Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On the Fence

Picket Fence Blogs. This is a great site for finding new blogs to read... home renovation related and others. Please take the time to click the On the Fence link in the right column and vote for my blog! Thanks!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kitchen Cabinet Hardware Installed

Today's biggest goal was to install the Kitchen cabinet hardware. While on a job site last week, I was talking to one of the cabinet installers and he gave me a tip on installing cabinet hardware. He always puts a piece of painter's tape on the cabinet, then measures center/hole lines on that, and drills right through the tape. That way you're not marking up the cabinet, and it's easy to change your mind (for example, for the larger drawers, I first measured for the pulls to be located dead center on the drawer, then we decided they looked better toward the top, so it was easy to change, and we didn't have to worry about cleaning up the old markings). We installed all of the pulls on the top drawers exactly centered, both vertically and horizontally. For the two larger drawers, we located the pulls centered horizontally, and the same distance from the top as the upper drawers. We not only liked the look better, but it'll be more functional.
And here are the same drawers with the new pulls. We also added two pulls to the fake panel in front of the sink. While installing them, R discovered that the panel pops off... which made me excited because that'll make it really easy to turn that useless panel into a handy flip-down drawer for sponges, etc.
I also decided to work on our bedroom door. The whole back hallway will be redone this year... new drywall, ceilings, etc., which will get done at the same time as the stairs and pantry. But I figured that for the time being I could get started on some of the dirty work... such as scraping the paint off of the doors. For Christmas I got a fancy paint scraper... It is good for scraping paint off of anything.. including paint rollers (the curved part of the scraper).
It did a great job! I had tried putty knives, spray paint removers, and a couple other types of scrapers with little lucky. Within an hour I had the door going from to this 
It may not seem like much, but it made a huge difference! I also scraped a bunch of paint off of this door's casing. I figure if I can get the doors in this hall (there are 2 of them) scraped now, then by the time it's warm out (will that ever happen? It's -2 degrees out right now..) I'll be able to take them outside to sand and paint.

Monday, January 17, 2011


A 240 year old house is bound to have a lot of secrets. Unfortunately the house was completely renovated in the mid 1950's, so I feel like any cool "treasures" were found then, when a lot of the walls were ripped down and replaced. If we ever tear up any of the floors, we'll probably find fun stuff, but it's not something we're planning on doing anytime soon.

But the house still gives us some hints about some of it's secrets. For example, when we had our house inspection, R discovered a hidden fireplace in the Master Bedroom. Once we found that fireplace (which is hidden behind cabinetry), we concluded that there must be one in the other front bedroom, and it's just been drywalled over for some reason.

Well, we were wrong.

Last weekend R was putting some Christmas boxes in the attic for me and got distracted. He ended up on the floor, pulling up floor boards, and sticking his head down in the hole, to see what was behind that bedroom wall. Turns out there isn't a fireplace there. Just a big open space where a fireplace should be. The next day we were in the Dining Room and  I realized that there was an outline of a square on the ceiling, in what looked like the same spot as the patched floor in the bedroom, and roughly the same size. R came up with the idea that maybe there was once a vent there that allowed heat from the large Dining Room fireplace to spread easily into the bedroom, heating it because it didn't have a fireplace.

Which makes sense. What doesn't make sense is why there isn't a fireplace in that room. It's common in this type of house for there to be a fireplace off each side of the chimney. It's what made sense, and what was necessary to heat the rooms. I find it hard to believe that this room had  no heat source until the early 1900's or so when the radiators were put in. And the heat vent that R mentioned made sense in the 1800's, but not when the house was built.

So I've come to this conclusion. At one time, early in the house's life, there was a fireplace in this room. At some time (my guess is in the 1860's when the Mildrums moved in) the fireplace was removed and the vent between the Dining Room and Bedroom was installed. And I think this was done to create that big open space behind the wall. It took me some time to come to this conclusion.. it didn't hit me until later this week when R unstuck the cabinet door in our bedroom that conceals our fireplace (it had been painted shut). When he did that, we were able to see a "passageway" that went between the walls of the bedroom closets and the chimney. I had always wondered why the fireplace wasn't centered in the cabinet opening. I now believe that the cabinet was built off center to allow access to this passageway. If someone was skinny enough, they could squeeze sideways through the passageway into the larger open space on the other side of the chimney. The open space could easily fit a bunch of people, completely concealed from the outside world. Which completely corroborates what our neighbors told us about our house being part of the Underground Railroad. I just have to get up my courage to squeeze into the passageway (ee... mice... spiders...claustrophobia) and get to the other side of the chimney to see if there's anything cool back there!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Our Plans for 2011

We have huge plans for 2011 when it comes to the house. Hopefully as soon as we thaw out from underneath all of the snow (currently over 2 feet, with more on the way tomorrow) we'll get some work done on the exterior of the house as well as some landscaping.

Here are some of our other planned projects for 2011..
  • Finish the Kitchen!! Top priority! This includes finishing the window/door casing/trim, priming and painting the walls and trim, installing base trim, installing the soffit above the cabinets and crown molding, buying/installing the dishwasher, building end pieces to finish off the base cabinets, building cabinets around the fridge, painting the fireplace, painting the ceiling, and most importantly... installing the floor (which may now include ripping up the existing plywood and installing new, thinner plywood)!
  • Landscaping the front yard. Last fall we cut back the front bushes so they weren't blocking the windows, but I think that we'll be taking them out completely and planting some new bushes and flowers. We also need to clean up the stone wall and the planter around the tree by the driveway.
  • Cleaning up the front entrance/porch. This will include repainting the beadboard, installing a new light fixture, and installing new wood/pvc columns in place of the metal columns. A later project will be putting stone over the concrete steps and putting in a new walkway, but that probably won't be in 2011.
  • Finally get all the rest of our boxes out of my parent's attic and basement. It'll be nice to finally be able to organize everything in one place. Lucky for us we have a huge, empty attic!
  • Buy chickens and build a coop.
  • Fence in the backyard.
  • Install the new exterior light fixtures next to the back door.
  • Install the new motion detecting flood light by the garage.
  • Renovate the downstairs bathroom. This will include re-framing the room to make it smaller (yes, I said smaller), demo'ing everything (sink, toilet, drywall) and installing a new sink, toilet and possibly a corner shower. I'd also like to clean up the radiator in this room.. maybe by re-painting, or if we find a nice "new" radiator to install in it's place. I think I'd like to keep the wood floor in this room.. so maybe refinishing it and staining it (it's currently painted white-ish).
  • Re-work/re-build the back staircase. The stairs aren't very safe right now.. they're too small, so hopefully we will be able to re-work them using the small space available. I have a feeling we'll just be rebuilding new stairs in the exact same locations. We also will need to install a new handrail and take down all of the plaster and trim in the staircase and re-do it all. Plus paint!
  • Finish off the closet under the back staircase and install some shelving. I think this will be my utility closet, with room for the vacuum, broom and mops. Half will have shelves for cleaning supplies, since I think I'll be going with a pedestal sink in the downstairs bathroom and there isn't anywhere else downstairs to keep cleaning supplies. The thing I'm looking forward to the most is finally having a home for my beautiful Dyson. As much as I love looking at it, we've never had a utility closet to put it away in.
  • Figure out what I want to do with my pantry. I'm currently planning on using the whole lean-to and half of the downstairs bathroom (that's why I'm making it smaller.. I'll be "stealing" the part where the closet, toilet and tub are now). This will be tied in with the stair re-build, because that's how the pantry will be accessed. The whole remodel may involve reworking the roof, adding insulation, a new door, new windows, shelving, a floor, drywall, cabinets, etc. I have a beautiful plan for the room, I just hope it all works out! I really need the storage!!
  • Install shelving in the Living Room closet and make it into a game/puzzle closet.
  • Figure out lighting solutions for the Living Room.. it's way too dark in there.
  • Strip the paint off of the doors, casing, trim and fireplace in the Living Room and repaint. 
  • Demo the ceiling in the front Hall, take down the wallpaper and repaint. Also remove the carpeting on the stairs and at the top of the stairs and buy a stair runner, and matching runners for the upstairs and downstairs hall/entry. Also replace the light in the front Entry, and install a new light at the top of the stairs.
  • Install a chandelier in the Dining Room (this we won't be able to do ourselves because we'll need to not only run wiring through the ceiling and beam, but we'd also need a switch. There currently isn't much electrical in the Dining Room).
  • Get a Dining Room table. R is still saying he'll make one for me... but we'll need to get some of his woodworking tools down here first.
  • Organize tools/etc. in the basement.
  • Buy bookcases, another desk and filing cabinets for my office and finally unpack everything! I also need to make/paint my new bulletin boards, and hang things on the walls!
  • Put a second coat of paint on the Guest Room walls, and paint the trim.
  • Paint the trim and walls in the Twilight Room (though this is the room that R is currently using for his office and he's probably fine with it the way it is now... we'll see how long it takes before it bothers me!).
  • Completely demo and re-work the upstairs back hall. A ton of the plaster has already fallen off of the walls and ceiling, so it all needs to come down and be re-drywalled. All of the doors also need to be scraped, stripped and repainted. The floors need to be refinished. I need to pick a paint color. This will probably be done at the same time as the stairs and pantry, since the stairs open up to the hall and it's not a very big space. We'll also be replacing the light fixture at the top of the stairs.
  • Figure out a lighting solution for the upstairs bathroom and laundry.
  • Clean out the laundry cabinetry and make the space more usable. Also add a permanent dryer vent so we don't need to open the window every time we use the dryer.

    I'm sure there are a million other little projects, and of course lots of interior decorating, to be done in the upcoming year! I'm sure 2011 will be filled with a lot of sweat-equity, shopping, hard-work, and room reveals :)

    What are some of the projects you have planned for 2011?

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

    Like lighting, choosing cabinet hardware could take years. There are so many companies out there, so many designs, finishes, price ranges... it's overwhelming!
    We've been living with "contractor hardware" in our Kitchen for 3 months now (well, for the first month and a half there was nothing at all and you'd scrape up your fingers just trying to get a cabinet open. But almost every time R opens a cabinet he manages to rip the tape and break it.. So they're not really as strong as they used to be (he definitely does not have a gentle touch!). So I was tasked with the job of FINALLY finding us some cabinet hardware. The reason it kept getting put off was because every time I was in Lowe's or Home Depot I'd check out their selection, and never liked anything. I know I want oil-rubbed bronze to match everything else in the house, and Lowe's and HD would have maybe one option. Add to that that I wanted cup pulls for the drawers, and you're really narrowing down your cheap box store options. Whenever I'd look online I'd find tons of beautiful options (think Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware...), but for those beauties you're paying $15 a knob. Totally not in our budget.

    But now I was down to the wire. We're having a party in about a week and a half, and while it is obvious the house is no where near being done, for some reason we both feel like we NEED that hardware before the party. It had to happen. So I went on amazon.com and decided to just go with the first 4 options I found and choose one. I got lucky.

    I found these cup pulls by Amerock.
    Love love love! They're exactly what I wanted... traditional, but not too glopped up with extra lines and details. They don't come in ORB, just a matte black finish, which is okay, because all of the ORB options I found on amazon were too bronze... wouldn't match the faucet and door latches. Amazon Price? $2.18 each. A STEAL! That's even cheaper than the ugly ones I was finding in HD and Lowe's!

    The wonderfulness that is amazon provided me with some complementary hardware.. and the knob they suggested is gorgeous!
    Also by Amerock, this knob costs a whopping $1.75. I think we can afford that! 

    I was shocked at how lucky I was... I guess it's a little early birthday luck sneaking up on me! I figured out how many knobs and pulls I needed (16 knobs, 7 pulls), and dumped everything in my shopping cart, entered in my info, and was presented with the final screen. 

    Total Purchase: $43.26
    Total Shipping: $67.83
    Total: $111.09

    Whhhaaaaattt?!?! My shipping is almost DOUBLE the price of the knobs? For shipping tiny little knobs that weigh what a half a pound each?!?!? Unacceptable. I was so happy with my $43.26, but I just could not justify $68 for shipping these tiny things.

    So I did what every good internet shopper does... I took the model numbers and did a google search. That's when I found hardware heaven. www.usknobs.com They're a site that claims "warehouse direct prices"... and I tell ya... they're amazing. I found my cup pulls and knobs, FOR CHEAPER THAN AMAZON, and was a happy girl. My final price on usknobs.com, including shipping? $44.77. Heaven :) Oh, and did I mention that they not only shipped today, about 2 hours after my order was submitted, but according to the tracking number they'll be here Friday morning?

    Kitchen Hardware Specifics:

    Manufacturer: Amerock
    Retailer: www.usknobs.com
    Model: Allison Metal Finishes Cup Pull (Model BP53010-FB)
    Finish: Flat Black
    Price: $1.96 each

    Manufacturer: Amerock
    Retailer: www.usknobs.com
    Model: Allison Black 1 1/4" FLT Traditional Knob (Model BP53012-FB)
    Finish: Flat Black
    Price: $1.22 each