Sunday, August 23, 2015

Now you see it. Now you don't.

Upon finishing the demolition for the second floor and basement, I got a hold of a clean out company and said goodbye to the evidence of all our hard work. Finishing the demo doesn't keep me from waking up in the middle of the night thinking of some small thing that we forgot to take out or remove before the cleanout crew paid us a visit. That sounds very ominous now that I think about it. It brings to mind big white vans from Jersey pulling up to "clean up a nasty mess". But they were very polite and even attempted to half-heartedly sweep up after themselves. The great news is that we can see the floor! The bad news is that we can see the floor! Here are some before and after shots for your viewing pleasure.

basement bedroom and game room

basement exercise room
2nd floor kitchen and living room looking into bedroom 
2nd floor small front bedroom and back yard
The clean out ended up costing us in the ball park of $1500. Yet when you consider all the concrete block hiding under that red awning in the middle of our back yard, concrete backed tile from the basement demo, and the plaster and lathe we took out from the second floor, it was a heavy truck and a half of trash we got rid of. They did recycle the metal. We didn't see the money from it, but I do like that it was recycled. I can't imagine finding the energy to take it down to the recycle center myself at this point, so someone else might as well.

I'd rather spend my energy fixing up the items going back into the house. I've been working on picking paint colors for the cabinetry and stumbled across a great clean white from Benjamin Moore called Snow Fall. I decided to test out their Advanced Alkyd Paint on something small before tackling all of our kitchen doors and drawers. I am in no way feeling like our kitchen is small when I look at the pile of doors that I have to paint. I tried finding a company in town that would take them and paint them in a spray booth setting but alas, for NY, our job is too small and no one wanted to mess with it. So, that leads me to this:

I love the size and quality of this bathroom medicine cabinet but I do not love the faded gray-brown wood finish that has antiquing in all of the crevices. It doesn't go with anything else I have picked out for the bathroom but I figure a lovely semi-gloss paint job will spiff it up nicely. I prepped it per instructions, cleaning, lightly sanding and wiping off any excess dust with a tack cloth. I removed all the hardware and the two mirrors that were accessible. I patched a few dings in wood as well. I bought the brush that the Benjamin Moore dealer suggested and went to town. I was a bit bothered by the bubbles that formed in the self leveling paint. For the most part, it did indeed smooth out over the course of it's drying cycle but there are still bubble holes that I had to sand down and I am hoping a second and third coat will alleviate the problem. 

I am suspicious that the brush I used for the first and second coat, which super smooth, wasn't soft enough. I ended up with some fine brush marks left in the finish. The whole reason I threw down the cash for the Advance paint was for its durability and smooth near factory finish. I will be sanding between the second and third coat and using a different brush for the top coat. Fingers crossed.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Buy all the things

I'm so tired of buying all the things. I have shopping fatigue. This is a real thing. I am trying to make sure every possible item that we need is ordered and delivered so that when the contractor begins his part, he'll have not only the specs on everything, but the actual products available for installation.

We have lights, fans, faucets, plumbing valves, toilets, you name it, arriving via our friendly UPS man. It is almost a daily occurrence, which gets tricky here since packages aren't left outside, but instead have to have someone available to accept them. I'm starting to think he's trying to arrive just around the time we get home from work so that he doesn't have to keep taking our haul o' goods back and forth. It could just be luck, but I prefer to think of it as a benevolent act of kindness.

On the topic of buying, we bought a couch. A sectional to be exact. C's parents gave us a generous gift to help with the purchase of an appliance or some other renovation related expense. We already purchased our washer/dryer and are using lightly used hand me down appliances for our kitchen, so we started dreaming of a new couch. Our current couch is a bit of a mess and is known to leave our backs in a bit of a mess as well. I got it as a floor model back in grad school and it has moved from Colorado, to San Diego, to San Francisco, to New York. It has seen a great many places and a great many years. So when Ethan Allen sent me an e-mail advertising a much coveted sectional 20% off until the end of August, I persuaded C to go to the store and sit on all the couches with me. It was met with much approval. We have my side of the family coming into town over Christmas and also hope C's family will come stay with us for an extended period of time soon after the house is finished. We need seating, seating that won't leave a person begging for mercy or for the number to a local motel. So, after a few hours pouring over fabrics, we have a couch, or at least an order for one. I'm so excited for it in all of it's stain guarded, performance grade, velvety softness. I expect to spend a few afternoons sprawled in it's embrace as the breeze wafts through our new screened in windows. Such dreams I have.

But the reality is that we're still a ways off. The couch will arrive mid to late November and we are crossing our fingers that the house will be mostly complete, allowing tenants to move in upstairs in October.

I took a photo of the couch fabrics as a happy reminder in the weeks to come. The amber fabric and ivory fabric are accent pillows, the gray is the couch. It doesn't show very well in the photo but it has a nice texture. The small gray/green rectangle is our paint swatch. Happily the black floors and white baseboard of the show room helped me visualize how it will look with our kitchen cabinetry as the living room, dining room, and kitchen will all be open to one another.

On our 'finished list' is C's hand tilling of the back yard (see we neeeeeeeed that couch to sooth and provide a resting place for his aching muscles):

It looks so much tidier now. I am itching to get it planted up, but we need to work on our fencing a bit and some of the concrete before hand. The pretty things are always the last to go in. We'll plant next spring, but that hasn't stopped me from dreaming of lavender and cone flowers. At least I'm not dreaming of the pet cemetery we stumbled across back there. What's that? I didn't mention that while tilling C found a large stuffed duck that looked like it was buried by a dog? It was a few inches under the topsoil. We thought it was a bit odd, but not too odd to put up any red flags, after all we'd been picking out other various items from the dirt, including but not limited to : marbles, glass, nails, a hanger, a sponge, broken toys, a domino, utensils, bottles, wrappers, razor blades (multiple blades, yes), a sock, etc, etc, etc. Turns out that big stuffed duck was buried with a big dead dog. We weren't sure at first what it was seeing as how the owner of said buried dog decided that once again, duct tape was the perfect material to wrap it in, turning it into a scary mummy package of eeeek. I understand the burial of pets, what I don't understand is burying a dog 8" below the surface in a rental property that has barely enough soil to plant flowers in it let alone a large dog! But I find myself being thankful it was a dog and not a someone.

All right, shake it off, shake it off.

Here are a few small projects I've been working on. This is our new towel hanger for the basement bathroom. The wood was a scrap I found laying around from the wood paneling in the basement. I ordered the black hooks from Home Depot for around $1.25ea. I cleaned the board up a bit, I still wanted it to be a bit rustic with knots and cracks. I then drilled a few quick pilot holes and used my handy dandy bolt cutters to shorten the provided screws. This was probably the quickest project start to finish I've ever done, not to mention the cheapest.

The mirror took a bit more prep work but it turned out lovely. This will also go in the basement bathroom. We got this mirror as a hand me down from my parents. It had a few wood blocks attached to the frame which I pulled off, removed the old staples, filled in the holes and sanded down. The black paint was a sample can I picked up from Benjamin Moore, onyx, as a possible kitchen island color. I think it is a keeper.

Demo Down

OOPS, left this post languishing in "drafts". UPDATE: Our portion of the demo for the second floor and basement are complete! The back yard is also in a much better place. Update to follow.

We are nearing the end of demolition that we can accomplish on our own. We have one more opening to create in the upstairs unit that will be used for the new laundry closet! We've finished opening these two bad boys up so that we can get new doors in the right place for the closets and Jack and Jill bathroom that will occupy the left hand side of the middle room in the photo. 

And speaking of laundry closets, our new washer and dryer was delivered a few days ago! We have no hookups yet, but I lovingly caress them everytime I pass them, letting my hand trail languidly aling their glossy white...ahem...yes, we have a washer and dryer. There was a slight scratch on the door of one of them so I refused delivery.  They got it back on the truck and called Lowes back, they didn't want to gonthriugh the return as I am sure they would loose money having it returned then having to sell it again as damaged. C agreed to take it back into the house if they refunded $100. Soufs like a win-win to me. We can use every cent we can get and I figure everytime I see that scratch I'll see $100 instead of a brand new machine already dinged. 

While we wait for another cleanout to clear away our demo debris, we gave our hands a break from the power tools by spending a few hours in the back yard cleaning things up. 

It still feels like America's Most Desperate Landscape to me but it is getting better bit by bit. 

And for the daily pretty, we pulled the trigger on this queen pullout couch from West Elm. It is on sale now and hopefully will arrive just about the same time we are ready to finish up the basement recroom. 

Come to me my pretty!