Where Is My Beautiful House?!?!?

I have noticed that there is a inverse relationship developing in the house. The rooms that the previous owners claim to have remodeled, actually have the most work to do in them. Take, for example, the bathroom. This room presents the greatest challenge, since the shower head hits most people in the top of the head. Not to mention, the ugly tub surround that it looks like it was trimmed down from a larger piece with a dull knife. While there is caulk in every nook and cranny in the house, there is no caulk around the tub surround on one edge or around the sink. Go figure.

Since we are replacing the surround with tile and we need to raise the shower head, I figured this would be a good time to get new fixtures for the bathroom. As many may already know, faucets aren't cheap and I want something that will fit with the "new traditional" style of the house. So after exhausting searches on the internet, I went onto eBay. I could take something old or new as long as it is in good shape.

Here is what I found...

Most of my friends know that I like copper and bronze, so this continues to be a good fit. Not to mention that I got for a really good price...$66.00 with shipping. At the store it retails for around $120. Now I need to find the matching (or close anyway) bathroom sink faucet. Can't seem to find it for a discount...

Finally, Brice has been working on finishing some corners in the house. In some areas where someone replaced the plaster with drywall, they didn't know how to finish the corners, so they simply put quarter round trim all in the corners. This was a popular solution for them. Well it looks like crap. We pulled off all the trim and found a large gap, which was not a surprise considering some of the things that we have found in this house. With a lot of determination and dry wall compound, Brice has managed to repair these corners and make it look like a professional job.

Here is the trim in the hallway...

Here is the corners in the bedroom after Brice was nearly complete...

And here is Brice with his exciting find...more caulk!


Shedding Some Light on the Project

Today the lights that I ordered for the living and dining room arrived. The pictures were a little misleading however. I like the style, but on the internet, they definitely looked like the glass shades were white. When I opened the box they were ivory. In fact, on the box, the description was "ivory-etched glass". I checked the internet to see if that same description was posted in the website.

Nope. The shade is described as etched glass. That says a lot.

Will ivory still look good with all the trim and ceilings painted white? I don't want to return them, because I will have to pay shipping and handling and I was very happy that they were so affordable in the first place. All the other lights in the house are white glass. I want some consistency, so I will have to think hard about keeping these lights.

(3-9-07) Here is both the Thomas Lighting website and the CSNLighting website where I purchased it. Molly says that perhaps I have a case where I can return them since the information was not accurate. I still like the lights, I just think the shades should be white.



Tell me these doesn't look white...


Habitat for Amanda

After numerous trips to Home Depot, I realized that their selection is so limited and there really isn't another store that offers more than they do.

I wanted to add some crown molding to the windows and doors that are missing it. The only crown molding that Home Depot carries is far too "ritzy" and expensive for my house. The stuff that is already in the house is very modest. There are a few lumber stores that I will have to try, but I can't imagine they will be more affordable then some giant chain store.

Then I stumbled onto something great. The Resource Yard and the Habitat for Humanity Home Store. The Resource Yard was a store that was started in Boulder (now also in Fort Collins) that salvages old building supplies. Since I want to replace some of the doors in the house (including the exterior doors), I was hoping that they might have some. And boy did they! They had every type of door you can imagine. Some pretty new, some needing some paint or stripping. They also had some old door hardware that is pretty expensive to replace at an antique store, cabinets that would be great in my laundry room or garage, and trim and lumber pieces. I ended up buying a cabinet door for 50 cents that I will paint and use to cover the access panel in the bathroom.

The Habitat for Humanity Home Store had similar items. There were thousands of doors and windows at the Habitat Store. Since some of my doors are odd shaped, I will probably have to dig through every one of them, but I think that I can find something. They also had incredible amounts of white tile which I will need to refinish the tub surround and every other home item you can imagine. Plus your purchase supports Habitat for Humanity, which is a great organization. From the Habitat Store I bought a ten foot piece of cove for the baseboards. It was a dollar. Buying it new would have cost about $6. Minor savings, but with a limited budget, this could mean that I could take a vacation this year!


Load-bearing Caulk

The first week, I was ready to go. Every night I wanted to go out there and make a difference in the house. Now, I just want to hurry up and paint so that I can move in. Unfortunately, we are still a long ways out before painting...and frankly the house looks worse than when we started.

We have started repairing cracks in the plaster instead of just painting them like the others before us have done. I also made the executive decision to strip the old trim to restore it. I still want to paint the trim and baseboards, but some of the doors won't shut with the twenty or so layers of paint and it has peeled where it rubs against the door jamb. However, it has taken me a total of three working days to strip and sand the trim around just one door. Others would have been satisfied at day two, but I realized far too late, that this was not a job for a perfectionist. My new executive decision is to sand down the high and drippy spots in the trim and strip only if necessary. I am a little concerned about lead in the paint, but of course we wear dust masks and respirators. Since the trim hasn't always been painted, there is a pretty good chance that it was painted after 1980 and doesn't have lead in it. Who wants to take chances really?

This was just day one...

With the amount of time that we have spent working on the trim and baseboard, we noticed that there is an abundance of caulk around all these things. People have since painted over the caulk and it has cracked the paint. It looks terrible. With a sharp knife, and a serious amount of determination, we have started removing all the caulk. What is most shocking is how they used the caulk. Not just around windows, but under the trim, plugging holes near the window, etc... Perhaps this is load-bearing caulk.

Brice has said that when people ask what the house is made of we should say it is a vinyl/brick/plaster/caulk house.


It's Electric! Boogie woogie woogie woogie...

The only thing that scared me about buying this house was the presence of old knob and tube wiring from the roaring twenties. When I got the inspection, everything went well, but the inspector suggested removing the remaining wiring, even though the house has a modern breaker box and mostly new wiring coming from it.

I called a "Tom Martino" electrician and had them look at the house. I won't discuss dollars here, but the estimate would have put a halt in all future remodeling plans. I was crushed. So I called for other estimates.

It turns out, the problem wasn't nearly as bad as the first electrician wanted us to believe. At the closing I found out that the previous owners had done some work to the electricity, but they used an electrical engineer friend. The wiring was probably not dangerous, but was not done like a electrician would do. Thus the outlets in the closets and the porch light switch in the spare bedroom. The smaller family company and a independent contractor both agreed that the wiring was almost completely updated and only a few safety problems should be addressed. I decided to go with the family owned company, because they said they could come and ground the important outlets, add some more outlets, put switches in logical places, and remove all the old wiring for the least amount of time and cost to me. Fantastic! Though I must say that I hate being at someone else's mercy.



Now I couldn't wait until I got into the house and was able to rip some things down. I wasn't planning on taking any walls down, but some ugly tile...definitely.

The fireplace before... Sure it looks okay in the picture, but the pink tile was not only ugly, but they did a poor job with the installation as well.
The fireplace after. You should have seen all the paint on the fireplace! Obviously the brick can't be restored. Someone actually painted that green color on almost every surface in the house. And someone else painted the brick red and outlined each brick in black. After removing the tile, I am not even sure that the fireplace was the original. You can see a sharp line in the brick that might indicate a larger fireplace that may have once resided there.

Here is what I want the fireplace to look like...

I will probably tile the surround again, since brick seems out of the question. Also my ceilings are too low and crooked for the crown molding. They actually dropped most of the ceilings in the house. That is common when the plaster starts to crumble. Unfortunately they shaved off almost two feet from the original ceilings. Some of the rooms still have the high ceilings, but they look like they are additions, so their ceilings are still in good shape.

We also removed that ugly kitchen backsplash. Not only did it not match the color that I am planning on painting the kitchen, they previous owners horrible job putting in the tile...sharp edges everywhere.

Here is a shot of Doyle removing the last of the tile. Thanks to Molly and Doyle, the project went really quickly! They have been a lot of help considering I can only pay them in pizza and tile (for Molly's mosaic table project).

You can see that the plaster was removed under the cement board for the tile. And then to level it, some various chunks of plywood and paneling were stuck in there like a puzzle. There was also years of wallpaper under there. It was like a archaeological dig.

Most likely, I will tile the backsplash, but with something more to my liking. I found these great tiles, but since they are $15 each, I will probably just use one for an accent... You can't tell from the picture, but they are actually a little copper, and everyone knows how I like copper...


Buyer's Remorse

The first few days I had some buyers remorse... What if I would be like the previous owners in a few years? What if I put my time and money into the house only to find out that I can't sell it?

Each time I would go into the house, some new problem would become visible. Now it wasn't about the ugly tile around the fireplace or the hideous brass fan in the living room It was the addition that the people finished in paneling (floor to ceiling) without drywall behind it. How would I fix that? It was the mystery switches that did nothing. The porch light switch in the bedroom. The giant crack in the plaster in the closet. The only electricity for the spare room residing in the closet. I can't live with these things.

My "to do" list got bigger and bigger. I had seen a lot of houses in my search. I knew what I wanted this house to look like. I wanted an updated old house. I wanted new fixtures, new paint, and an all around "home" feeling. The previous owners did a few things right, but mostly I would be fixing half-ass jobs of the others before me. Many promised me to help, but I knew that I couldn't rely on others. I knew that ultimately this job would lie on my shoulders.