House Renovation, Day 23

Still here, still working on the house. Now that the floors are done (!!!!), it felt good to focus on some new projects this weekend. Seth rolled up a whole house-worth of carpet and carpet padding that's been in the breezeway, and now its all either at the curb for trash pickup or rolled up in the band room for later use (mostly soundproofing). Its so nice not to have to climb a mountain of carpet to get from the front door to the back door! Seth also tackled this:

That's a close-up shot of the lovely wallpaper that covers our bathroom walls. Seth scraped and scraped and soon we'll have a fruit & vine free bathroom - hurray! Still not sure what color it'll be, though...for some reason deciding on a color for that room hasn't been easy.

The other big project of the weekend was the kitchen. I don't think I've written much about the kitchen yet. I like it allot...the size is just right (not big, but not tiny), and I'm stoked to have a window in the kitchen again. The cabinets, however, are not good. They're made of particle board and covered in fake wood vinyl. They are poorly made and super ugly, so we decided to give them a makeover with some paint and new hardware.

I grossly underestimated how big of a project this was going to be. I sort of thought I could just throw a coat of primer and a coat of paint on the cabinets and switch out the handles for some chrome ones and be done with it. Not the case. For one thing, it didn't even occur to me until the end of last week that the hinges need to be replaced too in order to match the new handles. I know this is going to be a hassle, but after working so hard to do the floors the right way and not skip any steps, I just couldn't turn around and do a half-assed job on the kitchen. Especially since I love being in the kitchen and I love to cook! So anyway, replacing the hinges meant removing all the doors. The second thing I didn't expect was all the grime that had to be removed -- a quick wipe down was not going to do the trick. Every inch of those cabinets had to be scraped and scrubbed. Finally, I didn't realize that the cabinets needed to be sanded before they were primed, especially since the vinyl is so slick. I am so. tired. of sanding.

But if there's one thing I've learned through all this, its that the prep work is almost always the worst part of any job. The cabinet project was no exception, but by Saturday morning it was all done and time to put the primer on (thanks again for your help, Stacy!):

Its amazing how much bigger and brighter the kitchen looked once the big mass of dark fake wood was gone! And it was exciting to finally be able to put color into the room. Here's a sneak peak:

I just can't WAIT until it all comes together and I can see the finished product. Everything isn't going to get done before we move in (in 6 days!!), but that's okay. At least we'll have dry floors to walk on and a finished kitchen to cook in :)

One more thing I need to mention - Seth spent most of the week working wonders on the outside of the house. He pulled up tons of vines and weeds, he trimmed all the bushes, and he mowed our yard for the first time.

You did a great job, Seth - thank you!!
That's all for now. I'll be able to post pictures of the finished kitchen by Wednesday or Thursday.

House Renovation, Day 17


...but don't let those pictures fool you - it was NOT fun (we're just high on polyurethane fumes). And honestly, I don't even feel excited about it right now. I know I will soon, but right now I'm so unbelievabley tired that I can't muster up the energy to be excited. What a rollercoaster ride this project was. Remember when I was all pumped up and "felt such a sense of pride and accomplishment after a hard day's work"? I didn't feel that way at all this weekend. I felt exhausted and overwhelmed and overworked.

After a full week of hand sanding and scraping along the perimeters of every (hardwood) room, Seth and I put down our first coat of polyurethane on Saturday. That day wasn't too terrible actually...we had to vacuum all the floors, wipe them all (by hand) with tack cloth, then roll on the poly. It took allot of time, but went well. Sunday, however, was a different story. This time, we had to hand sand all the floors first, then vacuum, then wipe with tack cloth. Plus, it was impossible to see what we were doing because the floor that we were putting poly on was already shiny from the first coat. Towards the end of the day I was so tired and disoriented from the fumes that I walked right out onto the wet floor! I slipped of course, but luckily I caught myself and didn't break my tailbone. But it sure brought on the tears...I didn't get hurt, but making such a dumb mistake was the last straw for me and I just sort of lost it for a minute. I haven't cried that hard in a long time, but it sort of felt good to let it all out.

The next day (Monday night), Seth and I each worked a full day at our paying jobs then headed back to the house for Round 3 (and we also found the evidence of my little spill - can you spot the footprint?).

It was just as hard to do the 3rd coat as it was to do the 2nd, but we just kept moving and working (and whining on my part) and finally finished the final coat around 9pm. I have no idea how good of a job we did or if we missed huge spots (we dropped our brushes and fled the scene as soon as we could), but I guess I'll find out next time I go to the house. Which isn't going to be until Wednesday - I've given myself permission to take a night off, and I can't WAIT. I may do a little packing at the apartment, but other than that I'm going to get in my pj's, eat a leisurely dinner, and watch the finale of Big Brother 8.

I'll post some pictures of the finished product in the next couple of days. In addition to beautiful floors, there is one more upside to all this work: painting the walls is going to feel like a cake walk after all this! Until next time... :)

I'm really picky about art

...and a little judgemental about it too. Okay allot judgemental. I don't like this quality about myself, and I'm always trying to have an attitude like Seth does with music he doesn't like...he can appreciate the skill of the musician playing the music but also accept that it is simply not his taste. I can't always be that nice :) But in my defense, I really feel like 4 years of critiques at art school made me this way. I saw ALLOT of bad art, and just sort of came to expect the good art to be few and far between. So anyway, all that is to say that its extremely rare for me to come across an artist that I like and am excited about, and today I found one (thanks to her)! His name is Keith Maddy, and I instantly responded to his work....partially because it has a similar aesthetic quality as mine (back when I was still making art), but also because it seems so honest and unpretentious. Just from looking at his website, it doesn't look like he was sitting around trying to make cutting edge art that would wow the art world or make him allot of money. His work and his technique seem organic, not forced. And that was how my favorite pieces came about too...I quit worrying about what it was going to be or if it was going to be "good" and just let my hands start making. Sigh. Its good to find someone to be excited about again. Here are some of my favorites, which all came from Keith Maddy's website (which you should check out):

Aren't they great?! I love all the circles, pattern, and layers. Those are my 3 favorite things! From his website it doesn't look like he's a printmaker, but he would definitely make a good one. He's got some good photography too (also on his website).

I just think he's so talented, and I feel inspired now, and maybe once we get into the house I can make a little studio set-up somewhere and start cranking out some art. And speaking of, we're putting down our first coat of polyurethane on Saturday! We decided against the stain, and I couldn't be happier about that. This will be allot less work and money, but I think its also going to be gorgeous. I should be able to post pictures of that on Sunday. Later!

House Renovation, Day 8

Major progress has been made. After a full week of pulling staples, nails, and carpet gripper any chance we could (and with help! thanks again Stacy), we finally got the floors completely prepped for sanding. So yesterday (Sunday) morning Seth and I hopped in the car at 8:30am and headed off to Home Depot (my new home away from home) to rent The Big Sander. And since we only wanted to pay for 1 day, our goal was to get all the floors sanded and get the sander back to Home Depot by the time they closed at 8pm.

We started off feeling pumped and ready to knock it out.

But we quickly realized that it was going to be a really big job. Each room had to be sanded 3 times with 3 different grits of sandpaper (60-80-120), and a couple of the really rough areas had to be sanded 4 times (starting with a 36 grit paper). Maneuvering the machine wasn't too terribly difficult, but it wasn't easy either, and one of the hardest parts was being in a mask and goggles for so long, and dripping in sweat because the AC was turned off (we had to stuff all the vents with towels to keep the dust out).

After hours and hours of sanding, we finally finished the entire house, and I can't remember the last time I felt such a sense of pride and accomplishment after a hard day's work. It really is amazing what you can accomplish if you simply decide to do the necessary research and prep and just go for it. Its so empowering and is a huge confidence booster. I feel like I can take on anything now! And holy cow, we saved so much money!! The frugal side of me is doing cartwheels on the inside just thinking about it.

Look at these beauties!!

Of course they're still covered in dust, but man they look brand new! It just blows me away what a difference 1 day's work made. Now we have to decide if we're going to stain the floors then polyurethane them, or skip the stain and just use poly. I've got to do a little research on staining (so glad I can finally stop googling "how to sand hardwood floors"), but I'll write more about that once we make a decision. This week is going to be another week of working on the house in shifts, and this weekend will be another huge project weekend, and I'm ready to take it on! I feel like all those hours I've spent watching HGTV and Trading Spaces are finally paying off :) Stay tuned for more updates soon!

House Renovation, Day 2

Date: September 3, 2007
Time Spent: 3.5 hours
Goal: Pull up carpet, carpet gripper, and staples from 1/2 of living room
Soundtrack: 1. Ryan Adams, Rock N Roll 2. The Very Best of Aretha Franklin (the 60's) 3. Lenny Kravitz, Mama Said

This is what the living room looked like before I started today (views from both ends of the room):

I pulled up half the carpet/foam, and the good news is that the floors in the living room are in MUCH better shape than the floors in the dining room:

I learned a few lessons after yesterday and made a trip to Home Depot to buy some things to make the job a little easier...some much-needed gloves, and THIS:

This thing made pulling up the carpet gripper much faster. And once the floors are done, I figure it can double as a weapon to have by the bed for when Seth goes out of town ;)

House Renovation, Day 1

Date: September 2, 2007
Time Spent: 5 hours
Goal: Pull up the carpet/foam in the dining room; pull up the carpet gripper around the perimeter of the room; pull up all staples & nails in the floor
Soundtrack: 1. The Essential Bob Dylan 2. Are You Gonna Go My Way, Lenny Kravitz 3. The Very Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions

This is what the dining room looked like before:

And this is what it looked like after I got the carpet out (picture is from the opposite angle):

After 5 hours of back-breaking work pulling up millions of staples and tons of carpet gripper (which looks like this and is nailed down)...

...I reached my goal!

That bowl, by the way, is filled with all the nails and staples that used to be in the floor.

I won't lie - this is TOUGH work. Really tough. Being hunched over for such a long period of time killed my back, and my hands ache in their bones and are full of calluses...

...but its alllll gonna be worth it in a month, I know it. The day before I headed over to the house to work for the first time, I talked to my good friend Karen S. about how I was nervous because it is such a big job, and she said that it might be a nice change to be doing something with my hands for a change. And you know, she was right! All the work I ever do anymore is done sitting at a desk in front of a computer, and it was really rewarding work so hard physically and see immediate results right there in my dining room.

I'll be heading back to the house tomorrow to start on the living is twice the size of the dining room, so I guess it'll take twice as long? I definitely won't be able to work for 10 hours tomorrow, but I'll post about whatever progress I make.
One last thing - HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mama Tee!!! Thanks so much for coming in town so we could celebrate with you. We had a blast :)

We love you!!!!