Monday, October 26, 2009

Love Houseblogs

Chris and I are home remodelers from way back. We've lived in three works-in-progress (still do) and fixed up and sold several other houses, back when the market would let you do that.

When we're not actually in the throes of some remodeling project, we read about other projects, we look at magazines for inspiration--we wouldn't want to run out of things to do to our house, after all--and we visit Web sites, sometimes for inspiration and sometimes to remind ourselves that we're not the only ones crazy enough to live without flooring for seven years or without an oven for five years or even crazy enough to keep thinking this is fun!

Houseblogs is a collection of people who blog about remodeling projects. You can find helpful hints, hilarious predicaments, and celebrations of a job well done--or at least finished.

And if you're lucky--like I was last week--you can win one of their contests--this one for stories of home-remodeling drama. Thanks Houseblogs and True Value Hardware!

I can't wait to stock up on supplies for the next project--if only I can decide which one to tackle first.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's a miracle!

This weekend, I learned that miracles do still happen. One swooped down and landed on our garage on Saturday. While I didn't witness the actual miracle occurring, the aftermath is still visible--and will remain so for a long time, I hope!

We moved into our house, with its detached two-car garage, 15 years ago. In that time we have NEVER parked two cars in it. Most of the time we haven't been able to park one car in it.

Chris is a Grand Poobah in the Distinguished Order of the Packrat. But this weekend he shed his packrat robes, threw off the grand poobah fez and cleaned out the garage. For the first time EVER we have both cars parked in it.


Poobah or no, I think he's pretty grand!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sharpies: A remodeler’s best friend

Fifteen years ago we spent all of our money (and all the bank would lend us) on two acres, a pool and a house that was dark as a cave and nearly as dirty—especially the ancient gold-brown carpet. We knew as we moved in that we’d have to live in the dark for a long while as we saved our money to begin renovations. But when after about six months the washing machine overflowed (during the disgusting-water wash cycle) into the carpeted hall, living room and two bedrooms, I thought I could move our new-floor covering schedule up a bit.

Chris came home to find me sitting on the living room floor with a box cutter and a screwdriver, cutting the carpet apart, pulling it and the padding up, and popping staples out of the sub-flooring. “Insurance is going to cover the new floor covering for us. Isn’t that great?”

It was partially great. We got new carpet and padding put down in the two bedrooms quick like a bunny, thanks to the insurance money. But we wanted to knock some walls down in the living room, dining room and kitchen areas, build new kitchen cabinets in new places, put in a new back door and add a pantry and powder room. “We can’t put the hardwood floors down just yet. But we’ll get started. It won’t take long,” Chris said.

We tore all the carpeting out, leaving rough plywood you couldn’t walk barefoot on for fear of getting splinters and cracks between the boards that you could drop into if you weren’t careful. Made it kinda drafty in the winter. And we started tearing out walls, moving along pretty quickly for us. (Chris was working as a remodeling contractor at the time, so like the cobbler’s children, the wife’s remodeling projects always came last.)

Until the appliance gremlins struck. Our oven went out (leaving us with a 1940’s large-microwave sized oven that sucked up so much power it had to be in a room all to itself, but that’s another blog post); our refrigerator died; the dishwasher (and I don’t mean me) quit washing; and the clothes dryer quit drying. Anyone who has done extensive remodeling knows that the only way you can survive in a house that’s torn to pieces is with a full set of functioning labor-saving devices. We managed to live without an oven for five years. But the rest of the appliances had to be replaced. There went our remodeling budget.

Now we had no floor covering, no drywall, and no oven. But we continued to have people visit, thinking, I’m sure, that they’d see progress in the work on our home. We did the only thing we could think of to entertain kids and grown-ups alike. We passed out Sharpie markers and let everyone draw on the floors.

Sub-flooring artwork

More sub-flooring artwork

Seven years after I first pulled up the carpet, we laid the oak flooring in the hall, master bedroom, living room, dining room and kitchen. It was a sad (but not real sad) day when we covered the artwork of our friends and family. But I gotta say, I don’t miss the splinters or as winter approaches, the drafts.

Finally, oak floors are finished!

This post was written for as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by True Value. It’s for their contest.