once the tiles were off the ceiling, I went around the room and pried off all the trim. Which was annoying in the fact that all I wanted to do was start taking off the paneling! But the trim was a necessary step before the paneling. All the trim was well attached to the walls and would NOT budge no matter how hard I tried to pull it off with the whole panel. Bummer. Whomever put up the paneling did it right, if there is even such a way of putting of fake wood paneling right.

Finally, I got to start on getting the paneling off. Thankfully it came off with almost no fight. The glue that was used to hold it up had long since petrified and was hard as a rock. A small benefit to working in the freezing weather.

Where was Pete? Knocking down our suprisingly sturdy fake closet. It really helped to open up the room back to its original shape. This house is so disjointed and messed up that it makes me laugh. Doors where windows should be, parts of the wall missing, holes cut in the floor... sigh. Got to uncover it all to see what we're working with here.

January 18, 2011

current projects

We're back on the project front right now...

Currently our focus is on two exciting things, one ongoing and one that shouldn't take us longer than the winter.

- Demo on the Wee house when we have a few spare hours on the weekends

- Figuring out stair treads for our beach condo's spiral staircase

If you guessed that the wee house demo was the ongoing project, you'd be a winner! It will constantly be our "filler" project between major to-do's for now. The demo has been going along swimmingly well these last few weekends. Even though we move a little slower in the cold, I've been very pleased at what has gotten done during our few smashing hours over there. You forget that sometimes demo can be so gratifying for the renovator soul. Fast demo can remind me that maybe, just maybe, we won't be stuck with a crappy house for the rest of our natural lives. And that with continual hard work there is more than a snowballs chance in hell that we'll actually turn this house into something nice.

I'm going to file this optimistic moment away for when I really need it.

Which I'm sure will be soon.
The before shot of the room we've been focusing on currently...

As for the stair treads at the beach condo, we're still shopping around for the right material for them. Like all our other projects it has been a lot of up in the air "what should we do" discussing. Waffling back and forth with what our budget will be and how to get the biggest bang for our bucks combined with ease of DIY ability. So far we're leaning towards cutting out the treads from wood and staining them.
The before shot of our stairs with their blue carpet, chipping white paint and plastic handrail.

Why work on the beach condo when we have so many other projects going on, like a crap hole of a giant house? Simple- because it needs love to. The beach house was dated and was uncomfortable at times to stay in. In order for us to maximize our investment, we needed to be able to attract renters and have ourselves be comfortable there in the off season. Hence the slow climb out of the early 90's to get the condo up and kicking. Last year we invested a ton of money and time into the condo, which has resulted in some great improvements. This year we wanted scale back and take a breather from the heavy duty major projects down there.

Which is why our only project for down there this off season was to get the stairs and teeny tiny hallway done. Paint, new stairs and a new door for our heater closet. Thats all! Maybe I'm over simplifying the steps by condensing them down into three items, but it will be a (relatively) small project that should have a nice impact in further improving the place.

January 14, 2011

Year ahead plans

Currently my head is swirling with a ton of fresh new ideas for 2011.

When my head is full like this it is hard for me to pick out the specific bits to get them down on here. There is just so much to do and I'm thinking about it all. But I'll try to pick out the big and interesting stuff so you guys can get a peek at what we (might) have in store for all our houses this year.

Major goal of the year:

Finish the garage.

Based on our guesstimate, we have about 10 more solid weekends of working on the garage until we can call it complete. Since projects always run longer than we think, I'd say it is safe to put money down on it really taking about 12 more weekends for a solid wrap up.

Left to do (not in order):

Regrade the land around the garage

Build the car port on the side for our everyday drivers

Get the top section of the back wall up

Prime, paint and install the batten boards

Paint the garage

Paint and Install the garage doors

Build and install copula.

Put down sub-floor upstairs

Build staircase to second story

Install back windows

Secondary Projects:

Fix up the stairs and hallway of beach house

- new stair treads, painting, decor and new heater door-

Tear out the upstairs of the Wee house

- already started but continue on with the de- paneling and carpet removal, get to crusty plaster tear out-

Clear out our house.

- we have a lot o'stuff. a lot. -

Clean up our rental after our college students move out

- hopefully sans rabies this year-

Project that are at an impasse

( otherwise known as Eva wants to do them, Pete doesn't)

Lipstick touch the kitchen

- Sand and refinish butcher block counters, paint darker brown, add a faux copper tile back splash, replace hated bamboo floor-

Finish Dining room

- New light, get rug, add open shelving along one wall, new curtains-

Paint TV room

- The murder red color is slowly driving me nuts-

Wallpaper hall

Finish closet room

-paint clothing racks, add throw rug.-

Sell our college rental

- maybe? will the economy allow it? who knows-

And that is just a taste of what we're planning on tackling this year. There are many more ideas just bopping around in my head, waiting on their time for action. Unfortunately time and budget constraints might put the kibosh on some of the above items, but I'll try my hardest to accomplish my house related goals this year! I mean, if I can give up salting food for a year...

January 6, 2011

Craig L. Hunting

We're back to my current PA/ S. NJ/DE craigslist finds! I love hunting on CL, it is so much fun and fills a slow day perfectly.

I love the modern country lines of this dining room set. The set looks ripe for a good makeover with some paint and new fabric on the chairs. Nothing too bold, but a light aged turquoise combined with linen recovered seats would look smashing and fitting with the style of the furniture. Maybe even a two-tone table with refinishing the top of the table in a darker stain of wood. And the price? $39! Win.

For those that are looking to jump on my newly found love off brass accent items. The airy open bottom pairs with the glass top and clean lines to form a coffee table that could get put in such a variety of rooms. I'd bring it into my living room to play against all the older style and antique items.


An antique wooden filing cabinet has been on my furniture wish list for about a year, so I'm always searching about for the *perfect* one. I have to say, this file is pretty freaking close to being the perfect one. However, I'm on a shopping diet right now so it's $400 price tag is too rich for my blood. S


January 5, 2011

2010: long wrap up

This weekend while I was in the midst of a well deserved Saturday morning veg out session on our couch. While relaxing I thought back about this last year in terms of home renovations, construction and major house based changes.

All those thoughts made me tired.

and they made me realize why we're totally broke.


Started the year off with a 30% renovated bathroom in our beach condo that was running longer than we anticipated thanks to a run of extremely frustrating set backs that included the wrong tile color... and realizing it at 2 am.

We also chipped away at demo on our not-heated-at all wee house where I learned the art of layering gloves.


It was the month of spending weekends at places with acronyms.

A valentines day trip up to NYC that included a quick stop at the C&B outlet. The weekend after our jaunt to NYC I took a sibling trip to DC for some quality time with my sister and step brother. Following weekend was Pete's birthday which we spent in AC and then drove down to OC for some more worker bee action on the bathroom.


Finished working on the beach condo bathroom! 15 seconds after bathroom completion we ripped up the carpet in the bedroom at the condo. I painted the living room in our Wtown house from a raisin purple to a fresh cream color. We got notice that after 8 long months and close to 40 showings our house had its first offer.


First offer fell through. Got second offer. Felt amazingly optimistic that house would sell.

Worked our tails off on getting the marble tile floor down in our condo bedroom. Included bringing 27 boxes of tile, 7 sheets of plywood and cement board up three flights of ( no elevator having) stairs. Also discovered the wonder of the Craigslist free section for getting unwanted and extremely heavy furniture out of said third floor condo with no exerted effort from your own muscles.

Loaded up our old bedroom furniture, on our open trailer, and brought it the two hours down to the condo during a raging spring thunderstorm. Yay for plastic wrap and lots of tape.


Kicked off the month jumping through all the house selling hoops, in anticipating of a end of the month closing. Combed through the house and got rid of some bigger ticket items on Craigslist.

Spent all free weekends down at the beach condo and worked multiple 12 hour high stress days on the bedroom floor. All in an effort to get the whole place ready for our memorial day kick off for a season of renters. The 26 year old A/C blew up on the deck (seriously, I thought a car hit our building), got emergency HVAC work done that resulted in a new A/C. & Heater for the condo.

Get news that house sale is DOA. Crushed.

After failed house sale: Buy new headboard since old bed is now at the beach house and the mattress was living on the floor. Buy new dining room table, cause it was awesome and 50% off. Start my epic dining chair hunt.


Built a raised veggie garden bed, of what was a very successful tomato and basil garden, and put it in all.by.myself. ( still so flipping proud of my DIY raised veggie garden box )

Our one and only outsource, the concrete contractors, started and finished the Wee house garage foundation. Marvel at the speed of contractors while lamenting the price.

Got a peek at the damage that was done to our college rental after the tenants moved out. Not pretty. Curse at poorly painted orange walls and subsequent orange wall cover up job.
Curse college students that 'sneak' having a cat. Cat that uses the floor of the bathroom as its own litter box. Start the massive project of deep cleaning while Pete renovates half downstairs bathroom of rental. Buy new fridge for the rental, as other fridge has one too many beer pong balls clogging the inner workings and leaks a strange liquid substance.


Officially took the house off the market. Bought new furniture at Ikea, and turned our office into a walk in closet. Finish up working on college rental. Move right on to prepping the garage site for building! Start buying our massive amounts of materials that are needed.

Got news that the lock on our condo door malfuntioned on the 4th of July and that a locksmith had to get called out.... a 3am. Balls.


Working on the garage framing, learned that "hey! I can build a wall! Who knew?". Get the trusses up. Start to prep the trusses for the roofing materials by marking and installing ~10,000,000 purlins.

Get news that beach condo washer/dryer unit has up and died on our renters, estimated replacement cost of $1,400. Friend happends to have old washer dryer unit that gives it to us, Pete takes the day off of work to install everything himself.

September: Continue to work on the garage. Started putting up the fiber cement siding panels.

Bought the garage doors from craigslist. Learned how to install a window.

October: Started roofing the garage. Averaged about 6 panels up per 8 hours of working. Drove off to the south for some much needed R&R.

November: Finished the garage roof. Helped my Dad move out of his house in prep for his new life traveling the country in an airstream, took lots of Dad's cool house and tool stuff. Spent rest of free time getting garage winter tight.

December: Start working rejuvinating the staircase and hall of the beach condo.

Lose track? Here is cliff notes version....

  • New Bathroom
  • Laid marble tile floor
  • Tore out old house
  • Cleaned, painted and put a new 1/2 bath in rental
  • Bought, re-homed or recieved over 12 items of furniture
  • Built a garage
  • added a "closet room"
  • painted the living room
  • didn't sell our house

January 4, 2011

Welcome 2011. I'm not ready.

As per my usual MO I'd way late to all the year-in-review blog land posts...

I did start one, but I'm still stuck somewhere in October and currently mind boggled at the length of of our 2010 list. The length isn't only because I am terrible at short explanations for anything, but also because we apparently did a ton of house related stuff last year... a few things that I never even blogged about.

I'm working on condensing the list. How does everyone feel about just bullet points?

As for 2011... I'm not super thrilled that 2011 is here. Overall the passage of time has started speeding up for me and the year twenty eleven just feel so futuristic. Yet it is here. Right now.

We have a whole lot of work waiting for us this year ( so much it is kinda scary).

After seeing how much of the garage we got done since the end of July, which is when we started the DIY portion, we're a little eager until we can get back outside to finish it on up. Once the garage is "finished" the two of us are going to shift our entire focus to the Wee house, which is when I might start to cry out of happiness. It has been a few years of talking, planning and saving to make the renovations start happening, so to know that we've finally gotten to that point? Well I'll be thrilled. Even though I know it is only going to open up a huge can of new worms when we start our serious house renovations.

As you could well imagine, I haven't quite gotten to my goals for 2011 since I'm still wrapping 2010 up in my head ( and on here).

January 3, 2011

I took a technology break last week.
and it was awesome.