Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Big weekend of work

As David had the weekend off, and we had various family members around to help out at the pit, we got quite a bit accomplished over the last 5 days! My brother, Stephen, was around to help on Thursday and Friday and we put him to work outside both days. He was able to lay out the patio pavers and rock that we had purchased for the area where the old side porch was at (the pictures show an empty place where we still need to build stairs coming down from the door).

He cleaned up the cement foundation in the back yard, which is where we plan to build a fire pit.

He laid more weed tarp on the north side of the house and more mulch (we still have a bit more to do, then we plan on trying to get some shade-loving perennials to grow here!). He also did a bunch of raking, evening out, and general yard clean-up for us! It was great to give him a bunch of random projects and let him take care of them!

Meanwhile, David and I got the wood floors covered so that the sheet-rockers could come in and cover up the crumbling plaster in two of the main floor rooms. After taping and a few coats of mud, the guy we hired will be back today to do a final sand of the ceilings and then we'll be ready to paint them. David made multiple runs to Menards and Home Depot to get supplies for the rest of the weekend, and I painted the interior doors and the ceiling in the kitchen (it was a HUGE improvement!). We were able to get the kitchen walls wiped down as Don and Vicki, David's parents, showed up Saturday evening. After another trip to Menards for more supplies, we were able to feed them a real supper before the whirlwind of activity that followed!

Sunday and Monday was spent painting the entire upstairs by Vicki and myself. Mia was a trooper on Sunday as she colored, played with ponies, helped tape, and watched Bubble Guppies to keep herself entertained while we worked! The upstairs was painted in a Bonnie Cream (a creamy, light yellow), with white window trim and doors. I have just a bit of touch-ups to do to officially finish things up, then we can clean our stuff out of there, put the outlet covers back on, and leave it until the carpet gets installed! This was an INSANE project, and I vowed never to paint those rooms again!

David and Don spent the days installing a new toilet and pedestal sink in the bathroom, a faucet in the kitchen, hooking up the dishwasher, installing two new exterior lights, fixing the stairs to the basement (they were sound but quite uneven!), removing an unnecessary pipe from the bathroom, and other various odds and end jobs. Unfortunately, we weren't able to have the water turned back on yesterday, so we still don't know if all of the new stuff will work properly!  Here's hoping....

Yesterday we also realized that someone stole our expensive telescoping ladder from behind the house, so now we may need to invest in a new one as we used that one a lot (which is why it was even at the pit in the first place!). How frustrating!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Renewed wood floors, a few less trees, and some paint!

The past week has brought along quite a few changes at the pit.  First off, we had Alex, of <a href="http://www.alexandersgarten.com/">Alexanders Garten</a> come out and remove a bunch of trees from the property for us (some were hanging over the house, others were dying). This cleaned up the area around the house considerably. Two trees were taken down from the north side of the house, one from the front, and another in back, along with more trimming of other trees along the way.  He even hauled away our two pre-existing huge piles of branches for us (thank goodness!). We hired Alex last year to remove our beautiful old oak tree that had died, and we were very happy to be able to hire him again. He'll be back in the subsequent years as we continue to clean up the rest of the yard.

Next, we got the bathroom painted and the tiles cleaned up so that it's ready for the sink, toilet, and mirror to be re-installed. We decided to keep the pedestal sink and mirror that was originally in the bathroom as it's so small that the vintage pieces just seem right. Same goes for the overhead light, which was quite pretty once it was cleaned up!  We also found time to paint the ceilings in the living and dining rooms, remove an open closet from the den, and spray paint and cleanup one set of sconces that we decided to keep.

Finally, yesterday the hardwood floors were sanded down, sealed, and conditioned by <a href="http://www.newglowfloors.com/">New Glow Flooring</a>. We knew we were running out of time to get things finished up, so we opted to hire the floors out instead of doing them ourselves (even though we <a href="http://mandyinminneapoland.blogspot.com/2008/08/new-floor.html">re-did our own hardwood floors</a> in our house). This process is a bit different than the typical sand, stain, and varnish method. It usually doesn't require sanding down as far, but for our floors they ended up sanding a bit deeper to try to correct some of the bad sanding and wear from the past 90 years. They then seal it up with something that acts to block any odors that may be in the wood (a good thing with the way the carpet on top of these hardwoods was stained!), and then they put on one more coat that acts to "amber" the wood, revealing some of the natural beauty of the wood without staining it a particular color. Because of the hard wear that our floors have seen, combined with the lack of stain, we ended up with some unique fluctuations in color throughout the rooms. Over the course of the next week, and then the new few years, the color will continue to "amber." I think the finished product looks pretty cool, and it will be even better once we get the walls and trim painted, and eventually some furniture in there! Best of all, it was a cheap and quick alternative to doing it ourselves - they were in and out in ONE DAY.

Living room before:
Living room after:
 Den before:
Den after:
Dining room before:
Dining room after:
Bedroom before:
Bedroom after:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Exterior Update

As soon as I posted the photos of the newly painted house, we had the painters back that night to fix the deck! It now has the white-washed look that we originally requested. Meanwhile, this weekend we spent time cleaning and organizing things inside the house that we can proceed to move entirely inside and start the final weeks (months...) of renovations! We also took advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday to do some landscaping - we were able to get the white lattice board up on the porch, to officially finish up the porch! We also laid weed tarp and mulch, plus started planting some perennials on the south side of the house. Today, we have someone taking down a couple of trees near the house and hauling more debris and trees away for us. Then we can spend some time this week and next weekend finishing up the weed tarp, mulch, and working on an informal patio on one side of the house. Once the weather starts to cool, I plan to divide some of my perennials to fill in over there. Things are coming along quite nicely - but soon we'll need LOTS of help to paint the entire interior of the house!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New look!

The pit was finally painted last week! I've been waiting to post photos because it's not "officially" done - the deck was supposed to be white-washed stained and instead was just sealed or something so that it doesn't have any additional color, plus we have a couple of trim pieces that were missed.  Hopefully we'll get these things figured out with the painters and we'll be able to post photos of the finished project.  In the meantime, you can see the dramatic difference that a new paint job made!

For reference, here are the before photos...

And after...

The tree that you see here in the middle is actually coming down next week, along with another tree that is growing over the house.  Now we are on to landscaping, yard cleanup (minimal, as we know we can't do a full clean-up yet this summer), and interior cleaning, painting, floors, etc.