Tag Archive | old houses

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!

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!

Lifelines

THIS is why we use a lifeline, friends.

C3490BD9-9267-426D-95CC-3126682DD30DI had to frog 30 rows of lace on Saturday. 327 stitches per row. That’s over 9800 stitches, and it was only 15 rows from the end of the shawl. But I’d dropped a stitch a few rows back, thought I’d fixed it, then I dropped another stitch, thought I’d fixed it, my stitch count was off by one so I adjusted, and then the next row my stitch count was off by three. Upon further investigation, the diamond lace pattern was hecked up, to put it in technical terms. I hated to do it but I want this to be a good shawl, thus, the frogging. I got all my stitches back on the needle safely and have done three rows correctly. Now I’m just trying to decide how often to move my lifeline now!

I’m not sure how much knitting I’ll be getting done in the near future, though, because I seem to have found a new project: painting. Alas, no, not pretty pictures but rooms in our old house. We’ve been here five years and never painted a room, mostly because we always had other projects that needed the time/energy/money/focus first. But now I’m not working, the girl is home and will be done with school stuff soon and is eager and willing to help, and paint is relatively inexpensive. It all started with the husband’s office, which was an unattractive salmon-pink color. It’s a small room and he’ll be in there for at least the rest of May, if not longer, so I offered to paint it for him. I filled and sanded all the cracks, taped all the trim, and the girl and I painted it a fresh pale gray. The prep took longer than the painting itself!

I’d forgotten how satisfying it is to paint a room and have it be all fresh and pretty! We’re all jealous of the new room. And honestly, I think it was good for me to have a project that made a difference. I felt a little…lost last week, for lack of a better word, without work to give me a sense of purpose. The last times I wasn’t working, the kids were younger and my purpose was raising them. Well, at this point, that’s pretty much done, and it’s not like the younger one listens to me anyway! So directing my energies toward this sad house is a good plan, I think. It needs to be done before we can sell in a couple of years anyway, and we might as well get to enjoy the fresh paint jobs. Next up, my bedroom!

091869DE-AA0E-437F-A2B0-33DAC2B512B1I hate this color so much. In person, it’s a touch more yellow. It’s like a pale pea green. It’s hideous. All the many cracks have been patched (hooray for old houses with plaster walls, right?) and today I’ll sand them down and start prepping furniture to be moved out of the room. And then it will be painted the palest gray and the girl said she’ll repaint the glossy white trim, and then! Don’t tell the husband, but then I’m going to order new bedding and it’s going to be PURPLE and I will love my bedroom.

And then I’ll take more ibuprofen and lay down because I’m old, friends, and my back hurts.

This is so cool!

Yesterday the husband and I went downtown to a “vintage market” that’s kind of like an antique store only more hipster-ish. They’re only open the first weekend of every month, and we rarely find things we have to have, but yesterday was a good day. The husband found a big metal cabinet thing with drawers that will apparently be perfect for holding screws and nails and some such stuff in his workshop. And me? I found this treasure:

img_5738It’s handmade from oak and originally it was going to be for knitting needles but then the more I looked at it, the more I realized it needed to be for my pen stuff.

I think I want to get dark purple felt to line the drawers, and maybe someday the husband can use that workshop of his to make more dividers, and it could hold pens in a better way. But this works for now and I’m just tickled pink with it.

The only other thing I did yesterday was clean out my craft room. I’ve talked about our old house before, and how the old sleeping porch/addition is sagging dangerously and needs renovation desperately. We’ve been working with a contractor and an architect since March to draw up plans and get quotes, and we were going to expand the kitchen and get a laundry room and it was going to be Marvelous! Well. As I feared, our plans were a little a lot beyond our budget, and our dream kitchen is not an option. Knowing that, our goal now is to get the house in shape to sell in a couple of years. For now, we’ll remove the addition, rebuild a nice new deck, update the kitchen a little bit, and refinish the downstairs floors.

Having this be a smaller project means we should be able to redo the upstairs bathroom that’s a mishmash of cheap fixtures, and create something that’s appropriate for the house and aesthetically pleasing. It’s nowhere close to either of those now!

Sorry, getting off track here. Not adding on a laundry room means we need to find a home for the washer/dryer, and our choices are the basement (damp, spidery, rickety stairs, and more problematic, the husband’s current workshop) or the tiny, not-very-functional bedroom that the husband is currently using as an office. (I know, poor husband! He should fare better with our next house.) We agreed the office should become a nice laundry room with some additional storage, and that we could create a shared space from my craft room. It’s not ideal for either of us, but it’ll work for a couple of years.

SO! I needed to create some room for his stuff, and I did a much-needed purge. Gone are the scrapbooking supplies I haven’t used in almost ten years! Gone are scraps of ribbon and other little bits that I hoarded for “some project some day”! Gone are my fabric remnants that I bought to line purses I never made! I condensed my yarn stash and made room for my knitting books and bins of leftover yarn balls. All of that meant I have half a closet and an empty corner, ready to share! And honestly, I’m in love with how it looks.

img_5735It’s great progress, but it’s not quite enough space for his stuff. I have a bookcase that holds my knicknacks — my Wonder Woman collection, some family mementos, little gifts from my kids — and I think that stuff will have to be packed up for now to create more space. I do want him to feel like he has a little corner of his own in there, at least. So maybe that will be today’s project. Unless I decide I need to do some knitting!

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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Old House History

This kind of thing just never happens. Yesterday afternoon I heard a knock on the front door. I saw a woman and a boy, and Jack was going bonkers, so I just slipped out to the porch to see what they wanted. The woman introduced herself, said she was in the neighborhood, and wanted to stop by because her grandparents built our house! She said she has a lot of photos going back through the years, as well as blueprints and other things, and she wondered if we’d be interested in seeing any of it. Um, heck yeah!

Obviously we love old houses, or else we wouldn’t put up with the fixer-upper life, and I especially love knowing more about the history of a house. I knew our house was built in 1921 by the town doctor, but that was about it. Yesterday I found out that it was originally painted yellow, as it is now, so I have to keep it that color. I was planning to go with gray, but if we’re not staying here long-term, I’d rather stay true to the history of the house.

I also learned that the room we use as a music room, with the piano and music stands for the kids to practice, was originally a music room. This woman’s grandmother had a piano in there that she played. We recently had some work done on the front stairs, with new concrete from the sidewalk up, and new wood stairs up to the porch, and she complimented that, which pleased me. I felt like it meant we did a good job keeping the work true to the character of the house.

We chatted for quite a while, and she shared a lot of neat tidbits about the house over the years. It’s been out of the family for over fifty years, and she said they’d wanted to buy it a few years ago but the asking price was too high. So the coolest thing to come out of it might be that we could help get it back in the family, once we’re ready to sell. That would feel pretty good.

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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.