Archive for the ‘renovation’ Category

This was our deck last August, about two months after we began demo. The vinyl siding is still completely intact, as we hadn't yet installed Sadie's egress window.

This was during the mending, scraping, filling and sanding phase.


Finally a day off without rain! I’m making the most of it by painting our once-sad little deck. The goal is to go from shabby-shabby to shabby-chic. Next step? Replacing the siding around the deck and painting our Adirondack chair. Oh and Doing some container planting and putting up a trellis in front of that neighbor’s window.

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This is not a test. The photos you see here are REAL. This is our actual bath tub. With tile. Not concrete backerboard. We have been taking showers now for nearly a month and it is blissful. Especially for this 7-months pregnant lady.

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Lest anyone forget how far we’ve come at Casa Dos Gatos, let’s take a look at the evolution of Sadie’s room. All of the following photos were taken from the same angle:

Sadie’s room as it was the first time we saw it:

First glimpse of Sadie's room

After the previous owner moved her stuff out:

The carpet was soaked in cat pee.


New window (sized for egress) and closet wall. Floor not yet laid.

And now, one little step from completion (fabric roller shades):

Wow. We've come a long way!

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First, some renovation news: our tile order won’t be coming in until April 12. That means we won’t have a tiled tub surround until probably the middle of April, at the earliest, which means we will have been without a shower for nearly 6 months when all is said and done. Sort of incredible, if you think about it. But we’re just not going to think about it.

And, on another note altogether, we have some much happier, bigger news: Two Cats is gaining a new family member. No, not another cat (or chihuahua). I am pregnant with baby #2! We are expecting our little bundle in early August.

It’s funny, when we first moved in, I remember feeling totally drained and had zero motivation for doing anything around the house. I think I even told a friend that I felt like a mother who had given birth and then shunned her needy baby. Well, turns out I was onto something. We’re pretty sure I conceived about two weeks after we moved in, and shortly after that my motivation and energy levels plummeted. I thought I was just exhausted from the energy expended from packing up the old apartment and moving, which I”m sure contributed to my malaise, but with pregnancy hormones raging, I never quite recovered from the move, and was pretty much catatonic for the last two months of 2009. I’m four months along now and feeling much better–less tired, less nauseous, and feeling like less of a bump on a log.

Our little house might start to feel a lot smaller with two kids running around, but we’re ready. We have enough friends in New York living with children in apartments to know that you can raise happy kids in small spaces. I think it’s going to come down to being super efficient and organized, purging even more of our stuff, and getting really good at creating storage niches and building shelves. And, of course, I still hang on to the dream of buying a piece of the Horseman’s yard. Being able to fling open the door and run outside is a great feeling for a kid, and I hope ours can have that someday.

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Do we have news for you! We’ve finally put the shelves up in the kitchen. Leon, our trusty electrician-turned-apprentice carpenter, used his laser level and mad skillz to get our shelving up perfectly straight and even. (I can’t find our camera memory card so had to take yet another iPhone photo–apologies.) I was a little dubious when I first saw the photos that Nick sent to me at work, but in person the shelves really look good. No more walking around the corner to the pantry for a bowl or a plate! I’m happy to report, too, that our dishes are pretty nice looking, and I’m not embarrassed at all to have them out on display.

Of course, we still need to paint the kitchen, a task that just got more difficult now that we don’t have empty walls to work with, but we never seem to find the time to paint, and can’t keep putting off the other things we need to do until that magical day when we’re able to block off a whole day for painting.

In other news, I made the executive decision last week to hire a cleaning person to really give our house the good, post-reno cleaning it needed, particularly of the floors. Our new wooden floors had been subject to workmen boots for weeks, and though I’ve vacuumed plenty, I kept waiting for the reno work to really be done before I got down on my hands and knees to scrub the floor. A good scrubbing is what it needed, too–no mop was going to do the job.

Unfortunately, the cleaning team I hired, a mother-daughter duo on the recommendation of another cleaning service that was too booked to offer us a one-time clean, didn’t quite get the job done. The house was clean when I got home–vacuumed, tidied, and the stove, sinks, and bathtub were all sparkling–but the floors were no better than when I left them this morning. Apparently, I didn’t specify that I was looking for elbow grease, not a wet mop. I’m a little bummed out because the whole reason I hired someone was to do the hard labor of scrubbing floors. Argh.

But the house looks good, nice enough that it motivated Nick and I just a little bit more to clean and organize. I guess for that reason alone, the cleaning team was worth the cost.

Okay, not quite. I really wanted those floors clean.

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A few days after Christmas, we got the most amazing gift: my cousins Emily and Toby and my Uncle Bill came to visit, and they went crazy helping me organize, fix, and move stuff around. I took the week off because Sadie’s daycare was closed for the week, and as it turns out I came down with an awful, energy-sucking cold. Nick worked the entire week–including the weekend–so I would have been totally on my own if it weren’t for my awesome extended family. (I should add that my sister-in-law, who lives here in Maine, also pitched in on Tuesday, leaving 2 of her 3 kids with my brother in order to do so.)

I knew my cousins and uncle were coming to visit, but had no idea that they were going to help me with the house. The first day, Emily, Julia and my Uncle Bill helped me clear a path through our “library” room. They carried boxes to the basement and helped me sort a lot of our “stuff” in a much more efficient manner than Nick and I could possibly be capable of. I realize now that Nick and I hem and haw and analyze–paralysis by analysis, I think it’s called. Not good. We needed neutral parties to come in and tell us what to do.

Emily and Bill put together the folding Ikea sewing table Nick and I picked up on our way back from Christmas at my dad’s house in Massachusetts, and I was finally able to unpack my sewing machine! The rest of the books went onto the bookshelf, and decisions were made as to what to do with a lot of …. stuff. Now we can actually sit in our “extra” room and I can imagine all the arts and crafts Sadie and I are going to do in there someday when she’s just a bit older. Here’s a picture of Emily taking a picture of Uncle Bill with Sadie and my niece (also named) Emily.

The other major, long overdue project Toby and Bill tackled was creating a new coat rack out of leftover pieces of trim wood and some hooks that we had picked up at Ikea on the same post-Christmas run. We borrowed my brother’s Skil Saw and they cut down the leftover pieces and made the whole thing fit perfectly into the corner where the wobbly coat rack used to stand. (My uncle then cut the coat rack down to Sadie-size, and we put it in her room for sweaters and hats.)

I’ll get a photo of the final product up here eventually, but trust me when I say it looks really cool and makes our coats and jackets feel much more organized and like less of a jumble.

Here’s Emily screwing in some outlet plates. There were all these finishing little touches that really made the house feel more organized and finished. We still have a long way to go, but it’s amazing what a bunch of borrowed hands can do for your house–and your morale.

I guess Nick and I have sort of hit a wall (ha! no pun intended) as far as the decorating/final renovating goes. There are just so many choices and we stall on making them, or else we make the wrong ones. For example, I was certain we wanted white walls in the living room and dining areas, to “brighten” things up, but the color we finally chose–Atirum White–looks much too stark. I think we need something creamier, at the very least, or need to pick a color. I dreamed of having a clean, modern, bright white space, with touches of rustic warm modernism, but you know what, I think that looks better in magazines than it does in real life. I have a kid, a dog and a cat, and we live in Maine, where it’s snowy half the year and muddy for the other quarter. I just don’t think white is gonna work. (I think my friend Kenda warned me of this way back…) Also, as I read over on the The Home and Garden Web in one of the forums, white really looks best when the architectural details of the house are already there. Otherwise, it tends to highlight the lack of character.

For example, here is our dining area. I love the space. We’re using the kitchen table from my childhood home (which needs to be sanded and refinished), Nick’s dining chairs, and a new pendant lamp from Ikea. I like how the space looks clean and crisp and modern, but it’s lacking some warmth. We have curtains we plan on hanging over our bank of windows, but I’m thinking now that we really need a wall color to warm it up a bit. Your thoughts?

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1. You find your daughter’s sippy cup standing upright inside a ring of painter’s tape on the kitchen island.

2. ¬†You store your cupcake pans in the oven, with bolts and screws inside the cups. Oh, and if you’re in our house, your oven has no door, because you’re still waiting on parts.

3. You no longer think it strange that you take a bath instead of a shower every morning because you still haven’t ordered the tile for the tub surround you insist you can tile yourself.

4. You don’t see a safety hazard in your toddler’s room where the outlets are not yet screwed all the way into the wall and aren’t even covered by a plate. You just see an unfinished project.

5. Toilet paper holders? What a waste of money.

6. You see your contractor more than your see your friends. In fact, at this point, your contractor probably knows you better than your friends do.

7. You don’t see what the big deal is about not having any hallway lights when you can just bring a flashlight upstairs when you need it.

8. The cardboard boxes in your house have become your toddler’s favored medium for her works in crayon.

9. You’re beginning to think primer is an acceptable wall finish.

10. When you come home from work, you no longer notice the lack of siding on your house and think at least your Typar looks better than the guy’s down the street.

I’m sure there are more. I’ll add to this post as they come to me.

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We’re really late on posting these photos (they’re from over a month ago, before we moved in on November 1), but thought you might want to see just what we went through to get our sewer pipe running. They cut a giant hole in our street!

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All the Trimmings

I can’t believe I actually thought we could do this ourselves. Reid got out the router and the table saw and built the trim around one of Sadies windows today and it looks GORG-eous. We are thrilled with the results and can’t wait for the whole house to be trimmed out.

A window without trim. Sad.

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Another task completed: Reid installed our glass blocks to make a window for the half-bath. The little space is completely dark, with no windows at all, so now it will get some light from the kitchen, which will save us from having to turn the light on every time we go in there.

In other news, we decided today to bite the bullet and have Ben’s crew finish all the trim. I thought we could potentially save some money by doing it ourseleves. But I’m beginning to realize that will probably never happen. Plus, we want the trim to look good, not like some hack job (which it probably would if we were wielding the table saw). It will take about two weeks and will really be the last thing the house needs before we get to the fun part of decorating.

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