Category Archives: demolition

time is (not) on my side

My coworkers/friends Grace and Josh have just embarked on a cross-country adventure. They quit their jobs, sold most of their possessions, packed up their dog and are making their way from Philadelphia up to Alaska, where they will spend the summer, after which they will drive back down the coast to California on a hunt for a new place to settle. They’re also blogging about it. Obviously this is bittersweet for me, because we will all miss them dearly, but I’m incredibly happy and envious that they’re taking this chance.

Greg and I aren’t packing up our stuff for a cross country move anytime soon (sorry Susanne!) But in my sadness to see them go, I decided to let them inspire me in smaller ways. I worked with Grace for two years, but only in the past few months have I gotten to know her better and was looking forward to spending more time with them. Then came their big announcement. Since then I’ve been kicking myself that we didn’t hang out more, but it’s just one of those classic situations where you think you have plenty of time, and then BAM. You don’t.

So one of the lessons I’m taking away from their adventure is to stop letting time pass me by with nothing to show, stop putting things off for later. Because later comes WAY faster than you think.

First thing to stop procrastinating: Finishing the house. Second thing: Blogging about it.

The happy coincidence about this is that our contractor happened to have started working on two of our big remaining projects today: First floor powder room/airplane bathroom, and the front hallway. Check out some before pictures:

Vestibule: Before

Vestibule: Before

Vestibule: Before

Vestibule: Before
Powder Room: Before

Powder Room: Before

Powder Room: Before

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The next phase

Ohhhhhh folks!  Big things are in the works in these here parts.  Beginning tomorrow a team of electricians will descend on the house and turn it into a swiss cheese, yet again.  Then at some point (hopefully not too long) after that, our regular contractor is coming to make it into a whole cheese again, along with some other projects here and there.  Then, Henry Sanding Floor comes to refinish the stairs (which we should have done when he did the rest of the house way back before we moved in but we cheaped out as usual).  And then…….WE’RE DONE!

Ok ok, so we won’t be totally done.  There’s still the front door to contend with, and repainting all the walls that will be damaged during the swiss-cheesing, and the vestibule, and general decorating.  But the bulk of the large (and ridiculously expensive) projects will be completed.  And then maybe….just maybe….I’ll feel like we’re in a good place with things.

next up…

Well, we’ve set our sights on our next project…the master bedroom! After almost two years of sleeping in a room that’s “shabby chic” (to put it extremely nicely) we’re ready to grow up and have a comfortable room to lay our heads. Our plan is to try to get it all done over the next few weeks, working only on weeknights so as to keep our weekends free for more pleasant outings, like beaches, picnics, flea markets, and not working on the house.

Day One: Clear everything out

So these pictures aren’t true “before” shots, since we did actually have a lot of crap in that room. Now it’s all living in the guest room, along with us for the next few weeks.

The closet that’s presently there isn’t deep enough to hang clothes in, so our big plan is to install shelves and make it like faux built-ins. We also don’t want to get in over our heads with ripping down any wood paneling, so we’ll just do the typical Greg and Kate method of painting over it.

Now I need to think about things like paint colors, artwork, new bedding, and curtains that actually reach the bottom of the window.

On tap for Day Two: Scrubbing the walls and trim.

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Day 3

More visible progress yesterday!

Goodbye window, hello lots of space for cabinets!

Greg was a very happy camper yesterday when he came home to find his most hated thing, the archway, gone. Don’t ask me why it’s his most hated thing, he just likes to pick strange things to hate. We mainly just got rid of it to open up the space a bit and to match the rest of the archways in the house, which are rectangular, and because you could actually see the outline of where they added it.

Here is our nice new enormous window, all ready to go in:

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Day 2

I really wish there were more hours in the day. Every day, I start out with a list of things to do that I am somehow never able to get to because there’s some other situation I have to deal with. We did go out and pick up the last of our appliances, along with a light fixture for the kitchen, and we also picked out a faucet for the sink. So it wasn’t a completely unproductive evening. We got sidetracked by the fact that I completely forgot how dusty these projects are, and in an effort to keep up and not be living under three inches of old plaster dust, I spent the remainder of the evening vacuuming and dusting as many surfaces as possible, because each and every square inch is covered already. As opposed to my plans of doing laundry and possibly cleaning the bathroom.

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Galley Rally ’08: Day 1

I would say the demo is going swimmingly…

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Back in the saddle again

It’s time to admit it, we’re slacking with the house. When I tell people we haven’t done much lately, they all let us off the hook, saying, “Well, you’ve had a lot going on.” This might be true, but that excuse is wearing a bit thin these days. We’ve decided that we need to start setting goals for ourselves with the house or things will never get done. Greg has been working on scraping the wallpaper in the guest room for at least a month or so now, but it’s a never-ending task because he just does a little here and a little there, with no help from me. We don’t want the house to become our entire reason for living, but we also need to really get down to business, so we’re going to have to start spending at least a few nights a week working together for a solid two or three hours if we’re ever going to start seeing real results. This way at least when we’re taking a night off, we know that we’ve at least put some real time in, so we can relax and enjoy ourselves.

And so….we’re giving it our all to finish the guest room, hopefully by the end of January. We have about half of the room left to scrape, but it’s very tough going, since the wallpaper has been scraped in some parts, and painted over in others. Hopefully we can at least get it all scraped and washed down in the next two weeks, in time for Erik’s potential visit in mid-January. Although to be quite honest, there’s a good chance he could wind up sleeping on the couch, which will at least now accommodate his extreme height.

Here are some recent pics of what we’re up against:

Also, we did get our table and we are in love with it, but I don’t have any great shots of it yet, so I promise I’ll post them in the next few days, along with the story of the chandelier.

sweat equity

I posted a month ago with the intention of starting up a regular blog of our adventures, which of course never happened, mostly due to the complete chaos that my life is in. Now work has settled down a bit, and the house and the wedding don’t seem like such huge looming catastrophes anymore, so I’m going to try to get this thing going again with some tales of what we’ve been up to so far.

After ripping up the carpet on the first floor to find parquet floors beneath, we were anxious to see what the rest of the place looked like. The realtor warned us that there was no hardwood in the rest of the house, but we’re not good listeners, and as a result found this in one of the bedrooms:




The vinyl pulled up like paper, it was marvelous. Unfortunately, the second floor was not so easy:







We remain cautiously optimistic that the floors can still be brought back to their original beauty. And if not it looks like we’re going to be wearing shoes in the house for quite some time, which will make Greg happy, since he refuses to take his shoes off in our apartment.

Part of the reason the renovations have taken such a toll on us is our sudden case of home-improvement-related A.D.D. We jumped right into scraping wallpaper, but once you’ve peeled off all of the huge, satisfying loose strips, you’re left with the glue-encrusted little scraps in the corners, which are much more difficult to remove and therefore much less fun. As a result, we get about 78% finished with one wall and then Greg says, “I’m gonna go rip up some vinyl upstairs.” Then once he’s finished about 67% of that, it’s, “Ok, so you wanna start spackling?” Then we start priming only to realize that the spackle still needs to be sanded. In the first month, the first project that we (actually Greg) have completed from start to finish is installing the new toilet seats:

Coming up in our next few installments, see the fruits of our wallpaper labor, check out our brand new ceiling fans, and learn which roofing company you should NEVER EVER hire!

If you lived here, you’d be home by now

It is official: I own a house. To be more accurate, I own half of a house, the other half of which is owned by my wonderful husband-to-be Gregory. We went to the bank, got a very large check, went to our realtor’s office, signed our names 847 times, handed over said check, and received our keys. After a quick champagne toast, we got straight to work.

First item: Hideous carpeting.





To our surprise, we uncovered beautiful parquet floors. They look a bit dinged up in the photo, but it’s mainly due to a layer of carpet dust. We’re hoping that once we bust out the Method OMop we’ll find that we don’t need to refinish them. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the rest of the house, which presumably had hard wood floors at one point, but they now have a layer of vinyl glued to every square inch. We’re still up in the air about whether or not we want to install new floors ourselves or pay a professional to do it for twice the price. Part of me wants to prove to myself that I can be handy around the house, but then again this could be the kind of project that could put us in way over our heads. And what with getting married in two months, that’s not where I want to be. The jury is still out.

In the mean time, the one thing we’ve gotten down is stripping wallpaper, which is convenient, seeing as 91% of the house is covered with it.

Greg was working the scraper when he made me come to look at his amazing discovery – a patch of wallpaper in the shape of Abraham Lincoln:

My parents came down this weekend to check the place out, and I put my mom to work cleaning the icky kitchen. That woman has elbow grease that doesn’t quit, she totally rocked all that grime. Unfortunately even three hours of Brillo, Mr. Clean and Bon Ami couldn’t combat fifty years of spills and scratches, but she at least made it a little less scary to put something down on the counter. Oh, and I realize the kitchen is a total horror show, but that will have to wait until after the wedding so I don’t go completely insane.

For now we’re just plugging along, cleaning things up, trying to get ourselves into a position to move in early August, even if we’re just living on the first floor. The amazing thing is that the first floor alone is about the size of our current apartment, so I’m not even sure that we’re ready for the shock of spreading out from 800 square feet to 1700. I’ll keep you posted.