Friday, February 27, 2009

Another jumble

OK race fans - I have just one more work project to finish this weekend, then Ken & I have 2 weeks off work to relax, do fun stuff, and of course work on the house. We've elected to do the study next. The study is right off the dining room and is pretty bad. It has paper tile ceiling and 1970s paneled walls. All the woodwork is painted - which is not acceptable.

And, last but not least, it's a complete pigsty. Every time we do a room, all the stuff that doesn't go back in ends up shifted to an un-done room. Well, we're almost done with all the rooms, so a LOT of crap has ended up in here for lack of a better place. So, this will require some serious sorting and de-crapping. Can you feel the excitement?!

The good news is, we have 2 cute mission-style desks and a great (non-antique but handmade) oak bookshelf. So the room will be nice when it's done.

The bad news is, this is also the room where the catbox is stashed away, and the cat food is also kept, so Mr. Eddy doesn't gorge himself on it. (He did so last year, ate about 3 pounds of it and his tummy was like a giant water balloon for 3 days. And he kept passing gas. It was funny and stinky, and nobody got hurt, but we don't want a repeat performance). So, we have to figure out where to put all that so the cats can get to it but not Ed.
Drum roll - here's the horrible view:

For some reason, behind the silver (ick) radiator is where we've decided to keep our small vintage hatchet collection. We both ended up with one or more of Grandpa or Dad's hatchets, plus we have the regular one I got for camping a long time ago, so we have all these hatchets. How do people accumulate such weird stuff? And who keeps a bunch of hatchets in their study? I guess if the computer acts up too much, I could do an Office Space-printer destruction scene on it.

The two big dark papers taped to the wall toward the right of the desk are a painting of my soul and a negative of that painting done by a woman at the street art fair last summer. Yes, my soul is apparently very black. In case anyone had any doubt. Insert Rolling Stones tune...
Stay tuned & see how far we get over the next 2 weeks.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dog trumps house

We haven't done much house stuff this week, mostly because of this guy:

How cute is he?

Ed has had some health troubles this year; he had a pretty crappy week last week, but now he's on some new meds and is feeling much better. He's been enjoying rolling in the snow and lots of petting. And stretching out in one of his many beds.

Next week we'll get a bit of a break from work and we're planning to start cleaning out & exploring what's under the paneling in the downstairs study. That should be interesting, to say the least...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Petite porte

Ken came home from errands a couple of weeks ago to find me on the floor of the half bath with a hammer and cat claw, tearing out a panel of the beadboard under the sink. But why, you ask?

This winter, we've had the cold water pipe freeze a few times. We haven't had real trouble because the pipe is PEX and because we can thaw it from the basement using my hairdryer. Problem #1 - the thawing procedure meant doing a very uncomfortable yoga pose perched on top of the dryer for about 20 minutes, trying to guide hot air through a teeny access crack. Problem #2 - my hairdryer got so tired it quit and we had to buy a new one. Grr.

The pipe only freezes when the outdoor temperature goes below -10 degrees (that's negative 10) - which has happened enough this year to make the frozen pipe a real nuisance. And yes, you can leave it dripping and it usually won't freeze, but one of us typically forgets, washes our hands, and shuts it off.

On the wall-ripping day, I had accidentally turned the water off (stupid compulsive hand-washer that I am) and it froze in about an hour flat. About 15 minutes into the uncomfortable basment yoga pose and many cuss words later, I decided enough was enough and broke into the wall. I was able to extricate half a panel right at a seam - using only a utility knife and prybar. Ken came home just when I needed more leverage, so he finished the last snap.

Last weekend, I finally got around to making a cute little frame and painting the new mini-access door. Oh, and repainting all the areas I totally wrecked in the process of yanking the panel. Ken rearranged the insulation inside the hole so it's less likely to freeze, and if it does, we can pop the door to warm the pipe. Since I tore the hole in the wall, it hasn't frozen again - knock on wood.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Jungle, begone!

Even though we've been slow to post, we've gotten a significant amount of work done on the room formerly known as the Animal Room. In fact, last weekend we were probably about 98% done. Then all sorts of insan-o craziness happened during the week - but by about Saturday we were re-energized to finish that last 2%.

So - we put the windows back together, hung paintings, hauled up the furniture,

put the door back on, and installed the curtain rods and curtains I made on the cheap. The curtains are just a couple of yards of linen on sale from the fabric store, quick hems on the sides (the selvage had an awesome green thread double stripe and fring-y edge, so we left it), stencils, and brass rings on top).

This tiny little oil painting (unsigned) makes the room for me. I found it tucked in a corner of the antique shop, got it for $10, and didn't even think of putting it in this room at the time - but suddenly it seemed perfect.

We still have to clean up the cool desk (I picked it up on a trip in southern Maine, I need to do more research about it - it's got some neat English Arts & Crafts details).

And we have to properly clean the door, though it was mercifully unpainted, for a change. Also, spring will be the season of window sash repair and stripping. Ugh. Glad the groundhog saw his shadow, for once.

Interestingly, though these photos look sort of gauzy or hazy, that's what it actually feels like in the room - there's a great fuzzy light in there. The paint color is a bit richer than it looks, but the light quality - priceless. Oh, and the lack of orange plaid and animals - that's worth a million bucks (though this room cost about $125, excluding furniture).

It's so great to have one less eyesore - but we'll miss watching visitors' reactions to the Infamous Animal Room. Oh well, there's still the tacky paneling in the study to pick on...but not for long.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Great resources

Last night, my good friend C and I went to a lecture at the public library - part of a series about historic restoration and renovation. What a great resource! The speaker, who is a historic preservation consultant, pointed us to several great resources, so I thought I'd pass some on.

First, I really liked getting a better understanding of the differences between preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction. Here's the main page for the Park Service's standards on those. Apparently we (like most other people who are living in older homes) are doing rehab.

Dig down a bit deeper and you get to some really great advice and technical info about old houses in the Preservation Briefs series - for example, the window repair page we've referred to before. It's like a manual for your old house!

These resources made me think of a couple of my favorites, on windows - the National Trust's wood window tip sheet (guess what - they're not suggesting vinyl replacement! :)

and Robert Schweitzer's paint color site (and his books are great too).

All in all, it was a lovely evening - complete with tea and cookies - and we're thrilled to live in such a great city. Bangor turns 175 tomorrow (the city is throwing a party with cake, even!), so Happy Birthday, Queen City!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A favorite color

I mentioned yesterday that the whole neutral-tan family isn't a favorite of mine. What is? Besides that Peristyle Brass color in the guest room, the green we used in the kitchen is. It's kind of like old Jadeite or the classic old matte green of a Teco vase.

The other day I finally got a plate hanger and hung up a favorite holiday gift in the favorite color - this gorgeous platter made by a local artist. It's low enough on the kitchen wall that I can reach it because I plan to use it as much as possible!

Thanks, Ken's fam - it is an awesome addition!

Monday, February 2, 2009

If you're going to paint a window shut...

Please make sure it's closed first!

Taking apart old windows is always a fun adventure because, invariably, someone in the past has done something naughty to the window in question.

In our sitting room, some previous owner painted the windows shut. Nevertheless, it was always really cold in there. The storm windows helped us forget about the cold. But - we took the windows apart to repaint the stops this weekend. And here's what we found (note black area across top):

Yes folks, they painted the windows shut - open! So there's a half inch of airspace at the top. Mystery solved. Too bad I won't be stripping and fixing the sashes till spring - but at least Ken's storms will protect us in the meantime.

The good news:

1. This is the ONLY set of windows in the entire house where they did not paint the pulley or the area around the pulley, so that saved us a little work there.

2. We have finished painting the ceiling and painted the first coat on the walls:

It's Sherwin Williams 'Buckram Binding' from the Arts & Crafts line. Not my most fave color (I'm more into colors than tans), but we needed a neutral at the end of the hall. Chalk it up to a reaction to orange plaid and jungle animals.