I know, I know, I owe you posts!

More to come – I’ve got pictures of the painted and finished dining room, and we’ve started the library, so there are updates there, too…. soon!


Closing day tour (just 3 months later…. oops.)

So the first order of business after we closed was to go to Home Depot and start spending scads of money… actually, not entirely true. We went to lunch and stared at each other in disbelief first.

We did to back to the house after lunch, keys in our hot little hands, and explored. We discovered some kinda funny things…

Like the rug left in the entry way. We’d seen the rug on the walk-through, and thought they’d just left it to be nice. Ha.
The rug pad was put down incorrectly, and was permanently stuck to the floor. So, upside: we gained a rug. Downside, we get to spend hours scraping the floor to get the rug pad up. Yay?

The chandelier in the dining room became a little nubbin of a globe light. Magic! Actually, it was fine… The fixture was brass and not so attractive, so I didn’t cry too hard.

We found a couple of exciting things in the basement. First, an electrical box hidden in the back of one of the built-ins. Ruh-roh, Shaggy. 


And in a different built-in, this 1964 Western Electric phone – sweet!


We did have one nice surprise when we got to the kitchen, too:


It almost makes up for the 6 weeks of intermittent scraping to get the rug pad up off the floor. Almost.

So, ready for the closing-day tour? First, the outside, since I didn’t have any pictures of that from the inspection. Oh, look! Homeowners!


The side yard, featuring the grapevine that ate northwest Chicago and what we later discovered was an apple tree (or a rare hybrid tree that only produces 1 apple… hard to tell at this point).


The veggie garden is behind the grapevine, featuring 3 beds of tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, onions and celery.

garden1 garden2

The back of the house from the back yard (that’s the Dr. Suess tree on the right):


And here’s a couple of outdoor items on our To Do list:


The potting shed has to come down; it was badly built and has no foundation except a sheet of plywood. And then there’s this:


That’s the electrical meter, which is directly connected to the city electrical feed. If you are bored, or curious, or have a death wish, you can pry the front of the meter off with your fingers and electrocute yourself very nicely. You see why it made the list.

So. Back inside, to to the front door. This is what you see when you stand in the door way (nice rug, right?):


Note the top right corner… we’re calling it the Death Star. Want a closer look?


That sucker’s going on ebay – surely someone out there wants a mod 70’s string art light fixture.

Immediately to the right of the door is a big arch leading to the living room.


Where there’s a big bank of windows


And opposite those, another arch leading to the dining room (check out Dave’s stellar Chicago Cop Mustache… I know you’re jealous, girls):


Once in the dining room, there’s a bay with more glass block (someone *really* loved the glass block…) and the nubbin light.



Directly off the dining room is the first bedroom, which is pretty teeny. We’re planning to use it as a library rather than a bedroom, though.


From the dining room, a french door leads to the kitchen, which is eyeball-searing, screamin’ yellow.


Just inside the kitchen door, there’s a little baby hallway that leads to the pantry and the bathroom.


Behold, the coat closet. I mean pantry. (Why would you use a pantry as a coat closet??)


And the downstairs bath, which I just looooooooove. I should clarify. I love the tile. I do not love the toilet that must be cajoled into operation. Or the weird sink, which Dave calls “the pregnant woman sink” because it looks like a big belly and legs. (I didn’t ask for more insight on that, seemed best to just let it go.) I think down the road a bit we might replace it with a different sink; maybe a vintage one if we can find it.


Here’s a close up of the tile border. As you can see, the tile has been fairly abused; there’s something weird over the grout. It looks like caulk, but it’s not caulk… we can’t figure out what it is or why it was painted onto all the grout in the bathroom (and that is a LOT of grout). 


So, if you leave the little hallway and open the last door in the kitchen, you’ll find the mudroom:


And guess what’s under all that ugly tile? Kind of awesome original linoleum. Unfortunately, this was probably put down during the era of asbestos-filled floor coverings, so we’re going to have to leave it covered for now, and plan to have the professionals come and take it away.



Ok. Back to the front of the house and upstairs. But since this is getting long, I’m going to start that in another post…


The Tour (kind of) – Part 3

Last but not least, I have a few images of the basement.

It’s… interesting? We suspect that at some point, one of the occupants of the house decided it would be a great idea to convert the basement to an illegal apartment (which we’re assuming is why there was a “For Rent” sign in the window the first time we saw the house), so a few steps have been taken in that direction. But the choices made while taking those steps? Fairly bizarre.

The set up down there is warren-like — tons of small rooms, with varying degrees of finished-ness. The most finished rooms are at the front of the house; it becomes bare cement as you go toward the back.

The stairs are steep, and are tucked directly under the stairs that lead up to the second floor. They turn twice, so it’s doubtful that we’ll ever put any large furniture down here. When you get to the bottom of the stairs, you are facing this room:


I can only assume this is supposed to be the living room/kitchen for the phantom tenant. I’m sure a microwave instead of a stovetop and a lack of a fridge is fine (!). Maybe those were coming later?

Anyway. The ceiling’s low, but it’s not a bad room. It has a working wet bar, a nice east-facing window, and immediately to the left (and just out of frame), this horror of a bathroom:


(Can you hear the Psycho shower scene music? Because I totally can.)

Speaking of shower scenes, when we were originally looking at the listing, we assumed that this photo:


… was part of the same bathroom. Nope. More on that in a minute.

Let’s go back to the first room for a sec. (Just for fun, this is the listing image. Doesn’t it look different?)


This picture is taken, I think, from the doorway. Immediately to the right is a second doorway, leading into a room that’s seven or eight feet wide, and maybe nine feet deep. I can only assume this was supposed to be the bedroom:


Apologies for the blur — this was the only shot I took. I’m not sure if that thing on the left hand wall is a light or some kind of heating device, and the random cupboard in the corner is an interesting addition (the phantom tenant’s “closet,” perhaps?)

Since having an illegal tenant isn’t high on our priority list, I think eventually we might just take down the walls in this part of the basement (as long as they’re not load-bearing, of course), finish it properly, and turn it into Dave’s Man Cave of Hockey.

Speaking of finishing things properly, here’s a short list of all the stuff that isn’t, thanks to Jeff the Inspector. Just shake your head… it’s what we’ve been doing.

  1. All of the plumbing is improperly vented. So when you use the sinks, the toilet, or the shower, the basement fills with Eau de Sewer Gas. Yum.
  2. Those ceilings? Great if you’re 5’2″. Not great if you’re Dave. Or Tony. Or anyone over about 5’5″ (i.e., almost everyone we know).
  3. The lighting. It’s recessed. Kind of:basement-ha
    I think that covers the worst of it. At least cosmetically speaking.

Anyway. Back to the tour.

Walking out of the “apartment,” you look down a long hallway; on your left is a series of beautifully built, built-in storage cupboards. Someone who lived here in the 1950’s or so was either a carpenter, a cabinet maker, or just really good with his hands. This view is from the far end of the hallway (so you’re looking back at the stairs and the door on the left side of the picture is the door to the “apartment”).


The framed cut out area in the center (where all that stuff is piled up) allows in light from a window. One of the doors is broken, and I’m planning to repair it, although the to do list is long enough that it might say broken for a while. The left side of this hallway has a couple of openings. The one closest to the stairs leads to a room with no door, but more built-in cabinets (man, I wish these were on the second floor):


… and, a shower.


Yeah. I don’t get it either. This is also the room where there is a vanity/workbench, which you can see on the left, a hole in the wall (cleverly disguised by the random plywood panel), and it’s the site of one of the more egregious structural issues. Someone, at some point in the past, decided to cut a huge square out of a joist to allow a couple of pipes to pass through. This, it turns out, was a bad idea. So we will be shoring up that joist before we move in, because it supports the entire bay of the dining room above.

The next opening on the left of that hallway is the alcove for the boiler. He’s a sad, old man, that boiler, and we’ll likely have to put him out to pasture in the near future; we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we can get one last winter out of him. He needs to be cleaned and inspected by an expert, so that’s pretty high on our list once we move in.

At the end of the hall is a set of shelving (just in case all those built-ins weren’t enough storage):


Then there’s a quick jog around the corner to the Appliance Graveyard laundry area. At this point, we know they’re leaving one washer and dryer behind. I’m going out on a limb and guessing that it’s the old ones that are hooked up, and not the shiny new ones under the air conditioning units. (That’s Jeff again, btw.)


This is also the scene of a further (and more recent) structural travesty; someone decided that they didn’t like that pole that you can just see on the left of the photo. So they thought they’d just saw right through the bottom and pull it out. Well. They sawed through the bottom alright. Unfortunately, the thing that didn’t occur to the erstwhile handyman is that that post is holding up the kitchen wall. We’re pretty sure the sawing through of the post and the crack in the corner of the kitchen window are related. So we’ll be shoring that post up, post-haste. (ha ha)

And that’s about it. At least, that’s all the parts of the house where I managed to take photos.