Master Bedroom ~ working towards a light at the end of the tunnel!

This area used to be an 18″ wide closet on either side of the chimney. Lots of space, but all wasted since there was only a 2′ opening. You couldn’t get to anything in the back and then we found more mold! This escalated the time to get it done and then also created even more domino effect!!!!

So, we’re building an 8′ regular walk in style closet on the right and creating a 6′ recessed nook on the left where the dressers will sit. This area will also have the wainscotting painted white for that original country look. The rest of the room is done in that God awful texture paint, so we’re planning to continue the wainscotting all the way around and do new “authentic” decorative casings on the windows as we replace and upgrade them. The inside of the closet will be lined in cedar ~ that is after the closet frame is actually built!

Progression from old to New Kitchen – almost there!

Remember this long and arduous process of taking out all the old lathe and plaster? And then getting down to the 115 year old external walls and finding little or no continuous support?

Well we got the new support studs in, some great R-19 insulation and then foam board for extra 3.3 R-value.

On top of that we placed 1/2″ MDX and then finally the wainscotting sheeting. We think this will make it much warmer this winter. We hope to get the new sub-floor in so that the floor will all be the same height finally. Thankfully the contractor that created that mess is a long past memory. After that we can get the dishwasher (YEAH!) and a ‘real’ sink base and then move the refrigerator over where it belongs, finally bring up the washer, move the freezer into its proper place and build the linen closet, hamper and storage shelves. I could have sworn I said this was almost done ~ I guess I realize there is still a lot to do and this is only 1/2 of this L~shaped kitchen!!!! Even with all there is yet to do, I keep envisioning the final product and the best news of all is that it will be MOLD free. Maybe now that we can go into winter without freezing to death, we can concentrate on getting the money back from the previous owners for their fraudulent non-disclosure.

Now this is only the primer paint, but it feels so much more like a real room again! The ceiling is going to get replaced, but for now, we’re just painting it too to get rid of the yellowing. The window will get changed out to a bay style in the spring. We’ll finish the rest of the walls as soon as the electrician is done.

~*~Do-It-Yourself Country Kitchen~*~

So we’re trying to bring a 115 year old kitchen into the present as far as modern conveniences, but maintain that country kitchen charm that goes with the character of the house. Sounds easy? You’d think so, but because we had to tear out all the moldy parts including the cabinets this is no easy task. We literally had to tear down to the external walls and start over. We’re still really ticked off at the previous owners for their ‘fraudulent’ ways of non-disclosure; it’s cut and dried that they lied and purposely tried to cover up and hide the mold, but we’re not sure it is worth the cost of lawyers to win the satisfaction of winning the case from them and then trying to get the money back after the lawyer’s cut, well that’s a discussion for another time.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the kitchen… the cupboards are new, but we’re installing wainscotting board between the upper and lower cabinets to try and give it that “Walton’s” feel. The ceiling is several inches higher than a standard ceiling of today so that gives us a better canvas to work with in creating a spacious work area. We want to do some type of tin ceiling and probably an oak plank floor, but for today we accomplished some of the wainscotting and it is beginning to feel like the home we thought we bought.

We still have another half to do eventually, so it won’t always be this cluttered looking.

As for the counter itself, We’d like to do a creative touch, but haven’t decided exactly what yet. Tile’s a pain in the neck, maybe a thin set concrete something… for now painted MDX will do, but we’re also thinking of a birch or maple plank counter that we’ll do ourselves eventually. Have your priced counter tops recently? The cost would turn anyone into a do-it-yourselfer.


One of the biggest theories I keep trying to get hubby to understand is the “Domino Effect”. He wants to know why we can’t start one room and finish that room before moving on to the next room. While in theory, that would be the optimum way to accomplish any project, it just doesn’t work in reality. There are too many things intermingled (drywall removal, electrical and plumbing work, flooring, etc…)

For instance, the roll-off dumpters. While they are here, why not fill them up and get our money’s worth. Or the electrician, who is basically re-wiring the entire house and needs multiple walls opened up on all 3 levels (4 if you include the attic) so he can effectively get this job done sometime this year. And while the walls are open for him, let’s get the plumbing handled.

When we started this project it was because of the mold we found in the downstairs bathroom on day 10 of our existence in this house. Once we ripped out the molded areas of the bathroom wall, we found it extended to the shower enclosure itself and behind it and then we found it extended into the kitchen walls behind the shower enclosure and then into the kitchen cabinets attached to those walls, etc… you get the idea and hence the domino effect. The bathroom remodel quickly became the kitchen remodel, etc…

Now, while no one in their right mind would plan to do a remodel like this all at once, it will be nice to have it all done and not need to worry about the house for another 20 years except for normal maintenance. Then again, if the previous owners had done the normal maintenance, we wouldn’t be in this boat now. So, fortunately for the next owners, we’re not normal and are bringing it all up to code and modern enough appealing to stay with the character of the house, but also add the modern conveinences to make life bearable (especially for the sake of the kitchen). We’re adding a dishwasher, garbage disposal and bringing the washer and dryer from the basement to the main floor level.

So, let this be a lesson to those of you out there in this same boat. The “GOLDEN RULE” always applies. Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. And do what is ethical, disclose the problems when you sell a house. You may get a little less money, but at least you can sleep with a clear conscientious. Because I also believe in what comes around, goes around. And boy oh boy, I can’t wait to see whatt is going to get the lying people who sold us this house.

Yeah, a finished project.

Hubby got this great flag pole up a few months ago, but it wasn’t an easy feat. We had this ugly stump in the front yard from where the previous owners cut down a diseased tree, but were too cheap to do it the right way and remove the stump. So, ingenious man that my hubby is, he drilled (for days) into the stumps center until he was probably 18 inches deep and big enough around for the flag pole plus. The he put a 1/2 whiskey barrel on top of that and drilled the same hole into it. He filled the whole thing with cement, put the flag pole in the center with a solar light in the top of the pole and TA DA, a completed project ~ a lighted flag pole. I planted the top half of the barrel with Lily of the Valley’s that are still trying to take hold and then put decorative cinder blocks all the way around to hide the remaining dead roots.

Oh no, more old mold!

So I had a productive, disappointing and exciting day. I tried to show the pictures in order so you can see the changes throughout the day.

I needed to expose the old plumbing that they had built this funky facade around it (out of old masonite board) so we can get the plumber in for an estimate to convert this fantastic old 6 foot claw foot tub into a shower and tub combo. We’re also going to change out the old vanity sink into a pedastal sink that looks a little more like it belongs. As you can see, they had built a really funky facade around the tub too. I can’t figure out why either ~ it’s in near perfect condition. They also painted the wood floor a funky rust color and then had a cheap carpet remnant on top of that.

Productive in that I got to this point, disappointing that I found more mold so there is more old lathe and plaster to be torn down, and exciting that I can begin to visualize this room done. I am going to try and bleach it and use KILZ first, but it always seem to work the hard way.

And did I mention that the city is working on the water lines around here? They shut the water off the other day for a “few” minutes ~ yeah right 2 1/2 hours later it came back on with a vengence and they had allowed dirt to enter the lines so the water ran muddy and then brown for 30 minutes out of every faucet. I found this out when I tried to wash the fruit from my hands while I was trying to can fruit. Then last night I noticed water seemed to be running out from my neighbors house, but I thought it was just run off from when they turned the water back on. So when I got up this morning and it was still “running”, I called my neighbors father (she’s out of town) and he got the city over to look at it. Long story short, there was a problem with the main and they had to turn the water off again. At least this time they warned me, but when the water came back on 4 hours later, I went through the same muddy brown water all over again and had to clean both bathrooms and kitchen for the 3rd time in 2 days!

20 yard dumpster #3 and we can't wait for real walls!

Well we’re on dumpster number 3 and it’s almost as full as dumpsters 1 & 2 were! Goodbye 115 year old lathe and plaster and moldy cabinets and drywall too! The good news is that we’re that much closer to a kitchen. Hubby temporaried a kitchen sink for me so I don’t have to do dishes in the bathtub anymore and my counter is an old banquet table (the kind that weighs ton), but it works for now. It kind of reminds us of our first place 22 years ago, so we are relishing the nostalgia.

We eliminated a window (yeah, now there’s only 36 to go) and insulated the outside walls. The outside walls are 115 years old though, so we’re adding a layer of foam board moisture insulation before the actual walls. Next we need to raise the old kitchen floor to meet the new kitchen floor (a contractor nightmare caused this issue) and then we’ll muddle through the winter before putting down a floor. We’re still debating between a slate look tile or oak plank. Most people say the oak plank automatically, but the rest of the house is a bird’s eye maple so we’re just not sure what the overall decision will be.

He also ran my dryer vent outside!! Yeah!! We used to have one of those funky adapted things that made the room so hot! I can’t wait to start the basement stairs.

1 down, 37 to go

There are 38 windows in this house, most of which are still single pane! The storm windows are old and need to go away, PERIOD! It’s going to take a long time and a lot of money to get them all done. So, for now it’s 1 window at a time. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but this window has a view of the backyard and surrounding area that is absolutely beautiful, especially in the winter with the snow. The single pane window that was there was so cold though that ice would freeze on the outside and you couldn’t see out at all even with the storm window on. So, out with the old and in with the triple pane! The rain also liked to blow into this window so we changed it to a canopy style that blocks the rain from blowing in.

I can’t wait to get the rest of this room done, but it too is a 1 wall at a time job. Lathe and plaster takes forever to remove and oh what a mess, but with every external wall that goes and new insulation added winter gets warmer and warmer every day!

~The Critters Came with the House~

One of the coolest things we’ve experienced is the critters. We’re only 2 blocks from a highway (albeit a 2 lane highway, but still a major thruway here in the north woods) and these guys just come to the front door for breakfast lunch and dinner year round. What’s really cool is in the spring and summer they bring their babies.

One night last winter we decided to take a walk around the block because we hadn’t seen the normal herd of deer that came around. We never saw them ~ until we got back to our house and they were eating the berries off one of our trees in the backyard (before we added the fence). We never thought to look out back, they always came to the front door before.

A little closer to a kitchen!

Yeah, the ‘old’ kitchen is almost finished being gutted!

We had to do some support timber work in the basement and some dry rot repair and some old electrical removal (knob & tube, it’s so old), but we’re getting ther
e. It always seems to be a ‘domino’ effect ~ can’t do one thing without doing 10 others first!

My dear hubby has been working his butt off to get this done by winter. We found a kitchen cabinet guy who was retiring and bought his displays for a HUGE discount. Since these were going into the “new” portion of the kitchen, it actually made life a little easier. We actually got the cabinets mounted in 1 day! It’s so nice to have a place to put all the dishes. Now to start on the white wainscotting that goes on the wall between the cabinets and then eventually a new counter top!!

Kitchen, well almost.

The house came with a really small kitchen to begin with and then when we were forced to tear it all out because of the mold, it only seemed logical since we were going to already have a mess to open the wall between the old kitchen and sun porch (which was really a 3 season porch with no floor on top of the slab or decent insulation) and make a large family style kitchen eliminating the separate sun porch. We also decided to make life easier and bring the washer and dryer up into the new kitchen and out of the basement area (It was so cold doing laundry last winter). The dryer is upstairs now, but I can’t wait until the washer joins it (oh my aching back lugging the wet laundry upstairs)! I was so excited about having all the windows in my new kitchen.

The first 4 pictures are before we began. As you can see I had already unpacked everything. The pictures were taken the day before we found the mold. The next day I packed it all back up.

The next 2 pictures are the gutted sun porch where we found their roof leak (another thing they failed to disclose ~ thank God for neighbors who pay attention) due to missing roof pieces, disentegrated old rock wool insulation and ceiling joists that were worthless since they were all sistered and sagging. Not one of them went all the way across to support anything. So we took this opportunity to bring it to code and safety standards.

As you can see from these pictures, we had to do a lot of reinforcing and strengthening. In the late 1800’s they appeared to use whatever piece of wood was handy for any job. We added the maximum insulation in the walls and ceiling and are looking forward to a much warmer winter ~ inside anyway.

Next time, we’ll see the progress that is today.

The work begins

We arrived in October. We thought we’d get our 1st winter out of the way. We figured if we could survive the winter after having been in So Cal for so long, we could survive anything. It was a mild winter and we truly loved it. SO much for all those people who said we’d be back ~ sorry guys it’s not happening.

It’s a really great house, but it’s 115 years old. So, we knew we’d need to do some upgrades eventually. We figured we’d have all the time in the world to do them though. After all, the previous owners had just painted some of the more crucial rooms like the main bathroom and kitchen. So, we figured we were set for a while.

What we didn’t know was that they had only temporarily ‘fixed’ the problems noted on the home inspection report ~ things like the electrical box holding water and broken drain pipes ~ that they were supposed to “permanently” fix to complete the sale ~ I guess they truly believe that duct tape and electrical tape are the fixalls they claim to be. The “fresh” paint was actually “camouflage” for a mold problem they’d been having and failed to disclose to us ~ no wonder they were in such a hurry! Ten days after we moved in we were forced to begin the laborious process of tearing out all the walls in the main bathroom and kitchen as well as the plumbing fixtures and cabinets since it was ALL infested with mold. We hadn’t even finished unpacking before we were forced to pack back up and dig in to the work at hand. This was the 1st of 2 dumpsters and MANY more truckloads we took to the dump.

At least the dogs still had their HUGE yard (almost a half acre), but it took us 6 weeks to get anyone to put in a fence. It wasn’t a problem for Whiskey since she’ll hang around, but for Gunner this was murder. He’s a wanderer and couldn’t go outside without a leash.

I love the new garden area though! It needs some serious weeding and updating, but for that there is plenty of time. There must be at least 50 old irises and daylillies. Yeah! Unfortunately, the dogs love the garden too so I’m now looking for container solutions for that area.