Archive for ‘Home Improvement’

March 13, 2013

Ugly Money

All over the blog-o-sphere, including The House on Penny Lane, the consensus is that pretty money is the best kind of money. Whether it is spent on paint, furniture, or landscaping, pretty money is fun to spend. Ugly money… not so fun. But sometimes, spending ugly money is necessary.

With the slab leak, we’re having to spend a lot of ugly money. It’s so ugly, you won’t even see it.

Last month, a water supply line in our concrete slab broke and leaked for 2 weeks. When we finally realized we had a slab leak, our floor ducts, which had numerous compromised joints, began filling with sand, and more noticeably, water. Instead of tearing up the floors and jack hammering the slab to find the leak, the plumbers re-routed the lines through the attic.

The leak was fixed, but our plumbing was exposed to the untempered air in the attic. So we took the initiative and called out some insulation guys. We had fresh insulation blown in and batts laid over our new plumbing lines.

Next up, our ducts. Once the leak was fixed, the water receded from the ducts, but the sand stuck around. We would occasionally see sand on the floor (and the furniture and the counters and any other horizontal surface within 5 feet) around the floor vent. We could also smell sand when the heater kicked on. We thought all the ducts needed was a good, old fashioned cleaning. Too bad there wasn’t enough sand for us to bury our heads. We had our ducts scoped and were told they were in such bad shape that cleaning would only damage them more. We needed to seal those suckers blowers.

And that’s not cheap. It includes removing the furnace coil, hand patching the larger gaps, sealing the entire system, and replacing the furnace coil. In the end we will have sparkling, white ducts. Really.

Now it’s time to look on the bright side. Even though you’ll never see the ugly money, we likely will. New insulation in our attic should help keep warm air in during the winter and cool air in during the summer. Repairing the ducts should also repair any air leaks we never knew we had. And maybe, just maybe, that means Rob’s office could be temperature controlled. How novel. Best of all, we could see our utility bills drop and we could get a tax refund on the work.

Ugly Money Polaroid

January 24, 2013

Sneaks

This blog may not have been bustling lately, but I sure have!

I’ve been working on lots of small projects, but nothing that seemed complete enough to warrant a blog post. Which is really just unfair. So I’ll compromise. Instead of a full-blown post about this and that, I’ll share little sneak peeks and give you the whole lengthy spiel when things are more complete. Deal? Ok, here goes…

Kitchen Window

Yellow Chairs

Kitchen

Elephant Ear

Crucifix

Yellow Chairs

Frame

March 18, 2012

To Do List

It’s been a long while since I’ve last updated my to do list, so here goes…

Those items highlighted green are those that have been completed since I last updated the list (June 2010)

To Do List

1)  Replace carpet with wood

2) Replace existing tile

3)  Replace all light fixtures

  • Entry – pendant
  • Dining – pendant
  • Living Room – recessed
  • Kitchen – pendant
  • Master Bedroom – pendant/close to ceiling
  • Master Bathroom – pendant or sconces
  • Bedrooms – close to ceiling
  • Guest Bathroom – sconce
  • Exterior Front – sconce

4)  Demolish partial wall/cover existing opening

5)  Replace Living Room doors with windows  (I haven’t decided if I still want to do this.  Originally, I thought the door was inoperable, but the wood had just swelled the door closed.)

6)  Replace window treatments (I’m about halfway through with this one, not enough to cross it off, unfortunately.)

7)  Remove upper cabinets above peninsula in kitchen

8 ) Paint Fireplace

9)  Add Fireplace doors (crossing both 8 and 9 off my list because I’m fairly certain I’ve changed my mind about both items)

10)  Add pocket/barn door to Master Bathroom

11)  Replace Master Bathroom sink

12)  Replace toilets with dual flush toilets

13)  Paint Interior (I decided to paint the kitchen the same color as the living room and to paint the cabinets. I may treat the laundry room completely different from the rest of the house since that room is so dark and depressing.)

  • Living Room/Dining Room/ Hallway/ Kitchen – SW Pearly White
  • Kitchen Cabinets – White (which white, I don’t know.)
  • Laundry Room – ???
  • Office – SW Pearly White
  • Guest Bathroom – SW Worldly Gray
  • Master Bedroom/Master Bathroom – SW Balanced Beige

14)  Paint Exterior (In progress, yes, still.)

  • Trim – SW Black Fox
  • Field – SW Universal Khaki

15)  Replace Kitchen counter with quartz or butcher block

16)  Replace all windows (4 out of 10 of these will be replaced this year!)

I’m hoping this will be inspiring to those who feel they need to tackle everything at once. We have actually made great progress here in under 3 years, but I try not to rush myself. I’ve learned that my ideas change with time (see items 8 and 9) and almost always for the better. If I had tried to tackle my whole To Do List at one time, I would not be as happy with the (in progress) outcome as I am!

Enjoy it!

October 1, 2010

Walk This Way Remix

Way back in January, I wrote about my plans for redirecting the traffic through the common areas of our house. Then I followed through with my plans. Then I didn’t write anything else about it, except for this brief peek at the opening before the new floors were installed.

So here I am, posting the results of our largest renovation project to date. Let’s start at the beginning.


Before

Here’s Rob during our first viewing of the house, complete with the previous owner’s furniture and shoes. I specifically took this picture because I was less than thrilled with the pass-through window between the living room and the kitchen. We decided to cover up the existing doorway and tear down the half-wall under the window to create a new doorway to the kitchen.


During

Our house was a bit of a mess for a couple of months during the demolition and patching of the wall. The work required tearing up some of the tile, but we were fortunate to be racing against the clock for flooring replacement, which made our house even messier. It was all worth it for the after.


After

Here’s a view of the new doorway from the entry. I love how much light pours into the main living area now that there isn’t a half-wall in the way.


After

A view from the living room into the kitchen. Too many unfinished and unstarted projects to mention twice.


After

The view from the kitchen into the living room. Things are fairly unfinished on this side of the new opening. I will get started on the kitchen once we tie up the loose ends on our other projects.

So there you have it, the start to almost-finish of our pass-through knock down, largest home renovation project to date!

September 28, 2010

Fanciful Flaws

It was brought to my attention recently that I tend to over edit the content of this blog, specifically, the photos. If something isn’t perfect or finished, I don’t show it. This practice has been a bit detrimental to the blog in that, as the reader, you don’t get the full affect of our pain and progress.

For example, I was told that I hadn’t shown the end result of the pass-through knock-down. And you want to know why? Because I didn’t want you to see my kitchen! Shame on me. I was holding off on the pass-through reveal until our kitchen was in a more finished state. But let’s be real. That’s not happening anytime soon. I also haven’t shown you a lick of my livingroom. Why? Because the furniture isn’t quite right and the fireplace hasn’t been touched since duct-tapping it over a year ago.

So today I’m going to reveal it all. I’m not even going to clean up first. Well maybe a little.

It doesn’t look half-bad, but let me point out some flaws. The wall is missing trim. And that hole in the wall on the left? Yeah, that’s a dead outlet. The wiring goes to the light centered on the ceiling. And guess what? That’s dead, too. But let’s look on the bright side – look at that floor! I love it. I want to roll around on it.

Our fireplace solution. Yes, that’s the same tape from over a year ago. No, it’s not keeping the cats out of the fireplace. The evidence is the tufts of cat hair stuck on edges of the metal mesh. And it certainly is a mesh. Ha. But seriously. This solution is terrible. Unfortunately, our other option, fireplace doors, is just so expensive. We keep getting close to taking the plunge, but everytime something more important comes up.

And just below our mess of a fireplace is our unfinished flooring. The jaggedness of the fireplace was a bit of a challenge to contour and I was told I should get a professional to trim it out, so there it sits, unfinished.

I could go on, but I think I’ve dug myself a deep enough hole. Satisfied?

June 16, 2010

To Do List

As you’ve noticed, so much has been accomplished the last couple of months, so I decided to update the To Do List. Those items that have been accomplished since the last posting of the To Do List are highlighted.

To Do List

1)  Replace carpet with wood (7/2010?)

2) Replace existing tile

3)  Replace all light fixtures

  • Entry – pendant
  • Dining – pendant
  • Living Room – recessed
  • Kitchen – pendant
  • Master Bedroom – pendant/close to ceiling
  • Master Bathroom – pendant or sconces
  • Bedrooms – close to ceiling
  • Guest Bathroom – sconce
  • Exterior Front – sconce

4)  Demolish partial wall/cover existing opening

5)  Replace Living Room doors with windows  (I haven’t decided if I still want to do this.  Originally, I thought the door was inoperable, but the wood had just swelled the door closed.)

6)  Replace window treatments

7)  Remove upper cabinets above peninsula in kitchen

8 )  Paint Fireplace

9)  Add Fireplace doors

10)  Add pocket/barn door to Master Bathroom

11)  Replace Master Bathroom sink

12)  Replace toilets with dual flush toilets

13)  Paint Interior (I decided to paint the kitchen the same color as the living room and to paint the cabinets. I may treat the laundry room completely different from the rest of the house since that room is so dark and depressing.)

  • Living Room/Dining Room/ Hallway/ Kitchen – SW Pearly White
  • Kitchen Cabinets – White (which white, I don’t know.)
  • Laundry Room – ???
  • Bedrooms/Guest Bathroom/Master Bedroom/Master Bathroom – SW Worldly Gray

14)  Paint Exterior (In progress, yes, still.)

  • Trim – SW Black Fox
  • Field – SW Universal Khaki

15)  Replace Kitchen counter with quartz butcher block

16)  Replace all windows

April 30, 2010

Sponsors?

Unfortunately, just as soon as the tile was installed, I was laid off from my job.  Anyone want to sponsor our blog?  Anyone?  No one?  … Ok.

Fortunately for the blog, Rob and I have already purchased everything we need for two months worth of home improvement projects.  Except for primer.  Oops.

Here are some tile pictures to tide you over for a bit.

Guest Bathroom

Master Bathroom

The new vanity is currently lacking plumbing and a mirror.  I have some things picked out for this and I’ll post it shortly.

April 21, 2010

The Thick of It

Amazingly, we accomplished every single goal for last weekend, including our bonus goal, which, surprisingly, was one of the first items to be checked off the list.

And now we’re in the thick of it.  Most of the tile is removed, leaving a layer of thin-set all over our house.  Most everything is covered in dust, but there really wasn’t much more that we could have done, short of storing all of our belongings in a storage facility.  We have a lot of cleaning ahead of us.

Unfortunately, this is what was behind that 15′ tall sheet of protective plastic.

Hard at work cleaning.

Aww…

Thankfully, we have patient family members who are willing to give our cats and us clean place to stay.  Thank you!!!!

April 17, 2010

Sneak Peeks

It’s a rainy day here at Penny Lane, but you all know what we like to do on rainy days.  Besides a little trip to pick up our wood flooring this weekend, our efforts will be concentrated inside.  We’ll be attempting to complete all the little tasks before tiling starts on Monday.

Our goals are:

  • Finish painting the walls where tile is to be laid
  • Tape up plastic where we don’t want dust from tile demo
  • Move refrigerator, washer and dryer
  • Remove one toilet
  • Move furniture from tiled areas
  • Hide all kitchen knickknacks

Bonus goal:

  • Texture and paint Master Bathroom walls

And here are some sneak peeks at what’s been going on over here.

Painting green or painting white?

I think white…

A new view into our kitchen

Beautiful Tile

Kitchen Knickknacks

March 28, 2010

Too many projects, so little time.

Yes, we did take the painter’s tape down in the master bathroom.  We also painted the master bedroom, installed track lighting in the hallway, primed the hallway walls and purchased 2 living room chairs off of craigs list.  We have been busy, and it has only just begun.

This week we’ll be starting the wall demolition I posted about here.  As soon as that’s finished, we’ll remove the master bathroom vanity.  All in preparation for tile being installed in mid April.  We’ll then be installing the wood floors ourselves.  Once all the above is finished, I’ll be posting tons of before, during, and after photos.  Maybe even some videos. Until then, here are our new chairs and wood, tile and paint samples.

Jin and Polly love the chairs.  They’ll really love them when all the wall-to-wall carpet is gone.  I love the chairs, too, and for multiple reasons.  I really like the barrel backs because they contrast well with the blocky nature of our sofa.  I love that the chairs are used… but barely.  My goal for the house is to have a good mixture of new and used furniture.  It’s earth friendly and visually appealing.  The fabric, suprisingly, is growing on me.  It’s a mustard colored velvet that’s richer and has a bit more green in it than the picture shows.  It’s a good thing that I can stand the fabric’s color because I’ll be living with it for a while before I upholster it, if I choose to.  The wood, on the other hand, will be changing very soon.  I haven’t decided between if I’ll be painting the wood white or staining it dark brown.  Opinions?