Guitar “Room”

notice the plaster and lathe under Bill’s paneling

I’m not sure that I would label this a “room”, but since it is Bill’s territory, we’ll let him keep the title.  After Bill finished off the mudroom a few years ago, we had this empty closet like space above those stairs with a beautiful oval window.  It is really bigger than a normal size closet and the window makes it that much more glamourous.

Bill wants to use the space to store and play his guitars and equipment.  (Which will take it out of our bedroom and guest room closets.)  But, he is doing such a glamourous job on the space, that I’ll want to live in it.  The room had loads of huge wall cracks and holes where it appears someone tried to wire it for electricity.  So, Bill took the opportunity to put in two lights and three outlets and cover the walls with wood and plaster.  It will look as though it is lined with cherry paneling when he is finished.  I apologize for the quality and perspective of these photos.  The stairwell (now closet) is long and narrow and it is difficult to capture it at a decent angle.

Original servant's stair well with large cracks
Original servant’s stair well with large cracks

My job is to paint a large British flag for him to hang in there.  We’ll see when I have time to do that.  😉  I’m still stenciling our bedroom and re-upholstering a living room chair, which is a first.  I’m also planning on sanding and staining our back porch this summer and repainting our double rocker and possibly our glider.  Bill has a few other things on the summer docket, too, including rebuilding our porch stairs — front and back.  We are also ready to lay stone down the front sidewalk as the original blue slate is terribly cracked.  It is matter of prioritizing time and money, like most house projects.

In the meantime, I repainted an old cheap bookcase to unload some of our last boxes of books and Bill put in electrical outlets on our front porch for a ceiling fan over my porch bed.  We are always doing something.  😉

Almost the same angle as above, with Bill's plaster, paint and wood paneling
Almost the same angle as above, with Bill’s plaster, paint and wood paneling

Will’s Room

Okay, so it has only been forever since we’ve written.  I think Bill may have forgotten that we even have a blog.  And well, motherhood has taken over my life.  Will is busier than ever doing Legos, riding bikes and collecting HotWheels.  Really, he carries a basket of HotWheels from room to room and looks for them in every store we visit.  Thankfully for me, they are cheap and small.  On my end, storage is the big deal.  Storage of toys, mainly cars and legos has become an issue.  But, Bill solved it.

In the past 6 months or so, Bill has been spending his time working on Will’s loft bed.  We pulled the design from ideas and images on Pinterest and came up with what works for our house and room.  In the meantime, Will had been sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor.  Once the bed was finished and waxed, we moved it into his room and put it together.  Bill decided it wasn’t stable enough, so he built a back wall of shelves, for all the cars to make the whole thing more sturdy.  Now, all three of us could probably hang out up there with no issue.  As you can see from this, Bill is up there reading to Will.  Will loves it and we’ve moved on to the next projects.


Garage is complete

 Summer of 2010 or so
Summer of 2010 or so
Kinda sad
Kinda sad

It has only taken 18 months to finish our latest project, the garage.  Well, I should re-state.  We really have been working on the garage for 4 years and we have yet to truly finish it, but it at least looks finished and I can be happy with it now.  The garage was in shambles, with a full attic and stacked shelves with all sorts of junk.  It was probably used to fix up cars and originally it had a wood burning stove in the back with a chimney.  Back in 2009, we took down the crumbly chimney and used the bricks to build a walk from the drive to the back door.  Bill did that as a surprise for me when I was on a work trip  in the spring of 2010.  Bill covered the chimney hole with extra shingles we found in the garage and we cleaned out the shelving in hopes we could fit two cars in our 1 1/2 width garage.

Last summer, we began scraping and priming the exterior, taking down the lights and removing the windows.  We didn’t get very far along in the process and the windows stayed open all winter.  But, we were able to pull both cars into the garage for the duration of the winter storms, even though the narrow door only allowed us to move one car at a time.

This summer, we widen-ed the door, put in a whole new door, new lights, new opener and re-glazed the old windows.  The garage looks decent and we can use it more easily for both cars.  However, the cinder block foundation could use some work in the long run and we will want to eventually clean out the garage attic.  Yes, there is a garage attic full of old stuff from long before our arrival.  If we do it right, we could put in a dormer and a floor and it would be a great playhouse for Will, especially when he starts bringing his buddies over.  But, that is for another summer.

Right now, I’m just pleased at how nice it cleaned up and how spacious it feels.

Much better!!
Much better!!

My Porch Swing

My favorite gift that Bill has ever given me was an oak tray, distressed and stained beautifully.  We use it for nights we snack on cheese and olives from the couch, or if we happen to have a breakfast in bed occasion.  Bill made it for me for our first Christmas together and it is still one of my treasured things.  But, I have to say, he out-did himself this year for Mother’s Day.

Bill made me a porch swing, or rather a porch bed.  Since our wrap around porch is big enough to be a 5th bedroom, Bill made it into one.  I took our old futon mattress and found a weather proof cover for it, added some pillows and Wa-La!  (Or however you spell that.)

Berthel porch bed

Powder Room is Finished!


Half bath before our work
Half bath before our work

Another three months between posts.  It does suggest that we aren’t working, or I stopped writing, neither of which is really true.  I write quite a bit, (just on other blogs) and we have been working quite a bit, just much slower these days.  Will has dropped his nap, which means we have very little chunks of time to accomplish things.

Back of the door, bottom half is re-oiled.
Check out this wallpaper, 80's looking, we think.
Check out this wallpaper, 80’s looking, we think.

So, it took us nearly 4 months to complete our downstairs bathroom.  We started in February, just taking down the wallpaper.  It was both dated and dirty.  And, it was stuck on with epoxy or something equally sticky.  I pulled it off in micro-bits after soaking it in warm water and laundry softener.  At this point, I also tested Danish oil on the door to see if it would refresh the surface.  Two coats did wonders.

By April, we had refinished the floor and put in a new toilet.  You can see the large ugly hole that we had to fill in once we took out the cabinet sink.  Bill keeps a great stash of scrap wood and he had enough pieces from our hardwood floors to patch the whole.  The room was small enough that Bill did the floor in a weekend, really.  Sanded and stained in a day and then took two more to get coats of polyurethane on it.  Toilets are heavy, but not hard to put in.  We had that part complete by Easter weekend.

Everything stripped
Everything stripped

By the end of May, the whole thing was repainted and ready for a sink.  We used two different primers, one for the plastered walls and another for the wainscoting beneath.  Two coats of primer on each surface and then two coats of paint on top of each of those.  Plus, Bill caulked holes and cracks between coats.

Primer complete
Primer complete

In June, we put in the sink, refinished the window and placed the fixtures.  Really, Bill did all of this.  He took out the window and stripped the pink paint and stained the frame, which looks sharp with the mirror and the floor.  We took out the old medicine cabinet and put it upstairs where it is more useful.  Moving the mirror from upstairs down works for now, too.  We bought a new light fixture a few months back when the old one died and I liked the placement of it.  Even though it is off center, it works for me.  All of the hardware is an oil-rubbed bronze.

The only thing left is to put in a new switch and find a way to put in an outlet.  Like the dining room, this room has no outlets.  For a powder room, it isn’t a huge deal, but it would be a nice feature to have just in case.  Getting rid of more pink in this room was a big priority for me, and refinishing the floor just makes the room feel new.  It is brighter and cleaner now.

The old toilet moved upstairs to our full bath, where it will reside until we get all new fixtures.  The previous toilet had to be 60 years old and it was ready to retire.  The half bath sink we put out at “Tiffany’s” where it “sold” quickly.  (Shopping at Tiffany’s is our way of explaining how quickly things disappear if we put them at the curb.  We have sold a lot at Tiffany’s over the years, but it is always fun to see when things go.)

So, our half bath is overall complete.  We are working on other outdoor projects right now, too, and taking time to enjoy our family and the outdoors.


Low key catchup

Mother's Day selfie
Mother’s Day selfie

This winter has taken a lot out of us.  Even Bill felt the effects of such a deep cold winter.  Will was sick a lot, we all were sick a lot and there was no leaving the house because of the frigid weather.  I could always tell when the weather was below 10 degrees in the mornings because my nose hairs would freeze instantly.  So, we stayed in a nested as best we could, getting very little done on the actual house.  Bill worked in his guitar closet/room, and I took note of the furniture I need to repair.

As spring came on, we started to find the motivation.  We’ve kicked in high gear in yard work because the weather has been San Diego nice.  But, we’ve also begun and almost finished renovating the downstairs guest bath.  And, Bill built a little treasure for me for Mother’s Day that is taking up most of the side porch — a swinging porch bed.  Woot!  I’ll post pics of it once it is painting and furnished with pillows.

We’ll be wrapping up the bath in the next 2 weeks and spending our summer on the garage.  We still have to finish painting it, and we’re talking about creating a car port and outside fire pit this summer.  So much to do and so little time.


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.