Friday, May 30, 2008

It must be nice

Being in the construction/contracting business must be great. You can just not show up to work one day and the person who you are working for pretty much just has to deal with it or loose their dough. Some days, our fireplace guy just doesn't show up. Which is really annoying since the project was suppose to be done by today and I seriously doubt it is going to be complete when I get home.

Let this be a lesson to me. So, in the next phase (backyard) we are having a time frame written into the contract. Because preparing for someone to come and then realizing they are not going to can be really aggravating. Especially if you don't want to live in a sawdust filled house with spackling as your artwork. To each his own, yes?

This weekend I get to play with a tiller to rip up the "grass" in my backyard and begin to demo the planters. Hopefully it will not take forever to do since we only have one good day of weather ahead of us (Saturday is suppose to rain).

The good news is that we can go to Home Depot and get lots of toys. My credit card gave me a $150 gift card to Home Depot as part of my rewards. Ah, they know me too well. OK, I got to choose the store. I also have a buy one get one shrub free coupon so maybe I can actual turn our front yard into a landscaped haven instead of a place for neighborhood punks to toss their Cheetos bags and Pepsi bottles. Oh, and recently someone "hid" a bike pump in the ivy wall in the front. Nice try losers. We totally found it and . . . we gently put it on the street for someone to pick it up. We're so bad ass.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Still going. . .

It is a great feeling when you start to see your vision coming to a reality. The fireplace is finally at the stage where I can begin to see the final product:

That said, it is a bad feeling knowing that this (like many projects) will have many months to go before I see the "final" completion. For the fireplace that means the wood floor surrounding it. While the previous design had the base surrounded in tile, we will be adding wood floor to the sides and laying a marble slab in the front. I may try to do the wood fill-in myself. Well, I will try it. If I mess up, we can always call in the professionals.

We moved the dressers upstairs and they look great! I would post pictures, but it would show an embarrassing mess of a situation. See, the dressers were really really heavy. In fact, they each weighed 132lbs. Hauling those puppies up a flight of stairs was not an easy task. After the first one I had to take a break as my arm muscles were actually shaking. Once they were in our room, I simply slid over the plastic bins to put them in their place. Now, we have a lot of stuff in our room. What's new, right? Maybe by tonight I will have the energy to transfer my clothes into the new dresser and make our room actually presentable.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hello Cardboard

Things are sort of a mess around here. Just when I think the construction zone is thinning out it really comes back to bite me in the ass. So, my lovely dressers were delivered in the largest cardboard boxes you have ever seen. They are now lingering in my living room. So rude of them. They also weight about a million pounds. So, their set up was not happening last night. Also, our fireplace re-frame is still in effect. Thus, our living room looks like a bomb went off:

On another note, our stained glass design had to be re-done due to the reshaping of the door taking away some of the space. We finalized our design and should have it in about 2 weeks. That will be amazing. Especially since the fireplace will ("should") be done at that point also. Then, the backyard is all we need to focus on for the summer. Maybe by the time August rolls around we can enjoy the fruits of our labor. Um, literally, we are growing some cantaloupe right now.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bye Bye Plastic Bins

When we lived in a tiny apartment in New York City, I kept my clothes in our living room closet and used plastic bins/drawers as my dresser in the closet. We also used wire cubes as another dresser. Since our apartment was under 500 square feet we didn't want to put anymore furniture in there than necessary and we certainly did not want the burden of moving it later since we knew our stay in New York was not permanent. Our move to DC was also only originally guaranteed for a year, so our mock dressers stayed and remained an eye sore to our daily lives. This ends today! We got our nightstands last week and today will welcome our new dressers. Actual dressers! Real drawers! No looking at piles of clothes shoved in wire shelves and clear plastic drawers!

Organizing and arranging our stuff? Well, that's another matter. . .

Friday, May 23, 2008

goodbye 90's!

Our fireplace has said "goodbye" to 1992 and is working its to the present. Check out the progress:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's like living in a lumber yard

Here is a picture of the new door and glass:

Exciting, isn't it? I still have to paint the back of the door and clean up the front, so I will post new pictures once that has been done.

The house is back to being a construction zone and the special corner of the house is fantastically cluttered once again. There are oodles of posts and beams which will magically form into a fantastic fireplace. And, by magic, I mean handiwork. The zone:

The tiles have been removed from the fireplace, leaving us with this:
The main problem here is that we will have to uproot the plywood base to fill in the floor and install the marble slab. Yup, marble baby. We originally were going to do regular tile, then I saw a nice granite slab, then . . .marble. Hey, why not? Oh, because it is really expensive? Good, reason. But I waaaannnntttt it. So, we're getting it! Yipee! This project seems like it is taking forever, so maybe if I order the marble now, I will have it by the time we are ready to start a fire in November.

it's. taking. over.

Here are some recent conversations to solidify this house project is taking over our lives:

At a dog adoption event:

Ben: That dog is really cute, but I am not sure were are ready for all that.

Dan: Yeah, and it'll probably scratch our new wood floors.

Ben: Totally, we'll just give them a donation.

A typical day:

Dan: Where is the measuring tape?

Ben: In the Lowe's bag.

Dan: Which one, there are like a thousand around here?

Ben: Oh, um, no idea.

An average morning:

Ben: What are you wearing?

Dan: What?

Ben: I haven't seen that in a while.

Dan: Yeah, well, all my other clothes had sawdust on them.

Regarding anything in the house:

Ben: I hate this stove.

Dan: Yeah.

Ben: I can't wait to get rid of it.

Dan: I know. I want to blow it up right now.

Ben: I don't want to unpack our stuff.

Dan: Yeah, let's just blow it up.

Ben: These cabinets suck, I can't wait to smash them down.

Dan: I thought we were going to donate them.

Ben: Yeah, I guess. But, I still want to smash them.

OK. you get the idea.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

backyard wishes & patio dreams

When the previous owner gut renovated the house, they added a concrete patio area is the backyard under the deck and a little further too. Basically it looks like someone dumped a truck-load of concrete, spread it into a cloud shaped pattern and called it a day. Since then it has developed some cracks and has even grown a small flower in the middle of one - Joe versus the Volcano style. We are going to put in a nice, square flagstone patio in its place. Like this one:

It will be about 16 X 12 feet and will give us new space to hang out and an area to arrange some sort of storage. OK, so maybe it won't look exactly like the one above (given the fact that it is a picture of a mansion with rolling lawns) but you get the idea.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ballooning the Budget

I watched a lot of HGTV this weekend. One particular show "Sweat Equity" made me. . .um, sweat. The homeowners were renovating rooms in there house and EVERYONE went over their budget. Some people doubled their budget. Then they had a realtor come by to give them a price on their home before and after the renovation to see if they gained equity in the home. Most people made out in the end, but some did not. Those that did not did things like: installing a 50k home theater room in a 300k house or adding a 70k master bedroom/bathroom to a 250k house. I mean, obvious over-improvements for their house and neighborhoods. This all makes me feel better knowing we will go over our backyard budget by 10%, this includes a lot of hard labor on our part. Most of the labor we will be doing will involve demolition - and I love to do that!

Our fireplace should have made some progress today! I hope to post some pictures soon!

Also, we have moved most of our stuff out of the second bathroom. This had made us realize. .. we have too much stuff. Hopefully we will have a yard sale at the end of the summer to clear out all our crap we no longer need. In the same token, we should be receiving our bedroom furniture in the next two weeks! Regarding the quest for an entertainment center. . . I think I have found a new idea. Here are my problems: I need storage for all our DVDs etc, I don't want something huge, I want the TV to be up high, and I want something we can use later so that I don't have to get a new entertainment center when we move out of this house. Behold, this is what I have discovered:

Since are already getting two of these:

This way, we can use it in a bedroom later on! I am going to wait until we get the floors, walls, and wiring done in the living room before we embark on this - but I like to have a detailed plan for how everything will happen. I am better at the planning than the doing. ..

Thursday, May 15, 2008


So, the carpenter came today and is now working on the door. Which means we can now order our stained glass piece! Woohoo! I will be sure to post some pictures when it is done. It also means he will start working on the fireplace, and after he is done we can put some of our books away and hang the mirror I got a while back.

Also, I have a serious hankering to buy one of those air powered nailers. I can think or about 8 projects I would use it for. Must. Have. It. Oh, and along with that I will take a table saw. . . and maybe a router. Where would I store this table saw? No idea. Perhaps I could use it to build a garage with a workshop on top. That would be really amazing.

The time has come to empty the guest bathroom of all our stored objects and litter craigslist with ads. So, this weekend we will embark on organizing the house as well as re-arranging the furniture and maybe tackling some of the backyard. Before we can demo the brick planters we need to till the yard and remove the weeded grass stuff. This way, when the dirt starts to tumble out of the planters, it will just mesh with the dirt in the yard and we can use it to level out the space. It turns out we can rent a pretty powerful tiller from our local tool rental place for about $80 bucks for a 24 hour period. While the inside of the house will be re-assembled, the outside will be smashed to bits. Ahh. . .projects.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

So Cliche . . .

When I said that the fireplace work would start tomorrow . . .that is what I thought. The carpenter had other plans. He is supposed to start tomorrow from today. So over a week later. Which, worked out well as I have been frantically staining my new front door, and the weather has just been awful. Rain, rain, and more rain. We had over 5 inches of rain in 24 hours from Saturday night to Sunday. It had been raining for 3 days prior, and rained all day on Monday. Thankfully, we just happened to be having a plumber come out to clear a slow drain we had under our deck. I don't even want to know what would have happened if this wasn't done.

So, the front door/fireplace work "should" begin tomorrow and hopefully I will have some great pics to put up. After that, we are left battling the backyard. Sure, if we had an infinite budget - we could get it all done in say. . .3 weeks. We don't. Our budget is bursting at the seams and we will most likely have to do a lot of the work ourselves. The improvements we want to make are: new floor boards and railings on the deck, new deck stairs and move their location, demolition of our huge planter boxes, new fence, new grass, level out the yard, new flagstone patio underneath our deck. Our budget for this project is not going to cut it. For real. If we do the deck work, demolition and grass ourselves, we will still be about $1k over budget. Who knew a backyard was so expensive?
Well, here is a picture of our yard now (and by "now" i mean in the last year or so). . .

Ideally, I would like to have yard done in the next 8 weeks. Which gives me a deadline of July 15th. We'll see if this actually happens.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fast & Furious

After a long break we are now diving into too many projects again. Tomorrow we head back to the future . . . our 90's fireplace will begin its transformation into the present time. Currently it looks like this:

So, you can see why we want to change it's appearance. Granted this picture was from the day we moved in so our stuff it piled on top - but you get the idea. Oddly shaped fireplace + pink tile = ugly. We (well, Marco) are going to frame it out and add shelves on the sides to look like this:

Add a nice mantle, some new tile and a granite slab and we are in business! Oh, and I can FINALLY hang up the mirror I picked up in Baltimore - which seems like ages ago. delightful.

Monday, May 5, 2008

State of the Union

Although the house is still in chaos, it seems to be controlled chaos for the moment. Between work and some weekend trips, and working on the house we have been extremely busy. You know your renovating when: you spend your weekend days and nights doing projects or at Lowe's, you wake up at 8am so you can work outside before the sun gets too hot, you cannot get manicures anymore because it would last about 4 hours, alternately your manicure is a menagerie of house paints, you have a sweet farmers tan and you don't care, you have about 30 cardboard boxes in your house at any given time, and you carry detailed plans of your house around with you at all times just in case. Sound familiar?

Friday night we picked up our new grill (Dan's birthday present) and our new front door. I have discovered a love for Zipcars and rented a Honda Element for a few hours. The grill box was enormous and fitting that and the door in the car took some serious effort. When we finally got home after about 3 hours, we were faced with the daunting task of unloading the car. Carrying a 300 pound box = not easy. So, we rolled it. Yup, we rolled it on the grass, threw a tarp over it and called it a day. Anyway, it matched the two extra large boxes holding our patio furniture which were also covered in tarps. We finally dropped the Zipcar off at 10:30pm and headed home with our Wendy's burgers.

Saturday we put the furniture and grill together, and cleaned up some of the yard, creating what looked like a furniture storage center. Boxes and parts of patio chairs littered the yard for the majority of the morning as we simultaneously entertained contractor visits for estimates on the work we want to do in the backyard. But, the end result was great and we certainly felt good sipping Mojitos at our new table. It's like we added a whole new room to the house. Although the aesthetics of the yard are not great yet, it will be spectacular when we are done and I cannot wait!

Sunday we painted the guest room, assembled the daybed, went back to Lowe's to get all the stuff we forgot (and couldn't fit in the car) on Friday night, and looked at some puppies. Dan really wants a dog and it seems we may end up with a new backyard and a puppy to destroy it. We'll see. They are pretty cute. I'm not sure Nina and Dylan will like it though.

So, here are some pictures:

New Paint:

Bad picture of guestroom (painted with new bed and rug - rest to be finished in a week or so):
New rug near stairs (and NINA!!):

Boxes of crap filling my living room:

New front door blocking the laundry (note the overflow. . .oops):

Grill!:New bench:

New chairs:

Far away picture of the new table with the grill box. See how big it is!:

Until next time. . .

Injuries Obtained

  • Sprained Toe/Foot: 1
  • Blood Blisters: 2
  • Splinters under fingernail: 1
  • Bird Shit on me: 1
  • Eye Injuries: 3
  • Burns: 0
  • Falls off ladder: 0 (this is because we don't have a ladder yet)
  • Headaches: too many to itemize
  • Broken Bones: 0
  • Bandages Needed: 5
  • Electric Shocks: 2
  • Stiches: 0
  • Bruises: way too many