Survival Mode

by Rachel Blackburn in ,


Things are moving along, but we're at that exhausted stage of renovation.  The floors are in process but still not done.  The electrical is in process but still not done.  We can't do insulation until we pass electrical inspection.  Inspections can only happen on Fridays because of our schedules.  The holidays are here.  Michael's job is demanding more of his time right now.  We're tired from trying to balance it all, which means we're less productive when we do work.  

You get the picture.  

This week was spent on floors and electrical.  It was FREEZING outside (literally - freezing rain and sleet) so we couldn't exactly open up the house to ventilate after doing the top coat on the floors.  On the coldest days Michael worked on electrical instead.  That was great except that the power went out for awhile on the one day he was going to have the most time to work.  This stage of renovation requires power tools.

Stuff got done, but not anywhere near as much as we would have liked.  

That's not to say nothing got done.  The floors were sanded.  One coat of the clear coat was put down on the living room floor (and we decided we wanted a different finish).  The clear coat was pretty rough despite vacuuming and 2 washes with mineral spirits prior to putting the clear coat on, so now Michael needs to go give the whole thing a light sanding before we can put another coat down.  

We're in survival mode.  We're focusing on whatever the next step is, nothing further.

Here's a pic of the living room, complete with peanut gallery:

Sanding removed most of the water stains, which was great!  We're also really pleased with the color and will not be staining it.  Michael is just putting a few clear coats of water-based polyurethane down.

Today Michael is bound and determined to finish the floors.  Once that is done he'll finish the last of the electrical and hopefully we can do the electrical inspection on Friday.  We are hoping to find a plumber that can do the gas line for the stove this week so we can do the mechanical inspection on Friday as well.  We'll see how that goes.  

Onward and upward!


Well, That's One Way To Remove Wallpaper...

by Rachel Blackburn in ,


The kitchen reno is rolling along.  We took the time this week to create a calendar of events and anticipate the kitchen will be done {except for the finishing touches that always take way longer than they should and are not essential for the kitchen to function} a week before Thanksgiving.  

Now that I've put that out there, we have to stick to it, right?  

This week was plumbing {new kitchen sink sewer and vent pipe} and demo {half my kitchen disappeared}.

We have moved from layers of wallpaper to layers of linoleum.  On the bright side, that fuzzy half-painted-on wallpaper in the living room is gone.  

Before:

After:

Hello, new dining room!

The wall next to the kitchen cabinets will come out too, eventually.  We are trying to keep our sink and dishwasher for as long as possible during the renovation.

The "beams" turned out to be cleverly stained 1x8's.  That made them pretty simple to remove: hit them hard and they will fall down.

The old linoleum was super stylish:

And for kicks, here's a shot of the new plumbing:

The walls that made up the kitchen were cobbled together and kind of crazy.  It made us think that the kitchen had been renovated once, albeit many years ago.  There were strange things like insulation in the wall between the kitchen and the living room, etc.

At any rate, the walls are gone and we couldn't be more excited about how open the living room is feeling! This coming week we will finish demo-ing out the water heater closet and some shelves in the garage that are presently covering up where the water heater will move to, plus tackle the rest of the plumbing.  


A Door Becomes A Window

by Rachel Blackburn in ,


The plums kept us busy for a week, but we are now full steam ahead into the kitchen project!  

This house originally had 7 exterior doors.  SEVEN.  That's one exterior door for every 240 square feet of house.  It was a little ridiculous, especially since 2 of them sat right next to each other.  The family room had the original back door, and literally 4 feet away in the sun room there was another one.  I don't know if it was a code issue when they built the sun room or what, but since we are taking out the wall between the family room and sun room, we figured we could use one less door and some additional kitchen counter space.  

At our house in LA, we did the same thing.  We had 3 exterior doors there and desperately needed some additional counter space in the kitchen, so we 86'd the kitchen door for some additional work space. 

Totally worth it.

This project only took Michael an afternoon, which I think is amazing.  He removed the door, framed in the window, installed the window, caulked the window, put up the weatherproofing stuff, then salvaged some of the original siding that had been in the interior of the sun room to patch below the window and painted it to match the rest of the house.  

Pretty darn awesome for one afternoon!  

He did, of course, have an audience:

Caden hovered over the project for a good 2-3 hours.  He's so stinking cute about this stuff.  Even Em lasted about an hour.  I was impressed!

We plan to put the kitchen sink under the window.  Here's an idea of what we're picturing for under the new window: 

I think my favorite part of this project was that we didn't have to look any farther than our own house for the siding to match the original.  It is a hard width to find, and we were so glad that they had kept the original siding on one wall of the sun room.  It made life much easier.  Here's the wall we stole from:

Last week Michael finished gutting the wall between the family room and the sun room and pulled up the sun room carpet and pad, which really gives us a peek of what it's going to feel like all opened up.  Last night after the kids were in bed I pulled up carpet tack strips in the sun room and this week Michael will start digging the holes for the foundation reinforcement necessary to open up that load-bearing wall.  Lots to do.

And hey!  Now we're down to a *cough* reasonable 6 exterior doors!


Busy, Busy, Busy!

by Rachel Blackburn in


This week has been a little hectic.  Em has decided to potty train, which means spending pretty much all day in the bathroom with her, so we have been pushing like crazy in the evenings and during non-potty-break times to get things done.  

We tackled a few projects this week.  Here is where the kitchen demo is at: 

You can see one of the piles of flooring in the middle of the room.  We went and bought that this week.  Caden took a look around the flooring store and told me he didn't want our floor to be shiny because then he couldn't walk on it in socks.  Sorry kid...you'll be in non-skid socks this winter!  The floor has to sit in the house for 2 weeks to acclimate and then we can install, sand and finish it.  It only took Michael 3 trips to get it all home...  

I found Michael ripping down drywall like this the other night:

Kids, don't try that at home.

I have been working on the back yard.  Since all the perennials were on sale at my nursery I decided to go ahead and landscape the bed in front of the sun room windows.  It looks great!  I dug out 4 very sad-looking azaleas, then dug out some rocks from around the pine tree and put them along the edge of the bed to define it and make it match the rocks around the tree.  The ground in this bed is so dry that I just poured a thick layer of compost on it and planted into that.  I also put down a layer of brown paper bags before I poured the compost on so that it would hopefully keep the weeds at bay.  

Before: 

After:

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A trick that I've learned recently from my nursery is that if you don't want to use a chemical slug bait, you can put down crushed hazelnut shells around the base of the plant.  The slugs won't crawl across something sharp like that.  Neat trick, and it's so much better than applying poison.  Oregon is known for their hazelnuts, so it's nice to use a local product!

A bunch of the edible stuff in our yard was ready this week too.  I made pesto last night from the garlic and basil we grew and plan to make plum everything starting tonight.  Jam, cakes and whatever else I can sneak them into!  We pick blackberries next weekend so I have to get the plums done fast.  This is about 1/4 of the tree:

We got the drawings back for the load-bearing wall demo so this week Michael will go get the permit for that.  The drawings were a total God-thing, costing about 1/3 of what we expected them to.  After that, it's more demo and lots of digging, because Michael needs to dig out the areas for the footings both inside and outside the house.  I will continue working on scalping the back yard so we can put the moss down.  

We're getting through the hard manual labor part, slowly but surely.  I keep looking ahead to the "fun part" - the floor, cabinets, backsplash, paint, etc.  When those start getting put together you know you're almost done!