Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ignorance is bliss

I haven't look at the renovation budget in a long time. Mainly because I had it all mapped out with plans that I knew were in the price range so I didn't need to consult it recently.

When trying to organize the closets this past weekend, I realized I have 3 (yup, 3!) light fixtures in huge boxes waiting to be hung. One for the dining room, one for the living room, and one for the bathroom. It's time for those to go up! I called the electrician that has the best reputation in my neighborhood and spoke to them about the situation (changing the recessed lights to the pendant lights) and they walked me through the estimate and all it entailed with great detail. They then gave me a high end estimate and I made an appointment for them to come out and take a look.

Wouldn't you know that the high end estimate was just as I had budgeted! Ahh... the joy. I had first cringed a little after hearing the number, then frantically rushed to the budget spreadsheet to see if I had even included this in there or if this was one of my "extras". I love when I am ahead of myself. It's the best feeling.

Soon, there will be an actual light in the dining room/section! Oh, and more importantly, more space in my closets!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Premade Heaven

I know I was "suppose" to have already started re-doing the decking, but I haven't. It will probably happen in late October, early November. That said, my Dad was telling me about some pre-made railing sections at Lowe's. Has anyone used them? It seems like a big time saver to me...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The waiting game

I really want the first floor to be done. Mainly, so I can enjoy it and start really decorating. For instance, we do not have a coffee table now because we don't want one more thing to move when we renovate. Makes sense.

Since we will most likely have to vacate the house during the first floor renovation for a few days, does it make sense to do it over the Christmas holiday? Do contractors work then? Is this a good idea, or a terrible idea? I can't decide. It would make sense since we would be staying at my folks house for a few days anyway, might as well have people working on the house. Or... not. This would also mean I wouldn't be able to see their progress. Scary.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cats + yard = not awesome

I love cats. In fact, I have two. Dylan and Nina. But, a little black neighborhood kitty has now made our yard his/her litter box. When I caught the little fella in our yard before the grass came, I was not worried. Now, I find a little present on the lawn and I think I know who it belongs too. Last week Phantom (I might as well name the kitty, and since s/he is a phantom pooper - this fits) was up on the deck twice in one day (morning and night) peeking through the glass door. When we went over, s/he ran away. Not sure what to do with this situation.

Since we have to water the grass morning and night (that stops today though!), I went out Monday night to move the sprinkler and *thought* I closed the backdoor as I rushed back in to watch Heroes. About 15 minutes later I glanced over to see the door ajar. No kittens to be found (Dylan and Nina are indoor cats). Dan rushed upstairs to find Nina as I hurried outback with the flashlight. Thankfully the sprinkler was on and prevented Dylan from heading into the yard and slipping under the gate (this is how Phantom squeezes in). However, he was under our neighbors deck on top of their basement roof. A small crawl space. Twenty minutes (and one tuna can of bait) later, I wrestled him out and scurried back in the house. He was pissed. Since he is also over 20 pounds, this is not an easy feat. He is strong too - and was not too happy about cutting his outside freedom short. Oh, until he ate some of the tuna, then it was all cool.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The grass is coming in quite nicely! **pictures to come later** However, it seems its now time to mow it. The question is, what do we get for a mower? A small non-powered push mover and then just rake the clippings? A small gas push mover, or an electric? There is something about the electric movers that really scare me though. How many people have run over that cord? Not a good thought.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Future Plans Friday: Outdoor Kitchens

I love to cook. Dan loves to grill. So, it would seem fitting for us to have an outdoor kitchen. This is most definitely in my future plans. It won't be as fancy as some of those shown here - but a girl can dream, right?
* photo from This Old House

* photo from backyardcraftsmen.com

Check out this photo slide on HGTV!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In the Dark

I am feeling a little in the dark about where my front door lights are. I mean, are they building them from scratch or something?

In other news, looks like we are going to try and get the first level done by year's end or soon after. Though there is question on how we are going to do it. Since we are going to be refinishing all the flooring on the first floor, how are we going to live there? We could do what we did last time and go to a hotel - but that was mainly for the showering (since we don't have a full bath on the first floor). This time, we can technically live upstairs and just use plastic sheeting to cut off the downstairs (dust, I will never forget, the dust). The trouble is, how do we get up there? There really is one way. A ladder from the deck to the second floor. I can see it now. Climbing up the ladder with a backpack filled with pop-tarts and Bud Light after a hard day of work. Maybe this is not the best of ideas. . ..

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Economy Shmonomy

So, the gov't bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - whoopie. They were essentially run by the gov't anyway. But, AIG?! Um...I can almost hear the coin jars emptying around the country. With gas and food prices on the rise, the housing market struggling, unemployment rising and the stock market declining, it seems like a scary time to get taking out money and renovating. Or, is it? There is something to be said about putting money into your home as a safe investment, though the flip side side if you are either borrowing that money or taking it out of another investment. Pile on top of this a weak housing market and the question comes of whether a return on your investment will be granted when the time comes. McMansions, flat-screens, and kitchens with granite counter tops and stainless steal appliances have seemed to become an average rather than an exception. Now that we see those who obtained those commodities floundering, what will the new market look like? Will we see prices falling in inflated areas over a longer period rather than just the "slump" we are currently in?

In many ways, renovating a home is a luxury. In most cases those who do it are not buying an inhabitable building or renovating for safety or functionality - it is mainly aesthetic reasons. In our case, the house is perfectly sound. Yes, there are phone and cable problems that need to be worked out - but the house is functional and secure, just not the prettiest of all spaces.

It will certainly be interesting to see where is all leads. With programs like "flip this house" and other home improvement shows on the rise, the amount of jobs and businesses within home renovation have certainly expanded. I realize this is just one of the areas that is going to be compromised by our economic standings, though it is one I think about on a daily basis when running to the hardware store or writing checks to contractors. While the trend fall from travertine and back to ceramic? Will flat screens fall... flat? I guess we will all just have to wait and see.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekend Update

I have learned my lesson. Never set a date for a project, it just won't happen. You can plan for something, sure, no problemo. Just don't lock it down in stone. It will not happen. Unless your project involves one simple task with one tool, don't bet on it buster. With all my talk of how this past Saturday was going to be my front yard renovation completion, something was bound to go wrong. While somethings were accomplished, the larger projects still remain in limbo. The lights for the front doors did not show up as they were being shipped directly from the manufacturer. Then, Sunday brought a wave of heat that made breathing a sport, which brought our plans to work on the deck to a screeching halt.

Overall, the weekend was not a bust. I painted both front and back doors of our rental unit, replaced the doorbell, put up new sconces in the front "hall", painted the front hall, hung some coat racks, and painted the front door trim. Since the front is not finished, I'll save its reveal until the job is done.

Meet our old sconce. It's not pretty people. It was painted on, holding "debris" and just plain ugly:

While changing the sconce I decided to install a new organization center for coats and bags and mail. Here is the before:

And, the after:

Not the best picture, but you get the idea. Hopefully this will stop our coats and bag piling up on the dining room table. But, I'm not going to count on it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Backyard Teaser

Here is a "moodboard" of some recent additions to the backyard. The real photos will be posted in the near future.

Planning . .. and more planning

Dan has been asking to have a work BBQ party for two years. We have yet to do it. But, the plan is under way. Since the weather remains nice into the fall we are planning for an early october bash. The grass should be fully rooted by then and hopefully we will have the deck re-done as well (the plan is to start this weekend - yikes!). In laying out our outdoor space I am creating three areas: a large dinner area (on the patio), a chat set space (on the grass) and a small bistro table (on the deck). This way we can have an outdoor space for all occasions. I still want a hammock and a fire pit, but the space is a little too small and the end result would be a flaming hammock and 55 spaces to sit for the two people who live there. Next house.

Which brings me to my next point. There are so many things I want to incorporate into this house I keep telling myself I can do the ones I don't choose in the "next house". So, I think I should start a "next house" section. All the ideas I can't use now, but will want to save for the future. Hence "Future Plans Friday". Every Friday I will give out some ideas too big or too much for our little rowhouse. This weeks is fire pits:

You can get your standard fire pit:

This one is under $50 from Wal-Mart.

Or, you can really kick it up a level with a built in fire pit like some of the ones Colorado Hearth & Home have. Check them out here.

Either way, it seems pretty fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Grass is Always Greener

Looks like the grass is greener on OUR side of the fence now! While it still needs time to fully green up, it looks pretty good. I think it makes a big difference:


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blog Renovation

Hey, look at DC Rowhouse! All fancy and purty now!

Mother (F-ing) Nature

Due to yesterday's untimely storm, we did not get grass. It was too "stormy" and "dangerous". Whatever. So, you get hit by some lightening. Maybe you will become super-smart like Jon Travolta in Phenomenon. That would be fun, right? No? Oh, OK.
So, the yard work mystery worker continues. At this point, it is either a ghost (who works in the day time) or someone scaled our 6 foot fence and raked the yard. My fear is that it is our neighborhood guy who does odd jobs (rake leaves, wash your car, mow your lawn) for money. If it is him, we need to have a little chat about what a "privacy" fence is. And, how "trespassing" lowers the fee for services. Though, it was kinda nice to come home to a clean and tidy lawn on our anniversary. I may have to set up surveillance back there. . .

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rainy days. . .

It's going to pour in the Nations Capital today, which could be good and could be bad. Let's hope it holds off until after the grass is put down and then Mother Nature will graciously water it for us.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sleepy Grass?

Apparently we are getting "dormant" grass tomorrow. So my dreams of rolling out green layers of lawn are shattered. Apparently there is an irrigation problem on the farm? I have no idea.

No word on who our mystery yard worker is. I hope we will find out soon.

Hurricane Hannah (or Tropical Storm Hannah) watered all our plants and filled our front fountain to the top (it was completely dry beforehand). If measuring by an planter in the back of the house we received about 10-12 inches of rain during the storm. Yikes! The tiny black kitten who used our yard as their litter box was apparently drinking from the planter filled with water last night. Dan saw him/her out on the deck but it ran away when we came to the door. Maybe the kitten did the raking?

Friday, September 5, 2008

we have a ghost . . .

Who apparently likes to do yard work. Last night I came home from work later than usual and noticed the backyard has been raked, weeded and all the furniture was arranged. Since we are getting the sod put down next week we were just letting things go. Our tenant has never done yard work before so I don't know why he would start now, and we have a six foot locked gate in the back so I don't think it was our neighborhood guy. It is a total mystery, I will let you know when I find out the answer.

This morning as I was having my coffee I noticed a small black thing in the yard. It was a baby kitten who has decided that the nicely raked yard is now his/her litter box. Awesome.

Seriously, I can't wait for the grass. . .

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How to renovate while in a relationship

I think some people are baffled by the fact that I am heading up this renovation, not my husband. Contractors come to the house and ask wearily if I can make decisions. Um, yeah, it's not 1922. It's like this, I am doing 95% of the work, so I get to make 95% of the decisions. Which, is good and bad. Also, I like this stuff. Dan, not so much. Then, there is the handy factor. While I love him dearly he is not the handiest guy I know. Now, he can certainly do a few things, but he mainly just doesn't like it. Destruction, yes. Putting together a 220-piece grill, no. Also, he could really care less about the details of a kitchen backsplash and the fine measurements of how in the world we are going to get a built in china cabinet in the dining room area. The contractors, the plans, the budget, they are all big headaches. So, when it comes down to it I figure out all the hassles (and get to pick out all the accesories!) and then we finalize the plans together. It really works out great.

He makes a perfect steak, kicks my ass in tennis, is an amazing journalist, and would give you the shirt of his back. That's why I am lucky to have him as my buddy through this renovation adventure.

Happy 3 year anniversary hun!

Love, your wife, Ben

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

coming soon to a blog "near" you. . .

One a sunny day, two light fixtures and one doorbell will meet their fate. They will arrive in a new land and take their place at center stage on the DC Rowhouse. That day is September 13th. (I hope you were hearing a deep manly movie-promo-type voice while reading that, I know I was.)

I am a little tentative to actually write down plans with dates. I like the "steps" method. This way, I can really procrastinate and no one is the wiser. Well, not this time (I hope). I ordered the lights and the new doorbell cover. Now I will have to get some mailboxes and I will be ready. Here are the lights I picked out:

And, the new doorbell (which is "suppose" to be oil-rubbed bronze to match the lights):

Picking out those lights took MONTHS. I know, it's like "really", "really it took you months" (btw - I like to put words in your mouth, hope you like it). I saw some I liked at our local large box store and then, poof I started to see that same design everywhere. I was at a loss. I also had to find a light for below the front steps into our tenants place. For real, how DO I do it all! It was quite a pickle finding a set that I liked. Hopefully I still like these by the time September 13th rolls around. . .

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The architectural salvage warehouse

During our vacation we actually left the house and spent some time in New England. We went to Burlington, VT where I stumbled across the architectural salvage warehouse on a way to dinner and eagerly made plans to visit it the next day. It did not disappoint. I have been to salvage joints where I thought it felt like being in the end scene of the Blair Witch Project (dirty, scary, perhaps a monster lingering). But, this was a totally different feel. It was clean, light and bright.
I am lusting after these glass door knobs and plan to get some for the house:
Seriously, look how tidy this place is:
This chandelier looks like the one we got for the dining room (just a little cooler):
Many of the doors were already stripped, saving a buyer tons of time and work:
My guess is that these are old church kneelers (probably not the correct technical term, just roll with it):
Look for a conversation piece? Look no further:
This piece baffled me! I stared at it for a while before deciding it was an antique dog bath. I mean, what else could it be? Apparently it is a sitz bath (aka: bum soaker):
All in all it was a pretty cool place to visit. I would certainly check it out if you find yourself in Burlington.

**In this photo (from left): Katie, Jeremy, and Dan. They put up with my home improvement cravings when we were on vacation - thanks guys!

Single Servings

I love single serving products. I like it when I eat at a fancy place for lunch and get one of those special wrapped single serving ketchup containers. Once, I got a ketchup, mayo, and mustard with room service. Seriously. Then I squealed with joy and shoved them into my bag as a "souvenir" while Dan pointed out he may want to use some of it. Too bad buster, enjoy your dry sandwich. I can be really mean about the single serving products. Don't even get me started with the hotel bath products.

Needless to say, when I saw that GE came out with Caulk Singles I was really excited. I wanted to see it closer. I can't tell you how many crappy apartments where I lived and re-caulked the bathroom tub only to throw out half a container (because it doesn't keep well). I mean, who needs it all? I got a free sample (I got it from their website, but it looks like there are only offering t a 25% off coupon now) to check it out. My concern was, how does it work, is there precision to it. You simply tear off the top, which makes it a point, and squeeze using the cardboard pre-scored back of the package. They should show the back part with the cardboard more so people don't think they have to wrangle it out of a Capri-Sun-style pack (because who hasn't squirted juice on themselves from one of those?).

I am sure I will have a project for it soon. I might even be able to use it in Part II of the water fountain. In the meantime I enjoy having its cuteness in my toolbox. (See, I AM a girl!)

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