Thursday, December 28, 2006

Befloor and After (har har)

Here's a view of the floor before and the floor now.

Finished Floors (and Sally)

Now that Christmas is over, I can get back to work on the house. The floors turned out terrific if you ask me. I hate walking on them, but they are going to show wear sooner or later... really... sooner... let's be honest.

Sally is in the picture above. Good luck getting that dog to look at a camera. I probably have 300 pictures of her, and she's always looking somewhere else.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Ikea Experience

My friends Dave and Kay went with me to Ikea Tuesday night. While I spent time choosing the cabinets with David, the Ikea kitchen guy who's also an engineering student at Ga. Tech, Dave and Kay wandered around the massive store. After about an hour with the Ikea guy, he placed the order, I paid for it, then we went for meatballs and lingonberries at the Ikea cafeteria.

After dinner, I bought another $500 worth of stuff, including a huge black and white photograph of NYC that is rendered on canvas and discounted roman blinds. I got a little queasy dropping all of that money.


Wow... the floor guys are real pros. I'm having the hardwoods refinished. Mr. Brady, the head floor guy, is difficult to book because he is in such high demand, but I got lucky, and he and his crew are putting the final coat of polyurethane on this morning.

On Sunday night as I was still painting and grumbling about my no-show painter. Then Mr. Brady called to say that he would be around between 8 and 8:30 the next morning. By 7:50, he had 6 guys in my house working like hell.

Mr. Brady sanded a section of the oak, then he showed me six different stains. I had been considering going darker than average, and when I saw the dark walnut stain, I knew it was the right one. I hope it looks as good finished... we'll find out this afternoon. I've been out of the house for 4 nights, but yesterday I got a quick look at the floors through the windows.

Painter no-show

My painter James had sworn up and down that he would be finished with the painting before the floor guys got there Monday. Well, Sunday night there was no James, just me with a roller and a really bad attitude. I did come to a clear understanding why people never have me help them paint a second time. I'm a mess.

Anyhow, I knocked out as much as I could, but James is going to have to finish up some detail work (and the new crown) between Christmas and New Years.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Going to Ikea

I'm in Athens, GA for a few days visiting Dave and Kay while my wood floors are being refinished. We're driving down to Ikea tomorrow to buy the kitchen cabinets, counters, and a stainless steel dishwasher. I'm going with Stat white cabinets on bottom and glass door cabinets up high.

I'm using butcher block for the countertops.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Slate floor going in

With the help of my friend PT the Paraguaian (OK now!), I bought a ton (not literally, but close) of slate yesterday. We both agreed that just getting the stuff loaded into the truck was enough work for one day, but the clock is ticking, so after a shot or two of courage at Christie's Europub, I worked on the floor until close to midnight.

I don't know what I've done to deserve PT's friendship, but God bless him.

Final wall color (finally)

I'm really happy with the color on the walls... instead of the too-boring putty color I thought it might be, it is warmer and more yellow (but just barely) than I had feared. I'm really happy with it. With the Mr. Brady, the floor guy, coming on Monday, though, I'm really counting on James, the painter to kick it into high gear.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A beautiful dead girl

My project manager sent Lance to the house today to caulk the crown molding. He told me he used to come to parties at the house when he was an undergraduate, and then he shared that one of the girls who lived in the house had died in a car accident just a block away. He said she was beautiful. I asked if he knew her name, and he said he could find out for me. I think I'll name the house after her.

A throne, indeed.

The toilet was installed in the existing bathroom today. I can't describe how excited I am, and honestly, I'd rather not go into the gruesome details of the toiletless last 13 days.

The guy who is going to reglaze the tub came by today, and he seems to really know his stuff. I have read horror stories on line about reglazing, so I'm a little worried about the quality of even the best process. He has me feeling pretty good about it though, and he said he believes the blue tub is original to the house and that it is of a higher-quality than is typically available today. So, I feel pretty good about preserving it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Demoed kitchen

PT the Paraguaian came over, and we ripped out the last bit of the kitchen. Yuck. After detaching the plumbing from the disposal, I flipped the switch to test whether power was running to it. It burped out a vile wad of white (!) goo. PT stood there shocked and murmured, "Oh my gosh, man. Gross." Anyhow, it is out of my life.

Grout is good

I grouted the bathroom last night until after 11. It looks terrific if you ask me. I need to put in the beadboard tonight and get it painted in preparation for the arrival of Jimmy Mack, the plumber. He's more Jack-of-all-trades than anything, and he's a real character. He's putting in the new toilet. I'd do it myself if it weren't for the rusted out flange.

New Crown Molding

The crown molding guy pretty much finished today. He's coming back tomorrow to do some caulking, and then it'll be ready to paint. At first I thought it was too small, but it is growing on me.

I can't pick a color

I'm going with one color throughout, and bright white molding. It is a bit hard to see because the colors are a bit more muted in the picture than in real life. Anyhow, everyone here in Greenville has me convinced that the upper right putty color is the way to go. It is a bit warmer in real life than the way it looks there. I was thinking the upper left color, but it is the least favorite among everyone I have asked. If you've got any thoughts, please comment away.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Karma strikes!

Karma sure is sensitive these days. After an obligquely sarcastic comment in this very blog about my shop teacher (Mr. Austin) having all his fingers, I sliced the tip off my right middle finger while demo-ing cabinets with my buddy Chris yesterday. I'm taking it as a warning shot, and I will never mention his most notable characteristic... no matter how great a story it is.

I've got the finger field dressed, and I keep typed stuff like thuis because iuit ios huge.

The budget keeps getting scarier and scarier. I just can't help myself though. The project manager brought in his crown molding guy today. Originally I was going to put crown only in the new giant (by comparison) living space, but once I saw how terrific it looked, I doubled the amount I had planned to spend and had him put it everywhere. I'll snap some pics when I get home.

I had planned to grout today, but the thinset was still soft in places, so I quit and went back to ripping out kitchen cabinets. My Paraguaian friend PT is coming by to help, and hopefully I can talk him in to helping caulk some of the crown.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Too crappy even for Jesus

Jesus broke the news to me that he wasn't going to be taking the cabinets because "they're too small." By the embarrassed look on his face, I'm pretty sure he meant "They're too crappy... even for me."

A house with a name?

My grandmother lived in two separate houses with names. The first, Willow Grove, burned down in the 3o's. Family lore has it that there was an illegal still in the basement that either caused or contributed to the fire. She then lived in Stono, in Lexington, Va. I don't think she named either place, but I'm not sure a house gets a name.

I think I'd like to name my house, but I don't know. No name is infinitely better than anything other than the perfect name for a house. Organically, the last place I lived took on "The Crackhouse" as a name. I guess organic is better than manufactured, but I'm open to suggestions for the new place. "Crackhouse II" is a little too dumb.

I should have paid more attention in geometry

I should have paid more attention in geometry... and shop... damn I wish I had paid more attention in shop class. And to Mr. Austin, my shop teacher for two years who had all of his fingers (I checked), I apologize for any disrespectful thought, word, or deed ever directed toward you by me or any other student. In the past week I've watched these craftsmen come in oversee this entropic thing that's happening in my house. Disorder is created from the ho-hum existing nook or wall, and order is created. I could never do what these guys do.
That being said, I tiled the existing bathroom this morning. It is a busier pattern than I had anticipated, but it looks appropriate to the era of the house. The lines are not perfect, but they're not as bad as the optical illusion created by the angle of the picture above would indicate. All you have to do is scroll down and look at the demoed bathroom floor pictures to forgive any wobbles in what will be my grout lines.
Now that I've seen the slightly-too-crazy floor, I've decided to use white tiles exclusively in the tub enclosure instead of going with the planned black border. Also, I'm going to do a tall beadboard wainscoating in this bath instead of running the subway tiles all of the way throughout.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Major Score

I went to check on the drywall guys an hour ago... they're a couple of nice-enough Mexican guys. The one who speaks English pretty well (Jesus) usually has a question or two for me, and they always start with a nod of his head and "Hey amigo..." I translate "amigo" roughly as "sucker" by the tone, but who knows. Anyhow, they're doing really fast and really great work.

Today, Jesus asked, "Amigo... so what are you doing with those kitchen cabinets?"

I replied, "I'm smashing them out with a sledge hammer. Do you want them?"

He shrugged and said, "Tell you what... you take them out, and leave them on the curb, and I'll come get them."

Wondering what turnip truck he thought I fell off of, I said, "Here's a better deal. You can take them down carefully and take them with you, or you can have them after I smash them out." He smiled, and said, "OK... I'll take them down myself."

Then he asked, "So what are you doing with the refrigerator and stove?" To make a long story short, I negotiated the demo of the rest of the bathroom tiles in exchange for the old refrigerator and range.

I was going to try to sell them, but they're horrible, and it would have been a pain in the neck. I'm feeling really terrific about the deals I struck. I'm sure he's feeling like he got the better end of the deal too and is already thinking of bragging on HIS blog tonight.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Did I mention I'm living on site?

This seems a little sad looking at it, but there's something terrific (in a homeless-gypsy-squatter- sort of way) about living here while the renovations are going on. Anyhow... each morning I put everything away, and each night I drag it all back out. The dust and the lack of a toilet are the only truly bad parts.

Last thing... the new half bath connecting off the middle bedroom (I can't quite bring myself to call it a master suite) was framed in the other day, and today the dry wall went in. It is going to be small be really great.

New ceiling

A new crew came in today... a couple of Mexican guys (completely legal, of course)... to do the drywalling. Somebody with horrible taste sprayed textured ceiling stuff ("popcorn") in most of the rooms, so instead of scraping it off, we're putting in 3/8" drywall ceilings instead. It isn't much more expensive, and it is going to look better. They knocked out most of the ceiling today, and they're coming back tomorrow to tape and mud. Then they'll put in the new crown molding.

New Bathroom Floor

Rock on... the new bathroom floor looks terrific. I've got to finish taking off the old tile, and then I'll be able to tile the floor, install the new toilet and pedistal sink, have the tub reglazed, and finally put subway tiles on the bath enclosure. I'm not sure if I want to continue the tiles all of the way around the room under the chair rail or if I want to go with bead board paneling.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

"You ain't taking no pictures, is ye?"

I took a few more pictures today, but one of the crew asked, "You ain't taking no pictures, is ye?" so I quit. They're sort of country, but boy are they terrific. I'll take a picture of the bathroom in the morning, but that formerly gross hole-to-the-gates-of-hell bathroom "floor" of mine now looks like you could eat off it. I guess the gaping waste pipe might kill an appetite, but still. They finished sistering the rotten joists, putting in subflooring, and then putting in a layer of Durac (for the tile) all before I had finished my second cup of coffee.

Demo Started Yesterday

Boy! These guys work fast... the crew got started at 8:15. I came home around 12, and they had made huge progress. The amount of dust was impressive.

I started the demo of the bathroom myself over the weekend. Pulling out the vanity was the grossest thing I'd ever done... for about 10 minutes. That's when I pulled out the toilet, and that was grosser by far. I cut my finger on the rusty flange as I lifted out the toilet, and someone else's poo-water ran straight into the cut. I thought about a quick home-made amputation, but opted for a gallon of disinfectant instead.

Anyhow, the joists were rotten despite what I had been assured by the inspector and by two separate contractors (prior to closing, of course). Realizing that I was in over my head, I asked my crew if they could handle replacing the bathroom floor too. They said they could for a bit more money, and within an hour they had a guy in there sawing away. I know things are probably going to go to hell sooner or later, but I love my crew two days in.

Before Interior Pictures

Before Bathroom: Oi vey... the Carolina Blue... the vanity... the soggy wood under the cheap vinyl... the smell... I'm ripping out the whole thing and starting from scratch.

Before: Dining room from kitchen. The bar was built by the students who rented before I bought the place. The kid who built it signed and dated it, and before I demoed it, I emailed him to ask him if he would like it. He replied, "Thanks but not thanks. Put it on the curb."

Before: Fireplace in living room

Before Demo: Living room from front door

Before Exterior Pictures

This is what the house looks like right now.

Here we go...

So this is the first of what I hope will be many posts documenting the progress on the renovation of a house I just bought. This is going to be the second older house I've owned, but this time around I actually have a budget for renovation.

The house is located in the University district of Greenville, NC... just a couple of blocks from the main campus of East Carolina University.