Spring Break

Today is my last day of spring break and then back to real life! I am always eager to get back to my normal schedule because I don’t do very well with no structure for long periods. But I think I managed to have an overall successful and satisfying break. As far as the house goes, I think this weekend we surpassed the “worst” point in the reno. I’ve been saying for a while now that its going to get a lot worse before it starts to get better, and I’m not sure we can say that anymore. During the week I ripped out almost every last piece of flooring exposing the subfloor, caked in dust and grime thats been slipping between the floor boards for 90 years. No matter how much we sweep and vacuum, we have to wear shoes everywhere to keep the dirt from spreading not to mention the random holes and loose pieces presenting tripping hazards. And then yesterday I pulled out all of the old ceiling insulation in the kitchen. With the addition of having no drywall on 1.5 walls in the kitchen and nothing but our appliances and the sink resting on a wooden frame Brad made, we were at the maximum amount of demolition we will experience in this house. In a small house, dust, insulation and garbage raining down from the ceiling has be difficult to contain.

But by the end of the day yesterday we managed to get a few pieces of plywood down over the subfloor to reinforce it and cover the holes and the dusty old floor. And now we have the new insulation in the ceiling, so we aren’t looking up at the underside of the roof anymore! We also knocked out the last few fixes to the electrical (which included heating a PVC pipe on our gas stove and bending it between studs in the wall, which was fun) and *fingers crossed* the inspector will be able to sign off on it next week. Then we’ll be all lined up to install the drywall in the ceiling next weekend with the help of our friend in Boulder. Having an actual ceiling and wall is going to make for a huge improvement! And then the next step is starting to lay down hardwood floors through the living room and kitchen! The thought makes me giddy with excitement.

We ordered our “ready to assemble” kitchen cabinets and got a 20% off discount, which made me happy. But I’m afraid assembling them will be a bit miserable…of course, B will probably find that process pretty simple compared to what he has been doing, so maybe the level of effort from me will be minimal. Our Boulder friends are midway through installing new cabinets in their place and seeing how good they look has me excited. Still many looming decisions like what kind of counter top, new fridge, sink, faucets, etc…I have things in mind for these, but worried we’ll end up dipping in to savings to cover it all. I’m expecting the kitchen will take through the end of May, so we’ll have a little time to add to our coffers.

Four months in to this renovation and we aren’t at each other’s throats or anything…so I call that a pretty big win!

Recessed lighting

Progress feels slower recently, since last weekend we celebrated B’s birthday and this weekend he had a power lifting competition. He did get the housing installed for five recessed lights in the kitchen, which is a big deal but doesn’t look like much right now. He has his work cut out for him with the electrical – I think. Actually I don’t know all of what he needs to do in there because I haven’t really listened to him when he talked about it. All I know is that a bunch of stuff in the kitchen is supposed to be on its own circuit to be to code, and so we need some new circuits. Or something like that. And that is why we have no ceiling right now? Hopefully next weekend he can actually install some of the electrical wire and get that underway. He will then have to have the inspector come from the city and give the approval before we can put drywall back on the ceiling, blow in some installation, and move on to finishing the kitchen.

While he was on that, I worked on ripping out the floor in the living room. I got almost halfway through it, unveiling a strangely painted sub floor. I am hoping B can also help me make progress in there so I can start laying out more hardwood flooring. Otherwise, I guess I should be working on where to find cabinets we can afford, planning out the garden, and keeping things clean and organized around here. Feeling exhausted, kinda stressed, and impatient.

Too long since I last posted! It feels like every second of every day has been filled with some task until we are drop dead tired. But things are moving right along and really shaping up to what we want it to be. We are now living upstairs completely. Here is a list of the tasks we did in our bedroom:

  • repaired joists in floor
  • replaced sub-floor
  • laid hardwood
  • painted ceiling, walls, window frames, closet doors, and main door
  • painted and installed baseboards
  • purchased bedside tables
  • hung lights, artwork, mirror, and plants
  • replace hardware on closet
  • purchase, trimmed, and painted a piece of framing for the closet
  • painted and waxed our old dresser and replaced its knobs
  • replaced the door knob to match the brushed bronze finish I’m using everywhere else
  • bought a nice hamper

The only tasks that remain in my mind are changing around the bed frame, finding drawer organizers, and finding shelves or something else to hang above the dresser. Maybe I’d also like a rug for in here, but that is too hard to think about right now.

We also finished the small room (hate to call it a guest room because we’d never put more than a twin bed in there). We set our computer up on the built in shelves and moved all of our kitchen stuff into that room (microwave, toaster, kettle, nutribullet – all on a cart that the previous owner left here when they moved). We also have our two dining chairs, a side table, and a small round ottoman in there. Its extremely crowded and I haven’t posted any pictures of it yet because its not how I envision the room will be in the future. I want that to be the office/reading room. I’d love to get a fancy chair that pulls out into a twin size bed, but the ones I like might be too big to fit through the door to the room.

Moving on, this was a long weekend for me, and I really wanted to get a lot done. We settled on doing the right thing and getting a permit for the electrical work B is going to do in the kitchen (need to add some circuits and change things around while we install recessed lighting and ceiling speakers because we fancy), so we realized that wasn’t going to happen this weekend. Instead, I sucked it up and decided on paint colors for the living room and kitchen, which I’d been waffling on for weeks. We  prepped the entire living room and hallway for paint, which included washing most of the walls, taking down the crappy bamboo blinds, removing baseboards, and patching some holes and small cracks in the wall. We painted the entire thing and I painted the tiny crown molding. The walls that were a strange pinkish brown became a buttery yellow and the brown trim became white. It looks like an entirely new place. I was a little nervous about the yellow being too bright, but I am also not surprised that was the color I was drawn to at this time of the year. February is always gloomy for me, when I struggle the most with seasonal depression. I’ve come to realize this in my adult years…so if yellow is what is going to make me happy right now, then its worth it.

I tried to remove window tint from our largest living room window that is extremely aged. One of the 6 panels on the window came off like a dream when I followed the ammonia and plastic bag trick, but the rest has been hell. I will get the sunshine coming through if I have to replace the whole dang window! I assume I’ll be working on that for a while.

We also ripped down our ceiling in the kitchen, a disgusting process which we will some day repeat in the living room (but thankfully not now). I only hope that hanging ceiling drywall isn’t as difficult as it sounds. We also tore out the old gypsum board behind the cabinets in the kitchen and will replace that, which also requires a permit. Anyway, our sink, stove, and fridge are still in use for now, but once Brad gets the wiring done, we’ll be on to removing the last pieces. We are considering getting “Ready to Assemble” kitchen cabinets and have done some research, but still have a ways to go before we decide. Our budget is pretty tight, but we could get actual plywood boxes and solid birch frames if we assemble them ourselves, compared to MDF everything if we go with Lowe’s options. It seems like a big decision in some ways, but I also know I’ll be happy without buying the priciest of options.

Its been warm here, so I’ve also been starting to think about my vision for the back yard and for our garden. So many more projects to come – I can’t wait!

Bedroom Progress

Making lots of progress! The bedroom that will be ours is nearly move in ready. I won’t say DONE because I still want to change out the doors on the closet someday and find some curtains. I want to rebuild the bed we built back in Seattle in a different configuration and with new legs. But B thinks we need to just move into that room ASAP and fix the bed later. We also need a bigger dresser than the old one we currently have. Not a lot of money to shop for anything like that yet.

ANYWAY, B is currently working on installing baseboards we found at a lumber mill in Denver yesterday. J & R came over yesterday and the girls painted all of them the color of the rest of the trim, though it seems we should have waited until B cut them to size. Oh well, I’ll be touching them up I guess. Install is slow going, because everything in this house is crooked, so Brad is shaving down the bottom of the baseboard pieces in some places to make them sit flush against the floor. And getting the joint where they connect in corners also seems to be a bit of a chore…But they are going to look amazing!

We also have the start of the hardwood in the smaller bedroom and I laid out a bunch this morning. That project goes which and is easy to do after work on a weekday, so I assume we will finish that this week.

I can’t wait to move the rest of the wood out of the living room and start ripping out those floors as well. I haven’t even landed on a paint color in there, so I guess that should be at the top of my list. Maybe it is just because I am so overwhelmed with decisions and stress right now, but I am really feeling neutrals right now. I feel like it will make the whole place look very cohesive, which seems important in such a small house. You can nearly see all of the rooms from the other rooms!


Off to a rough start this year…

WHY has this past month been so stressful? There has been a lot of new stress at work after coming back from the break. Also the renovation is starting to get a little bit more frustrating because there have been a lot of issues popping up. Like the fact that the radon in the basement is pretty high and it might be high even upstairs. So we are going to have to mitigate. We did find out that there is no asbestos in the kitchen at least, but this radon thing came out of left field (to me). I guess B was aware that radon was a big issue in this area, but somehow I missed that. I also broke our clothes washer twice (B fixed it twice), our fridge is leaking, and I found mouse poop on a blanket in our basement (WHAT HAS MY CAT BEEN DOING ALL DAY??).

This seemingly endless stream of issues is par for the course with a reno, I should know based on all of the home reno shows I have watched. Still, its upsetting in the moment when work is also stressful and neither B nor I have much extra energy to tackle additional and annoying tasks.

There are positives, like the fact that we completely finished the flooring in our future bedroom (SEE INSTAGRAM!) and are on course to start on the smaller bedroom this weekend. That is one big stage complete and it looks great. We still need baseboards and I have no clue what I want for window dressings in that room, but overall, the progress feels good. BUT the closer we get to finishing the bedrooms means the closer we are to needing to make a decision about our kitchen cabinets…

Over the holidays I went to get a quote from another store that sells cabinets and they were trashing the -highly affordable- thermofoil cabinets that we were quoted at Lowe’s. For some reason that was the first time I thought to read about this product and it made me second guess the choice. I think we may still go with Lowe’s but we may try to save up a few thousand more dollars in order to get a high quality material. But that means delaying the cabinets, which will take ~5 weeks to be delivered from the time we order. So at the earliest it could be March…but it might be more like April.

Anyway, I better get to bed since it is a school night! Just felt I had to update/vent since it had been a while!


…and a happy new year!

Our New Year’s Eve was perfectly boring but I somehow feel so happy anyway. In spite of the horrors in the rest of the world, 2016 was a really good year for me. We moved to Colorado and greatly increased the amount of time we get to spend with people we love. I finally took a step toward the career I’ve always wanted and I feel so proud and fulfilled there already. I’ve been on break and even though I should be so thankful to have such a long vacation, I can’t wait to go back! And of course, we FINALLY bought a house! Our little place to fix up. Personally replacing the subfloor is not a very fun activity for me, but once that is done there will be plenty of fun things to come. Its so rewarding to get to make it whatever we want. I thought I would feel much more grumpy about living in the basement, but its really been fine and my excitement is keeping me from feeling frustrated (so far).

As far as progress, we had the asbestos inspector out. He took samples from the weird walls in the kitchen (what we found after ripping down the upper cabinets). We are going to have to replace the drywall on one, maybe two walls in there. He also took a sample of the weird ceiling tiles. He enlightened me to the fact that they weren’t glued to drywall underneath, they are nailed to the ceiling rafters (or whatever correct term for the wood pieces that make up the ceiling). That means that they probably wont have asbestos, because it would have been the glue that had it. That also means that they will be pretty easy to rip down and replace with a normal drywall ceiling. That is pretty high priority for me since the tiles look crazy weird. We might as well do that while we have the whole kitchen ripped out too…and then we can put in recessed lighting! Even though I like the idea of having a pretty hanging light of some kind over the dining table we will eventually have, I think given the small size of the room that might not be wise. I am envisioning that we will build a wooden rectangular table that is kind of skinny and long and put some chairs at it, but also a bench that can slide completely under the table on one side. If we have a dangling light it will restrict where we can move the table and it might make the space feel smaller.

The asbestos guy also took samples from the bedroom walls, since B might replace the drywall someday so that he can fix the outlets (they aren’t grounded). The last sample was the tile in the mudroom, which is almost certainly asbestos (based on the size and style). But that we will leave for a while anyway. In the future when the big stuff is fixed we can figure out what we want to put there – I definitely want it updated. B thinks we could remove it ourselves but I don’t have as much asbestos experience as him and feel nervous about it. Anyway, we will get the results on Tuesday and figure out where to go from there. The testing cost $415, which sucks, but seems like it was unavoidable.

This discussion is making me realize I need to start mentally preparing for not having a kitchen at all anymore…it wont be long before that becomes my temporary reality!! But our main bedroom, which is right off the kitchen, will be done before we start the kitchen. I wont want to use it as a bedroom until the kitchen is done I think, so maybe I’ll just move the microwave, kettle, and crockpot in there as a temporary kitchen set up. I guess we will have to wash dishes in the bathroom ahhh!

Today Brad is finishing the subfloor in our bedroom and maybe moving on to the second bedroom/office/future nursery :)…Once he gets the bedroom done I am going to swoop in and paint the ceiling before we start installing the hardwood. I can’t wait to get the wood down, probably we will get to that tomorrow. But once the bedrooms are done, I am not sure if we will do the living room or the kitchen next. We still haven’t bought cabinets, and those will take at least 5 weeks. I guess it also depends on whether the walls have asbestos. I am hopeful that most of the work in this place will be done by spring so we can focus on our outdoor spaces. I am teaching a horticulture elective and buy seeds for my kids to start some herbs…which has me pumped for my future garden here!

First Christmas in the House!

Merry Christmas to all!

I hope all of the future Christmases that we celebrate in this house will be completely different from this one, but it wasn’t so bad for what it was. I hung a string of lights in the shape of a triangle to serve as our tree. We slept in a little bit and mostly laid around watching Christmas episodes of TV shows we like. And we ate even more popcorn than usual.

Today we managed to do a little more work on the house. We got the sub floor down on one end of our future bedroom. It took a shocking amount of time to get it flat, using leftover shingles from our roof replacement to shim up the joists. Since Brad had to reinforce and add new joists to the old crummy ones, there was quite a bit of variation. Thankfully I was able to observe and come up with some suggestions that I think made things go a little smoother for the second half of the process. Once we got the two pieces of plywood down I started getting REALLY excited because it is looking like a real ROOM again. I can’t wait to start putting the hardwood flooring down because that means it will be my turn to take over – decorating, hanging artwork, finding the perfect pieces of furniture.

I’m off for break until January 5, so I am going to try to make progress on some tasks without Brad here:

  • Once the sub floor is down in the bedroom, I can paint the ceiling in there (it is currently the same green as the walls).
  • I want to get a cabinet quote from Home Clearance Center, to compare to what we got from Lowe’s. We hope to purchase cabinets in January.
  • I also want to set up the asbestos inspection and get that done while I am home.


Winter Wonderland

We haven’t made much progress since my last post.

B did a lot of work on the floor but it is slow going when it is mostly just him working on it. I made one last stop at our old apartment and turned in the keys to the property management company. We spent Friday night in Boulder to see our friends before they leave for the holidays. We had a long drive home on the snowy, icy roads and we needed to take our cat to the vet after that. We got about half a foot of snow in our area and spent some time clearing off the sidewalks and brushing melted snow out of the garage to keep it from ruining our possessions which are piled up on the floor in cardboard boxes!

Sigh. So now it is Sunday and I have to put together some homework problems for the week and get supplies for my horticulture class. I’ve been helping somewhat with installing insulation in the floor in our bedroom. But with both of us in there I was able to point out spots where the joists were still not reinforced enough because I could see them move when B walked on them. We wanted to get the sub-floor installed today, but I am not sure how far we will get with that. B’s mom and stepdad are arriving on Wednesday, so I also want to clean as much as I can to make our house look like less of a disaster (its really a disaster on the whole main floor). We have my work holiday party Tuesday…when will all of this happen?! I am going to need extra coffee this week for sure…

Slow progress

The good news to share from the week is that many apartment showings later and I finally found someone to move in! They signed the lease, so its all done. I’m glad I no longer have to spend the time showing it, but ALSO that we wont have to ever pay both rent and mortgage. That makes me feel more financially secure, so we can proceed with planning the larger expenses at the house (…kitchen).

However, there are still issues holding us back. Based on the age of the home and the level of demolition that needs to happen in the kitchen, I think we need an asbestos inspection. B got some quotes and we are going to have someone come maybe next week. That will set us back probably $500, but will be worth it for our peace of mind. I’m not even going to entertain the idea that the old drywall or the ceiling tiles actually contain asbestos, but planning for the cost of remediation is also keeping me from wanting to order kitchen cabinets.

While we wait on getting those kitchen issues taken care of, B is working on the flooring in what will one day be our bedroom. After he and Ryan ripped up all of the old wood flooring last weekend, they realized that the sub-floor was basically trash as well. The planks were very old and cracked – some even had major holes. Underneath the sub-floor is a really weird concrete slab…it was covered in dirt, weird bits of wood, wire, and other garbage. We found a part of a toy gun, as well as some old papers that a child used to practice writing words! I am going to save those and make them into a piece of art for the wall in the smaller bedroom (someday nursery).

So this weekend B is working on cleaning up all of that situation so he can install a new sub-floor. Apparently even the joists that hold up the sub-floor have issues. They are too small or too far apart or something that I am thankful my engineer husband knows how to identify. He was on the phone with his engineer dad last night for nearly 3 hours talking over the problems and drawing up plans. I am not kidding, my father in law sent him multiple hand-drawn engineering plans for options to reinforce the joists. I think even this morning they are still tweaking it. It is quite heart-warming for me to watch him take such an interest in this project for us. With someone as experienced and intelligent as him involved, I am confident B will be able to fix all of those issues.

And for my part, I am feeling a little guilty for not having more motivation. I am putting a ton of energy into work right now, which I love. But that doesn’t leave me with a lot to put into our house. Jess helped me paint the bathroom and prime a bunch of the living room (and the horrifying brown trim around the windows), for which I am insanely thankful. I need to go back and touch up the bathroom still, as well as put a second coat of paint on the bathroom door. Yes we have been surviving this week without a door on the bathroom. But thankfully it couldn’t be farther from the basement where we are actually living right now! I am hoping I will get all of that done and maybe paint the living room and small hallway as well. We will see…I also have to plan some lessons for school, though being stuck in the basement makes it hard to find motivation to do that either.

Oh and our hardwood floors from Lumber Liquidators are due to arrive today! They will need ~10 days to acclimate to our house before we install, which is fine since we don’t even have a sub-floor in the bedroom at the moment. Check Instagram for photos!

We are in!

So…an update! Someone applied to move in to our apartment. They wanted to move in December 1, so we realized we needed to MOVE out over the Thanksgiving holiday. We scrambled to move into our basement at the house and out of the apartment. And then we got the lovely news that the person backed out. Sigh. It was a lot of work to do it so quickly and that isn’t what I would have chosen, but its good that at least that part is over. Now we just have to keep showing the apartment until someone takes it. It looks worse without all of our furnishings and artwork, but I am just trying to keep the faith for right now that we will find someone interested soon. Like before January when our first mortgage payment is due…

We haven’t gotten much more done on the house besides getting our living area set up and organizing the rest of our possessions in our garage. I managed to pick out a bunch of paint colors, we purchased the hardwood flooring that we are going to install throughout the entire main floor, and we put together a cabinet design at Lowe’s. I still want to get a second quote for cabinets from a local place, but we may buy those and have them install sometime at the beginning of the year.

So the tasks we have planned for this weekend include:

  • Painting the bathroom – the bathroom is in decent shape, though it is by no means new. I think a coat of paint will do a world of good in there. Sometime next year I also plan to update all of the fixtures, including the lights and towel racks, which will really make it nice and livable for a few years at least.
  • Painting and finishing the pantry – as you may have seen on Instagram, the mudroom has a pantry closet that was in need of a major update when we moved in. We smashed out the old shelves and B cut new melamine shelves to replace them. However, the inside also needs a good coat of paint. Once we paint the inside and replace the shelves, this will be our food storage while we renovate the kitchen.
  • Pulling up flooring and the rest of the baseboards – this is one of the most frightening tasks, because we are unsure what the condition of the sub floor will be. Under the small patches we have pulled up things look fine, but it would be good to find out sooner rather than later if there are and major issues anywhere, since the cost of repairs may delay our other renovation tasks.
  • Possibly pulling out the base cabinets in the kitchen? – I am not sure about this, since I don’t love the idea of giving up the kitchen sink yet. Also, when we tore out the upper cabinets the drywall looked so ancient, I started fearing that there could be asbestos in it. So I think we might try to get an asbestos inspection before we do much more wall smashing ourselves. Because taking out the upper cabinets resulting in busting up parts of the drywall, I think one wall and maybe even the ceiling drywall in the kitchen may need to be replaced. Something B could do, if we can confirm that its not full of asbestos.

I think that is all I dare to task us with for this weekend! Will post more pictures soon.