Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Good-bye to you

Blogspot and I are parting ways. Irreconcilable differences. The new blog is here:


Saturday, December 4, 2010

New stove dance

I am so happy. So very happy. We've said good-bye to the old stove.

I find it hard to describe how awful and disgusting our stove was. (The above picture does not capture the wretchedness.) The previous owners left us with a mouse problem that then left us with lots of mouse...excrement, especially in the stove area. A mouse would sometimes pop out of or into one of the old gas burners. No amount of cleaning with bleach could really make us feel good about using that stove. (I am gagging right now just thinking about it.) And, aside from it being a mouse toilet, the oven door took a bodybuilder to open, the oven knob was screwed up so we couldn't tell what temperature the oven was on, and the burners didn't work very well. It had to go. And I literally clapped my hands in celebration when the delivery men took it out of the house.

And replaced it with this bad boy.

Okay, "bad boy" might be pushing it. The stove is not fancy at all. It was on sale at Home Depot for $300. But it's new, it's clean, and Consumer Reports says Hotpoint ranges are reliable. That's all I need right now. Maybe someday we'll have a fancier range with lots of bells and whistles. For now, I'm just thankful that it's mouse free (and hopefully will stay that way since I stuffed all the holes behind the stove with steel wool) and it works the way it's supposed to. Hooray!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Most wanted

Demo complete

The eyesore closets are gone. All three of them. Now only the debris remains--and there's lots of it. (And some of it fell on me as I was tearing the last closet down. Oh, also, I hit the light bulb with the big piece of wood pictured below...oops.) But it is amazing how much bigger the rooms seem now, even with all the pieces of closet scattered around.

Though I'm happy the closets are gone, removing them has revealed all kinds of new work for us to do. For instance, there are many holes in the walls from the unnecessary number of nails and screws used to build the stupid closets. Seriously, who needs to put this many screws this close together?

Then, there's the mystery pipe in the corner. What is/was it for? Where does it go? I have no idea, and I have no idea. But it's there, along with a hole in the floor, a hole in the ceiling (that I imagine bats might fly out of), and some lovely water damage to add to the unending list of water-damaged areas.

Still, the closets are gone! Right now, nothing else matters.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Like a rainbow

This is a windowsill in the guest bedroom. Lots of shades of paint have lived on this sucker. It was once tan, then teal, then reddish pink--and that was all under the top layer of off-white that Keith scraped off. But when all the scraping is done, the painting begins. And when the painting is finished, it will look beautiful. Like this:

The baseboards in the guest bedroom are complete, and they look so shiny and new. Can you believe that not long ago they looked like that windowsill?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Say hello to my little friend

Meet the reciprocating saw. Good for demolition. For instance...

The crazy former owners (CFOs) built two closets on either side of a small room in the back of the house. While all their other DIY attempts were low quality, something about the closets inspired them. Maybe they really valued their clothes, but for whatever reason, they built these closets so sturdy that we were starting to wonder if they kept people locked in them. Needless to say, it's been some work tearing them down. Keith spent a day dismantling one, and I spent Veteran's Day trying to tear down the one pictured above, which was even more sturdily built than the other one.

I realized, sadly, that I didn't have any before pictures of these monstrosities. But luckily, there's yet another one in another room that I do have a picture of.

Imagine two more of these, except they were faced with fake bead board, painted white, and had mirrored sliding doors. The CFOs even covered up half a window to build one of these things. I seriously don't understand those people. But at least they gave me a reason to use my awesome new saw.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Wonderful discovery: A hardware store three blocks from work
Purchase: One bottle of Brasso
Use: Polishing the door hardware throughout the house

Step 1: Brass plate on the swinging door to the kitchen is completely black.

Step 2: A little Brasso and elbow grease reveals some shine.

Step 3: A little more Brasso and elbow grease makes it pretty.

It's not perfect yet, but what a difference. Soon all of our doorknobs and hinges will shine like new. This is the satisfaction I've been searching for--a little work for a lot of payoff.

I am officially horrible at this.

I have not been doing a good job updating the blog at all. We finished the baseboards in the guest room, and I was excited to post pictures until I pulled the blue tape off the wall and the paint came with it. One step forward, two steps back...always. I bought the tape for delicate surfaces and had used it without a problem in other parts of the house. I'm not sure what made the guest room paint different, but it is...and it sucks. I guess it's a good thing I didn't really like that paint color anyway.

I am discouraged and I need to be inspired. So here's my inspiration: I proposed to my mother that instead of the usual Christmas gifts of books and DVDs and electronic devices, I would give her a list of home renovation items we need and she could pick one or two to get us as gifts. My list will be my inspiration, because I can't install the bathroom light until the bathroom is remodeled. And I can't install the porch light until the porch is finished.

Motivation/Inspiration/Christmas List

1. Bathroom light

2. Porch light

3. Doorbell

4. Clawfoot tub shower set

Monday, October 25, 2010

Colors for the exterior

No, this is not a cubism experiment. This is just my sad attempt at creating something graphic. I have been thinking for a long time about what colors to use on the outside of the house. The above combo is where I am right now. The colors look different on different computer screens, so you'll have to use your imagination a little. The house will be painted what should look like a slate color (BM Templeton Gray). The porch floor will be painted a muted shade of green (BM Waterbury Green). The front door will be either a light, ice blue (probably lighter than the one in my little illustration, which is BM Whipple Blue) or a dark, rick blue (BM Van Deusen Blue). The trim will be some as-yet-undetermined shade of white.

All the colors are from Benjamin Moore's Historic Colors collection, and they are also pretty true to the time period and the colonial-revival style of the house (at least according to my Internet research). The exterior of the house probably won't get painted for a while, but we are going to paint the porch floor, get new porch railings, and replace the beadboard porch ceiling (oh, and remove the awnings, of course!). I have it in my head that we can do all of this ourselves. We'll see. I am excited about taking a reciprocating saw to those ugly iron railings and bane-of-my-existence awnings. Good way to relieve stress, I think.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The bathroom plan

The bathroom is really looking like it's going to be a reality. I want to restore it to how it looked before the horrible remodel. We have a tub (though it still needs to be reglazed) and a sink. I've finally decided, after discovering under the cheap black-and-white octagon tiles beautiful but ruined white hexagon tiles, that we will put in new white hexagon tiles on the floor. We'll also remove the old subway tile on the wall (which has also been ruined by shoddy remodeling) and replace it with new subway tile. I have three final choices to make: 1) what color to paint the walls, 2) what kind of medicine cabinet to get, and 3) what kind of light fixture to get. Well, I think I've answered the third question.

This is the Rufus from Rejuvenation. It's the perfect art deco touch for our 1920s bathroom and it adds a pop of color. It's making me really happy right now.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Progress, I guess

Scraping, scraping, and more scraping. That's what Keith has been doing for the past couple of weeks. (Look at all those paint chips on the floor. Thank goodness we don't have kids.) The baseboards in the our smallest room, which will one day be an office, just don't seem to want to let the old paint go.

However, we're nearing the finish line (with the baseboards, anyway) in the guest bedroom. We still have the windows to go, but Keith has half the baseboards in the room ready for painting. Now I just have to start doing the painting.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Today we picked up a lovely cast-iron sink I found on Craigslist for a mere $40. It is my new favorite thing. It's in two pieces right now because it was so heavy. I don't know if we could have moved it as one piece.

There's a tiny bit of rust around the drain and the faucet needs to be cleaned, but it is in great shape. A cast-iron sink to go with our cast-iron tub--too perfect. And perhaps the greatest deal so far.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Long time, no blog

Sorry for being gone so long. There will be many posts soon, though. We discovered water was getting in the house, and now we know why--the chimney isn't properly sealed and is crumbling. Awesome. (Also, it's weird that we even have a chimney when we have no fireplaces.) More money, more work to be done. We're also planning on replacing some windows, and trying to do it ourselves. I'll let you know how that turns out (or doesn't turn out).

Other upcoming projects to watch for:

The basement bathroom: There is tile in the garage left over from when the previous inhabitants redid the upstairs bathroom, so we're going to use it to redo the basement bathroom. This will be good tiling practice. If we mess it up, it won't be half as bad as messing up the bathroom upstairs.

The kitchen: I've drawn up a plan (which I will soon scan and share) for temporary kitchen improvements. We can't spend the money right now to completely redo it, so I have created a plan based on what we can do ourselves.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The elusive Ikea Stockholm Rand rug

For years now, I have gone to Ikea hoping to the find the Rand rug. It was always, always sold out. But today, when I went to get a canister for sugar, I came upon the rug I had always wanted. And now it is mine.

(Note: Good Lord, I misspelled elusive. So sorry. I'm losing it.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Curb appeal (or lack thereof)

I realized a couple of days ago that we didn't have any pictures of the front of the house (probably for good reason). But if there's going to be an after, there's got to be a before, so here it is.

That's Keith, trying to take down one of the awnings. We haven't quite succeeded at that yet, but we're trying. The things that need to be done to the front of the house are almost too numerous to count. But let's try to make a list.

1. Remove awnings.
2. The carpet has been removed, so now we have to patch the cracked concrete and paint or stain it.
3. Replace the beadboard porch ceiling. (See below.)

4. Do something about the gray paint. (Yes, only the porch is painted gray. The rest of the house is unpainted.)
5. Get rid of the white iron railings and replace with something period-appropriate.
6. Get a new front door.
7. Get rid of that tree and those bushes and replace with something better.
8. Get a new mailbox and a period-appropriate porch light.

This is not a short list. There are no short lists in this house.

New door = natural light

Ain't it gorgeous? Okay, so the walls in the basement still look awful, but we do have a new door that opens and closes and the hinges stay connected to the wall. Also, instead of the tiny, postage stamp window the old door had, this door has a big pane of glass that lets lots of natural light in. You can't imagine how much this changes the feeling of the basement. Doing laundry will be a whole different experience now.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Painting trim

We painted more trim. It looks lovely. Above is a close-up of the after. See below for the before.

And here is how it looks in context.

New adventures in carpeting

If you recall, the first project in our new house was pulling the dirty red carpet off the stairs and the upstairs hallway. We loved doing this. It was so satisfying to pull up nasty carpet and see beautiful hardwood floors underneath.

Well, today I got to pull up more carpet, but the experience wasn't quite as fun. We have (or had) gray carpet on our front porch. The porch is concrete underneath. We hadn't bothered with pulling up the carpet because the outside of the house just hasn't been our priority. What led to the carpet stripping, then? A while back, I started smelling this earthy smell, a smell that reminded me distinctly of the smell in our old apartment when the ceiling fell in because of a water leak. We were freaked out, convinced there was a leak or mold or both. We searched for the source of the smell, but couldn't figure it out. Finally, it occurred to us--the porch carpet. Our window air conditioner drips water onto that stupid carpet, plus it gets wet whenever there's a big, windy rainstorm. One lift of the carpet and it was confirmed. So the carpet had to go before my itchy eyes, sneezing, and headaches drove me crazy.

Good-bye carpet.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Attack of the giant peppers!

I just picked this monster Anaheim pepper from our garden. You know you're jealous.

In other culinary news, I used fresh corn from the farmers' market to make corn muffins. They turned out pretty well, though I think I'll definitely make the next batch a little sweeter.
We also have enough basil to feed an army, so if you are in need of delicious fresh basil, just give me a holler.

Monday, August 30, 2010


At the top of my very expertly made graphic (Ha!) are the paint colors we have used in the house so far (all Benjamin Moore). The bottom two are samples I bought but haven't used anywhere yet. Winter Wheat is in the living room--the color I don't really care for. I'm thinking of replacing it with Jade Garden. This is a bold move, and I'm afraid I'm not brave enough. My other thought was to replace it with Simply White--the safe choice--and just let the mustard yellow sofa stand out against the blank slate. This is a choice that won't be made for a while because there are so many other, more pressing jobs to do. These many jobs will be addressed in an upcoming post. I've been working on it for a while because it's a long, long list.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ikea does it again

Ikea has produced a new color for the Ringskar faucet--black. And I love it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


This shower curtain from Anthropologie would look beautiful with my soon-to-be-restored tub.

The AJ Floor Lamp at DWR, designed by Arne Jacobsen. The price is so high I can't even type it. At the DWR sidewalk sale, they knocked a couple hundred dollars off, and it was still way too much. But it is beautiful.

Also at DWR, this limited-edition Eames Hang-It-All in walnut is just making me swoon. It costs more than the original (which is multi-colored), but it's so sleek and perfect I'd pay extra.

These tea canisters, found at the MoMA Store, are fabulous. So bright and minimalist. And a canister, which has two compartments, is just $20. This is the only one of my likes I can actually afford.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I dream of my house and yard looking this perfectly perfect.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

DWR sidewalk sale

The Design Within Reach in Adams Morgan is closing. Sad news, but good news in the short term because they're selling most of the items in the store at pretty good discounts. Even with price cuts, most of their furniture is out of our reach (oh, what an obvious pun), but this pendant light was not.

Say hello to the E27. Originally $99, we got it for $30. It's much bigger than it looks in the picture. It's quite beautiful, actually. Now I'm wishing we'd gotten two.

The many gifts of the garden

Our garden is not elaborate or high maintenance. We killed the strawberry plants long ago, so we accidentally eliminated the plants that demanded the most of us. We are left with rosemary, mint, and basil that grow like crazy, especially after a good rain. I can forget to water them for a few days, and it makes no difference. They just keep growing.

The garden also offers some wonderful surprises. For instance, the pepper plant that yielded no peppers for months suddenly has two.

And out of nowhere, a rose bush is growing in the backyard, with a single rose to brighten my day.