Tag Archive | home rehab

Oh heck I’m tired

The living room is done. I had to push myself to do it, but Tuesday was prep and yesterday was paint and now it’s done and I can stop painting for a while. I still love the results but my body needs a rest and my brain needs some knitting. Plus my book group is having a virtual meeting tomorrow so I need to skim the book (which I read a while back) to refresh my memory. It’s a little one, The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg, so it’s a fast read. Lots of paint work meant no knitting, so I’ll just share my living room today.

It’s the same pale gray as my bedroom and I like the subtle contrast with the darker gray in the dining room. Now if we could just get the floors refinished!

New Sock, New Room

My two days of rest were exactly what I needed. I worked on my Dowland shawl and even got past the point where I had to frog last time. I’ve only got eight rows left before the bind-off, I believe, and I’m so ready to be done with this one. For some reason, the lace in this last section is giving me so much trouble. I want to get back to the easier lace of my Penny sweater but am just stubborn enough to make myself finish Dowland first.

I also cast on a new sock, as predicted. I pulled out one of my new brightly-colored sock yarn skeins, Orange Jellyfish in Intergalatic Planetary, and cast on for a Vanilla Latte sock. It’s growing quickly.

It’s knitting up differently than I expected but I do love the bright colors. And the dog! 😉

But for now, the knitting is paused again while I resume my painting activities. I’m tackling the dining room now. Yesterday I patched and taped and dusted and sanded and vacuumed and patched and sanded and vacuumed. (There were some pretty serious cracks in the biggest wall.) The husband picked up the paint last night and today I’m ready to do the fun part: getting the paint on the walls! This is the biggest room I’ve done so far; it might take me a few days just for the painting.

Happy Friday, friends. Hope you have something fun planned for the weekend!

More painting

Maybe I should wait until my new purple bedding comes but I’m not going to. I’m going to share the progress on my bedroom now because I’m just so tickled with it. Here are a couple of before shots that show the “lovely” paint job from the previous residents.

Note: the spackled cracks are my work. We have not been living with that for five years! But we have been living with the cracks, some of which are pretty bad, so it was very satisfying to fill them all in and sand them down smooth, and then PAINT OVER THEM so they disappear (mostly).

And look at that last photo — see that weird unpainted spot? There was a radiator there. There are radiators throughout the house but the boiler wasn’t even close to being in working condition when we moved in, and I had no interest in dealing with radiators as a heat source, so we’re slowly removing them. I was thrilled to finally get this one out, especially since the last owners had painted the room but not behind the radiator, so you could see the other paint color back there. SO bad. Once it was out, I patched up the huge crack it was hiding, painted over the nasty stained trim, and voila!

Now it’s SO GOOD. I love it. The paint is exactly what I wanted, and I even repainted the trim a glossy white, and seeing this room just makes me smile now.

img_7703Now I’m off to do one last bit of trim painting and then I’m taking the rest of the day as a knitting day before starting another paint job. The bedding is supposed to arrive tomorrow so I’ll be sure to share another photo with that!

Happy Friday, friends!

Oh boy, here we go

We live in an old house, 100 years old next year, actually. While I love the look of this house, I’ve written about some of our challenges before. We bought it in a rush, with rose-colored glasses on, and kind of ended up with a lemon. At least it feels that way a lot of the time, as often as things fall apart. The biggest issue has always been the back of the house, where some kind of two-story sleeping porch was added early on but not done properly. It was sagging slightly when we bought the house and has been getting worse over the last three years, and we’ve been putting it off in hopes that we could find someone able to do a relatively simple, affordable fix.

Nope, not gonna happen. The back addition has to come down and be replaced. We decided that late last fall, and then, this week we got the ball rolling. We signed a design contract on Saturday to get work started with the contractor and architect on the plan, and we’re meeting with the architect tonight. If all goes well, we’ll rebuild a one-story addition with a laundry room and an expanded, renovated kitchen, and then paint the entire exterior.

I’m terrified, guys. I know it has to happen, and we’ve been putting plans in place to make it work financially, but logic doesn’t always win over worry in my head. It will help when we get the actual bid, so I know we’ll actually be able to afford it. But guys, heck. A long kitchen renovation? Strange people in/around the house to drive the dogs bonkers? We’re talking about renting a house nearby while the work is done, and that would help my stress level immensely. I don’t know how we could do it otherwise, without one of us working from home to manage the dogs. And even then, leaving our dogs alone in someone else’s house? What if Duncan chews something up? I know, worst case scenario: we pay for the damage. Still, you name it, I’ll worry about it.

Even the contractor said this is a big project, but he also said he’s excited, so I’m pretty sure he’s the right guy for the job. I’m trying to manage the anxiety, especially since the husband is excited. And I think I’ll get there. Eventually. I’m definitely excited to have the work be done and behind us!

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Efforts in Optimism

If you remember, I was recently freaking out about my falling-down fixer-upper old house. I was feeling overwhelmed and annoyed and tired of dealing with it all and wanted to sell it and move like, tomorrow. So we had a realtor come out and look around and give us her insight. It was good, and not so good. The good news is that the main body of the house looks pretty good; refinishing the floors and painting the interior will get us good to sell, and that part supports the selling price we need. The not so good is what I was afraid of: the addition on the back that needs so much work could make it hard to sell as-is. We’d have to find just the right buyer wanting to take on a project, and while it’s certainly possible, it’s more difficult.

That night was rough. I was disappointed and discouraged, and sure that we would either have to stay in that house forever or sell it at a loss, and neither option made me happy. But sleep and a brand new day made a big difference, and the husband and I started making plans to move forward. He made an appointment with a flooring company, and I contacted a landscaping service to clean up the back yard. We cleaned out some big trash that’s been hanging around the basement and the backyard, and that felt good. I cut down some tall weeds that have been bothering me all summer, and that felt good too. (At least until two days later when I got a lovely case of poison ivy…on my CHIN. OMG.)

So we have a plan now: in the next few weeks, we’re going to take out the old radiators downstairs, which will free up some valuable wall space. We’ll move the furniture upstairs, we’ll all move to an AirBnB house for three days, and then we’ll come home to beautiful shiny, freshly stained hardwood floors. We’ve been talking about doing this for TWO years, and I’m so excited that we’re finally doing it. I think that’s made a big difference, just making progress on something. And we’ve agreed to get a couple more bids on dealing with the addition, to see if we can find one that’s more affordable. We’ll do it ourselves if we have to, and that will be okay. I can manage to stay here another four years, I think, if we continue to make forward progress on the repairs. The husband and I just need to stay committed, and force ourselves to take initiative on starting projects. Just do it, right? Right.

And I’ll end on a high note: Duncan no longer has accidents in the house! And we’ve found a way to keep him from chewing up the couches while we’re gone! He might actually grow up to be a pretty good dog.

P.S. he already is a good dog.  

Fixer-Uppers Wear Me Down

Guys, I need to unburden myself. I have worries, many of them. I am afraid we made a colossal mistake when we bought this house two years ago. It was in the neighborhood we wanted, a price we could afford, the size and features we wanted, and we thought we had the time/energy/mental stamina to do all the work it needed. And it needs a LOT. More than we realized when we bought it. I’m not sure our inspector gave us a thorough idea of some of the bigger issues, and I’m not sure if he did and we ignored it because we were in a hurry.

So now we’re in a house with an old home addition that wasn’t done right to begin with, and probably needs to be torn down and rebuilt. When it was done, the rooms it added weren’t done as conditioned living space, so at least tearing it down doesn’t lose us any square footage. But spending the money to tear it down doesn’t really add to the value, so without doing a rebuild, we’re afraid it’s just throwing money away. And doing the rebuild in a way that adds valuable living space feels prohibitively expensive. (We’ve gotten two bids. Both daunting.)

It needs to be painted, badly. The pet-stained hardwood floors need to be repaired and refinished. The radiators and boiler need to be removed. The upstairs bathroom needs to be gutted and redone. The kitchen was redone, but with cheap materials, so it’s aging quickly. The front porch needs a new floor, and possibly joist repair underneath, plus new stairs and railings. The fireplace needs to be redone. The landscaping sucks. There’s not good storage. And on and on, with a myriad of smaller jobs that stare me in the face day after day.

Add onto that the unexpected projects that have come up since we bought it: the existing chain-link fence was too short and needed to be replaced with an attractive picket fence. Raccoons in the attic and wall. A small tree losing limbs and needing a trim. A large tree losing a large section, and probably needing to be removed. A dishwasher that died. Insulation that needed to be added.

It all wears me down. Wears me out. When I first saw this house, I loved it. I loved the traditional style, the hardwood trim, the pocket doors, the high ceilings, the wraparound porch. I think I still love those things, but they’re overshadowed by everything else. This house has a lot of potential to be stunning. I can almost see it in my mind’s eye. I just don’t know if we can be the people to get it there. Aside from the money, I think about the hassle of renovation. We have three big dogs; taking away their access to the backyard, even temporarily, would make life really difficult. We have two kids; taking away access to the kitchen for weeks would be annoying. One of our dogs is not friendly to strangers. He doesn’t bite, but barks. A lot. Managing all the workmen coming in and out would be stressful. My husband and I manage home repair jobs in different ways that have resulted in conflict in the past, and I don’t want to be fighting for the next five years.

And then, as weird as it may sound, I have emotional connections to my homes, and my connection with this one has soured. I broke my foot in this house. My husband and I struggled more than we ever have while living here, partly because of how we went about moving here. We’re doing all right now, we’re fine, but now it’s connected for me. It’s like, with the old house, that’s where I lived when we lost my dad, my father-in-law, my husband’s grandfather, my dad’s dog. Moving for me felt like a fresh start, a clean slate. So now, with all that’s happened just in two years, I don’t love this house anymore. I don’t love it enough to stress us all out to fix it up. I don’t love it enough to pour a ton of money into it, when that money could go somewhere else.

So what do we do? Right now, the husband is more flexible than I am. Big renovation doesn’t scare him off, although he does want to make sure we could get our money back when we sell if we rehab. Me? I want to move. I’m ready to go NOW. I could pack up and walk away without a second thought, if we could get out what we paid. I want a newer house, one that won’t need huge home repair jobs in the next five years. One that’s built to have a big TV in the living room. One with good-sized closets. One with a functional kitchen and a laundry room. One with modern windows that don’t whistle with every cold wind.

I don’t know what’s next. We’ve reached out to a realtor to explore our options, and I’m doing my best to be open-minded. Of course, I’m also online looking at houses for sale, but that’s to be expected, right?

Sigh. Anyone want a house?

Not much knitting

What do I write about when I have nothing concrete to share? I have finished no socks this week, though I have one that is close and will be done either today or tomorrow. I have a beautiful finished shawl, but it’s currently blocking and is not ready for its close-up. I can show you progress photos; they do hint at what a stunner this one will be.

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The pattern is the Chevrione Shawl and I enjoyed the knit, once I got used to the lace pattern. It was still a pattern I had to focus on, so if the TV was on, I could only pay half-attention to it. I used as much of my Done Roving Frolicking Feet Mini Gradients as I could and got through the pattern as written. I think it will be gorgeous!

Oh, I know why I’m lacking in FOs: we had to rebuild part of our fence! Remember we had that huge limb come down? Well, it took two sections of fence with it, and with that large gap we had to go back to putting the dogs on chains. If you’ve done that before, you know what a hassle it is. They get tangled in each other and around things, they forget they have it and run too far and get yanked back, and I don’t trust them out there by themselves for very long, lest they somehow pull the anchors out of the dirt. So the husband and I worked quickly and had the fence repaired with two nights’ work. We felt very tired clever afterward. And the dogs (Grace especially) were delighted.

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Strangely enough, I’ve been reading a lot this week, which also might account for the lack of FOs. I finished The Secret Place by Tana French, which is a gripping, tense thriller that I couldn’t put down, and I’m in the middle of The Mermaid’s Daughter by Ann Claycomb which I don’t want to put down, but is so good I don’t want to finish it, so I’m trying to ration myself. It’s got folklore, intrigue, mermaids (of course), opera, and Ireland, and so far it’s both dark and beautiful.

One more fun little thing: my knitter friend at work is a new pen addict, so I took her to The Pen Place over lunch break last week. I can’t go to the pen store without buying something of course. Look at my new pretty purple Parker pen!

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Here’s hoping I have more fun knitting to show you next time!