Winter Work

Okay, it looks brighter in this photo than it really is.
Okay, it looks brighter in this photo than it really is.

We have been getting a few things done this winter, although I feel I truly should be hibernating with a large cup of tea and a book.  It has been ridiculously cold and snowy for most of us in the north east, and I’m complaining because I still have southern bones.  It is sort of strange to me when I walk outside in 40 degrees and think, “WOW, I don’t need a coat!”

Bill and I have gone our ways and worked on individual projects.  I have started taking down wallpaper in the guest bath and refinishing my hallway linen chest.  Bill has continued to work on his “closet” and organized his workshop for preparations on making a new bed for Will.  We have each spent numerous hours keeping our cabin fever at bay and helping our toddler do the same.  If we ever get warmed up again and get going outside, I’ll post more.

In the meantime, here is a shot of my linen chest.  It won’t be lined, but a good place to store some of my collection.

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Starting on the Garage

Before the mudroom
Before the mudroom

Sometimes I’m truly surprised at how much time has passed since I’ve written; and yet, as I look back over the blog, it is a wonderful reminder of how much we have really done and how far we’ve come.  I’m loving that.  Course, with only 1 year and 4 months to go on our countdown, we better keep moving.  (That is the countdown my mom and husband put in place on how long it would take us to FINISH this house.)

I’m almost finished painting touchups in the mudroom and we still have to put in a handrail for the stairs.  Otherwise, it is in full use and much appreciated by us.  It is just one of those spaces that is so much cleaner and brighter now.  You can see our before and after.  😉

We are savoring our weekends and greatly enjoying this weather outside, although it is a touch hot for my northern boys.  However, Bill spent a week up here on his own while I traveled south to visit family and he used the time to scrape the garage.  We didn’t have it painted when we originally had the house done as there was no reason to for our mortgage, and we wanted to save some money.  So, now that we’ve done quite a bit on the house, we thought it is time to catch up the garage.

The completed mudroom
The completed mudroom

If we hired outside contractors at this point, we would end up paying a lot as the lead removal laws in NY are stricter now than they were 4 years ago.  So taking this on ourselves is both messy and, well, messy.  The lead doesn’t come off in quick strips like smooth latex paint.  Instead, it really chips and falls heavy.  Bill power washed the garage, scraped and sanded while I was away for a week.  We’ll have to vacuum the ground and try to scoop out the topsoil with some paint in it, but at least we’ll never have to do it again.

Once painted with a primer and top coat, we’ll need to attack the cement or plaster bricks that are the foundation.  Some are completely hollow and others need serious repair.  It will mean coating them all with a mortar-paint and filling many of them.  Then, we have to consider a new floor inside the garage and repairing all the windows.  We still need to empty the garage attic.  That will be a whole post unto itself as who knows what is still up there.  I could stand up there, too, if I so chose, but the floor is unstable.  Eventually, it will make a super fort for Will.

the garage, waiting for a paint job
the garage, waiting for a paint job

Lots of work and expense to be done on the garage and that doesn’t even include resurfacing the drive.  At some point soon, we need to recoat the asphalt drive.  The snow and ice are hard on the roads and drives here, so this is a priority, too.  So much to do!  The summer posts will be full of more outside work and inside detail — stay tuned!

Our weekends

the raspberries I planted last year
the raspberries I planted last year

Each weekend we get a little more done.  Sometimes it is mainly yard work, which over the past 4 summers has turned into more and more prolific flowers and well, the same amount of weeds.  🙂  But our lilacs are unreal this summer.  Sometimes, though, we get a few more bits done inside and out, amongst raising toddler Will and middle-age Heidi.

This past weekend we hung  a new storm door on the side, and I planted hyacinths and phlox.  It isn’t much, but those little changes add up a lot.  Our home is becoming more and more comfy and family-like.

My sister asked me recently what we are going to do next.  Well, honestly, I don’t think well tackle any large projects.  We’re saving money after buying another new vehicle this spring, and I’d like a bit of travel this year, too. So we are conquering smaller things.  We’ll paint more and adjust more.  We might scrape down the garage and resurface the drive.  We’ve discussed putting in a carport and even a shower in the downstairs bath.  But I’m just not sure.

my hosta garden on the south side in the shade
my hosta garden on the south side in the shade

Recently we had the house appraised for a refinance.  Unfortunately, the appraiser said the house was worth about $140K, which feels low to us.  He also said that it only matters how many heated square feet we have and how many baths and bedrooms.  He said it didn’t matter that we had the exterior painted or the floors redone.  It didn’t matter that we’ve put in all we’ve done, it only matters how much square footage we have.  He even said that a kitchen is just a kitchen and that a $100K kitchen is the same as what we have.  ?????  So, I’m pretty discouraged about putting any money into our house.

But at least we’re making it nicer for ourselves at this point.  So, that is why I’m gardening and doing smaller things.  The refinance will likely go through at the end of the month and give a few more dollars per month to put towards things that do matter — like ice cream. 😉

Mudroom is complete

Painting -- of course I chose green.  Lighter than the other rooms, though.
Painting — of course I chose green. Lighter than the other rooms, though.

We’ve finally finished the mudroom, or side entrance.  Well, sort of.  Bill has done everything in this room except just a bit of the painting.  I have done very little except pick out the lights and color.  His work is extraordinary, I think.

I chose to paint it green to keep the house in theme.  All of the hallways will eventually be green as well with the white trim where appropriate and the cherry downstairs.  As you can see, Bill installed an additional top light so that the entrance would be brighter.  I chose these cool wire and glass pendants.

The tile was a no brainer for us.  We both knew what we wanted separately and I think the finished floor is so worth it.  If we ever do another bathroom, we’ll use the same tile.  It reeks of old house, doesn’t it?

We have a bit of paint to touch up and the grout the floor, but otherwise, it is complete and we’re using it.  I will likely repaint the door to the basement something to match the entrance and formalize it a bit.  The purchased baskets match the other baskets I have throughout the house, in almost every room.  I’m a big basket for storage kind of person and have found them both practical and long lasting.

Finished Mudroom
Finished Mudroom

Update on the “Mudroom”

From the top of the stairs
From the top of the stairs

I love that Bill calls this our mudroom, primarily because it will end up looking and being so much more formal than a typical mudroom.  Our house calls for fancy, being a Queen Anne Victorian and Bill is such a perfectionist in his woodworking that it can’t be anything less.  But, it will still be the side entrance, the shoe drop off and the coat hangout.

Since Bill has little time to write and actually tell you what he is doing in the area, I thought it was time for me to upload some photos of his work and he can fill you in the next time he gets to write about it all.

It has been primed now, waiting for final caulking before the paint layers.  I don’t plan on doing stenciling in here, but that is only because I’m so behind on stenciling the rest of the house.  (I haven’t even begun to finish our bedroom that I started 2 years ago.)

It might be a while before Bill writes again, but we plan on tiling this floor and hanging some glass lighting.  Bill has also added a door that is at the top of the stairs to the basement, which you can’t see from these photos.  He found an old door wide enough in the basement to use and hung it this past weekend.  We hope to be finished in another month and then on to the next thing!

Image
Note the new paneling up the stairs. . . yeah, Bill rocks.

Mudroom Progress

I really dislike the term “mud room” so I needed to look up a few definitions and history origins for the term. Obviously, the term relates to an entry room meant to protect the rest of the house from dirty, wet and muddy clothes and shoes and boots. The term seems to have come into vogue in the mid 40’s in American architecture… “A repository for muddy outdoor garments, hunting clothes and in some cases, pool and swimming attire” I read one reference to suggest. I guess I want my mud room to be nicer than a place where dirty clothes and shoes will reside but truth be told, that’s just what we need, especially rearing a male child!

One of the trickiest parts of this project has been to transition from the plywood patch placed where the old servant stairs landed on the first floor to the first step. My task was to remove the 3/4 inch plywood and replace with flooring boards Floor to Stairs Transitionmaking a smooth transition from floor to first stair riser already in place. I was lucky enough to have a variety of flooring planks found in the basement and attic. While they vary in width and species, they actually worked out quite well. Of course the span covered did not work out well with the widths of the boards I had so I needed to rip one length of board and shape the edge to make a bull-nosed stair tread.

While the above sort of challenge is fun, I enjoy the finish work much more. My next steps (pun intended) are to finish the walls and ceiling (lots of plaster work) so I can move onto the final woodworking of the paneled walls, finished stairs and classic Victorian black and white tile floor we plan to install.

Woodwork in Process
Woodwork in Process

And I’m already mentally processing my guitar room above the mud room. That’s how I got started on this mud room project was needing to run electrical supply to my guitar room above first. I made so much destruction I had to start from the bottom up!

Well, “mud room” or whatever we call it, I’m attempting to build and finish a  “room” that can double as an informal entry way suitable for guests, not just the family’s messy-wear and I think I’m well on my way. As visitors see my progress they share that it’s coming along very nicely and show appreciation for my work. I never see it until it’s done and even then, I’m rarely very happy with the outcomes of my labor but there are some pictures so you can judge for yourself!

Shelf Above Entry Door
Shelf Above Entry Door
Cubbies Above, Shelf Higher Still...
Cubbies Above, Shelf Higher Still…

And a Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

I can’t believe that another year has flown by in our house on West Main.  This is the longest that I have lived anywhere since I was 18 and moving out of my home in Clemson, SC where I grew up.  I’ve moved every 2 years since then and sometimes more.  But I still love and adore this house, awestruck at the idea that I not only get to live here, but also to care for this place.

Bill has been knocking away at the “mud room” entrance on the side.   It might end up being the classiest “room” in the house once he is done.  He is such a wood-working perfectionist.  🙂  I love it.  Recent pics of his work below.

And me?  Well, I’m painting the babe’s pieces, finished two and they are hung.  Three more to go and the back to stenciling for me.   I’ll show those later when they are all hung.  And maybe a tour, yes, I know I still owe you all that at least.