Friday, April 24, 2015

Kitchen Demolition: The Final Goodbye

I promise this is the last you'll hear about the kitchen, mostly because it's gone.

Remember this photo from last week? As a newbie I thought this was as busted up as it gets but no...

THIS is as busted up as it gets. These are the outer walls of the house and that's the floor stacked up in the corner.

This was the wall where the fridge stood. Notice how it aligns with the patio door? That means the new fridge, oven, and cabinets would block the light from the backyard and the view from the front of the house which would not be great. So...

 I graciously allowed Mr. G to have one of the closets in my office-to-be to hold all his kitchen 'stuff'. The studs you see will become the back wall of the kitchen. I am that kind of giving person.

I guess it won't come as a surprise that everything is moving much more slowly than we wanted. Still to come, more of the house disappears.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

More Demotion: Guest Bathroom

Well, Mr. G and I gave it our best shot but the professionals have taken over. First to go was the guest bathroom.

Remember this well-lit, 19602 wallpapered, oh-so-pink guest bath?

This is what's left. No more vanity, no walls. Just lots of plumbing- all of which is going to go away as well.

All that's left is the tub and I'm glad I'm not the one who has to remove that.

This is not so easy to visualize but I'm looking from the front hall through what was the hall closet into what was the closet in the 2nd bathroom. Long story short...this is all going to be the new guest bathroom.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Kitchen Demo: Almost Finished

As much as I hate to admit I can't do everything by myself I have to concede that sometimes a man and power tools are needed to really make a difference. Mr. G was at the house with me and while I took down the entry way wall he tackled the kitchen. Ill stop talking and let the photos tell the story.

Here is the kitchen after my efforts.

Mr. G in action. So much for the counters that I was told would take a professional to remove.

Seeing this level of water damage would be scary except that everything is coming out so it doesn't matter.

Suddenly, no counters and no sink.

Now, not only no sink or countertops...nothing left but the curtains.

The second side starts to come apart. 

And then:

And now even the wall is gone. The house is getting lighter and brighter all the time.

What it was...and what it is.

All that's left of the kitchen is the floor and some drywall and who knows how long that will last?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Right Lighting

You decide to buy a home and remodel it. You pick people whose work  looks like what you want and with whom you get along. The process begins and you sign off on drawings and things move ahead. Then you start hearing numbers—not just proposed numbers but what things really cost. And despite being a woman who used to love to shop (I lobbied for it to become an Olympic sport but the committee got all uppity with me) you quickly learn that you have NO idea the  cost of the basic items that go into a house. Today’s wake up call: the electrical plan. 

©Anderson/Collier Architects
Our plans. Bold circles are recessed lights. The dotted lines indicate the path to the switch that controls that light.

If you can’t quite tell from the drawing the majority of our lighting is coming from recessed lights. This is because it is a midcentury look and because our ceilings are a bit low- 8’, which means Mr. G can touch with the ceiling with his fingertips. When this was shown to me, I gave it a quick look and said, “Sure, fine, if this is what we need to have.” Now we are beginning the electrical work and I’m looking at prices and guess what? Recessed lighting is the most expensive kind you can use! Which is a bit bizarre to me because I don’t think of it that way but obviously, I’m wrong. Now it is track lighting that is considered out-of-date. I haven't even kept up with shoe styles so how can I be expected to know these things?!

It appears to me now that the architect has this house lit up like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. That might be fine if we didn't want lamps anywhere in the house but that’s not the case. In some rooms I prefer floor or table lighting—namely the bedroom. In others, like the bathrooms, there will be wall fixtures so why have an  overhead light as well? Plus, no female architect would put an overhead light directly above the vanity because no woman applies make-up lit from above. Can you say, unflattering to the extreme? It automatically adds ten years to your face.

©Anderson/Collier Architects

So, finances aside (all right, partly aside) here are my changes (using hot pink Xs so it doesn’t seem so harsh on my part). In the master bedroom we'll have lamps on the nightstands so I'm removing those two lights. The light in the master bath is right next to a window and we'll have wall lights. And now that I think about it, do we even need the overhead light above the toilet? It's not that big a space. As for the three hall lights, I'm cutting those because the railing and stairs will be a focal point and one of the few places in the house where we can have a hanging light fixture. Also, each of the closets has a light inside so why have a light directly outside?

Of course,  all of these will necessitate another set of drawings. My bad.

Your turn: what kind of lighting does your house have? Do you like it or would you like something different?

Monday, April 13, 2015

The First Wall Comes Down

Big weekend at the house. After consulting with the contractor I decided it was time to tear down the wall. Not in Berlin, because its already down, but in the house. 

Remember this wall and the fact that it's not staying?

Even though I've been dismantling some drywall with my trusty hammer and crowbar, Mr. G felt it was time to up my game so he introduced me to their bigger, more powerful brothers:

My new best friends: a 2lb sledgehammer and an I-don't-know-what-it's-called  

With their help I got after it:

The first breakthrough- it's the fireplace on the other side!

Drywall down. The bad news is- it is SO dusty. The good news is that with the sledgehammer and leverage you get bigger pieces more quickly. I'm ready to take down every wall in the place.

Ta da! Wall all gone. I did it all by myself- after Mr. G made sure the power to those outlets was off. So, yes, I am now taking down studs. Wait, that doesn't sound right. OK, wall studs. Let's keep it clean, people.

Speaking of clean, this is not very. The battered remains of a wall. I did sweep up after I finished which makes Mr. G laugh because he says I have "no idea" how dusty and dirty the house is going to be for the next two months.

Friday, April 10, 2015


It’s been two weeks and I’ve been very good about posting all things related to home renovation but while the demo is nowhere near finished, I’m under pressure to make all kinds of other decisions. So, while I'd like to be looking at things like this: 

Oh so pretty!

I'm supposed to be looking at this:

How many kinds of door handles are there?

And while I'm supposed to be deciding which of these I'd like:

They're DOORS, why so many options? Fir or alder? Natural or painted? Flat or recessed panels?

I'd much rather be deciding which of these I'd like (forget that I can't afford any of them):

Whether or not I have anywhere to wear any of these is irrelevant; they're fabulous.

Truly, I had no idea the amount of decisions that would need to be made. It is exciting to be in control of exactly how your house is going to look but...hinges? Really?? I want them to work, to hold the door in place and make it open and close. Beyond that, how it 'looks' doesn't matter to me in the way that the right shoe does. It's called priorities. 

It's your turn: Are you more interested in style for yourself or for your home? 

Custom Copenhagen glass sink or Marchesa jeweled clutch?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Demolition: Ceiling

When you buy an older home there is always going to be issues. Some of them you know before you even buy the home— like this one in the downstairs bathroom. Something obviously leaks from the bathroom upstairs but at least we know it has to be dealt with and as all those pipes will be replaced when that bathroom is gutted the problem will be fixed. In the interim, the ceiling needed to come down and I’m the woman for the job.

Even in the real estate photos they didn't try and hide the damaged tiles.

Up close and personal:

This would be my first foray into removing ceiling tiles and while we knew from our contractor that they were not asbestos-based the amount of fiber dust raised in their removal meant I'd need to wear a mask. Which means, you get the one and only selfie from this renovation:

Forget that this is hideous these masks are so uncomfortable. It's hard to breathe and they heat up, making my nose run. It's a whole lot of charming.

I don't know how ceiling tiles are generally attached but once again 1950s builders go the extra mile. These tiles were not only glued but were also nailed into pieces of sheetrock attached to the joists. First I had to remove the tiles and then then I had to remove the sheetrock which was also nailed in place. And when you pull the sheetrock down it comes with 60 years of dust. I know I should be thankful there wasn't anything worse than that but still, it's a lot of dust. On a fashion note, sheetrock dust makes a great dry shampoo and makes your hair look thicker.

 Nothing left now but joists, pipes, and vents.

Water damage. Looks old and all this sub-flooring is going anyway so no real worries.

Have you ever had to deal with water damage in your house?

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