Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lights - what a pleasant surprise!

We've been slowly finishing up the study, bit by bit. Last week we got enough of the ceiling up that Ken could install the lights, which are a real treat.

When we bought this house it had literally only 4 or 5 lights installed in the whole house - and many rooms had no lights and only very sketchy-looking surface-mounted outlets. The study had nothin' - no light, a bad outlet. Luckily (I suppose), there was a hole in the floor where an old radiator was (it was moved to its current position), so we ran a big orange extension cord from the cellar, through the hole, into the study and ran a power strip off that. Don't tell dad.

In order to turn on the desk lamp, you had to come all the way in, tripping over stuff, and switch it on. Otherwise, the cord wouldn't reach the computer. Yeah, nice.

A couple of days ago, with much fanfare, we shoved that cord back down through the rabbit hole, never to be used again! The funny thing is, I keep forgetting we have light fixtures - and a wall switch, how crazy is that - and I keep walking into the dark room feeling around for a lamp. Duh! I'll get used to these newfangled contraptions someday.

We installed 3 lights and four - count 'em, FOUR - receptacles, all properly wired and not threating to burn anything down. One light is just a utility light in the closet. The closet, formerly known as "Cold, dark, plywood hole in the wall with crap thrown everywhere because you couldn't reach the back corner". Now functional.

See the giant coathanger, top left? It came from the drycleaner, from a wool blanket or something. We've been saving it in case we need to do some industrial-strength poking - it's super-strong wire. You just hang onto something that awesome.

The other 2 lights are decorative and functional (my favorite combo). One of them we picked up at the ReStore in Denver while visiting last summer. I love flying around the country with odd house parts in my suitcase! The guy at ReStore charged us a buck. $1! I'm so glad they're opening a ReStore up here soon. I mean, the thing is solid brass and has a gorgeous old Webber socket. I cleaned it, rewired it, and it's on the ceiling now. I don't love the shade, but it works for now. If I win the lottery, I'm buying this one immediately.

There's also a light in the corner, that was just too pretty and perfect to pass up. I wanted something angular - to go with the ceiling light - and found this beauty on Ebay for $10, dirty, missing a piece of glass, etc.

I rewired that one too. We found a stained glass hobby/supply shop nearby, where the woman charged me $3 for 2 pieces of carmel & ivory colored slag-type glass, which she even cut to fit. Nice. I think the $13 fixture is now maybe my favorite in the house.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Found in home renovation...

Thanks to my bro for pointing this one out.

Hilarious 1977 JC Penney Catalog

And we only found vintage porn mags in our house renovation! And crucifixes. What a combo.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Yes we can!

These were cookies from Frank's, a local bakery, on election day. I knew I could work this photo into the blog someday!

So, we're not big fans of wallpaper, particularly after stripping off zillions of gross layers of it. But, we decided to do a border in the new study, after I found out (and became obsessed with the idea) that Bradbury & Bradbury have seconds if you email them. Our non-existing budget, we thought, would never allow for any of their paper - it's incredibly gorgeous, handmade, and priced accordingly.

I saw a post somewhere online saying that they have an annual sale in their factory, and I called them - even though they're 3000 miles away - to see if there was any chance to participate in the sale remotely. The super-helpful woman on the other end of the phone noted that they had seconds, and immediately sent me a spreadsheet with the list.

Yes, we can afford it!

Wow - there were a lot. We had some specific color and size requirements, but other than that, it's such a small project that we had lots of choices. They sent some samples, and we settled on this one, the Arcadia Freize. I have a pretty good eye, but for the life of me, I can't see the supposed printing error. And the paper is absolutely gorgeous in person.

Next hurdle: installing the stuff. I haven't wallpapered anything in about 15 years, and never anything untrimmed and unglued. Plus, anyone who knows how often I spill coffee all over myself would be skeptical that I could paste and hang wallpaper without ending up with a huge, sticky mess. Heck, at breakfast this morning I spilled coffee and dropped my fork, throwing egg all over the place (Eddy enjoyed it, though). We called around and found a guy who does wallpaper for one of the local historic home remodelers - and he came to see the project on Friday. His price quote was totally do-able - probably not much more than it would have cost us to buy all the paint, brushes, seam rollers, etc. and we would get to have someone else do the work for once!

Yes, we can hire help!

As he left out the front door, I grabbed the mail, and Karma sent me a mileage check from some consulting - about the amount we'd need to pay Mr. Wallpaper. So that sealed it - we're getting the wallpaper done. Once we get the ceiling moulding installed.

Maybe soon, we can get that done...

Friday, March 20, 2009

OK, breathe.

The appraiser just came, after our crazy Thursday night of putting up the rest of the ceiling then cleaning the whole house. Phew! We're just getting it an appraisal for a refi - don't worry, we're not abandoning the bungalow.

So, we have a minute to catch our breath. Here's how the study ended up, so far. We still have a lot to do, but it was together enough to look like a funtional room.
Eddy loves the new (bargain) rug. He does yoga on every rug in the house several times a day.

The bookshelf is newer - we bought it from a woman down the street who was moving. She said a friend's dad in Minnesota was a furniture maker, and he had made it for her. She couldn't take it wherever she was going, so we got it for a steal. It's solid oak, and giant! It's about 6' long! Luckily she lived REALLY close by, because we had to put it on the roof of the little Subaru & drive real slow.

Did we ever tell you about this desk? Craigslist find. We don't have as good luck as Jason the Craigslist Jedi Master - but this one worked out. It was 2 hours south of here, but we had to be there anyways for an appointment, so it worked out. It's a partners-type desk - one drawer on each side opens and they each have a lid and an inkwell hole. It's not the greatest design or construction (the legs aren't done in a way Stickley would have done it), but I love it anyways. And - we didn't have to strip any paint!

This weekend, we'll be mostly taking it easy (finally). Maybe I'll strip the window header. Maybe not.

And in an hour or so, a wallpaper guy is coming to see if it's at all affordable for us to - gasp - hire someone else to hang our Bradbury & Bradbury border in the study. More on that soon...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Race to the (almost) finish

For various reasons, we need to have the house looking somewhat ship-shape by Friday. Essentially, we need to get the furniture and boxes of books (and boxes, and boxes of books) out of the dining room so the house looks like a house not a junk shop.

To that end, we've been keeping up breakneck pace on the study project. Ken was quite a motivator at the start, and now it's my turn (for example, "let's just do one more thing tonight, then we can take a break" or "I'll just get up 10 minutes early and put that last coat of stain on that piece of trim".)

It's working - last night Ken put up the strapping for the ceiling, and I coped all the 1/4 round for the baseboard. Wait, back up - both of those things have a backstory.

1. Quarter round: the room didn't have any, due to the generous use of paneling. We figured we'd buy some fir lumber and work our router magic, making a new bunch of it. Then, we started ripping out the extraneous shoe moulding and trim in the closet, and as I pulled out a long, un-painted, un-stained piece, I realized - ummm, this is the original fir moulding! They must have had a stash of "extras" and thrown it in the closet. There was plenty to do the whole room - and no paint stripping needed! The grain is way superior to new fir - so this was perhaps the best score ever. I forgot to take a picture. Maybe tonight.

2. Ceiling: the room had those horrible paper tiles. Why do I detest them so much? Must be my black soul. Anyways, those are gone, and we can't go back to plaster ($ and time constraints - the ceiling is trashed from a very old water leak we think happened pre-1960). We have a bunch of tin ceiling we got from salvage of an old department store, and have used it in the mudroom, half bath, and now study (the study is part of the same back, un-dormered section of the house as those 2 rooms, so it makes sense to continue the same ceiling treatment. However, we can't paint it white - it would totally not work in the study. So - we're being bold - my kooky design choice is to paint it brass. Apparently they used to use a hint of sparkle on ceilings because the old light bulbs were so dim. So, bling it is. We'll see how it works. It'll either be totally awesome or heinously tacky.

Tonight we will put up the rest of the ceiling panels and move some furniture back in. Unbelievable. After this room, we're going on hiatus for a while. I need time to regenerate several layers of skin on my hands to grow out all the splinters.

Friday, March 13, 2009

and now is the time on Sprockets when we dance

We had a total prep-marathon today. We got all the trim finish-stripped (lots of nitpicking) and Ken finished all the wall work. Too tired for photos. Tomorrow we paint. Now, time to dance then sleep.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Praise the lord & pass the peel-away

We totally got motivated this week - and we're about 900% further along in the study than we planned/hoped/expected. Ken has just about finished all the wall repair, put in 4 receptacles, 2 switches, and 2 lights, and patched all the holes in the ceiling. I went totally nuts and stripped all the trim - I'm not sure how it happened this fast, but it's pretty much done. There were only 2 coats of paint on the trim and one was really poorly adhered. Peel-away did an incredible job with it, and I just got in the groove. It's possible that we could be primimg this weekend - which would be just fantastic. Of course, we're now getting to the part where we have about 200 teeny tiny jobs to do, so things will surely slow down. But maybe the magic will continue...

Here's the crappiest corner, before and after, so far:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Squadra di pulizia

That's "clean up crew" in Italian. It's lunch break and I'm watching Lidia's Italy on PBS. We love her voice & accent - it makes me wish I learned Italian instead of all those other romance languages. And the food - yummers.

Anyways, we've been the squdra di pulizia all day (and yesterday too, and Thursday). On Thursday I pulled a gazillion little staples out of the ceiling strapping in the study. And de-nailed everything (there were lots, due to the paneling). We got a couple new prybars at our local contractor supply store - the Super Wonderbar and the 2 stainless steel ones, which are SHARP and great for slicing and pulling trim.

And started yanking down the green-painted wallpaper - just the easy pieces. Yesterday we didn't do too much, except a bit more of an attack on the wallpaper. Here's one fragment of a fairly cool old border, possibly the oldest and maybe original layer:

Also, thanks to Craigslist, we got rid of the paneling we pulled down. We had 6 people reply to our posting for free paneling, and one woman came by and picked it up right away, which was great. Reduce, reuse.

This morning, Ken woke up ready to go and finished getting all the stuck-on wallpaper off. I did my Cinderella bit and scrubbed the walls to get the glue and little bits of extra paper off. And we pulled all the rest of the nails. He also laid out the positions of all the electrical. I kept scrubbing. Then he put in all the plaster washers where the walls were coming loose. I kept scrubbing. We chatted about strategies for some patches, then I finished scrubbing!, cleaned up, and walked Eddy. Lunch break, then I'm going to go make a patch for the biggest missing plaster piece, then finish taking off wallpaper from the last awful spot (a tiny piece of drywall instead of plaster down the side of the door. Stubborn!!).

Squadra di pulizia - finito! Now, time for squadra di put-back-togetheria.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dead man paneling

So, we've been doing the whole Dr. Destructo thing on my study. So far, so good. All the paper ceiling tiles and paneling are off, and most of the wallpaper too.

When we took off the paneling, Ken made this interesting discovery, penciled on top of the painted-over wallpaper under the paneling:

It says:
"This room paneled
July 25, 1966
Harry Weston
(now deceased)"

Our reactions:

1. Cool! New info about when things were done to the house.

2. Kind of morbid - someone felt the need to note that the paneling guy died.

3. Wait a minute - what?!? If Harry, "now deceased" paneled the room, how did he sign the wall?

Our best guess - supported by the thought that there is different handwriting that says "now deceased" is that Harry paneled the room, apparently died when he was mostly done, and someone else wrote "now deceased" as they finished up the loose ends like installing the small piece of paneling above the window.

Or else it was like that scene in the Holy Grail, the Castle of Aaaarghhh....