Sunday, November 12, 2006

"The kitchen's looking good ...



...okay, better."

That's a direct quote from Chris, who has been working out in the garage (top photo) this weekend trying to make it into an office.

Let me give you a little background. The detached building has a large room upstairs and a small kitchen and bath downstairs, next to the two-car garage.

When we first moved into the house and were really broke, we rented the apartment out. But when we had to evict our last tenant, a 55-year-old man who spent all his money on the dope he smoked in our backyard and so, couldn't afford the rent, we gave up on tenants out back.

Since then, the upstairs (bottom photo) has been used has a chicken coop--a digusting use for a room with shag carpet--storage and a workout room. The downstairs kitchen and bath haven't been available for their original purposes in years, since the pipes froze and water flooded the rooms. The broken pipes are behind the fiberglass shower stall. Their repair just hasn't made it to the top of the list. So, the downstairs became the paint storage department. (Chris is a remodeling contractor and can't bear to throw ANYTHING away.)

Meanwhile, we're now both working out of our house and want to move him to the upstairs room. (I call it the chicken or chicken #*&% room, due to it's previous life. Chris tries to call it the carriage house, but given its poor condition, he then generally has to explain what room he means.)

I've attached a couple of photos to give you an idea of the challenges we face! That is a crack you see along the ridge in the ceiling. The morons who built this place didn't use enough beam to carry the load. We try not to think about the roof caving in on us, though it could happen. Once the mess is cleaned out, the structural rebuilding can begin.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A surprise for me!

I was out of town this weekend--at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN (worthy of an entire blog, all by itself). When I called Chris Sunday to tell him when I'd be home, he said he had a surprise, but wouldn't tell me what it was.

All I had to do was pull in the driveway to know what he'd done, the angel. Even in the dark, I could see the garage door was open--the garage sits behind the house, in a very dark part of a dark yard--and there was room for me to park inside! I haven't parked my car--an eleven-year-old Mustang convertible that I dearly love--in the garage since God's dog was a pup. It's one of the drawbacks to being married to a packrat remodeling contractor with no basement to call his own.

Cleaning out the garage is the first step in the remodeling of the entire garage/chicken room building. (Chris calls it the "carriage house," but I figure until all remnants of chickens and their droppings are gone from the building, it doesn't deserve to be called something as high-brow as Carriage House.) And it's a huge step--right up there with the first walk on the moon!

Maybe I should go out of town again! He might get the whole chicken room finished if I stay gone long enough! And then I might just break down and call it the Carriage House--but only if I can still park my carriage in the garage!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Covering the Clutter

When we finally put our hardwood floors down, after 7 years of living with just the subflooring (which looked great after 7 years since we had passed out magic markers to all who visited--and we had way more people who were willing to visit us than you'd think given our flooring situation--and let them go to town on the subflooring) in the living room, dining room, kitchen and hall, Chris covered up one of the air return vents in the living room. He always meant to uncover it again, but when you have completion issues--fortunately, only at our house, not at his clients' houses--things don't always get done in a timely manner.

After our hallway and guest bedrooms (one had been used to store everything from the living room, dining room and kitchen that would fit in there while the hardwood floors were going down and essentially remained storage for nearly 2 years while we slowly put everything back in the right place) including all contents mildewed (again, reminding us of the beach, but not in a good way) we managed to clean everything out, wash down ceilings and walls with bleach and repaint. We cleaned out all the closets and washed them down as well.

I swear, I'm getting to the point here. We, I say 'we', but Chris actually did it himself, this very weekend, he got the closet doors back on in the bedrooms. Now, at first it was fear--would the closets mildew again if we put the doors back on?--that kept him from rehanging them. They are tiny closets, stuffed full of earthshakingly important objects. But finally, the doors had to go back. We'll risk the return of the mildew because the stuff has gotten bigger than the closets, and was creeping out into the bedrooms.

Besides, we're having company this next weekend. And if we can't offer them magic markers to play with, the least we can do is keep our junk from attacking them in their sleep.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Chickens at the Beach House

Pa. farm discovers a 4-legged chicken

You might be wondering what a four-legged chicken found in Pennsylvania has to do with a home remodel in the suburbs of Atlanta, but bear with me.

Many years ago we found a clutch of eggs in our backyard on Halloween night. The mother chicken had disappeared, the eggs were beginning to hatch--that's how we found them, the baby chicks were peeping--and it was very cold that night.

Chris happened to have an incubator--really, he has one of everything there ever was. If they still did the gameshow Let's Make a Deal, he'd be able to pull out of his pocket anything Monty Hall asked for. But I digress.

He loaded the eggs/chicks into the incubator, brought them in the house (yes, you read that correctly) and suddenly we were raising chickens.

One day the chicks went from really cute to very gross--they just poop everywhere--and it was time to get them out of the house. But they were still to young to live outside. So Chris moved them into the spare room over the detached garage. It's really a separate apartment and we've rented it out in the past, but when we had to evict our last tenant, we quit renting it and have been using it for storage ever since. And it was full--Chris is a remodeling contractor who can't bear to throw anything away--of lumber, furniture, bathroom fixtures, light fixtures, all sitting on ancient gold shag carpet.

He constructed a pen for the chicks on the shag carpet and there they stayed until the carpet and room were so disgusting that I didn't go in there for 2 years! Finally, since we now both work out of the house, we're going to tackle a genuine remodel of the room. Chris did remove the carpet a while back, so I have been in the room recently. But it isn't really livable. No A/C--a necessity in Atlanta--no floorcovering, and still too much junk to be an office.

So, that's our next project. Chris says we'll get to it soon. But he's been saying that for weeks. I'll keep you posted.

No, none of ours had four legs, but I've been fascinated by bizarre chicken stories ever since.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Welcome to the Beach!

Okay, no, I don't really live at the beach. But it's a dream. Meanwhile, my remodeling-contractor husband Chris and I are renovating a ranch house in the suburbs of Atlanta in our own beachy style--sand-colored hardwood floors, mint-green walls, lots of light. It's been a long, long process.

Twelve years ago we plunked down every penny we had on 2 acres, a pool and a big pile of potential that could only loosely be called a house. Mostly we called it the cave--brown trim, brown-gold carpet (with a heavy overlay of dirt!), and this dark room that we generously named the box room. It had been a garage in a former life. Whoever changed it into indoor space had worked way beyond their potential.

You'd think (it's okay, everybody else does, too) with my very own remodeling contractor in the house things would go smoothly and quickly around here. But, in fact, just the opposite is true. Following a grueling day of working on other people's houses, Chris isn't real anxious to get to work on our needy pile of $#*@. As a result we had 7 years with no floorcovering, 5 years with no oven (except a 1940s fire hazard that I'll get to later) and more years than I can count during which the only decorations were wires that hung from the exposed rafters and insulation that crept out through the visible studs.

Hurricanes continue to rage at the Beach House in the Burbs. But one day skies will clear. I just know they will.