Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Living Room

Greg and I have been working on the house in an effort to get it ready for the wedding. I’ve been working on the living room for over a month now. It started with painting the wall from the living room to the kitchen. Then it was the some what simple task of repainting the ceiling.

First Greg and I scraped the peeling paint of the ceiling. We were then slowed down when we primed the ceiling. Parts of the ceiling were slightly yellow and we couldn’t seem to cover it. It took two coats of primer and four coats (in some areas) of ceiling paint.

Then Greg decided to remove the crown molding. This meant there was a white stripe all along the top of the walls. I thought, no problem. I’ll just paint the stripe yellow. I still had plenty of paint left from painting the wall into the kitchen. That night I looked at it and started to worry. Sure enough, when looking at the room in the morning sun light it was obvious where I had painted the night before. I needed to repaint the entire room.

I went to Miller on Saturday and got another gallon of Cane and started painting. I finished the yellow brush work this morning and this afternoon I did the last coat of white brush work on the ceiling. Now all I have to do is clean the floors and we’ll have our living room back. Yippee! I am really looking forward to it. Our dining room (our temporary living room) may have a better view but the living room has better evening light.

I’ll post some photos of the new and improved living room once the floors are cleaned.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Archway and Siding

Once I got the table saw thing sorted out, it was back to working with oak and fir. I'm gearing up to trim the living room and I'm making my own siding for the front porch.

First up, I cut a couple of oak boards down to 1x4 for the two baseboards in the living room. The new table saw managed that pretty well. But, more interesting is the 1x6 for the beam above the archway. I cut the ends at 30 degrees to match the beams on the front and back of the house. I like it.

I found out that if you try to go to a siding store and buy some 1x10, it doesn't even come close to matching the 1x10 siding of 64 years ago. Image that. When I showed the salesman a piece of the old siding for comparison, he suggested that I hire a local company that specializes in recreating millwork for old houses. To which I said, HA, I can do this myself and marched out of there like a man who knows what he is doing. I don't. But, that said, I'm now milling my own 1x10 fir siding. I'm using some left over 1x6 that I bought for the door jams. Good thing I way over estimated how much of that I would need. What I'm doing is ripping the 1x6 down to 1x4.5, then joining them to make 1x9 (which is just right minus the tong-and-groove). The only other thing is to cut a 30 degree bevel on each side and pow: siding. It sounds like a lot of work, but there are only 7 pieces of 53" each. Not so bad.

My Tablesaw: R.I.P.

My little portable tablesaw died last night. I went out into the garage and tried to fire it up to do a couple rips and it just sort of burped and that was it. It never turned on again. Sigh. That little saw and I have been through a lot together. Two houses, numerous projects, cedar, fir, oak. I mourned for about a minute or two, then drove out to the store that will remain nameless at 9pm and bought the best tablesaw they had in stock. It seems to work pretty well.

Rest In Peace

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Potato Chips Off The Ceiling

Back in October of 2003, soon after the original roof was removed, we had a lot of rain that worked its way passed the tarps. Although no structural damage was done, the water took large sections of the living room ceiling paint with it. We were left with a stained and peeling ceiling that, in places, looked like there were potato chips stuck to it. We are just now getting around to fixing it. That is the current focus.

Jenn got all of the furniture out of living room and we prepared to scrape the peeling ceiling. We are only pulling the worst of the paint off and hope to minimize the seams between the bare spots and the layers of old paint. Next, we are going to hit it with a coat of primer and at least a couple coats of ceiling paint in hope of softening these lines between the layers of new and old paint.

Not only is a lot of paint coming off with the scraping, but so is a lot of ceiling texture. Since we don't really know what is in either the paint or the texture, we are trying to protect ourselves. We are wearing decent face masks, enclosed goggles, and head socks. I’m not sure this is excessive or inadequate, but it does make us feel better. And, if we run short of money, we can always go rob the nearest liquor store. Just kidding.

While we are restoring the ceiling, I'm also pulling the old crown molding off. The crown was thin and painted and was not doing much to improve the look of the room. For now, we are just going to go without any crown and see how we like it. We have no crown upstairs and like the clean look. We can always add it back later. I have filled in all of the old nail holes and gaps in the plaster with joint compound. This will need to dry, then we can prime and paint it.

I will, however, take this time to retrim the base molding. I just need a 1x4 white oak board on the east and west sides of the room. I’m going to just cut and fit it first, then worry about installing it after the we are done painting. I'’m more than a little nervous about trimming with those old plaster walls. Then, after the baseboards are in place, the next question becomes how dark to stain the wood. But, I am going to wait on that decision.

I'm also playing with our new digital camera. These pictures were taken with a Canon Rebel XT digital SLR. So far I like how the camera handles, but the optics of the "kit" lens leaves something to be desired.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Closet Lights Not Code

Oops. The city's electrical inspector was just here. We did well except for the lights in the closet. We have recessed light fixtures in the two new closets with standard flood bulbs. He said this is considered a fire hazard. If the light bulb explodes, the hot filament could start a fire. Code requires either a lens over the bulb or we can put a sealed beam light bulb in there. Since, whenever I mess around with these recessed light fixtures I end up screwing up the springs, I'll just get the sealed beam light bulb.

2nd Bedroom Closet Needs a Sealed Beam Bulb

Master Closet Needs a Sealed Beam Bulb

Despite this, he passed us under the condition that we fix the problem with the closet lights. This gives us yet another six month extension on the general permit! Yippie...

Monday, April 03, 2006

What I’ve been working on

Last weekend Greg and I moved nearly two tons of garbage out of the house and into a giant dumpster. It was a lot of work but well worth it. We almost have a garage again! This weekend was also spent on the house. Greg worked on doors and I painted.

I primed and painted the wall from the living room to the kitchen that had been drywall white.

The entire wall is now living room yellow. I even painted the stairway to the basement. I didn’t do anything in the kitchen though since the plan is to remodel it one day.

My next project is to tackle the ceiling in the living room.

Take a look at all that lead paint! This project will have to be done in stages. It’ll take me a couple of days to get the furniture out of the dining room and then move the living room furniture into the dining room. Yes, it’s a sad fact that we use our living room way more then our dining room.

Once the furniture is out of the living room, I can start removing the paint from the ceiling. After that, all I have to do is prime it, paint it and then move the furniture back. Piece of cake. It should only take me, oh, several weeks. :)

The Doors

No, not Jim Morrison (although he is my uncle, no really). Two more doors and one new problem. I got the door to the 2nd bathroom upstairs and the door to the main closet hung. These two went pretty smoothly. I might even go as far as to say that I may be getting the hang of it. That said, I won’t be volunteering to hang family / friends / neighbor’s doors any time soon. Hard work.

Main Closet Under the Stairs.

2nd Upstairs Bathroom Door.

The new problem though is that the master closet doorway was framed a full inch too narrow. Grrrrrrrr. I never thought that I should measure these things while the framers were still here (that was nearly 2 years ago now). Now, it would be pretty hard to widen the doorway without doing some serious collateral damage. Jenn suggested that I cut the door an inch more narrow. But, the new doors are veneer making that a tricky operation. One thought though is the cut one of the old original doors. They appear to be solid old growth fur. So, the new plan is to pull the original door currently being used as the master suite door and trim it down one inch on the hinge side then hang it as the closet door. Not sure when I’ll do this since our main objective now is to just get the building permits closed.

Master Closet Door (not hung yet)

Degree of Difficulty: has a funny indent and is not a stardard width

Speaking of building permits, the Final Electrical inspection is tomorrow morning (between 8am and 12pm). Hopefully this will go a little better than the last two inspections. What we really need is an additional 6 month extension. That will be our last. We’ve really got to get the last few things finished. No more delays.

Also, speaking of Jenn, she’s been working hard painting and has agreed to also make contributions to this blog. Whew, it was just too much work for me... :-)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Daylight Savings Time

I for one welcome our new Daylight Savings Time overlord. It means more daylight in the evening that can be spent working on the house. As we go into the final stretch in getting this house ready for July 22, we'll need all the help we can get.

Next city inspection is this week. We need a nod for the "final electrical" in order to extend the permit for 6 more months. This is the last extension. Tick tock.

Musée d'Orsay. Paris, France. May, 2005.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


I haven't been blogging much lately, and for a very good reason. It's very hard to admit a mistake, especially for me. And, I've made one of the biggest and most expensive imaginable. It's perhaps the biggest mistake of my whole life. I built a 2nd story on a cottage style house. I mean, who was I kidding?

I admit, part of it was the taunting. People would stop us on the street and ask why we replaced a perfectly good war cottage with a giant McMansion. They’d say the faux bungalow was completely out of place in a neighborhood of marvelous mid-century ranches. They called the overhanging roof, expansive porch, and square columns way too neo-craftsman to be taken seriously. They even said the symbolic circular window of the sunroom was pretentious. I tried to be stoic and fight back the tears, but I was crying on the inside. Why did I do this to the house, the property, and the neighborhood?

And, it wasn't just the angry taunts of passing strangers. Jenn and I found the extra space of the addition difficult to deal with. For starters, we kept getting lost. We would head up to one of the rooms, only to get lost and have a hard time finding our way back. I'm embarrassed to say how often this happened to me. I once tried leaving bread crumbs, but Jenn's cat kept eating them. We tried some color coded yarn leading to each room, until I tripped on them and almost broke my neck. I never imaged how hard an extra 1100 square feet would be to navigate. But, what could we do?

The most obvious solution would have been to sell the house and buy something smaller. That would at least solve the problem of getting lost upstairs. But, that wouldn't appease the growing crowd of angry craftsman hating people collecting out front. We owed it the house, the lot, and the neighborhood to undo this immense mistake.

We knew it wouldn't be easy, but we had to dismantle the addition. It was hard, considering my problem of getting lost, but once the roof was off I was able to use the old fashion sun and star navigation techniques. Pretty soon the walls were gone, the stairs were removed, the porches were ripped out, even the pretentious circular window in the sunroom was gone. Once the 2nd story was torn down to the ceiling joists, we were able to rebuild the hip roof. It now looks very much like it did before we started. The backyard is still a muddy mess, but the front looks pretty nice. I'm especially happy with the showing from the tulips this year.

People don't stop me out front of the house to scold me for the addition any more. In fact, the other day someone said "you're crazier than I thought". Whew! The tax appraiser was by and just shook his head. He won't be getting that bump in property taxes from me! Ha! The heating bill went down a little since we’re heating less space. Now I don’t get lost upstairs ('cause there is no upstairs to get lost in). All is well again at our little house in Hillsdale. From now on, I'll just be blogging about the furniture I build out of the construction scraps. I figure those red oak floors will make lovely coffee tables.

Here's the crane operator removing the last glue laminate beam.

Here's a view of the backyard after the 2nd story and the back porch were taken out.

Now the roof is back in place. Whew, what a mess though.

Here is the fully restored front of the house. Look at those tulips!