Tuesday, April 29, 2008

*choke* *sputter* How much?

We got an estimate for painting one side of our house. Yes, one side. We think that the previous owners only painted one side of the house at a time and I didn't really get that...until now. The very nice people who came to give us our estimate guesstimated around $5,000. Are you choking at that? Well, I did. Maybe I'm just being overly naive about this - but I had absolutely no idea painting a house cost that much. Of course, this would also entail scraping off the peeling paint and sanding and removing all the old paint, priming, and then two coats of paint but, still...$5,000?!?! Thom and I had considered doing this ourselves until the snow melted and we could get over to that side of the house and we looked up and thought, "Hmm. Yeah. No." It's kind of high up there and I'm kind of afraid. We'll get another couple estimates, I guess.  But, still, really?

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I am so impressed with myself! In lieu of all the painting I was planning to do today I've been making a few little repairs that I've been wanting to tackle. My big accomplishment today has been fixing the bathtub drain. I've been wanting to take a bath since we moved in but the stopper didn't close. I finally found what I was looking for in regard to fixing it on the Lowe's website. It's an older stopper/drain so it was tougher to find out this information than I thought it would be. Anyway, I'm tickled pink with my burgeoning handywoman skills! Yay for baths!

No painting today - carpet frustrations

We had to make a run to the vet emergency room this morning. While she's fine, it cost quite a chunk of change - enough to stave off buying paint for another week or so. It will give me some time to finish the skim coating under the hallway window, anyway. After watching Paul do it yesterday it seems relatively easy -- but these things always look easier when someone else is doing it.

In the meantime, we're thinking about putting in some carpet to replace the ugly goldenrod carpeting. I went to the area carpet store and when I asked if they had 100% wool carpeting the guy looked a little flummoxed. He finally found some (2 samples) and then asked me why I thought I needed wool. I told him that we were trying to do some more green renovations and that petroleum based carpets have off-gassing effects in your house. He looked at me like I was green. Clearly, this concept has not yet reached all vendors in the Bangor area. We found a place in Ellsworth - Ellsworth Building Supply - that has tons of green products like marmoleum and lots of wool carpet. I know it's spendy but I think it will be worth it for just the hallway upstairs and the stairway.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Done, done, and done!

It's time for a massage!  I have FINALLY, after almost a month, finished taking down all of the hallway wallpaper. I am so excited I could spit.

Tomorrow it's time to paint! Woo hoo! 

Our friends, Paul and Leslie, came over and helped us with the underneath the window problem (see post below). The solution, thanks to Paul, was putting some drywall tape over the holes and skim coating over the yucky parts. We'll get to that tomorrow before the painting starts. I'm excited to use my trowel and hawk!

Three cheers for Wallwik!

Well, in my desperation a few hours ago I did a search on removing wallpaper from unprimed drywall and then decided to consult the Wallwik website. This is the product I saw on an Ask This Old House episode a few months ago and then ordered it online. It's been great for getting the stuff off the plaster. The website suggested using the product but scoring it a little less, letting the sheets sit on for an hour (instead of 20 minutes like normal), wetting it down every 20 minutes, and then using a plastic scraper. Well, it wasn't easy but we got it off and the drywall is still intact! Hooray for Wallwik! I definitely recommend this product - not only is it environmentally friendly but it has taken off all the different kinds (and ages) of wallpaper we've found in the house. It's totally worth the $40.


As much as I have bitched and moaned and complained about removing wallpaper from every square inch of our home since February, I will take it all back. Removing wallpaper from old plaster has been a breeze compared to the nightmare of removing wallpaper from drywall that was not primed. The sadly comical part of this is that it the last bit of wall in the downstairs hallway (see pictures in previous posts). I could almost taste the sweetness of being done and wham! whatever.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Some interesting foursquare info

Because we need the side of our house painted (we figure the previous owners only painted one side every couple years as only one side is peeling), I started thinking about exterior paint colors. Trying to find something that talks about traditional American foursquare colors, I ran across this brochure that talks about all kinds of information relating to architectural style of the homes, building materials, paint colors, lighting, and all kinds of interesting crap! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why does the cat avoid the kitchen?

Our cat, Mancha, seems to have an aversion to our kitchen. I've started thinking that it's one of three things. Hypothesis 1: The cat avoids the kitchen because of the nasty fluorescent lighting. Hypothesis 2: The cat avoids the kitchen because of the ghost dog that lives downstairs. Hypothesis 3: The cat avoids the kitchen because the floor gives her vertigo.

I haven't decided if the floor is starting to grow on me or if the fluorescent lighting is just impairing my judgment.

Still going...

I'm slowly inching away (literally, inches at a time) at this hallway wallpaper. It's a slow process but I've decided to do a few hours each night. I'm almost all the way down the stairs now - not without the accompanying back, neck, and shoulder pains, of course. I hope to be able to finish the rest of the downstairs this weekend but I might be overzealous. It would just be nice to have it all gone and done away with. 

On another note, Thom and I have been debating about using a little bit of extra summer teaching money to buy something for the house. My vote is either for (a) new chairs for living room, (b) patio set for front porch, or (c) new carpet for the stairs and upstairs hallway. Since we want to get wool carpet, even that little bit will be quite spendy. After finishing painting the hallway I'm probably going to opt for the carpet so it looks all nice and new and we can ditch the nasty old goldenrod carpeting. Blech.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Shout out to houseblogs.net

I just wanted to mention how immensely helpful it has been finding a resource like houseblogs.net. As many books as we've bought and checked out from the Library, these blogs document real life people doing the things we're trying to do. While the books are helpful, these are obviously experts doing these things versus people who are like us, just trying to figure it out as we go. It's also been great seeing the before-after pictures and being able to search for things (like my previous post on repairing plaster - so helpful!).

Anyway, if you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend it!


As you can see, I found a little surprise under the window on the landing as I was removing wallpaper today. Finding two layers and then pulling off wallpaper to remove not only the paper but also the top coat of plaster, there are massive cracks and a lot of spongy plaster under the window. I guess I should be happy this is only the first thing like this I've come across but it is nevertheless dispiriting. I think I read about cutting out the plaster and repairing it with drywall and that's probably what I'll do. For the meantime, that's disillusioned me enough to take a break. The good news is that the upstairs hallway is now completely de-wallpapered and now we move on to the fun removal on the stairway and downstairs.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What other toxins are lurking in our house?

Well, we were certainly aware that lead paint was present in the house and we're planning to tackle that this summer upstairs. The new toxin we learned about was the possibility of asbestos in the vinyl flooring in the kitchen and the bathroom. I ordered a test from AccuKits.com (recommended by a fellow blogger) and we'll see what we learn. The bad news is that if it is asbestos in the kitchen we'll just have to put flooring over it - this will bring up our floor height dramatically and make things kind of a pain in the butt. If it's not we can tear away. We're thinking about cork flooring for the kitchen - it will be nice and cushy for the toesies. Wish us luck!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Home Show-o-Rama

We went to the fabulous and gigantic (ha) Bangor Home Show today. It was actually a good thing, albeit slightly hilarious. We were able to meet a guy who makes kitchen cabinets for about $250/linear foot - including installation. We also talked to the Acadia cold weather heat pump guy - very cool. We saw some beautiful African granite - but after seeing Blood Diamond a couple weeks ago, I'm really afraid of buying anything African. We also lusted after hot tubs that we would have no place to put in our non-existent yard. Anyway, some good ideas and hopefully we'll find some good kitchen cabinets out of this!

Back Porch Mystery

We've spent some time trying to figure out what happened to our back porch. Now that the snow is finally almost gone (hoorah!), we have been able to investigate a bit more around the house. It looks like they added on what might be considered a mudroom to the back but all they did was enclose the back porch - and not well, so now it's all leaky and yucky. We've been toying with the idea of opening it back up to its original state but we can't seem to find any other houses nearby with an intact back porch - almost all have enclosed it as well or bumped out the back. We were thinking about going to the Bangor Historical Society archives and looking to see if we could find a photo but I have a feeling it would only be a photo of the front of it.

It's not easy being green

Well, I've decided that I can learn to live with the newer green in the guest bedroom. I think with some curtains and a newly-upholstered chair and some stuff on the wall, it will be okay. I've also continued taking down the wallpaper in the hallway, painfully slow but sure. It appears that, yes, that color of green is what someone, at some point, decided to paint it. I'm not sure why, but it's funny to find that's the only painted wall we've seen so far in the existing house beyond the kitchen. Everything else that had wallpaper on it originally was bare plaster underneath. It will be interesting to see if that color is extended all the way through the downstairs hallway under that wallpaper too. I'll be so glad to see it gone. Now I just have to convince Thom that the hallway carpet is ready to go too...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Guest Bedroom - Take 2

Okay, I know how ridiculous this must seem but I woke up Sunday, looked at the guest bedroom and said, "Yuck." I couldn't handle it and had to repaint it. So, Thom and I deliberated and found another color, Sherwin Williams' Recycled Glass, and painted it. So I basically painted that room 4 times in 24 hours (priming, first coat, two coats of darker color). 

So what do I think now? "Yuck-ish." I still really don't like it. I think, however, I can learn to live with it - something I couldn't do with the other color. I don't know - I may be over the top ridiculous and repaint it again. I just can't seem to get it right!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Upstairs Hallway

I've also been tackling the upstairs hallway wallpaper and working my way to the downstairs. I was surprised to find a pretty bright green color under the wallpaper. I first thought they were strange for painting it that color but it doesn't feel quite like plaster so I'm wondering if it's wallboard but I don't see any seams. We'll see as it progresses. Here's one of the work in progress. This is going to take forever...

One more down...only 1 more to go!

I finished the guest bedroom today. The color (Sherwin Williams Celery) is not exactly what I was hoping for - it's a little bright - but it looks nice regardless. We really agonized over this color as I was afraid it would be a bit too light but we have had some hit-and-miss with their color in relation to the little strip of paper sample. For the rooms downstairs, we actually found that the color was a shade or so darker than what it looked on the piece of paper so I erred in that direction with this room and was sorry to find out that it was pretty true to form. I think it may have something to do with the base color - upstairs was Extra White and I'm not sure that was what we had downstairs as a base. Who knows. Anyway, I'll find some cool fabric and stuff to make curtains and I think I'm also going to reupholster the chair in there too.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Do you know how to fix this?

As I am removing wallpaper one problem I keep coming across is the one above. Underneath the wallpaper around the light switch and the outlets we are seeing plaster that has crumbled away from the edges. What this does is that we have to buy "Jumbo" switch plates at Home Depot to cover up the slight holes that it makes around the light boxes. I'm aware of how to mend holes in plaster that are in the middle of the wall but I'm flummoxed by how to fix them when they're at the edge of the plaster itself. Anyone know how to deal with this? 

Wallpaper removal - room 4

I finished taking down wallpaper in what we are calling our guest room, the second biggest bedroom. I am happy that it's going as smoothly as it is. The next removal will be in what Thom calls his "man village," a.k.a. his office. It's the smallest room so it should go pretty quickly. I am putting off the last wallpaper-laden space, the downstairs and upstairs hallway as I dread this task. It doesn't look to be the type of wallpaper that was in any of the other rooms (the peel off top layer and bottom layer that comes right off when it's wet). We had purchased this product online called Wallwik and it's been great. It's just an enzyme based solution and really makes the whole process go very quickly and easily. No fumes, non-toxic, and just mixed with water. It's fabulous and I highly recommend it.

Anyhoo, I think we're going to go with a light sage green color. I have been scoping out fabric to make curtains to coordinate and I think I also found some fabric to re-upholster the chair I got back in college from Goodwill in Minneapolis. I'm so domestically inclined I can't stand it.