Archive for ‘Musings’


A Shout Out

We still have a lot of the renovation left to complete, but I wanted to go ahead and give a small shout out to my contractor and his crew, and everyone involved. They have all been great. Nice, professional, and most importantly, they do beautiful work. They even think of things that made the house more beautiful that I didn’t ask them to do, or bring me ideas that just make the whole thing so much better. Ultimately, they get me, they get the house, and what I’m trying to do with it. Even better, they have the technical skill and knowledge to get the house there! I don’t know if they are ok with me posting their names online, but thanks to M., A., J., & D. for working so hard on the house and really making it beautiful. I can’t thank you guys enough, and I have to thank my uncle, M. as well, for hooking the whole thing up!

I don’t really have pictures, but my uncle and M, the contractor make beautiful kitchen cabinets and do great tile work, too. Here is their youtube video with some of their previous work:


The Dirty Secret of this Renovation

The Sea of Debris!

Well, the contractors are packing up to leave, and this leg of the renovation is just about over. I know I’ve been posting all of the changes, but I’ve hardly posted about one of the rather important remaining jobs… trash removal. We didn’t purchase a dumpster for this renovation. I priced them, but really, they are kind of expensive. So on the weekends, we’ve been loading up my father’s truck, driving it to my sister’s other piece of property, and burning the wood. So it does keep a lot of the wood out of the landfill…and we save money for more projects…or help fund this current project, whatever. The price? The huge pile of debris in the yard.

Yes, I’ve been hiding this (not so little) secret from you all. The house looks so glamorous and different, I wanted you to see the good things! I’ve been downplaying this rather huge blemish, but I guess it is time to reveal the ugly. So, here is my next project and the biggest money saver in the house re-imagination… the debris pile. Sadly, this is not it in all of its glory. We have already hauled away about 6 truckloads. I also held back some of the cooler old things. pieces of molding, porch posts, the few pieces of the bay molding that wasn’t rotten, some of the siding with the original milkpaint and the old square nails. Of course all the doors, windows, interior moldings, and hardware were saved, too. This pile is mostly old- termite chewed 2×4’s, siding, window frames, and cut offs from the new wood. Eh, the secret’s out now. Hopefully it will all be gone soon enough!


Dealing with the Difficulties

“Um, there’s some bad news”.

Yes, these are pretty much the worst words that can be uttered during a massive renovation. Just like the reno that my house is currently going through. I’ve been more mum than usual about the process. Mostly this is because my contractors and crew are fabulous, and tend to just handle any problems that come up without even telling me until later.  For a worrier like me, this is a good thing. However, all the “bad news” issues make the renovation more costly and time-consuming, but that’s not even the worst part. The worst is the “what, now?” feeling. That expecting more badness. The fear of something horrible that is just too much to fix, or will result in losing some beloved part of my house.

First, it was that wood floor in the bedroom would have to be replaced. Then, the front porch was pretty much devoured by termites, as were two walls in the second bedroom. Then it was finding out that the contractor  paid to add the first addition didn’t support the roof as needed. Next, all of the original wood in the bay that I was hoping could be saved was rotten. Then it was that the back porch was only supported by a single 2×4. More problems? Oh, yes! most of the soffit and fascia was rotten. That’s not even everything. I can’t even remember all the problems. So, yesterday, when my workers told me that the fascia on the bay was completely rotten was kind of a blow. Not because the fascia can’t be replaced. I know they can fix it, probably better than it was, but because that leads to this negativistic thinking. If the fascia is rotten, maybe the rafters are rotten. If the rafters are rotten…Does that mean I have to lose my beautiful, original, metal roof on the bay? You see the worry here?

 So, yeah, we’ve had a lot of nasty surprises and problems. I think this whole process would be easier if I was less attached to the house. Yet, if I cared less, I probably wouldn’t be going through this whole thing to begin with! The bottom line — renovations are stressful. More stressful than even I originally anticipated. I must keep that in mind for future projects.


Ongoing Projects Update

Well, The massive exterior renovation is winding down, so I thought it was time to post an updated list of things that need to be completed. Unfortunately, there was more structural repair to the house than originally planned, so the new front porch had to be scrapped to be revisited at a later time.

remove the old siding from the house

sheath the entire house

re-frame all windows and doors

close up two doorways

replace all windows and doors

wrap the house

repair all the structural damage

build the closet addition

build the sunporch

put in french doors

put windows in the additions


put up new trim

wrap trim boards and soffit with aluminum

put up fishscales in eaves

replace the vents


replace the basement windows

put up horizontal lap siding


Breaking Up is Hard to Do

I had a major break-up this week. I broke-up with a major building supplier. Now this building supplier, which shall remain nameless (but let’s just say that the name rhymes with some rather important appendages on the feet) has caused me problems before (see this post), but this last delivery was just unbearable. Nobody wants to read the sad tale, and I’m pretty sick of recounting it. So, the cliff notes version: Stuff was supposed to be delivered Thursday morning. Stuff was actually delivered at about 7:40p.m. And it was only delivered after I called them about every two hours, labeled them as ridiculous, and threatened to never buy anything there again. Oh, and the reason it was so late? The delivery man, who was very nice, informed me that it was late because they are painting the store and they had put a bunch of stuff on top of my order. Lovely, right?

I’m not going to lie, I was pretty angry. We had a bit of a blow-up. Essentially, I kicked them out of my life in a not particularly graceful or thoughtful way. I do kind of regret that, but I was still angry, so what to do? I wrote a constructively angry letter and e-mailed it to their corporate headquarters. To be fair, things did get better from here. It resulted in many apologies and a refund.

I guess they did the right thing in the end. They tried to pacify me, win me back with money and apologies…but I don’t think it is enough. It was kind of the equivalent to showing up at my door with roses, and I still kinda hate their guts. It was just too little, too late. The trust is all gone out of the relationship. Two nightmarish delivery experiences are just too much for me. If they had called me that morning and explained that they needed to reschedule, I would have been ok with that. I’m not unreasonable! So, where does this leave us? I think we are through. Over. The End.  For the most part. I may buy things that I don’t need delivered. I may buy some decorative items. However, any large complicated orders, that require this supplier to bring them to me? I don;t think so. In other words, we might see each other occasionally. We might stay friends, but for the most part,  this relationship…is over.


Finally, Some Color

Example of a colorful Victorian facade, from Historic Color Consulting

If you’ve been reading along, you know I’ve been making some aesthetic decisions about the house recently. Trim size, what to do with the bay, etc. One of these tasks was finally deciding on a color scheme for the house. Truthfully, I enjoy these aesthetic things more. Buying a bunch or raw wood is boring to me; getting the house sprayed for termites is not so glamorous. Picking out siding? At least colorwise, is kind of fun.

We ended up going with vinyl. I would still not rule out fiber cement in the future, but this is a pretty extensive renovation, and let’s face it, I need things like heat and plumbing, too. Lady Gaga may be able to live half in reality and fantasy, but that is just not practical for me.  I need to stay firmly planted in reality in order to stay on budget. There is still a long way to go.

Back to color. I would pick out something bright and colorful…but my sister vetoed that. And rightfully so, as much as I love bright colors, something neutral would sell better (if we did ever plan on selling the house), and it would be easier to change-up if we got sick of the color combination that we are currently planning. The house has two different types of shingles, horizontal wood planks, and fish scale shingles. To fit in with the Victorian styling, I think each of these types of shingles needs to be a different, but coordinating color. Victorian houses traditionally had about 5 different colors on them, so it would make sense for these to be painted in different colors. Of course, then you have the trim, which I’m going to have done in classic white, and the front door. The front door has to be welcoming, stand out, and coordinate with the main body of the house. Then you have the porch ceiling, the porch floor, and accessories.

The first color is the main color of the house; the color of all the horizontal lap siding. The second will be the color of the fish scale shingles. The third is the color of the front door, and some of the accessories. The 4th will be the color of the foundation. the 5th & 6th will be some of the accessories around the porch. The seventh is meant to mimic a haint blue, or the traditional blue porch ceilings in the South. The final color is a mix of the first and second colors, and the porch floor will probably end up being something like this. White will also be used, of course, but you get a good idea of what that will look like with the white background.  I’m excited about the palette. I think it will be both traditional, and bright enough to keep me interested in the outside of the home. The inside color palette will probably be very similar. When I like something, I tend to stick with it!


Here Comes the Sun… Porch

The new back porch!

Time to introduce my new favorite part of the house! A sun porch! When we bought the house, a back porch had been added. Well, it wasn’t so much a porch as a raised concrete slab with some fake beams holding up a little section of roof. Now, I like porches, but this one had two glaring negatives about it. One, was the huge slab of concrete that someone had poured over the concrete porch floor. It was like a stoop…on the porch. Rendering the majority of the porch completely useless! It was awkward, and it was ugly. This strange mini porch slab was one of the few things I truly hated about the house when we purchased it. It had to go.  The second problem? My house is older than the town in is in, and as a result, the roads have been reconfigured over the years. The lot is a corner lot with the front of the house on a dead-end street, and the back porch along the other road, that didn’t use to be there. As a result, everyone thought the back door was the front door, due to the proximity to the road.

So, I knew this needed to look less prominent, but how? My idea was to screen it in. I like being outside, but I abhor bugs. So, a screen porch would offer us more entertaining space and a place to go to get away from those irritating, biting creatures. I was cool with this plan, and surely no one would mistake my back door for the front door when the only porch that remained was the L-shaped one in the front? Well, my dad had a better idea. It took me awhile to warm up to it, but he was right. He thought that we should just close it in, but add a lot of windows and make it a sun porch. This would give us more living area throughout the year, and look better than a screen porch. My sister wanted to add the french doors, as neither of us like sliders. 

I mean, I thought this all would be nice. I didn’t realize just how much I would love it! It adds so much to the house, makes the front door more defined, and gives us additional living space. Plus, that weird, uneven concrete stoop is no more. So, even though, I wasn’t completely sold on the sun porch to begin with, now… I say, it’s alright.



Keeping Calm

They say patience is a virtue. I’ve posted before about my difficulties with maintaining my patience during the renovation. The whole process is just stressful. However, now I have a whole new series of events that is trying my patience. This is the delivery process.

As I said in this previous post, I’ve been purchasing and organizing the materials for my contractor to begin extensive work on the house. When I finally got all my estimates and numbers straight, I purchased the materials. Lots of materials. So many materials that picking them up and hauling them was not even an option for me, so they had to be delivered. This brings about a whole new set of issues to try my patience.

 The first load of materials from supplier #1 was set to be delivered Saturday afternoon. I wait all day Saturday on them to bring these materials. I could have been doing many things on this beautiful Saturday, reading the Dark Tower series, playing playstation, visiting friends, working on the house, etc.  I called the supplier that morning to make sure they were delivering them and received a confirmation. Then I called back when they had not been delivered by 4:30. supplier #1 told me to call back at 5:30, so I did. Which began an elaborate game of phone tag lasting nearly half an hour, where I was passed off to nearly every employee in the store. I also believe I was hung up on twice! Finally, after I start ranting, they play hot potato with the phone a couple more times until I find out that the delivery guy didn’t show up for work that day. Now, I try to be a reasonable person. If the delivery looks like it is going to be late, such as when the guy that was supposed to start deliveries at 8am does not show up for work,  just give me a call and reschedule. It is not that difficult!

Check my ruthless ability to keep my cool after this renovation

This begins my saga with supplier #2. While this process was not nearly as painful as with supplier #1, my irritation scale was already elevated. At 8:00 am, when the wood was to be delivered, I had already laid out 4x4s to place the wood on. I was all ready to go. Then, he dumps the wood, the straps break…and my pile of OSB and plywood looks like a half shuffled deck of cards in my front yard. Essentially, half of my wood is on the ground, and I can’t move it, because it is too heavy. The delivery guy blamed it on incorrectly packaging the wood. I’m not so sure it wasn’t just  a weird occurrence. I just hope none of it is too damaged to use!

Tolstoy wrote that, “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” With all the exercise and practice  my patience is getting during this renovation, it will be a ninja by the time we have finished.

*Images via google image search


A Renovation Education

Renovating this house has been an educational experience of sorts. I learned to properly use dust masks by pinching the metal part to fit your face. I have discovered signs indicating a termite infestation. I have seen the usefulness of putty knives, and I have a whole new set of vocabulary words – utility bar, squares, caps, sistering, blocking, etc.

A possible result of my ongoing renovation education, I have been become a much better bargain hunter. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been fond of sales and saving money, it’s just that I don’t usually go out and hunt these things down. It all started when I hired a new contractor. He is my uncle’s good friend, but lives out-of-state. So, I am in charge of getting materials for the upcoming jobs. Armed with my list, I have contacted every hardware store, lumber supplier, and siding manufacturer that I could find within 45 miles. I looked for the best prices, made comparisons, called for estimates, and wrote everything down in handy lists. I even learned how to make double-sided copies on the machine at work to run the lists off! I checked for deals, I found coupons. Basically, I did everything I could to save money, and more importantly, I think it worked out. Lowes was having a sale on windows, so every one of them was 15% off. I signed up for moving coupons. I found french doors on clearance. I received discounts from sales people trying to beat my other estimates. Ultimately, I think we manages to save quite a bit, even though the front door was a bit of a splurge. I saved some money, I learned some new skills. Both pretty valuable to this renovation…although, finding a bag of gold under the floorboards would probably be more helpful.


Decorating…Wizard Style

I didn’t update this week, mostly because I’ve been geeking out over Harry Potter. I could go on and on about why I love those books and movies, but since this blog is supposed to be primarily about my home, I decided to celebrate (mourn) the end of the series by posting some of my Potteresque home decor and discussing how I plan to decorate with it. After I have walls. Just so you know, I did try using Reparo and Accio, Drywall…but it didn’t really work. Anyway,  I know it may not be considered sophisticated to have Harry Potter stuff throughout the home, but I wholeheartedly believe that your house should reflect who you are and the  things that you love. 

Print made by Pink Caffeination

The first thing that will be incorporated is Godric Gryffindor’s sword. My sister likes weaponry, and I got her this replica for Christmas a few years ago. I see it hanging in the library/dining room, shining in the candlelight, looking pretty awesome. When we bought the home, one of the first things I purchased for it was this print from Pink Caffeination on I had the seller remake it for me in greens, blues, teals, grays, and black, our house colors. If you are a Harry Potter geek like me, you will also recognize this is a mixture of Ravenclaw and Slytherin house colors. This is kind of perfect, as I am a self-proclaimed Ravenclaw, while my sister is a Slytherin.

Over Christmas break, my sister and I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where besides having a fabulous time, we purchased a bunch of stuff. In case you didn’t know, Besides having character wands, the theme park has wands specific to certain months, so that you can pick one to represent a particular date. We both purchased wands representing our birth dates. When we go back, I want to get one to for February 10th, the day we purchased the house. I want to frame the wands in a shadow box to hang on the wall or display in the bookshelf. We also purchased some of the candy sold at Honeydukes in glass apothecary jars. I kept the jars to use around the house, for cotton balls in the bathroom, as a candy dish in the kitchen, etc. That way there will be little reminders of these things everywhere. I want to get more of them, so if any of you guys are planning a trip, let me know!

It might seem strange to incorporate this sort of merchandise into your decor, but it makes me smile, and brings a dose of whimsy and nostalgia to everyday life. It makes my house a home. If you agree, come on by for some cauldron cakes and pumpkin juice…just wait until I get appliances first.