Porch is Done!!!

Posted: November 3rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: exterior, porch, progress | No Comments »

For now.


Last time we talked about the porch, it was almost half-done and bright turquoise. Now it’s kind of all done, and still bright turquoise. I did it in sections, sanding and repairing one third and painting that section, then doing the next section and then the final section was the huge stretch (more like half) of porch by the kitchen door and livingroom windows. I really really wanted to finish it during the springtime, so we could enjoy it all summer before the winter arrived (because you can’t paint in cold weather).

sanding the porch painting the porch trim painting the porch trim
painting the porch trim

We put in a final sanding/painting marathon in the last warm weeks of September and October and got it done. For the porch trim, we didn’t have time to finish everything but we got everything sanded and stripped and got at least one coat of primer on. We’ll have to finish with a white top-coat when spring comes. But for now it looks neat and tidy and pretty! I still think the turquoise blue color looks silly, but I’m just going to live with it for now, since we’ve got bigger problems to worry about.

Giant thank you to my mother, Judy, who painstakingly stripped the lead paint off the porch columns on various weekend and afternoon visits throughout the whole summer!

Painted some of the porch columns yesterday. Thanks to Mother Nature for one last day of painting weather. And biggest thanks to my mom, who stripped off the old paint and sanded for me! #renovations #house

Someday, I would like to get gutters on the porch roof, and once that’s done, do some more significant renovation on this porch. But at least it’s in decent shape for now, the rest of the project can wait a while.

upstairs bathroom updates

Posted: December 1st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: bathroom, oops, plumbing, progress, upstairs bathroom, water | No Comments »

Have I told you about the upstairs bathroom? There are a few stories to tell. We’ve learned that this bathroom was originally built by a previous owner, obviously another amateur do-it-yourselfer who invented a few creative (and not-to-code) plumbing techniques, like putting the sink trap (normally found directly under the sink) two stories down, in the basement. The next owners apparently had some bathroom problems because when we got here, the whole bathroom floor was covered in a thin film of foul, sludgy sewage residue, including the baseboards and, in some areas, the bottom of the wainscoting. And the toilet looked like this. UGH. Until I scrubbed it for a few DAYS, then it looked like this. (While I was working on the plumbing I discovered a pair of childrens’ safety scissors lodged in the drain-pipe, which might have been the root of the problem!) So back in 2010 I tore out all the flooring (while wearing rubber gloves and a mask!) and the baseboards and the nasty parts of the wainscoting. When I got down to the sub-flooring, I was pleased to find that it was clean, unsoiled and usable! So we left it like that, and cleaned the bejeezus out of everything else, and we’d been living without proper flooring in the bathroom ever since.

The shower stall was ugly but once we replaced the burst pipes and turned on the water, it seemed to work fine and we weren’t planning to replace it til we’d fixed up the rest of the house. And then around June, we sprung a leak! Downstairs, in our beautiful new bathroom, there was water coming out of the ceiling! It ruined some of the fresh new paint and plaster on the downstairs wall, which was kind of heartbreaking. We disconnected the water supply to the shower and set about searching for the leak. Because of the unorthodox and not-to-code nature of the plumbing situation, it was actually impossible to access the shower plumbing without either tearing out the plaster wall of the adjacent hallway, or else tearing out the shower stall itself. Unsure of the exact location of the problem, we decided to just bite the bullet and tear out the old shower stall. And when we did, we found no apparent source of the leak! Arghhhhhh. We inspected very carefully around every seam of the supply line and the drain line, and we could not find any moisture, nor any water stains or signs of leaking. Instead there was plenty of powdery, dry dust, which really seemed to suggest that there was never any leaking at all. Looking back on the situation now, I believe that the leak was not caused by plumbing problems in the shower, nor by cracks in the shower stall, but by water spraying out of the shower, on to the porous, unfinished floor and seeping down through the first-floor ceiling below. Oooops.

But we’d hacked up the old shower stall in the process of removing it, so we needed a new shower stall. After way too many days of living with no shower (thankfully we have a generous neighbor who let us use his shower!), we borrowed my parents’ pickup truck and headed to Home Depot to pick out our new shower stall. Hauled it home and wrestled it onto the front porch and … oops again! It won’t fit through the front door! And it won’t fit through the bathroom door either.

Next day we hauled it back to Home Depot and exchanged it for a two-part model that did fit through the front door. But it turned out to be a tiny bit larger than the old shower stall, so we had to rip out a partial wall (the one that supported the third side of the shower stall) to get it in. It was a pretty simple thing, it wasn’t a load-bearing wall, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but after we got the shower stall in, then we were missing that wall and it needed to be replaced.

tore out the old shower installing a new shower half of a new shower
Ripping out the old shower, hacking up the floor and walls to fit in the new one.

new shower stall! new shower

the shiny new shower unit, and the missing wall

It also seemed like a good time to replace the bathroom flooring, so we started researching Marmoleum, which my sister had used in her bathroom renovation, and seemed like the best and easiest solution. Marmoleum is the original brand of linoleum, which has made a comeback in the past few years as a green building material. It’s made from natural linseed oil, pine rosins and wood flour, without all the toxic ingredients that go into vinyl flooring. It comes in large sheets which are waterproof (except for the seams between sheets) and unlike tile it feels soft and warm under bare feet, which is important when you live in a big old drafty farmhouse in Maine!

We had to hire help for installing the marmoleum. Before he could get started, we had to remove all the fixtures from the bathroom (except for the new shower, of course).

we took all the fixtures out of the bathroom!

Here’s the finished floor! It’s purple! It wasn’t my first choice for a bathroom floor color, but it was the only one we could agree on at all.

new floor new bathroom floor

Once the floor was in, we put the toilet and sink back in, of course, and started planning for the next stage, re-building the shower wall and the corner soffit that we’d ripped out.

pink room renovation, part 1

Posted: September 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: extra bedrooms, progress | No Comments »

We’re starting work on another bedroom! This is the bedroom at the top of the stairs, to the left, next to the bathroom. It’s got three doors, one connecting to our bedroom, one to the hallway and one to my studio. Since we already have one guest room and don’t have another extra bed, for the moment this room’s been used for storing studio overflow, extra art supplies, winter coats, linens and stuff, and hosts the occasional visitors on an air mattress. I’m not sure what’s the long-term plan here, but we’re all tired of looking at the insanely pepto-bismol-pink walls and cruddy floor and missing trim. We’ll have marmoleum laid down on the floor, which is an easy solution because we don’t need to rip out the existing layers of flooring. Marmoleum is the original brand of linoleum, which has made a comeback in the past few years as a green building material. It’s made from natural linseed oil, pine rosins and wood flour, without all the toxic ingredients that go into vinyl flooring.

packing up stuff

So, step one: pack up all the stuff and clear out the room.

pink room floor

All cleared out. This room is hideous. When we got here there was filthy carpet on this floor. Judy ripped it all out for us! Under the layers of carpet and foam backing, we found this weird particle-board stuff. It looks like there used to be some kind of vinyl tiles on this floor but they’d been removed by some previous owner. Presumably there is some real wood flooring under there somewhere, but it’s a pain in the ass to rip out this particle-board layer and we don’t really know if the wood underneath would be nice or not – some of the original floors are in pretty rough shape here, and a lot of them are covered with lead paint, which is a brutal mess to deal with. So we’ll just leave this stuff there and cover it with marmoleum, which at least will look better, and is lovely smooth and easy to clean. Unfortunately Marmoleum is not easy to install as a do-it-yourselfer, so we got some recommendations for a local fellow that does a good job.

installing plywood underlay

new marmoleum

First Dan laid down a thin plywood underlayment (because the old flooring still had residue from vinyl tiling and old adhesive that could interfere with gluing down the marmoleum) and then a natural, non-toxic adhesive and then the giant sheets of marmoleum. He used a giant, weighted roller to roll over and over the flooring, bonding it with the adhesive underneath.

new green floor!

spiffy new floor new floor in the pink room

I kind of like the pink walls now, they look pretty amazing with the green floor! But we’ve hated them for too long, so the next step is definitely to repaint the walls and trim.

the pink room
soon it won’t be pink anymore!

New Bay Window Installation

Posted: July 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: excitement, kitchen, progress, woodworking | No Comments »

the ugly window

picture window in the kitchen

We are FINALLY getting our new bay window in! I’ve always hated this big picture window, mainly because it’s cruddy and falling apart, but also because it’s ugly and ill-suited to our kitchen and our house. I think it would fit better in a mid-century bungalow or split-level ranch, but it looks all wrong on an old victorian farmhouse. When we asked our master carpenter, Lynn, to build the window trim to finish up the inside of the window, he said “are you kidding? that whole window frame is totally rotten!” And so my parents came to the rescue and offered us A NEW BAY WINDOW as our wedding present! It took us maybe 9 months to shop around and pick out which window we wanted. It was hard to pick the best window brand because my parents (who’ve renovated their own lovely old farmhouse) warned that they had bought a bunch of new windows at great expense that they ended up hating! They warned us against windows with plastic frames or plastic sashes or plastic runners or any plastic or vinyl at all (because it can get brittle when exposed to sunlight and weather, and crack and break easily). And they warned us against finger jointed wood in any part of the window whatsoever. Most of the manufacturers we called were disqualified because they do use plastic somewhere on the window, and wooden windows do have finger joints (which allow moisture into the wood and cause the paint to peel away and the wood to rot). Finally we picked out a fancy-pants Marvin bay window from the showroom in Portland, which does have durable vinyl in the runners but does not have any finger-joints on exposed wood and is generally very very beautiful and fancy! The sashes slide up and down with delightful ease, they pivot inwards for easy cleaning, and the double-paned glass means they are very energy-efficient and no storm windows.

Once we ordered the window we called our carpenter Lynn to install it – this was part of my parents’ gift to us! Unfortunately Lynn was very very very busy so it took a few months before he could start the installation.

New Bay Window Installation

New Bay Window Installation

Lynn came with his son Levi to help out. They make a great team. The day they tore out the old window was the most spectacular sunny June day, warm and clear, and the feeling of sitting in our kitchen with no window at all, just a beautiful wide open wall filled with fresh air and the view of sunshine and green grass, was a delight. (Too bad we don’t live in California or we could’ve just left it like that.)

New Bay Window Installation New Bay Window Installation
new bay window

finished painting!

Posted: March 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: excitement, living room, progress | No Comments »

finished painting!

Done painting the livingroom! we finished just in time for Mike’s birthday, and I framed and hung some of our posters and art for him as a birthday present. I’m glad we decided not to paint this room yellow, though I think the mint green is a little boring. Anyway it definitely looks better than before! And it will look even better when we replace those horrible ceiling tiles. And repaint the floors.

This is what the livingroom looked like in November 2010.

dining room (living room?) colors!

Posted: March 1st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: living room, progress | No Comments »

We’re trying to decide what color to paint the dining room, and we’re also trying to figure out what to call it because we’ve never used it as a dining room, and we probably never will, since our kitchen is enormous and has plenty of space for eating and we’re not really the formal, stuffy dining room types. We were using it as a workshop space for a while, and then it evolved into a sort of living room / lounge space where we hang out and watch movies and snuggle with the dog on the couch. Sounds kind of like a living room, but we already have a room that we call the living room, which we never use. (These are the problems you have when your house is TOO BIG!) We could call it the den, but that sounds so 1950′s and doesn’t really fit the personality of our house. I think we should call this the living room and that other room can become The Parlor when it is finished. Which sounds a little silly, but that was probably the original purpose/name of that room when the house was built. Back then folks usually had a front room with nice windows looking out towards the street, and it was kind of a fancy and formal parlor that was only used for entertaining visitors. It would’ve been one of the fanciest rooms in an otherwise spare and functional farmhouse. But anyway, back to this room. The former dining room which I’m going to try to call The Living Room from now on. It was painted dark red when we moved in. It’s kind of a pretty color, but it’s a little heavy and also whoever painted it did a horrible job, didn’t finish the edges of the walls, didn’t put on a second coat, and the walls just looked pretty awful.

diningroom before
this was how we had living room before.

In February we started prepping to re-paint the walls. There were A LOT of spots that needed spackling, and a bunch of areas that needed major repairs to the wallboard. It took about two weeks of spackling and sanding to get everything tidied up.

dining room: prepping walls for paint
early stages of spackling

It took THREE COATS of primer to color up that crazy red! I think we’re finally ready for the color now.

primer on the living room walls

We had decided on Yarmouth Blue for the trim and Stuart Gold for the walls (from Benjamin Moore historical colors). We’ve looked lots of photos of Colonial through Victorian era interiors and they used to do some really saturated colors! This seemed like a pretty cool historical color combo. We did the windows in blue and I think they look great; we actually bought a gallon of the Stuart Gold for the walls and then at the very last minute, Mike got cold feet and said “it looks too YELLOW!”

should we paint the living room yellow?
Stuart Gold: do we really want this?

I rolled my eyes, but then I sat down and did some photoshop mockups with different color options. When we actually saw it mocked up, the gold does indeed look a little crazy?! So we decided on this Prescott Green instead. I think I’m going to paint it today!

should we paint it green?
Prescott Green

Now we’re wondering what to do with that gallon of gold paint. Maybe upstairs?

projects and progress

Posted: February 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: electricity, progress, woodworking | No Comments »

judy sanding the newel post

Judy sanding the newel post

mike and richard wiring the ceiling fixture cleaning out our new wood shop

wiring the ceiling fixture / cleaning out our new wood shop

finished kitchen cabinets!

Posted: February 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: kitchen, progress, woodworking | No Comments »

finished kitchen cabinets!

finished kitchen cabinets!

Mike and I just installed the final cabinet in the kitchen! They’re all in now! Let’s celebrate for a minute: we totally made these cabinets ourselves! Every single bit of them! (except the knobs and hinges, which we bought.) My dad helped us a whole lot and made a bunch of the hardest parts like drawers and drawer slides. Thanks Richard! Not only are these beautiful and flawless in their function, I think we picked a pretty great color of green for these. (All those little sticky notes in the pictures? That’s our notes to remind us what goes in which drawers. Since it’s all a little new, we still need help remembering where to put everything.)

finished kitchen cabinets! finished kitchen cabinets!
the skinny cabinet

The last cabinet was the skinniest. This little tiny one goes next to the oven, to hold flat stuff like baking sheets and cutting boards.

The remaining “open” spot is where the dishwasher will go. Someday. We’re not really in a rush to get one, so for the moment we just store the dog food in there, and I think I’ll make a curtain to hang there so it looks prettier in the meantime. If you want to look back at the long long process of planning and building our cabinets, there are lots more posts and pictures!

kitchen: new lights, finished cabinets

Just for fun, let’s look back at the same kitchen view, as it’s changed through the years:

June 20, 2011=
June 20, 2011

drilling the first hole

January 16, 2011


December 16, 2010

April 17, 2010

April 17, 2010

March 27, 2010

March 27, 2010

March 5, 2010

March 5, 2010

realtor's photo of the kitchen, 2007

realtor’s photo of the kitchen, sometime before 2008.

Next… on to the upper shelving. We’re going to do open shelves instead of upper cabinets. They’re already on the workbench in the wood shop, but no photos yet, so stay tuned…

new wallboard and plaster repair

Posted: January 21st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: living room, progress, stairs | No Comments »

new wallboard and plaster repair plaster repair
plaster buttons and mesh tape on the saggy ceiling above the stairs

no plaster in the stairwell wall fixed in the stairs

fixed the wall by the stairs

We hired a guy to help us with replacing wallboard and patching plaster! It’s amazing how fast (and well) stuff gets done when we pay somebody else to do it. He replaced the wall going up the stairs, and fixed the sagging plaster above the stairs, and then replaced the missing piece of wall in the livingroom and replaced a defunct doorway in the livingroom with a nice smooth seamless wall. You wouldn’t even guess there was ever a door there!

wall fixed in the living room wall fixed in the living room

livingroom repairs


Posted: December 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: demolition, progress, slow progress, stairs | Tags: , , | No Comments »

no plaster in the stairwell
old plaster / no plaster

We finally tore down all the plaster from this crumbling wall in the stairway. It was very satisifying. Out with the old, in with the new! We will keep the old lath but we’re going to replace the plaster with wallboard.




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