Thursday, May 27, 2010

Passthrough Problems

The complicated but cool roof (roofs?) on this house presented an unexpected problem with the passthrough. It turns out that there are nearly-back-to-back support beams in the wall and former laundry closet. Frank could have rigged something at a pretty large expense, but I need to save up some money for the kitchen redo. So, I've got to get creative with what's left. He's going to create attractive columns out of the exposed studs, and I'll figure something out once things start to fall into place. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Updated Lighting

It may not seem like much, but it was a pain in the ass. First, as background, there wasn't a single light fixture in this house that I liked when I bought it. I love the black push-button light switches (see photo), but not a single one of the fixtures was right. All I've done for the switches is to put on clean new white switch covers. Anyhow, I took down the terrible black track lighting in the living room and put up these metallic cones instead. They seem more in line with the swinging vibe of the place. 

I also removed the existing vinyl conduit and replaced it with 1/2" steel conduit that I spray painted with chrome. It was more difficult than I imagined to rig the whole thing, and when working with electricity, I always feel as if I'm about to die. Seriously, as I'm working, I'm imagining my funeral. Anyhow, it was worth the effort. More about the lighting later.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mud Floor

The new shower in the master bath has a mud floor. I've seen it done on television, and I knew I wanted no piece of that. Frank, the contractor, brought in a special mud floor guy, and he knocked it out in no time. A plumber also repositioned the showerhead to the middle of the new space and rasised it a bit. As an interesting side note, it turns out that the existing drain wasn't attached to a pipe of any sort... just a hole in the floor. 

Sally Containment System


One of the first orders of business at the new place was to build a Sally Containment System (SCS). Since Sally is somewhat subterranean, I wanted to fence in the area around and under the deck. This also gives her access to space under the house, which is, when she's not with me, where she really wants to be. She has foiled inferior SCS's before, so I wanted this one to be of high quality. To do that, I hired Piti and his neighbor Chris to build it.


Piti and Chris working on the SCS. 

In the end, the SCS turned out really great. Sally has access to the deck, to the space under and around the deck, to the crawlspace under the house, and to a pooping area on the other side of the deck. The other night, an opossum got into the containment system, and all hell broke loose. While the opossum escaped, it was like Christmas morning for Sally. She snorted and patrolled the perimeter for an hour. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Master Bath

The master bath was really gross. The ceiling had extensive water damage. There was awful vinyl sheet flooring, a cheap vanity, small closet space, a cheap fiberglass shower stall, and a sad little commode. I guess it would be called a 3/4 bath because there was a shower but no bathtub. I wanted Frank to put in a mud floor in the existing shower space, but he had the great idea to bust out the wall between the closet and shower and create one large shower. Here are some progress pics. 

Master Bath Before

New Ceiling Going In

Taking Out the Old Shower and Closet

Sunday, May 23, 2010

God Bless Painters

This is the final day I have the painters, and they are a little bit ahead, so they tackled the job of scraping the textured ceiling in the master bedroom. Thank God. In 45 minutes of pathetic effort yesterday, I got about three square feet done. They brought in a handheld pump sprayer and much better scrapers than I had. After about an hour's work, the ceiling was smooth. 

Here's a picture of my sad effort. I'll post some afters later. They're still in that room painting, and the clock is ticking. 

By the way, if anyone in eastern NC is looking for a good, honest, and inexpensive professional painter, please let me know. I highly recommend Bobby. He works 8 hours straight and does quality work for not that much money. Email me at

Saturday, May 22, 2010

No More Purple

Paint can make such a huge difference in a room. I guess a new ceiling doesn't hurt either.  Here's a before and an after of one of the bedrooms. Note the acoustic tile ceiling and dark purple paint in the before. 



Penny Rounds

The penny round tile has been installed in the hall bath, and I think it looks terrific. It still has the grout haze in the after picture, but it's a big upgrade.  I had debated using grey grout, but I went with white in the end. 

Hall bath tile before

Hall bath tile after

Friday, May 21, 2010


I'm having a passthrough put in between the kitchen and the living room. The original plan was to take down as much as the wall as possible, but Frank the contractor explained the difference in price was roughly $400 for the passthrough and roughly $4,000 for the wall demo. The issues were that (a) it's a load-bearing wall, (b) there's plumbing running through there, (c) there are ducts in the wall, and (d) there's a good amount of electrical running through the wall. So, I went with the passthrough. 


Passthrough in Progress

Frank couldn't make the passthrough as large as I had hoped, and there's a structural (which translates to a financial) reason for keeping more of the wall than I wanted. Either way, it makes a big difference already to the feel of the place.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Acoustic Tile Ceiling

Those are three words that don't belong together. One of the bedrooms had acoustic ceiling tiles. I don't get it, and I never will. Anyhow, I had the drywall guy pull them down then work his magic. I've tried drywalling, and it's a lot more difficult than pros make it look. It has rained ever since he put it up, so the mud is still drying. 

Here are a couple of befores and a progress picture. 

As if the acoustic tile ceiling tile weren't enough, they painted the room a dark purple.

Home for Now

Here's the obligatory pathetic "Where are you sleeping?" pic.

The taupe color on the trim is going to be seen a lot in the living room. I'm going to use it on the ceiling, trim, and brick wall/fireplace. 

Hall Bath

This is a before picture of the hall bathroom. I really liked the odd slope to the vanity, but I hated the tile and pretty much everything else. Originally this was going to be my project, but Frank, my contractor, convinced me to let his tile guy handle it. The way they used to lay tile was to put it on a mud (AKA concrete) floor. The tile on a mud floor doesn't come up easily, and it wasn't going to be that expensive. So, I had Frank's guy bust it out and demo the vanity. 

Here's a progress picture. In renovation, it always gets worse before it gets better, and progress sometimes looks a lot like regress

Moving Day

Actually, it was more like moving weekend... plus a day. A fundamental law of physics is that nature abhors a vacuum. Well, a little known codicil to that law is that sheds abhor not being full of shit you'll never use again. Honestly, I diligently got rid of stuff in the packing phase. It was fun to leave stuff on the side of the road to see how long it would take for someone to scavenge it. Despite my best efforts, there was still a ton of stuff. Brent, Sharon, Felipe, Rick, and Dick are all heroes for helping me move all of my stuff into the garage of the Hawthorne Rd. place. It took 4 loads in a 14' Uhaul truck to get it done, but it's done. 

In addition, I took 1,900 pounds of junk to the city dump Monday morning. In that pile of stuff were boxes of books that had remained unopened since my last move in 2006. When I lamented, "I hate throwing books away." Rick muttered, "Not me. I'll do it."
Anyhow, here's a picture of the packed garage. You'll note that the pool table got moved. More on that later.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What Sold Me

The living room is very cool in this house. This is the view that sold me on the house the minute I saw it. Honestly, right now, it seems crazy even to me to have to tolerate the hassle of selling my Lewis St. house, moving (more on this later), and then living in construction mess for months. But this room plus a couple other features of the house made me want it badly. Of course, the ceiling fan has to go, and it needs new lighting, and it needs paint (and about a million other things). 

Some Befores

I closed on the Hawthorne house on Friday. These are some befores. The house is pretty gross right now, Despite the small budget, I have big plans. 
Lots of progress pictures to come. 

The back of the house is about 80 times more handsome than the front.

See what I mean?

Saying Goodbye to Lewis St.

After a good run on Lewis St., I have sold the house. I have bought a foreclosure a couple of miles outside of town. It needs a ton of work, so I'm firing the blog back up. 

It makes me a little sad to see it empty.