Sunday, June 29, 2008

The kitchen plot thickens

Thom and I did a little investigative work this morning in the kitchen to get a bit of a better idea of what we'll be dealing with. We found, in particular, some interesting carpentry work (see above) behind the wall that joins the powder room to the kitchen. They didn't quite knock it out but rather built out, and apparently not well. Sigh.

I think we'll have to knock down the existing soffets in the kitchen above the cabinets. I'm nervous about the large space up above and how it will look but having 15" soffets I think will look even funnier. Double sigh.

I think the first step will be taking down the existing ceiling and lights and then dealing with the wiring in the ceiling and trying to reroute it. I'm quickly getting over my phobia of electrical work as this doesn't seem terribly difficult to just move the junction box and shift around a few wires, but we'll see. I probably just hexed myself saying that.

I'm excited to get started on it but I'm disappointed by how much work it's going to be compared to with what I anticipated. Lesson learned, right?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Never use the phrase, "We'll only have to..."

I still haven't yet recovered what I'm now calling the Peony Tragedy but decided to check up on our next project anyway. Our friends Paul and Leslie wonderfully volunteered to help us hang drywall on the ceiling in our kitchen. Loyal readers may remember that we have one of those beautiful styrofoam dropped ceilings with the requisite and equally beautiful fluorescent light boxes in the kitchen.

I should now recognize that when I say anything that begins with, "We'll only have to..." or "It will only take..." that I'm just asking for it. Well, I thought we'd "only have to" take down the ceiling and disconnect the lights from what I figured would be two separate ceiling electrical boxes. Yep, I was very wrong.
As you can see from the photos above, it's a gigantic mess up there. While the ceiling should be relatively easy to remove, they did a terrible job of rigging the lights - wiring punched directly through the plaster on the walls - and one box with multiple wires running all over the place (including outside to our mud porch). The powder room adjacent to the kitchen that they added at some point was never finished all the way to the ceiling so there is a gap above the wall. I don't know what all of this is going to entail but I know it won't be anything that involves the word "only."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mean people suck

I was about ready to go out today and take a picture of my two new beautiful peonies that just bloomed. Well, I should have because they're now gone. Some meanie came by and picked them right off the bush. I am very upset and have left them a nice little note. I've seen one guy, in particular, doing this kind of thing throughout the neighborhood so I wonder if he's the culprit. Jerk wad. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I am in love

It's always a greatly anticipated moment in my home every month: the arrival of the new issue of This Old House Magazine. I am a huge TOH junkie and have been since I was very, very young. I don't know what it is about those guys but I just love them. While some people dream about meeting people like Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt, I dream about meeting Tom Silva and Kevin O'Connor. I'm such a nerd.

Anyway, this month's issue was chock-full of great stuff pertaining to us, including the "How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets" insert. I will be using this come July when I attempt to do the same. It's pretty comprehensive and I recommend it if you're considering this task yourself.

The other item that I saw, however, was in the back section with all the ads. I've been agonizing over lighting for the kitchen when we do our "mini-reno" this summer. We were really leaning toward track lighting (yes, I know - but it's much better looking than it used to be) but then I found this company and now I am in love: School House Electric. They sell vintage-looking light fixtures and accessories and most are within the 1920's timeframe in which our house was built. I am very excited and am looking to get a few of their fixtures for the kitchen.

Although we have stainless appliances in the kitchen, we also love our old brass doorknobs on all of our doors in the house (see above) so I think we're going to go in that direction for the finish. That means I'll also have to find matching handles/knobs for our newly painted cabinets. I'm leaning in the direction of the bin pulls for the drawers and the round knobs for the doors so any tips on affordable (read: cheap) cabinet hardware, please let me know.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Not much of an update

Since 78 of you (hooray, I put up a counter!) have checked my blog this week and saw that absolutely nothing new has happened I thought I'd let you in on what's what.

We've had a rainy week so the painting of the garage has stalled out until it clears up a bit. We're excited that the real painters will be coming next week, though, to fix up the side of our house facing the street that has seen better days (see above). We were able to confirm, through our neighbor, that the previous owner did indeed only paint one side of the house at a time and this was obviously the next one up before she passed away. I'm not sure how much time we'll have before the next side takes a turn for the worse. Anyway, it will be nice not to have this eyesore so visible.
Beyond that, we're just doing a lot of waiting. Waiting for the rain to go away, waiting for painters, and waiting for my summer teaching and research money to enter my bank account. Once that happens, we'll be doing some hard core work on the kitchen, which I am terribly excited about. And, for those of you who know me in other contexts beyond this, my lack of house-worthy blogging has been stalled out by a book contract I got this week. I'm furiously writing trying to get it done before summer is over so we'll see how this affects home improvement. Oh, yes, I will return to my first love! I just need to make the money to keep financing it...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ahh, much -- okay, at least a little -- better

I primed the garage today as I heard we may get rain on Sunday. Although it is just primed it looks a heckuva lot better than it did with nothing. I realize it's just a stop-gap measure until we knock the sucker down next summer and rebuild but it's just nice not to see the eyesore any longer in that state.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Asbestos test positive in kitchen flooring

We sent two samples of our vinyl flooring into AccuKits to test for asbestos, which we heard was prevalent in vinyl flooring before the 1970s. We got our test results back today. The bathroom floor (definitely older than the 1970s) came back fine but the kitchen floor (the one we were planning to pull out next month, pictured above) came back with what they tell us to be "positive for asbestos at a concentration of 25 percent Chrysotile, above the regulatory level of 1 percent."

At first glance, this doesn't sound particularly good but I did a bit of digging on Mr. Internet and I am confused by what I'm finding. Some believe that the chrysotile type of asbestos isn't actually all that harmful; meaning that the body can fight off these fibers, if inhaled, more than the other type, amphibole asbestos, which is often linked to causing mesothelioma. Others say, no matter what type of asbestos is harmful and should be avoided at all costs.

I guess, no matter what, we're going to have to leave the floor as it is and cover it up or hire an abatement company to take it out. Either way, craptastic, that's for sure.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The seemingly endless garage nightmare

As I may have mentioned to you dedicated blog readers, we bought the house knowing we had some major garage issues. In fact, I believe the exact words of the inspector were, "I wouldn't park my car in there much less walk in there." It's not in good shape, to say the least. What looks to have happened is that they built it on a wood board foundation that is now crumbling away making the whole structure more or less tilt and pitch out toward the street. We also have quite a bit of the wood rotting around the structure -- all a formula for a big mess.

We were told we would have a problem, however, when it came to doing anything about it as it is precariously close to the property line. Code around these parts says that anything within 5 feet of the property line cannot be taken down and rebuilt but rather must be grandfathered in to be rebuilt within the same footprint, virtually not taking the whole thing down but rather jacking it up to install a new foundation and then working with the existing structure. Sounds expensive, right?

I was happy to find yesterday that it is actually exactly 5 feet from the property line. I think that we could knock this puppy down and rebuild it, making our lives much easier and perhaps a little less expensive. Right now, however, I am trying to scrape off the peeling paint and make it look a little more presentable in the year we need to wait until we can afford such a project. I'm finding paint removal not so much fun, particularly as it involves dealing with rotted clapboards around the structure. We're going to get a few different repair lessons in this task, for better or worse. We'll see how much we flub this one up.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Grub Plague

I'm quite afraid we're going to have a grub issue. It seems they have more or less infested the region and we're seeing lawns disappearing before our eyes, eaten by grubs. As I was doing all the landscaping work, I kept seeing what I now know are Japanese Beetles - very pretty, but it looks like very dangerous to our lawn. I guess we really have more dandelions than lawn at this point so they can go ahead and eat those if they like but I'm nervous it's going to make our homely lawn even more so.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Everything's coming up azaleas

Our new azalea and our inherited rhodie have begun to bloom. I'm very excited to see the beautiful flowers and to see that some of what we planted is doing well. I say "some" because the hydrangeas seem to be a little pathetic-looking. I read a bit today and found out that they seem to have what is called powdery mildew. I guess this won't affect them (i.e., kill them) but it may affect blooming at some point. Bummer. I think these raised beds just don't have good drainage so we're going to deal with a bit of this. So, anyway, I guess I should be happy that eight of the nine things we planted are doing well.