Sunday, July 31, 2016

Air Conditioning!

We FINALLY have air conditioning!  On Thursday night, the A/C guy installed the outside unit and got it operational.  Everyone had the privilege of working in comfort on Friday and Saturday.  When we arrived on Saturday morning, the windows were even fogged up.

Larry and Lennox...I don't really know what else to say...

Other progress this week was the removal of the old linoleum from the kitchen floors.  When the floor guy gave us an estimate on restoring the floors, he quoted an extra $600 in labor to remove the linoleum.  In an effort to save some $$$ Dad started removing the linoleum himself.  He and Mom were able to get about 1/3 of the kitchen done by the time we got there on Saturday morning.

I took on the breakfast nook myself on Saturday.  Quite a tedious process.  You have to use a heat gun to soften up the linoleum and then lift it up with a scraper thing.  When the lineoleum gets hot, it sort of melts so that it is pliable.

I managed to finish the entirety of the breakfast nook in about 2 hours, which is probably because this area had water damage that caused the tiles to come up easily.

Also this week, Terry retrofit the space under the sink and the bin just to the right of it to make room for the dishwasher.  Because this bank of cabinets is so short, a normal dishwasher would not fit.  We found a dishwasher drawer that enabled us to preserve most of the original cabinetry as-is.  And since it is panel-ready, it will hopefully blend seamlessly into the other cabinetry.

Interior and exterior painting and associated prep work will begin next week.  There is going to be some significant sanding, caulking and nail removal to prep for the paining.  In advance of those teams, the telephone nook and medicine cabinet were re-installed.

Although we are leaving most of the wood walls exposed, we wanted to protect them and make them look like the finished product, rather than a phase of construction.  Pedro tested a small area of the breakfast nook with two coats of poly-acrylic.

I was thrilled.  It has a slight sheen and makes the wood look clean and finished.  So that will be the plan for most of the walls in the house.

The exterior will be a sage green color.  The painters already primed one side with a primer that was tinted to match.  Most of the trim will be white, but the window frames will be purple.  Just not this purple.  I'm very glad we bought samples to try out first, because this purple shade just isn't doing it for me.

Floor tiles in the bathroom will be installed next week.  Here's a preview.

That's all from WBC for now.


Friday, July 29, 2016

More progress on breakfast nook and floor plans

Last Saturday when we visited, we observed the breakfast nook is really coming along.

Can you believe the table top used to be hidden under Formica countertops?  Terry said when he cut into it, he counted around 150 rings.  And that was just probably a small section of the tree.  I'm thrilled he was able to save the wood and re-purpose it.

And the benches have convenient storage.

The outside looks the same as last week.  The only noticeable change is that the kitchen door has been replaced with a "new" one.  It's virtually identical to the old one, but it's solid wood.  And it came from Terry's last project so it's still appropriate for the age of the house.  Also, they switched the swing so we can open the door and have room for the washer and dryer.

We spent some serious time last Saturday looking at slabs for countertops.

It took a couple stops but, we were ultimately able to find a place that had what we were looking for at a reasonable price.  The sales person initially refused to trust my measurements, though, because they were so unusual for the depth of today's counters.

Over the next couple weeks, the bathroom floor tile will be installed, then the bathtub, and then the rest of the tile.  Finally, we are meeting with the exterior painters tomorrow to talk about colors.  I picked up samples today so we can ensure the sage green we chose doesn't look like puke.

We are probably close to 2 months away from being finished.  Wow! So it's getting to the most fun part, all the pretty things!  One of the first things we did after we bought the house in June of 2015 was to take measurements and do floor plans, that way we could look for furniture pieces at antique stores and on Craig's list.

There are several apps you can get that will allow you to do floor plans right on your tablet. Mom and Larry took the tape measure around as I built rooms with the dimensions of our rooms at WBC. Here's the thoughts on what we are going to do with each room, given the space available.

The kitchen isn't going to change much at all on the side with existing cabinets.  The opposite wall is going to have the large appliances with some built-in cabinetry for storage and prep space.  As you can see there is room for a large island or table (Stephen).  

But to give us more counter space by the stove, we are thinking about putting the fridge in that little jog next to the door leading to the sleeping room.  The prior owner said that's where they always had their fridge.  But that space is not very deep.  To keep the fridge from basically being in the way, we found a very cool retro-looking Italian fridge that's taller than usual, but skinny and not as deep as a typical American fridge.  

The aspect on this is a little off, but it gives you a sense of how it's going to look. They have so many fun colors that I think it'll be a really nice punch of color in the kitchen. Here's another angle:

These days, a formal dining room is, to some extent, an anachronism, so we decided to make that room a billiard room.  The built-in window seat is a perfect perch to watch a game.  The only thing is that we'll have to be careful not to hit the glass in the french doors with pool cues.
Unfortunately, restoring the piano would be prohibitively expensive.  But Mom came up with a very creative idea to re-use the piano and Terry's got the skills to make it happen.  

The living room is going to be more traditional, with a TV above the fireplace.  The initial plan was to do a sofa and two club chairs, but we found an amazing bargain on a sectional, so this plan is probably going to change.

The master bedroom is large enough for a king-size bed.  And we can do a flat screen on the wall between the closet and the doorway to the hall.
The second bedroom is challenging.  As you can see, there are four doorways that open into this room.  We thought what would make the most sense would be to have twin beds, which is great because antique twin-sized iron beds are readily available on Craigslist and at antique stores.

The sleeping room is another challenge.  It's narrow, and we want to highlight the windows rather than hiding them.  I thought perhaps a sectional and then a chaise lounge opposite for reading or taking a nap?  But this one is definitely still a work in progress.

That's all from Wisteria Bend for now.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Breakfast nook and insulation

The area off the kitchen that we have always envisioned as a breakfast nook was where the prior owner kept her sewing machine. Since there were two windows, this nook apparently had a nice cross-breeze that allowed her to work comfortably (?) even without a/c. For our purposes, the breakfast nook seemed like a more functional option. Terry started building the benches a couple weeks ago. 

But this week really got down to business with the decorative portion of the benches as well as the table.


And if you don't recognize them, the cypress planks that were hidden under the old countertops are being transformed into what will become the table top.

This is really going to be special when it's completed!

Another big change this week was the addition of insulation. When I drove up, I saw these weird circular patches in the side of the house.

That's where they drilled holes to blow insulation into the exterior walls.

From what I could see, I'm pretty sure the closed-cell spray foam insulation was added underneath the house too, but I was not going to get under there to find out or get better pictures.

I did go up in the attic to see that the insulation had been blown in that space too.

I will say that the house does seem slightly less miserable than before, but it's hard to tell when it's 100+ outside whether the insulation is making any difference.

Finally, I'm sad to report that we no longer have any cardinal eggs :(

I strongly suspect that a snake got to them.  But part of me is worried that we did something to disturb them.   I really hope it wasn't the jackhammer!

That's all from Wisteria Bend for now.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Getting hammered in the cistern paddock, part 1

So we envision that the cistern paddock is a going to be the hang-out spot.

It's in the back of the house so there's privacy. There's some good shade from the many trees. And the cistern house itself could turn into a super-cool bar or bathroom one day.  As a reminder, here's how it started.

We recently decided to use the pecan mulch from the tree limbs that had to come down last spring to fill in the area and keep the weeds down.  We also decided to build a flowerbed in the front to add color and (hopefully) put plants that will repel mosquitoes. But before we could do that, we had to pull out some concrete.  This step (?) was in front of the cistern house door.

You can see where it once rested.  Once we got the shovels under it we were able to move it easily.  A few taps with the sledgehammer and it was in pieces.

Since that was so easy I decided to try the concrete peeking out from what was once the clothes line pole. That didn't go so well...

Unbeknownst to me at the time, the concrete base was about two feet across and a foot thick!

Seriously--who needs this much concrete for a CLOTHES LINE???  What were they hanging--chain mail?

So rather than destroy my back (Larry understandably didn't go near the sledgehammer) we decided to rent a jackhammer.  Yeah...

It honestly wasn't as bad as I feared, and it did the job far better than the sledgehammer.

Not only was there concrete, there was a ring of rebar and the whole thing was piled on top of more chunks of leftover granite from the monument company.  So we had to jackhammer through granite towards the bottom.

But unfortunately, we STILL couldn't get the pole out.  It's buried further down and the portion under the concrete is drill pipe.

The other one wasn't any easier.

And at the end of the day the pole was still standing.  It didn't even budge when I made the mistake of hanging from it like monkeybars (at which point I felt every muscle in my back revolt). Since we can't dig these out, our plan is to just cut them off as low as we can and cover over them.  If anyone has any suggestions on how we might make that happen, please share!

For creation of the flowerbed I had to dig a trench for the flowerbed border.  Why on earth we didn't think of this plan during the MONTHS of rainy weather when the ground is soft, I have no idea. Nope. Now that the ground is hard and dry, THAT'S when we start digging a 5" trench to insert the flowerbed border.

So clearly this project is nowhere near finished.  But on the bright side, while we were cleaning up we found a couple nests that had fallen out of the trees in the bad weather.  We put them back in the trees and along the fence posts, and it took no time for new residents to install themselves.  A cardinal took advantage of this nest.  You can clearly see that she added fresh straw to line the old nest before laying her eggs.  And while we were working, she was closely monitoring our activities.

Hopefully the jackhammer didn't disturb the little cardinals too much!  

That's all from Wisteria Bend for now.