Those *&%$# hardwood floors

We sanded and sanded and sanded for 12 hours. Then I spent 3 days putting on polyurethane/ stain mixture (which is quite a bit more labor intensive than just a clear poly), each time it took at least 4 hours. In between coats 2 and 3 I noticed some places that were terribly rough on the floors, rough like 60 grit sandpaper rough. Due to not having a car at the house and being all alone without the proper tools I hand sanded 2 of the rooms. And did I mention it was 90 degrees with no air conditioning or fans.

Then after the 3rd coat and before the 4th and final coat (which was determined by the fact that I was leaving on vacation the following day and the whole reason we did the floors this week was so they could sit and cure while we were on vacation) I found many more rough spots and decided that the floors really needed to be buffed out.

So on the day before vacation I rented a buffer and attempted to buff out the floors, really this is better watched than read about:

Sorry about the screenshot of my arse on this video:

And finally Dan showing me how its done. When I called him and said, “how the $#%^ am I supposed to control this thing!” I’m sure he thought I was just being a wimpy little girl. But he still said he was on his way over to help me. He probably planned to school me on how to get it done. Ha!

The moral of this story, I have no idea… But it sure to hell is not that buffing out floors is an easy job! We used the buffer on Beth’s floor and on the office. In the office it took off a lot of the finish that I had spent 3 days putting down but the floors definitely did feel smoother. Dan returned the buffer and I hand sanded the living room and dining room, hand sanding was a breeze compared to that damn buffer. Then I put on the 4th and final coat, which looked fabulous when it was wet. I’ll have to wait until I return after vacation to really see how it all looks. But no matter what we are done with those damn floors! Of course, I still have that hole in the wall to repair.

Speaking of the hole in the wall, when I returned the unused sanding pads the guy behind the counter asked me how it went. Ha! I explained to him exactly how it went and he said, “Yeah, if ya don’t know what you’re doing it’s impossible to use.” Again feeling like my gender was predisposing me to not being able to use this damn machine, I explained that my husband who used to do construction for a living also couldn’t use this stupid buffer and that he even put a hole in the wall. To which the guy laughed and said, “Yeah, that’s the joke if ya don’t know what you’re doing you’ll put a hole in the wall.”


Giant Leap

Today was a huge milestone! We brought home a van load and a truck load of tools. Which means work is winding down at the other house. We had to clear stuff out because tomorrow we start sanding all the hardwood floors. We had planned on that being the last thing we did but with a trip to North Carolina coming up in a week we decided to do the floors now so they would have a week to sit undisturbed while we were out of town.

While we’re polyurethaning the floors next week I’ll still have access to the kitchen so I can get the cupboards painted.

Look at all these empty rooms!

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We also decided to pullout the 2 built in workbenches in the work shop. We just can’t stop the water problem in the basement. This area was really wet and I think moldy too. So Thomas very carefully pulled out this workbench.


And Dan not so carefully dismantled this workbench.IMG_4491

This room really needs a scrub down and some paint.IMG_4492 IMG_4493 IMG_4494

Speaking of Dan he couldn’t resist climbing the phone pole and cutting down some unnecessary wires that were going to our house.This does NOT look safe!

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We’re rounding a corner

After leaving the house the other day Thomas stated rather incredibly, “we’re almost done.” While that’s not quite true I did find it inspiring that we were at a point where that statement could even be made. I’ve been saying for while that this house is killing me. It has been a lot of work, a lot more than I thought it would be in the beginning. And it has been less than helpful for Dan and mine’s relationship. Having 2 houses under construction is a little more than we can handle apparently. I am really looking forward to having my life back. We did not meet our self imposed deadline of the end of May. Hopefully, we will make our new deadline of being done by the time we go to North Carolina. That gives us a little less than 3 weeks! Yikes!

All of the rooms are done being painted minus the kitchen, bath, basement stairwell and Beth’s ceiling. After painting 3 coats of paint on Daniel’s bedroom ceiling he mentioned that he would really like the ceiling to be dark blue. Argh! But I decided to go ahead and do 2 more coats on the ceiling so he could have what he wanted. Did I mention how much I dislike painting ceilings? I also decided to use Frog Tape’s shape tape, to get this zig-zag line. I like the way it looks but what a pain in the butt.

IMG_4366I don’t really love the colors, but I couldn’t stand to paint the room again so this is how it’s staying.IMG_4367 IMG_4365This is the original antique light fixture that was in the room. We took it down, replaced the electrical parts and cleaned it up with just soap and water but oh boy did that change it dramatically! It was brown before the cleaning (I assume from all the nicotine) now it is a really pretty silver.IMG_4368Here’s a before and after of the light fixture:IMG_4313 I also finished the living room and hallway. I love the light gray color. It is hard to find a good gray that doesn’t look too blue.IMG_4361t’s hard to tell with the shadows but it looks really nice witht eh light yellow dining room.

IMG_4360 IMG_4359This is the light that I found at the Springfield antique sale, just a little bit of paint on the base and it looks better than new. I think it looks great in the living room.

IMG_4371This is the hallway closet. I’m so jealous of all the closets in this house. They’re really just  a normal amount of closets but since my house doesn’t have even one closet it seems like a lot.IMG_4370 IMG_4369

Dan has been working hard finishing up all the electric and plumbing and getting the kitchen and bathroom drywalled. I’ll go in today to sand then it will be time to start painting those rooms.  IMG_4372We kept the original tub it just has to be shined up a little bit.

IMG_4363  IMG_4362We’ve also finished power washing the basement and have started painting on the waterproofing paint. The first coat went on yesterday, I wonder how its working against todays rain. Thomas is going to help me pick up another 5 gallons (literally, that stuff is heavy!) of the waterproofing stuff and he’s going to paint a coat on today. After that goes on we should be done with the basement. I had big plans for painting all the walls and floors but I think I’ll just leave the paint and tools and let the kids do it after they move in.IMG_4379 IMG_4376Thomas was right, we are almost done. Thank goodness!

Some more outdoor pics

This is not the prettiest time of year to be buying houses. Who knows what flowers will pop up this spring and the yard is bound to look nicer once the grass fills in and there’s some color. Plus the tree in the backyard appears to be a flowering tree, maybe a Mimosa or something else.

I already told the kids the garage is mine. Finally I have a place to store all my furniture for the booth. Megan, Daniel’s girlfriend said she would just go through the garage looking for furniture she can use in the house. Smart girl that’s what would I do too.


The driveway’s a little rough but I don’t see that really causing any problems. We’ll set up a little seating area in this nook. The back yard is completely fenced in so Lil’ Ann will be coming with me to help with the demo and keep me company. Also I’m hoping the house won’t feel as spooky if she’s there to bark at everything.

IMG_3910The house is being over run by ivy. Which I LOVE, but sadly Dan says we have to tear it all down. It has ensconced the chimney and is growing through the soffit into the attic. Since it’s actually damaging the house I guess it has to go. There is actually a window under all that ivy, I’m guessing there will be much more light in that room once the ivy is gone. Speaking of soffits there’s not too much work that needs to be done on the outside of the house since it’s all brick. Except for the soffits, storm windows and garage door. Those all need to be scraped and painted. That’s the last thing on my to do list. Oh and maybe some new hand rails, those 2 x 4’s don’t really match the style of the house.

IMG_3914And finally…I love this last picture of the house. It has a face! Two eyes and a mouth. She looks a little sad right now, but I’m sure once we get her cleaned up she’ll look much happier.

IMG_3917We close on Tues and the dumpster is being delivered on Wed. I’m dropping Thomas off at COSI Wed. morning then heading straight to the house to get to the work. My first day working on the house and I’ll be all alone, unless Dan can skip work and come demo with me…The next post about the house will be after the reno starts!


What is the word for someone that never completes a project? I actually tried to Google that and I didn’t come up with anything. Whatever it is, unfortunately, it describes both Dan and me. Which, I guess, is why over the past 16 years not one single project has been completely, all the way, finished around our house. There is always something left behind, trim around the door upstairs, posts not cut to height on the fence, siding put on the top part of the garage… the list goes on. We literally have never finished any job we’ve started on this house.

Which is pretty scary considering how much finish work is still left in this remodel. So how do we handle that? Do we go room by room finishing things off? No, we head outside and completely destroy the yard in an effort to redo the landscaping, remove the cement walkway, put in a new patio and add an outdoor kitchen area. WHAT? Are you serious? We really have a problem!


This all started because of that damn drywell, that hopefully will help with the flooding the backyard. It really better eliminate the flooding!


Oh my, at one point the back yard was actually a nice space. I don’t think I really appreciated like I should have.


The boys have got to be SO sick of all of these house projects. I suggested to Thomas that we could start flipping house and he vehemently disagreed! He does not want to be part of any more remodeling!


But he did finally get to drive the tractor.


Well that is definitely a clean slate, just waiting for us to do something with it. Dare I say, finish it…


Yes, even the side yard was destroyed in the process.


How’s that renovation coming along?

It’s been more than a year since this madness began (read more here and here) but we are finally in the home stretch. The end is in sight and our construction calendar only has a few more weeks of tasks. Granted they are HUGE jobs…

This weekend: strip all the aluminum siding from the exterior of the house, scrape the flaking paint off the existing wood siding and then paint the house (yes all in one weekend, is that even possible?)

next weekend: install 7 new windows

the following weekend: insulate house

next: finish up framing

the next 2 weekends after that are for punch out (for you non construction types that means finish up all the loose ends)

Which puts us into Dec and then we can finally have someone come in and install the drywall (before Christmas!) Since we’re paying for someone to install the drywall it will be up but we will probably work on the mudding and sanding ourselves, so that may not be finished for a week or so.

Then we’ll sand and finish the wood floors.

In the mean time this is how the house looks with all these jobs going on: Construction supplies and tools have permanently taken hold of the kitchen floor!


The living room also has a wall of construction stuff piling up. Well it looks like I also have a few things lying around that need to be taken care of.


One of the job that has been completed is all new duct work. Dan LOVED the HVAC guy he brought in to help him with the job! Sam O’Neil from Best Price HVAC Solutions, LLC. He actually was the best price and he gave us great ideas on ways to fix some of our problems and he was really easy to work with. Since Dan did construction for many years he is very picky about anyone he hires and he was more than happy with Sam’s work!


new duct work going upstairs to our bedroom, we can already tell that everything is working much better upstairs than it has previously. Not only were we replacing all our duct work but almost all the vents had to be moved and rerouted.


We also replaced all the electric in the house. That was one of our main reasons for starting this renovation and again Dan was extremely happy with the electrician he brought in to help. He was very affordable and knowledgeable. If you’re looking for an electrician we highly recommend Tom Oettinger.

We still have some remnants of the plastic up. It will all be down soon to make way for the new windows.IMG_4290

Also on the list of things that needs to be done is replacing that massive (bowing) header that spans the living room. I’m a little concerned that the house will collapse during that job but Dan assures me that house don’t generally just collapse.


The living room still feels cozy even in this state of disarray.


While I was in LA Dan (with help from his dad, Daniel and Thomas) tore up our top level of wood flooring, to expose the original oak flooring underneath. Dan has always wanted to have this wider planked floor instead of the thin cheap looking floor that was covering it. It still needs to be repaired (lots of holes from all those relocated heating vents) sanded (I’ve already gotten several slivers) stained and sealed. I can’t wait to see how it looks when that’s all done!


We’ve saved one of the original built in cabinets and we’re hoping to find a new home for it somewhere in this renovation. I don’t want to lose all the old charm of my house by replacing everything with something new.


This used to be a bedroom, it is now our dining room and the wall has come down to open it up to the living room.


I really can’t wait to finish the office and finally declutter and set it up all nice and pretty. It’s always been a big pit but that’s about to end.


Even when all these room are completed the job will not be done. This winter we need to do the bathroom then next year we start the demo on the kitchen, we even have out idea board up to keep us inspired.


The kids bedrooms

Phew 4 very long days and we are finally done with those bedrooms. That was a lot of work to come home from vacation for. But everything is sorted and put away and the kids are happy in their new rooms.

For Thomas’ room I found 1 gallon of a mistinted grey ($5.00) and a quart of mistinted green ($3.00) at Lowes, which made the cost for his room only $8. We already had the dark green that we used on the trim and on the bookshelf.

Thomas was needing a shelf to store some of his favorite collections on and wouldn’t you know I was walking home from the post-office when I found that green book shelf being thrown away. It was painted yellow so I did a quick sanding and rolled it with 1 coat of green paint. Voila, new storage shelf.


Bethy didn’t have room to take the red looking (but actually dark pink) chair that folds our to a bed. So it was left behind in Thomas’ room. It’s great for sleepovers so Thomas was happy to keep it. He also took a few of her storage containers (hanging in the closet) that she longer had room for. Thomas has all of his clothes hanging up or in those 2 small bins on the floor. He does not like to have too many clothes lying around.


For Beth’s room I also found some mistints. There were 2 gallons of white paint marked as mistints, one can had been dropped and had a big dent so it couldn’t be shaken it was being sold for $10, the other was a white base that still needed to be tinted so I picked the color for my mistint (it was only $5 but the can wasn’t quite full.) I chose what I thought was purple/gray, but looks more like periwinkle. I also bought a gallon of cement floor paint to paint the floor and Oxiclean masonry cleaner (the most non-toxic cleaner I could find.) The floor paint was $25 and the Oxiclean $12. So Beth’s grand total was $52, not too bad!


The floor is looking a little chipped since the big move in. We’re going to paint a second coat on all the exposed floor space (meaning we’re not moving any furniture) then when it dries we’ll wax the floor with bowling alley wax. That should keep it shiny and protected.


That Black cabinet was the culprit in Beth’s huge cut on her leg. When Thomas took it down he left one screw in the back so when Beth walked past it, ouch!


Beth’s scarves have found a new home on the duct work.


Now its time to get the yard all pretty for our party on Friday!

Hidden Treasures

We were hoping to find loads of hidden cash in the walls of our 100+ year old house, so far we haven’t found any money but we have found a few other things…

Under the wood paneling in the (new) dining room was the same base molding that was in the living room. That was a nice surprise. We should now have enough to reinstall it around the living room/ dining room area. That is if I ever get it all stripped, sanded and stained.


Then Dan found a window that had been covered up by the plaster in the living room. We don’t plan on keeping this window since I have visions of built in shelves on this wall.


Next he found a transom (also known as a window) above the front door. This we do plan on keeping, although the actual window is not in place just the framing. We plan on replacing the front door so hopefully we’ll be able to find a new transom (window) that will compliment the door.


There was also a mail slot built into the wall. Can’t wait to get the front siding down to see what it looks like on the outside of the house.


This was Dan’s favorite find, on the back side of the chimney underneath all the plaster was a very old metal HopAlong Cassidy Target Game.


And last but not least a portion of the original bead board and crown molding on the back entry way.


Oh we also discovered the the house originally had used knob and tube wiring. My main motivator behind this whole renovation was to have all the electric redone. I will be very happy when it has all been replaced!

Knob and tube wiring was an early standardized method of electrical wiring in buildings, in common use in North America from about 1880 to the 1930s. It consisted of single-insulated copper conductors run within wall or ceiling cavities, passing through joist and stud drill-holes via protective porcelain insulating tubes, and supported along their length on nailed-down porcelain knob insulators.


Our back entryway

When it got too dusty in the construction room for Thomas to help he moved outside to work on a side job we have going on. We’re slowly removing all the ugly 70’s style aluminum siding off our house. Another hidden treasure is the original wood siding that is hidden underneath. The siding had already been removed and the wall painted on the back porch. Now we are moving to the back entry way.

Thomas took all the siding down by himself.


He also removed part of an old aluminum window frame.


Hidden behind the hideous aluminum drop ceiling that some aesthetically challenged person thought was a good idea, is the original bead board and crown molding. Unfortunately, this is all that is left of it, less than a foot.


Thomas can be a hard worker when he puts his mind to it!


Now its my turn to come in and scrape, sand and paint the space. I was originally planning on painting it white since that’s what I painted the back porch. But now I’m thinking that it may be fun to paint it a super bright color. The only problem is my back door, that I love, is a distressed periwinkle color. So I’m not sure that the bright pink that I was thinking would really go with a periwinkle door.

Beth sent me this picture from London, and I love it!

pink door

Here’s my door now. Maybe I should paint the door pink and leave the walls white? Or walls pink and door white?


But this whole space may be enclosed and turned into a mudroom/ storage area. In which case it would change everything. Hmm, what to do?

A massive renovation!

It all started with a bedroom that was turning into a dining room and being opened up to the living room.


Our house is over 100 years old, so the walls are all lathe board and plaster. It was also originally heated by coal so add in lots of black dust that got into the walls and you have a big mess!


Dan is very good about plasticing off a room to keep the mess somewhat contained!


After everything was down in the dining room, it was time to move into the living room. Good bye really cool wall treatment, good bye built in shelves…


Thomas has helped at each stage but only before it gets too dusty and only when there isn’t lead paint involved.


Yes, that is a throwing star in the wall. The boys like to use alternative methods to start tearing down the walls.


Now 1/2 of the living room has been taken down to the studs and cleaned up. Which means its time to start on the other side.

Dan is very good at getting the rooms clean enough for us to use them. I thought living in a house that was being completely gutted would drive me crazy but it really hasn’t.


The other side of the living room, before…


Good bye Dutch door, you have been very handy at containing dogs and small children. Good bye cabinet, we will try to use you somewhere else in the house.


Daniel (begrudgingly) agreed to spend his Memorial Day break from school helping us get the second half of the living room gutted.


Back to those alternative methods, a throwing ax (being thrown by Dan.) it’s not just Daniel and Thomas that like all the Ninja weapons!


It’s a very dirty job. I do not like to get dirty. Thus you will not see me tearing down these walls.


The wall to the kitchen, its coming down too. We are a house without walls! The kitchen will be remodeled next year, I thought that was a bit much to add in right now. The living room, dining room, bathroom and office all at once is plenty!


My new view from the kitchen. I love it! The brick chimney will stay (it kinda has to, plus we love it) it will either be sandblasted and made to look pretty or it will be tiled.

You’ll also see Dan’s dad in the background, we would not have been able to get this job done without him. He has kept it moving along even when no one else wanted to work on it.


We still have a small section of wall to tear down along the hallway in the kitchen and the bathroom. Since we only have 1 bathroom that part really has to be done quickly. Luckily we have great neighbors that I’m sure will let us use their bathroom when we need to. I have visions of my new bathroom being like a spa, all natural tiles with a nice deep soaking/ whirlpool tub. Very Zen like and peaceful. I can’t wait!

I’m excited to see the end results but it is still far away. We still need to replace all the electric, duct work, windows, front door, flooring and add insulation, then the walls can finally be dry walled! Oh and strip and refinishing all the original trim (that’s my job.) Then I finally get to decide what colors to paint it all.