Saturday, July 30

At Least There's No Sonny and Cher

I guess one of my jobs on this blog is to make the movie references, so let me just say that -- in a lot of ways -- home renovation is a lot like the film Groundhogs Day. Not just because Chris Elliot is always hanging around making wisecracks, but also because it seems like no matter how hard we work on a given project in a given day we are rarely that much closer to the goals.

So the last few days have all started with me thinking that it would be the day that I would get the foyer ready for painting once and for all. But between the wallpaper debacle, extra passes at sponging everything down and smoothing out plaster, and the normal Murphy s Law saying that everything will take twice as much time as originally allocated, none actually ended with the foyer ready to paint. In fact, we didn't even take progress pictures after putting in a long day yesterday because posting them would been like those puzzles where you have work really hard to tell the minute differences between two drawings.

But today was different. Yes, we did spend most of the day washing and plastering and masking and remasking our gorgeous woodwork. And that was all we had time to do before dinner, which we knew it was time for when Prairie Home Companion came on our local NPR station. I mean, we like those charming tales of Lake Wobegon as much as anyone, at least as much as Homer Simpson, who while listening to Keillor hit his radio and screamed "Be Funnier!", but still.

But I digress. We did indeed stop working to eat dinner, but then we went back to work. And at that point we were actually able to paint the foyer. Or at least prime it, but I think that counts. It took us under two hours to prime the whole thing -- ceiling and all -- and we finished just in time for Second Dinner. And while I know that in any real sense this wasn't making progress any more than the washing and the plastering, it sure feels better to have the day end with the walls a different color than they started.


Thursday, July 28


Thanks to serendipitous good fortune - or an inept Lowe's employee, depending on your perspective - we have found it! That spicy, vibrant, bold, bright, earthy, warm, relaxing hue we have been seeking for our dining room.

We love to cook, we want to host our new friends, and it seems like we really view our dining room as the center of our home. (Also, a dining room table and chair set that we inherited from D. grandmother is pretty much the only furniture we will have in the near future.) Because the living room, the den, and the kitchen all connect off of the dining room, we needed the orange before we could decide the colors for any of the other rooms.

We agreed to try a color called "Georgian Leather," but the Lowe's employee accidentally gave us the next darker color on the color swatch: "Mincemeat." We decided to give it a try.


"Mincemeat," dining room
K: I love love love this color. It's not as dark or red as I the color I was shooting for, but it has all the elements I wanted. I know the pictures on the internet don't show the difference between this and the original orange, but it's much more earthy. I dislike the name. I'm a vegetarian, and it's not as bad as "Beef Broth." But mincemeat has always confused me - does it have meat or not? The color is much more of a Pumpkin Pie, so I think I will call it that!

D: I certainly understand why K. likes this color more than the original orange and I agree that this is a very nice color. If it was just me, I am not sure if I would prefer this to the first orange, but I am more than happy to go with it at this point. (Private to K: ever hear of using the internet to answer your questions?)


Other colors from this third visit to the paint stores:


"Brick Dust," living room (the lower one)
K: Again, you can barely see the difference between these reds. But Brick Dust is sooooooo much better than Heirloom Red. It's more like brick than a Goth Girl's lipstick. If we choose red in the living room, this color would be great - and a good match to my beloved Pumpkin dining room. I've always dreamed of having a red room, and it's just sooooo Victorian. Interestingly enough, Apartment Therapy took on the issue of selecting red paint today.

D: For reasons previously discussed, I am simultaneously more drawn to the brighter versions of the colors and also completely understanding why they are likely to be a bad idea. Honestly, in some lights the two reds look exactly the same and in no light is there a huge difference, but the new color is definitely a bit chalkier and more muted which could be an advantage.


"Grape Leaves," living room
K: This is slight slight difference from the previous green. It is slightly darker and less "chalky." If we go with green in the living room, I definitely want "Grapes Leaves." It's a real contrast to Pumpkin Pie, in a good way. The reason to go green is because we love green. In all forms. It's our favorite color.

D: It's actually interesting how the difference between the two greens is similar to the difference between the two reds. In this case, the original one was more muted and the new one is deeper and more vibrant. I feel the same conflicts about these two as I did over the reds, though K seems to have figured out how to reconcile them in different ways in the two cases. At this point the real question to me is whether we want red or green in the living room in the first place.


"Ruskin Room Green," foyer
K: Speaking of green, this is the most perfect green color ever. I love it. It's our favorite shade of our favorite color and exactly the color I dreamt of having in our foyer. I'd love to see some gold stencil along the ceiling line to class it up a little more.

D: K and I are in prefect agreement on this. I could go a bit darker, but this is awfully close to the Official Color Of Our Wedding, and a longtime favorite color with us. I'm a bit shocked that we found a color on the first try, but I think we did it.


"Totally Tan," den
K: Unfortunately, this color is not really doing it for me. It's very pale, very neutral, where I wanted a richer, camelhair kind of tan. I can't figure it out, which colors go darker on the wall and which end up looking lighter than the chip. Is it something about Sherwin Williams? Or our particular SW store? I would be willing to go along with this color to save the trouble. My main concern would be that it means we'd need bolder furniture, whereas we had been imagining a tan or mushroom or sage couch.

D: When we saw the first try at a beige we wanted lighter. Now I agree that this is lighter than I really had wanted at first. But is there a chance of finding something in between the two? This color is completely fine and inoffensive, but I can't say it sings to me.

Made Up Mailbag

A loyal and completely fictitious reader writes to ask "Most Housebloggers seem to do their work on the weekends. What is it that you two do for a living to be able to work on revivalizing all day every day?"

Well, reader-in-my-mind, that is a good question. I am a mathematician who is starting a job as an Assistant Professor at the liberal arts college here in town, which is the reason why we picked up and left Metropolis for Smallville in the first place. K, on the other hand, is a marketing and communications specialist with over twelve years of communications experience -- experience which, incidentally, your nonprofit organization could use and you should hire her asap. We still have several weeks left before the academic year gets started, which is why I have the time to do work on the house, as I am completely neglecting the research I should be doing in order to be more secure in the tenure process. K. has been enjoying the unemployed lifestyle, and will do so until somebody hires her, but she has had to spend the last few days working hard finishing up some things from her last job and shmoozing to try to get a new one, leaving me to do some revivalizing on my own.

I have been continuing work on the foyer, stripping wallpaper and patching things up with plaster.


It was a long sweaty dirty day, helped by the slight break in the heatwave and by lots of podcasts of On The Media and The Revolution Starts Now on the ipod. And by dinner time I had stripped all the wallpaper in the foyer and stairs, and done most of the plastering. Tomorrow the plan is that K will rejoin me and we will get the room ready for painting.

Incidentally, like many Gen Xers one of the earliest traumatically sad scene I remember watching in the movies was the scene towards the end of E.T. where Elliott and ET were being examined by all the doctors and they were basically stuck in the quarantine chambers with all of the plastic sheets everywhere. Well, the work the past couple of days consistently reminds me of that scene. The seals aren't airtight, but to go from the room I am in to the rest of the house involves navigating lots of plastic and makes me feel like poor E.T. Now where are my damn Reeces Pieces?


Wednesday, July 27

Girly Issues in House Restoration

No, not the dearth of pink toolbelts.

The combination of the heat, the sweat, all the nasty particulates we're releasing from floors and walls, and the awful dust mask and safety goggles has caused my face to break out. Constant blemishes all over - yuck!

Rinsing my hair every day with the really hard water is doing a number on my curls. As in, frizz-city! Or frizz-town in this case.

On the upside: I appear to have lost five pounds avoirdupois.

Tuesday, July 26

Geneology of Our House

I'm planning to hit the Historical Society and Municipal Records Office as soon as I get a chance, but in the meantime, I thought I'd fill you in on what we know about the house's history.

1920: The Original Owners build the house. We know nothing about them, but we have been told that the house stayed in their hands until it was sold in...

1958: The Family Before Us buys the house and converts it into two units (one up, one down). He is a woodworker, and his stash is still in our garage over 40 years later! Their daughter eventually grows up to marry a teacher, and they move into the upstairs unit. When her parents/his inlaws pass away, they move downstairs.

1990s: After her passing and in his retirement, he makes some changes to the house (though the rest of the house remains in a time warp). He adds the much-maligned vinyl-sided patio and the three-car carport. During all these years, we understand that the other unit was rented out for income, primarily to a stream of quiet, single nurses - possibly who were friends of the Teacher's wife.

2000-ish: His granddaughter comes to care for the Teacher (whom we think of as the Previous Owner or Grandpa). She lives upstairs with her children, who are the fifth generation of this family to live here. She and her boyfriend paint the upstairs wild colors and decorate with musical instruments.

2002: After the Teacher passes away, the house is willed to his son and stepdaughter (the Sellers). For several years, they work out the terms of the estate, while the granddaughter and her step-cousin (the Previous Tenants) live in the house.

2005: With the estate finally resolved, the Sellers put the house on the market . We are the first buyers to look at the property, our offer is accepted, and now it's OURS!

Coming Soon: Floor Plans and Photo Tour

Too Disgusting To Blog About

Warning: This post contains graphic imagery which may be disturbing to some viewers. Please be advised that you may not want to read this post, especially within several hours of eating.

As K. alluded to in her last post, we had a bit of hijinks related to our beautiful pink second refrigerator the other night. It was all unplugged and defrosted, and K. went to move it so that one of the plumbers could see the place where we want to put a washer and dryer set. I wasn't there at this point, but I guess that when she tried to move it, a puddle started forming underneath. But not just a puddle of water. Oh no, that wouldn't warrant a warning. No, it was a puddle of a reddish-brownish liquid which had an odor reminiscent of red wine but a consistency a little too close to blood for comfort.

She ran down and got me, and we started investiating together to try to figure out where it was coming from and what was under the refrigerator, but every time we moved the pink beast, more of the liquid spilled out. I cannot do justice in words to how gross this liquid was, and as much as we want to share all of our home restoration with you all we couldn't bear to take photos of it. But trust me. It smelled bad and it looked even worse. And it was starting more and more to cover our (upstairs) kitchen floor no matter how many paper towels and how much baking soda we poured onto it.

Eventually, we were able to lean the refrigerator on its side and we were able to see that the liquid was coming from the drain pan, which there was no easy way to remove like on more modern refrigerators. Despite the ever-worsening odor and ever-growing puddle, I was able to pull out the drain pan with only a minimal amount of the winebloodjuice getting on my shoes. And yes, the puddle was indeed a combination of all kinds of liquids which seem to have collected in the drain pan over the last forty years. There was a much thicker residue thoughout the drain pan, and stuck in the residue was (Warning: This is where the story gets even grosser) a dead mouse.

Needless to say, we threw away the drain pan immediately, and with it any hope of finding someone who would buy this refrigerator on ebay. We're still hoping to sell the rest of the pink appliances, though, if any of you are in the market.

We now return you to the regular hopefully-not-so-gross Revivalized.

Monday, July 25

Not the Citrus Fruit

I'm thinking about oranges all the time. So I'm making D. talk about oranges all the time. He's very sick of it all. Interestingly, this is a HUGE role reversal for us. Usually I am the snap decisionmaker, and D. spends a long time looking at all the options, considering all of the consequences, and generally working himself into a tizzy.

I think I wrastled him into agreeing that the color used on a recent episode of HGTV's Design on a Dime was nice. It's orange enough for him, but subdued enough for me. The website says it's Behr's "Iced Tea."

We're also considering a color from Olympic called "Georgian Leather" that falls between the two colors we've already tried but with a smidge of brown in it.

No progress on any other room colors.

The heat wave is back up again. I'm keeping the first floor of the house relatively cool, thanks to tips from Serendipity House.

We've seen two plumbers about creating hookups for appliances - a dishwasher in the kitchen (first floor) and a laundry center in the "utility room" (formerly known as the second floor kitchen). I have plans for how to spruce up the utility room (removing cabinets, paint, and a new floor) into a handy laundry/crafts/mudroom area, but for now we just don't want to walk down to the basement to do laundry. We're city people - lazy and accustomed to elevators. No, really, a second-floor laundry is a modern convenience that will improve the value.

We're waiting on estimates and hoping to decide shortly which we'll go with, then we can buy the laundry center, have it delivered, and on delivery day convince the guys that their policy will really allow them to haul away the Pink Beast of a refrigerator in exchange for a laundry center. Honestly, don't even asky why I have turned my back on this appliance. It's too disgusting to blog about.

Sunday, July 24

The Art Of Removing Wallpaper

Because we are at somewhat of an impasse about the colors of the other rooms, yesterday we started working on the foyer, where we were planning to patch up the current wallpaper and plaster and put a boatload of primer on it so that we could start testing paint colors in there so that we could be at an impasse in that room as well.

weektwohalf0005The wall had a number of problems. There were a couple of cracks in it, there was some staining, and the ridges from the wallpaper were such that they would show through any paint unless we were very good about sanding and plastering.

So yesterday we did some patching up of the plaster with various compunds, and it was so uneventful that even we couldn't find any reason to blog about it.

Today, after attending our very first UU service in our new town and having lunch with some of our neighbors, we got back to work and sanded and repatched some places.

Then it was time to get down to business and put up some primer to see how the whole thing worked.

weektwohalf0014 As you may or may not be able to tell, the primer had some problems. In particular, despite the fact that we had done a pretty good job sanding, lots of ridges and indentations still shone through more than we liked, as did all of the wallpaper seams. And, for icing on the cake, the textured flowers on the wallpaper were also visible in many lights. Part of me said that this was just the foyer, and nobody was going to be staring at the walls in great depth, but another part of me said that the foyer is the first room that guests will see and as such we want to make a stunningly good first impression. As we stood there discussing how to deal with these problems, yet another issue arose...

You see, all of the things we had read about priming over wallpaper suggested to use Kilz as your primer. But none of them mentioned that one should use the oil based version of Kilz rather than the water based, and since everywhere says to use water based primer with water based paint, that is what we had bought many gallons worth of at the Home Depot. Well, in hindsight it seems obvious, but the water based primer has water in it, and therefore when applied to wallpaper makes the paper bubble and come off of the wall. So the bubbling started as we sat there, and we quickly realized the error of our ways.

K. and I then proceeded to make one of the faster decisions of our marriage and decided to add another multi-day project to the Master List and to remove all of the wallpaper before painting. (It should have been obvious to me that this project was inevitable, given the most recent album by the-first-musician-K.-and-I-discovered-together, but I digress)


Luckily, the parts of the wallpaper that had been covered with primer came off of the wall ridiculously easy. So much so that we watered down the primer that was still in the paint tray and put it on parts of the rest of the wall to make that wallpaper come off quickly. Our best guess is that the primer seals the water into the wallpaper so rather than evaporating it just keeps making the glue disentegrate, but for whatever reason, it worked well and, after only about 90 minutes, we were left with a foyer looking like this.


At this point, we are happy with our insta-decision to strip the wallpaper as I think that it will make the finished paintjob look much slicker. But you should check in with us in a couple of days after we have added washing down the walls, cleaning everything, and different kinds of plaster work to the list of things that we need to do in the next ten days.

Sunday Social Report

A lovely morning: we doffed our work clothes and gussied up in our one Sunday Best outfit (our wardrobe is pretty limited, sincewe're still living out of suitcases). We strolled 100 feet down our back alley to the Unitarian Universalist church. Our arrival in town coincided pretty closely with the "grand opening" of this new congregation. They've just moved into a new building of their own (just to be clear, it's a reuse of a historic Methodist church) and hired a full-time minister for the first time. It seems to us a golden time to join the congregation - when it's growing.

Before we even stepped in the door, one of the only people in town that we know waved to us as she pulled her car into the parking lot. The greeter was one of the only other people we know. Interesting, because we had a similar experience when we attended a UU church in a City before. Today's attendance was small, but a nice balance between older churchy types and younger couples.

The new sanctuary is sparkling, intimate, and iconographically nondescript. It would be the perfect space for folk concerts, yoga classes, meetings, or moon circles. The new minister has the perfectly booming yet soothing voice - and doesn't use any microphone. D. liked the sermon on the definition and tradition of Humanism, while I found it a little long though enlightening to discover I am not a humanist. Neither of us like announcements coming before the service. One interesting element: the minister's wife reads a children's story at the beginning of the service, right before the children leave for Religious Education.

After coffee hour, our new acquaintances invited us to lunch at the coffeehouse. Thanks to the temperate weather, we were able to sit out in the garden, which was totally relaxing and flower-filled. It was the most interesting conversation, with not a single reference to pop culture or celebrity gossip. I know, can you believe it?! They were young, smart, worldly people - in summary, potential friends.

One of the couples even turned out to be about a year ahead of us on the house restoration superhighway, so I started networking right away. In addition to hustling for an invitation to their house, which is so distinctive that we knew which one it was as soon as they described it - "the yellow and red Victorian" - I suggested an ideas I've read at other houseblogs: a neighborhood work club. He countered with his idea for a community tool library. Then I said it could develop into a car share. After which point, he pretty much offered us that we could use their truck or their mitre saw or their paint sprayer system. This guy is a huge resource, I mean, he practically does his own wiring and plumbing.

So it was a pleasant and productive venture, with us continuing to work our way into the community's networks.

Speaking of the community, there's one thing I haven't really made clear. I've been talking about the locals as if they were a unitary bunch, which isn't really true. The burg isn't just any small town, it's a college town, and its residents fall into roughly three categories:

- Natives are people whose families have been here for hundreds of years, mostly farmers and tradespeople. These are the people who eyed me suspiciously at the Walmart.
- Locals are the more worldly and educated natives, like our fabulous real estate agent, who grew up here but her family isn't from here. She's very helpful to us to navigate the bridge between us and the natives.
- Transplants are the highly educated faculty and administrators of the two colleges, the nearby national park, and the hospital. That's us! We expect the majority of our friends to come from this like-minded group.

So, in the future, I'll try to be more clear about which group of locals I'm referring to.

Saturday, July 23

If this is Small Town Life...

...bring it on.

Last night, we were discussing our transition to small town life. Was there anything we missed about the BIG City? I said nothing, D. said a good CD and bookstore. We then walked a few blocks and devoured a yummy Mexican meal. On the way home, we decided against stopping in at the coffeehouse for Open Mic night, because we were too full and didn't want to spend money on coffee or dessert.

A half a block later, I notice a few people milling across the street. And it looks like a woman is playing a fiddle inside the store. We head over, and it turns out our local instrument store is having its regular Friday Night Bluegrass Jam. "Come on in and listen or get pickin'." So we did - listen, that is - and we weren't missing anything in life.

We got to the farmer's market earlier this morning, so there was a better selection. Here's today'sharvest:


The paint saga continues with...

"Pumpkin Toast" (light orange), dining room
K: I like this color. It's very appealing to me. It feels very warm, sunny, Tuscan stucco to me. But I can see that it's much closer to yellow than orange, and bottom line, it's really not what either of us imagined. Can we change courses?
D: I still like the original orange, though I understand K's concerns about the brightness and I hear what all of you are saying about going too bright. And despite my fondness for all things pumpkin, this new color is more yellow than I would like. It has been growing on me (especially if I think of it as butterscotch, which I also have a fondness for) as it stays on the wall, but I am beginning to fear that finding a perfect orange just might be too hard for us.

"Fiddle Leaf" (green), living room
K: This is a very cool color. We both have a strong affinity for green, and we thought it might address some of the problems with the red in the living room. It won't be as difficult to get full depth of color, and it won't be as bold or shocking.
D: We both decided that we liked the earlier red for a red, but were worried that having blood red on the walls might make our visitors find out think that we are vampires. So we decided to try a forest green. And while the green we bought ended up not being as foresty as we had imagined, I think we really like this color. Though we also like the red. Can you tell how bad we are at making decisions?
TRIVIA: This color eerilly matches a piece of furniture that we had in our old apartment but were not planning to use in the new home!

Tomorrow: our report on patching plaster in the foyer.

Friday, July 22

It's A Boy!

When K's rather excited concerns about the lead paint reached a head earlier today we decided that the best thing to do was not to panic without any evidence but to go out and buy a lead paint testing kit. So, after buying that kit and $240 worth of other things at Home Depot, we recently arrived home, got our swab out and swabbed a bit of the exposed paint on the floors.

I waited anxiously, much like I imagine awaiting the results of a pregnancy test would be (although that's a topic for another time and anther blog), to see what color the little indicator turned.

...and it was brownish yellowish. Which we think is a good thing, as it was supposed to turn pink if there was lead, and yellow if there was no lead, and I think it just picked up some of the brown from the paint and the dirt on the floor.

Now, we aren't completely convinced that this means we are in the clear -- in particular, it's hard to ever pin too much hope on the results of a test that cost $2 for two of them -- but the handy internet suggests that false positives are far more likely than false negatives with this test, so we are cautiously moving ahead and planning to have the workers come in and sand the floor.

Incidentally, while we were at the Home Depot they did not have a single checkout lane open. So we had to use the Self-Check-Out machines which I have used with mixed results at several grocery stores. But I want to add my voice to the chorus of people who dislike self-checkout at Home Depot. It just doesn't work when you have varying items of such varying sizes and shapes, and when you need one of the attendants to scan the large items and the small items, since half of what you buy at the Home Depot counts as either a large item or a small item.

Thursday, July 21


Very very slowly, it dawned on me. The circa 1961 paint on the upstairs floors is probably lead-based. Ugh! Double UGH! I want to be responsible to the environment, our community, and the floor refinishing guys, but I don't want to spend a million extra dollars for some crazy kind of abatement. So is sanding out of the question? How much containment do I have to do? Has anyone ever used a home lead paint test kit? Are they reliable? Help me, house bloggers and preservationists, you're my only hope.


In the last month, I’ve gone through several major life transitions. From BIG City dweller to small town resident. From renter to homeowner. And, you may not know it, but I also turned 35. It seemed auspicious to choose my birthday for our closing date. For my 30th birthday, we did something really memorable: visit the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. And I am so happy to have that memory associated with that age milestone that I decided to do it again. Also, there's just a lovely synchronicity about taking on the very adult responsibilities of homeownership on the same day I make that big step into the second half of life.

For all those changes, it mostly feels like I’ve taken a step back in time. Our Town is filled with historic homes, ranging from 19th century brick to 1950s ranchers. The area is steeped in American heritage, and, in fact, tourism workers - and sometimes tourists - often walk the streets in period garb. The landscape around the burg is rolling hills and agricultural land. People in our county make their livelihoods from the land, just like back before World War II. Rural issues are of critical importance, politically and economically. "It's not farmland without farmer," announced one bumper sticker I saw.

There's also a 1950s vibe to being in a small, safe, and slow-paced town. Like Mayberry or Pleasantville. We only have to dial seven digits to make local calls, and the burg only has four exchanges. There's a drive-in theatre - two screens! - about a half-hour away, and sources say the snack bar alone is worth the trip. But I love drive-ins and have been longing for them. When I was growing up, my dad would load my sister and I into his truck and head to the drive-in. We would line the truckbed with pillows and sleeping bags, watch the movies and eat pizza under the stars. We've also been told that the Next Bigger Town Over has a burger place where they still bring the food to you in your car, but I will have to report later on whether the carhops wear rollerskates.

I've often claimed - to some opposition - that the 1980s took a lot of their culture and style from the 50s. (Think Grease, Reagan conservatism, and pedal pushers.) And I've spotted some 80s throwbacks here, including full-on, sprayed-back, feathered hair:

And the multiplex in the Next Bigger Town Over is like a flashback to my teenage, suburban years (the feathered-hair era). It is crowded with packs of teenagers (dressed more scantily than even I ever was) on Friday night. Even better for us: we can show up 10 minutes before show time!! On opening night of the movie!!! And get great seats!!! For less than 10 dollars!!!! I don't think I can convey how amazing this is - none of this was possible in the BIG City where we used to live.

This nostalgia - along with the rollback in living costs - is exactly why we wanted to get out of the City. And it feels pretty good. There's nothing better than turning back the clock just as you pass an age milestone. It's like a new lease on life. Like I've been revivalized in the process.

Wednesday, July 20

We See A Black Door and We Want To Paint It Red

As we have probably mentioned before, K. and I are first time homebuyers. And as such, we have both spent the past decades living in lots of apartments with white walls. Yes, it's true that some of these apartments had "eggshell" walls or "cream" walls, but none of them had any color on any of the walls at all. So one of the things that we are most excited about is getting to paint our walls many different colors. So we have been picking up swatches of colors at various places over the past few days and yesterday we went to our friendly neighborhood Lowe's to get a few paint samples for the downstairs room. Here is what we got:

Red Orange Beige

Now, we know perfectly well that our downfall is going to be the temptation to do bright bold colors that look good after all of these years in white apartments but which may not actually be great choices -- and conveniently will be that much harder to paint over. And yet we are embracing these bright colors despite our knowledge much as Anakin embraced the dark side.

As of right now, here is what we think of the colors. but we would love to hear your opinions, dear readers, if you want to share them with us.

"Heirloom Red", Living Room
D: It's awfully dark in certain lights, but I think this is a good thing. I especially like the way it makes the woodwork look so light, as opposed to other paint colors which make it look so dark. If we are going to go for a dark color, I like it, even if it is a
K: I think this red is too purply, and while I don't gravitate to the more Tomato-ey reds as paint chips, I think they might go better with our warm-toned woodwork.

"Delta Clay" (orange), Dining Room
D: In some lights, I really like it. In other lights, I am much less enthusiastic, and it is too orangish. I don't think I would like a yellower shade would be good, but i also don't want to go browner...
K: The orange was my cockamamie idea, well actually I said I wanted russet, but I'm just not convinced. This orange is dark enough that people won't start calling me Julius, but I'd like to see something browner or lighter.

"Leather Satchel" (beige), Den
D: It came out darker than either the swatch or the little bit of paint he put on the can. While I don't dislike the color, right now I think we should go lighter, partly to make the woodwork stand out more.
K: While this looks very close to what I had in my mind, it just looks too putty. I wanted more suede, camelhair. In general, I think we probably should go lighter to start and intensify the color later if we want. I can't tell how much of my difficulties with this is first-timeritis. What is the right way to select paint? Is it the way we painted the test spots (shoddily) that is glitching my eye? Do I want to change the finish (to something shinier)? Is it where we chose to place the test spots? Will it be better or worse on the whole wall? I'm very insecure of my ability to do this. My visions look lovely in my mind, and I usually find confirmation of my instincts in shelter magazines. But I have a lousy track record, when I was in high school, my parents let me paint my room. I selected the most tasteful Dusty Rose with a lovely Federal Grey-Blue for the trim -- and, you can guess what happen, it turned out terrible. Bright pink and blue, like a nursery for fraternal twins. I didn't mind it at the time (much like my gold lame prom dress), but boy do I wince now. I don't want to make those mistakes again. Sigh. Maybe we could just look at a few more subdued samples....

A Little Color Everywhere

D. is indulging me one of my obsessions and letting me do a tiny bit of gardening, even though there is a lot of other work to be done and more important uses of our funds. That's how sweet and generous he is. So after slapping up the test samples of paint last night, I popped out to the yard and potted up a few plants. Here's the little plantlets I showed last week:


The wine barrel has tomatoes, peppers, basil, and marigold. I don't have any expectations for any real vegetables, because of how late it is in the season, but I just wanted to see something growing, and that basil all by itself would have been pretty pathetic.

I also plopped this sunflower into the ground next to the fence between our yard and our neighbors:


Sadly, I don't have much hope for this transplant. A few hours after this cheery pic was taken, the petals had started to fall off and the seeds were getting pushed out.


Oh, friends, I have so much to write you and so little internet access. But we had such a response to the post about our stairs that I wanted to share our excitement about the foyer floors. This picture is taken in the doorway between our foyer (top) and our living room (bottom):


And you can see - they are the same! The very same planks. What a big sigh of relief! What a stroke of good fortune smiling down upon us and house renovation venutre! Thanks be to St. Agneta!

Sunday, July 17

We're So Cool

The refrigerator arrived, and here it is in situ:

No progress on other appliances. In fact, we might even be sliding backward.

Saturday, July 16

Garden Report - July

I think one of the things that we are happiest about is having our own little patch of ground. We both love to garden and have big ideas for vegetables and flowers to plant when we have time and funds. The yard we bought has its strengths and weaknesses, and today I want to share some of its lovely surprises:

- Three purple butterfly bushes, on the side of the yard where I wanted to plant a purple garden! Butterfly
- An orange-red daylily, which I love because these were blooming at our garden wedding. Lily2
- An amazing rose mallow that exploded in bloom this morning. Each flower is about 8 inches across.RoseMallow

We also have an ancient but totally out-of-control grape vine growing on the shed.


We're thinking of taking off the roof of the shed and some of the lattice to make this a grill and outdoor dining area. The California girl in me was also really excited when our real estate agent suggested a hot tub! But for now practicality (and masculinity) will win out.


Without our own vegetable garden, we are reliant on the Saturday morning farmer's market in the town square. This morning we brought home this bounty to enjoy now:


And, because I am a sucker, we brought home these little plantlets that I hope to get into some soil soon. That's Tomato Goliath on the left and "regular old sweet basil," said the farmer, on the right:



Bonus Wildlife Report: While shooting these pics, I spotted for the second time a cute little chipmunk on our back stairs.


But if he goes near my vegetables, he's a dead chipmunk.

We've also discovered a fairly small yellow jacket nest right above our back door, so we'll be dealing with that extermination at some point. Anybody ever done this?

Carpet Removal: Day N+1 report

Whenever we watch HGTV or Trading Spaces or the like, they make it seem as though home renovation is primarily about coming up with clever ideas and having a lot of fun. They never seem to show the hard labor aspects of it and when they do they are played at triple-speed with funky music in the background. But as we have removed the carpet there has been no funky music, and at best we were working at normal speed.

Pulling up the carpet is not exacly a delicate operation, as it mostly involves literally pulling on pieces of carpet -- sometimes with the help of a special carpet-knife (who knew these things existed?!?), sometimes with the help of super-pliers, and often just with our own brute strength -- and those of you who know us know that brute strength is not exactly the specialty of the Revivalized Family...we're all about the intelligence and the cunning wit, but not so much the brute strength.

In any event, Day Three was basically like Day Two, only a lot more sore. My legs were sore. My arms were sore. My shoulders were sore. That little pad of skin where the thumb meets the palm? Really effing sore. I was sore in muscles that I didn't know existed and sore in muscles I know intimately. But we powered through nonetheless.

Today was Day Four, and we tackled the stairs and foyer. As K. mentioned, under the carpets on the second floor of the house were the original hardwood floors, only they had mostly been painted brown. This was not as bad as we had feared, but also not as pristine (and easy to refinish) as we had hoped. So you can imagine our pleasure when we started pulling up the carpet on the stairs and saw:

the same red wood that is found throughout the features on the ground floor of the house. As we pulled up all of the carpet we were pleased to see that it ws in pretty good condition. Far from pristine, but certainly as good as we could have hoped. The wood in the foyer was, as we had hoped, very similar to the wood throughout the ground floor, only clearly not as recently polished or refinished.

After several hours of work, we had made it through Stages I-III and even some of Stage IV of carpet removal (which, for those of you who don't commit our writings to memory, means that we still have to go through and pull out some of the staples, but that's all).

In summary, for those of you who like pictures and skip over all of my nattering on, today we went from this to this:

weekone0052 weekone0053

We still have some work to do (including getting more contractor bags to get rid of the trashpile peeking into that first photo, as we blew through our first box of them in less than a week), but we decided we had done enough to call it a day and blog about it.

Friday, July 15

Carpet Removal: Day 2 Report (July 14)

Okay, I lied. We didn't finish Stage Two on Day One. We tried, but I just fizzled out in the afternoon. The truth: we pulled up the tackstrip in three bedrooms (the fourth didn't have tackstrips), but left the hallway for Day Two.

A view of that stage:


Still sore, we set to work. A small radio from the "not even a Super Walmart" made the work go much more pleasantly. And the drop in temperature helped too!

Before I even made it upstairs, D. had accomplished Stage Three: Pull Up the Wool Undercarpet. This stuff was yucky and itchy and shed onto everything it touched. Also it was filled with 44 years of dust. But I'm a knitter, so I have a deep fondness for wool in all its uses. And this was so felty and old-fashioned (one of the rooms had much less appealing - though easier to remove - foam undercarpet) that I couldn't help but have a soft spot.

Some quick sweeps of the mountains of dust and wooly whiskers, and we dove right into Stage Four: Go Back and Plier Out Staples and Nails. We made it through two rooms before our hands were so cramped and sore that we just couldn't go on.

I do think the effort is worth it, because I'm so proud of what it looks like now.


You can really start to appreciate the spaces (in all of their unevenness). We've also discovered that the floors were painted before being carpeted. See, they're brown:


And we can get a little bit of the history of the house. We can see that two of the rooms were formerly separate, but are now connected. Based on the information from the previous owners and tenants (I'll post more on them later), we surmise that this was done when the house was split into two units. These rooms were converted from two bedrooms to a living and dining room for the upstairs flat.

Also, I have been speculating that the walls and floor at the top of the stairs were added at the same time (and imagining that the foyer and upstairs hallway would seem much grander and more open if we removed them)), and the floorboards give some credence to my harebrained theory.

In the end, it looks like we're have the option of nice wood floors on the second floor. With that freedom, we are going to have explore our options: refinishing, staining, painting, or area rugs.

One thing's for certain: we're not putting down any wall-to-wall. We just would feel too guilty about making some future owners do all that work to remove it.

Hooterville Fashion Alert

Spotted in the Sears at the Mall in the Next Bigger Town Over: those same tiered peasant skirts that were on every fashionista and trendy teenager in the BIG City.

I’m not saying I would buy the cheap versions at the Sears – my hippie-mama tiered skirts come from Mexico, thank you very much. But I see this as more evidence that the BIG City’s opinion of itself is overrated. They think they are so cutting edge, but honestly…small-town Sears is selling the same thing!

Removing Carpet: Day 1 Report (July 13)

You've seen the before photos, so you know what we were dealing with. Our approach to carpet removal was to work in stages, rather than areas, completing one step in all the rooms before going on to the next. On Day One, we accomplished:

Stage One: Cut Up Carpet with the Amazingly Handy-Dandy Carpet Knife (Thank you, Al at Lowe's, for the tip!)

We found out, thanks to a newspaper used as binding, that the carpets had been laid in 1961 and that they came from:

Stage Two: Remove Tackstrips with Pry Bar and Pliers (No photos, but seriously cramped and bruised hands)

At the end, our floors looked like this:


That's the old wool undercarpet.

And our upstairs kitchen looked like this:

And I had heatstroke. It turned out that was the hottest day of the week. Our second floor is 20 degrees hotter than the first, and probably we weren't drinking enough water.

Houston, We Have Wifi

I would like to say that a few minutes ago the friendly Adelphia man left and our cable and internet was ready to go. In actuality, he left a couple of hours ago and most of the intervening time has been spent with me sitting on the floor playing with various wires and resetting various things and trying to get manuals and talking to tech services, but as of now it appears that our cable (with accompanying DVR) and internet are working just fine. We won't know for sure until later tonight when the DVR downloads program data for the next few days and we can start setting season passes, but it seems like everything is a go. Or at least it will be if you are reading these words.

In other news, today was Day Three of The Great Carpet Removal, and we are finally finished with the upstairs. We still have to do the foyer and stairs, and hopefully we will finish that up this weekend and next week we will bring in the professionals to give us an estimate on refinishing the floors which will likely send me into cardiac arrest. In the mean time, hopefully I will stop being so darn sore.

Thursday, July 14

Balsamic Dreams

We have all had those moments when we realize that, despite our visions of ourselves as hippies or alternakids or whatever we envision ourselves as, deep down we are just yuppies at heart. For some people it has to do with the car they drive or the place they live or their audio-video equipment or the like

I had one of those moments today, as we started to unpack the kitchen boxes and I saw it there. One box labelled simply "vinegars". Yes, we have an entire box worth of various kinds of vinegar. Red wine, white wine, and balsamic of course, but also spicy pepper vinegar, basil vinegar, and several others. In fact, I am pretty sure that the one thing we don't own is plain old generic vinegar.

But we did unload many of the dishes and most of the dry goods that we had brought to our new home today, along with a large load of groceries procured at our new grocery store, at which we have already saved $8.63 by enrolling in the "Bonus Card" program. Our kitchen is now more or less functional, and tonight we cooked our first meal in the new kitchen, if putting a bunch of garlic and onions on a DiGiornio frozen pizza and eating that along with a salad (with oil-and-balsamic-vinegar, thankyouverymuch) counts as cooking dinner. We have several more boxes to unpack, including our three different sets of wine glasses and separate martini and beer glasses.

What was that about being a yuppie?

God Bless The Public Library

The rumors that your Revivalizers have drowned in a sea of 50's era skyish blue carpet pulled out of their upstairs are somewhat exagerated. In actuality, K. is still wandering the aisles at Lowes looking for gloves, but I did indeed escape from under the largest pile of the ugliest grossest carpet I have ever seen at least for long enough to sneak over here to our new local public library to tell you all that we are alive and well, even if it is the first time since 1996 that I have had no access to the internet from my home. Luckily, that is supposed to change tomorrow and we will finally be able to upload lots of musings and photos that we have written over the last couple of days during Our First Big Project (which we will be sure to postdate and retrodate appropriately, so that those of you who don't read until after the fact will have no way to notice our several days of radio silence).

So you should all cancel your Friday night plans and instead plan to sit around the warm monitor and read our blog. You didn't really need to see War of the Worlds again, anyways.

Wednesday, July 13

De. Nied.

We walked over to our local library today to get cards. Yes, we are such dedicated library patrons that it is on our first List. And we get library cards before unpacking, before buying groceries.

For the last three years, we only used Amazon for gifts and special purchases, because most of our reading needs were met by the library. It saved us hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

Now we don’t have any illusions that Hooterville’s library will come anywhere close to the selection of the BIG City library system. But it does have online ordering and renewal, so we are hopeful. We are especially happy because it is steps away from Our House, so we are not giving up anything in convenience.

However, we were pretty surprised to be told that they couldn’t give us library cards today. The reason? They had run out of application forms, and they had to Xerox more. We, wanting to go along with this charming, small-town, lack of urgency, said, “Okay, we’ll come back tomorrow.” As mentioned, it is in very close proximity to our abode. But… what’s up with that?????? How hard is it to keep adequate Xeroxed supplies in stock?

Tuesday, July 12

Project Numero Uno

Those gorgeous pine floors - and the lovely red oak woodwoork, ten-foot-high ceilings, and unbeatable location - are the reason we bought Our House. But like all things in the universe, there must be balance:
(Sorry about the blurriness - camera glitchiness.)
So for three months, we've been itching to get under those awful carpet and see what's there. We've been praying to St. Agneta, matroness of house restoration, that we would find hardwood. There was one spot where the carpets weren't nailed down that gave us hope:


Even as we dreamed of the beautiful warmth of pine planking in our bedrooms, we decided that we probably couldn't do the refinishing ourselves. It's hard, dirty, sweaty work that can be easily ruined.

But we consulted the internet and decided we could take out the carpets ourselves. And, as other house restorers know, there is nothing more satisfying than ripping out the awful muddling of previous owners.

With the help of Al at Lowe's, we gathered our tools: pry bars, needle nose pliers, hammers, the very important carpet knife, and of course our safety gear (goggles, masks, and gloves.) So our very first morning in the house was also our very first day as DIYers.

One Down, Three to Go

Even before unpacking a single box or counting the boxes for those readers who opted into the Great Box Guessing Game of '05, wet two tasks for ourselves:

- Buying Appliances
- Refinishing Upstairs Floors

You can track our progress on the right.

The first task was necessitated by the fact that Our House has no washer or dryer, no dishwasher, and one very old refrigerator seen here at our walk-through.
I know you’re admiring that lovely pale pink color. That’s vintage 1958. And – wait for it - it matches the stove.
Ever vigilant about utility costs, we wanted a much more energy-efficient model. After comparison shopping Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Sears, we went with Lowe’s. They had the better selection than HD and lower prices than Sears. It was named “best appliance selection” by the local newspaper. After long consultations with and without Andre, our very helpful sales associate, we selected this lovely refrigerator. I’m very happy with it. I especially like the fifties Frigidaire vibe, because it goes with our kitchen. But… I do wish we had gone with bisque. Or maybe the black. I have dreams of a black countertop -- and our microwave and coffeemaker are black. I’m afraid the white is just going to be so glaring.

Tomorrow is delivery day – and therefore also grocery day. Our first trip driving the minivan to the Ginormous, gleaming white, suburban-style grocery store.

We are “initiating negotiations” with a contractor to do the work of creating hookups for a washer, a dryer, and a dishwasher. Once we have an idea of the costs, we can make better informed decisions about the other items on the Buying Appliances project list.