Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Maine Craig's List: ahead of its time

These little projects always get a bit behind schedule. Things like rewiring the entire house, repainting the exterior, and putting in a half bath made the full bath project upstairs a bit - well, poky! We had planned to spend a good portion of June working on the kitchen, with the bathroom behind us. Instead, we're proud to report that the bathroom is officially (that's about 96.5%) DONE! All that's left is literally touch up, a couple of hours work, and waiting for our special (splurge: $40!) pebble glass to come in & be installed. Yes, we're letting someone else relgaze 2 windows. Of course, we stripped, prepped, and un-glazed them first!

Anyways, bathroom is done and now we're on to the kitchen. Demolition is scheduled for this weekend, and we're taking the week mostly off (just touch up and sorting out the gigantic tangle of tools that we ended up with).

So far, all we've done is remove the cabinet doors, and start packing the kitchen. Just as a refresher, the cabinets are 1950s metal, they used to be white. The old owner (who we met today when he came by on a trip to the area) tells us he had them spray painted brown and 'modernized' - meaning he had someone re-face them with oak panel-looking doors. Hell, it was the 90s. Not our style, nor bungalow style.
Note that we named this photo, from the day we moved in, "kitchen_oy". Described it all, we thoughy. Also note: yellow fridge: GONE! Also in Uncle Henry's. Yes someone gave us money to take it off our hands.

The excellent news is that the cabinet doors sold in 3 days in Uncle Henry's (http://www.unclehenrys.com/). Now, Uncle Henry's has been around for more than 30 years, which definitely pre-dates Al Gore's invention of the internet. Thus, Uncle Henry's was waaaay ahead of its time and could be thought of as the precursor to Craig's list (despite the common belief that Maine is somehow behind the times. So what if someone still is spotted wearing acid washed jeans or with power bangs? They're just ahead of the next trend, right? After all, leg warmers came back).

So now we've got some cash to buy some of the last few materials for the kitchen, and to pay for garbage hauling. Now back to cleaning the cabinets, which are now permanently open!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


All right, I'm feeling like it's been a while since I posted, and a lot has happened (although lots of little jobs, so it doesn't look like much). Part of the reason we've not posted is that I (and I think Ken too) have become obsessed with the hit counter we added. Very weird how that becomes such a neat thing, especially when the one I got is pretty ugly and utilitarian. But I just have to know every day how many uniques... I guess this phase will pass pretty soon.

Anyways, we made a pact to attempt to finish the bathroom this week (though I just got off the phone with the window glass guy and it'll be a while to get our pebble glass pieces). So first we worked on installing the shower door.

Backstory: the shower opening is a little unorthodox, with a corner clipped out (it's the roof peak-dormer interface). So a curtain rod won't go all the way across except at a fairly low height, which looks odd & the curtain hangs on the floor (yes, I know, I have a sewing machine, but how many projects can one do?!?) We researched those goofy curved rods, no dice, and getting a custom one was just plain silly. So then we happened to see -in Uncle Henry's (and I'll blog about this next time) - a used glass semi-frameless shower door for a bargain price. We took a nice half day trip to Belfast, Maine (great town) to pick it up, and we were partway there.

The caveat: the door is narrower than the opening. We definitely can't afford a new, nice, gorgeous frameless door setup on our shoestring (and it's fast becoming a hobo-shoestring) budget, so we spent a while thinking about it, and eventually had a eureka moment. I found out about this wood called Hinoki (or Port Orford Cedar in the US) that the Japanese have been making wood tubs from for centuries. This is supposedly the most water-resistant wood ever, and it has a neat lemony smell.

Wouldn't you know it, they had some at Viking Lumber, a very cool building supply store (well, there are several of them I guess), so we made a pilgrimage there for special wood. They also had a great selection of fir, not quite flat sawn, but very consistent with the look of the trim in the house, so we bought all the trim boards we'll need to replace the 6 or so missing bits in the house. Good deal!

So, we made a panel out of the Hinoki to fit the space where the door didn't cover, and had to wait for another eureka moment to figure out how the heck to attach it (the usual shower door hardware wouldn't work). Of course, while peeing in a commercial bathroom, I realized that the silver brackets they use to hold panels together to build stalls in a bathroom were perfect. So now I have all kinds of goofy searches in my web history like 'toilet partition bracket'. But they're perfect. So we're about to install that next.

OK, a picture of the door so far (minus Hinoki panel): note the smiley face so we remember that it's there. Apparently several members of my family who shall remain nameless have walked through sliding screen or glass doors, so we thought it best to be safe till we are used to having a giant (albeit, tempered) glass panel in the room! And I've been known to break glass shutters at a tropical hotel just trying to close them. Usually we can't have nice things, but we'll try out the glass door! It looks way cooler than the icky shower curtain...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Lightning speed

We went on vacation, got back, and we're hell-bent on finishing the bathroom QUICK so we can get on to the kitchen, which has become too hideous to bear (also we stopped worrying about things like, oh, mopping the floor since it will soon be trash). So, here's the update on massive progress on the bathroom, which is oh-so-close to done.

1. Teak floor: it's in, we posted a pic before we left, but it looks so cool here's another:

2. The toilet - it's in and functional! Hallelujah, we can pee again (well, upstairs). Our most fond memory of operation: toilet was the day we shut off all water to the house, then went out for fast food for lunch so we could wash our hands and use the facilities. Hee, hee! Thanks to the big box store for ordering a very closely matching pink toilet seat with chrome hinges, an absolute must to replace the old Elvis toilet seat I loved so dearly. Cool found item: old insulated dairy delivery box works great as a magazine holder, courtesy of mom & dad J. Thanks!

3. Finished tiling. ALL THE TILE. Every last tile. This was a big accomplishment, since laying tile has been my side job since February. Most days after work and on the weekends...I had to make the donuts (I mean, lay the tile.)

4. Plumbed the tub. Yay for Ebay, otherwise we couldn't afford new tub fixtures. What are they, made of gold? Jeez!

5. Laid the last piece of granite on the tub wall. We were working late into the evening, and had all the thinset perfectly laid; Ken was just lowering the granite onto the mortar bed when - bam! Power outage! Whole neighborhood (or city?). So we did it by flashlight. Classic. Luckily the power went back on right after we were done. Of course.

6. The radiator. Ken turned our upstairs hall into a temporary spray booth so we could paint the radiator without hauling downstairs (which, frankly, wasn't really possible. I could deadlift my half but couldn't move anywhere with it, so we had to engineer tricks to get it off the dolly to put it in.) Note the blue tarp - I mean, taaahp, the sign of a true Maine restoration. It looks fabulous, though. Hooray for white paint (wait, did I say that? I'll be cursing it again soon when finishing stripping the trim.)

And all the while, Henry spent his time doing this on the porch...we keep telling him to get a job, but he can't seem to escape the cool vintage-modern furniture I collect at yardsales (no comments, bungalow purists).