So, what else is new?

Not much, honestly. We’ve been flitting from one project to the next, without truly finishing anything. Which is starting to drive me quietly insane.

The insanity is mostly because the majority of our house looks like this:


That’s the library. You’ll notice the distinct lack of progress, primarily due to the dining room furniture living in there. Mostly, that is because the dining room now looks like this:


Which is in fact a slightly improved version of how it looked 3 weeks ago. Nothing else is different. When the drywall guys arrived to install the new drywall, they had some disappointing news. The cuts Dave and Tony made were not suitable. Nor was the drywall that we had on hand. So we went back to our friends at the Crafty Beaver (no, really, that’s the store name – and they are awesome.) and rented the Sawz-all yet again. Hopefully this will answer. Now we just have to go to Home Depot for thicker drywall sheets and a short-term truck rental and we should be ready for another go.

My office of shame looks something like this:


Isn’t that an inviting place to work? There’s more…


See that slightly off white part, the area that mostly looks like a gross water stain? It’s actually plaster that’s not quite dry. (The hole at the bottom, incidentally, is the plumbing access for the upstairs bathroom, on the other side of that wall. You can currently drop a parachute man into the dining room from here, should the need arise.)

I’ve been a plastering fool lately – between that wall, the downstairs bathroom (sooooo close to done with plaster in there), and the upstairs bath.

Here’s the downstairs –  it’s actually starting to look like a working bathroom again, instead of a construction zone. Well, until you turn your head/walk into the room, anyway.



I still have my sights set on that awful fluorescent fixture over the mirror, and the sink. But at least the walls and ceiling no longer have holes. So that’s a bonus.

And here’s the upstairs bath:


It’s just a little patch; the big holes are still in there where the fan was installed and the electrical work was done above the toilet. But just getting that tiny bit done does make me feel a little better, since I stare at it every. single. time. that I get in the shower.



Finally. I was beginning to think we’d somehow landed in that Twilight Zone episode where the Earth is moving away from the sun.

But low and behold, green things are appearing in the yard:



Tulips! who knew?

There’s  random assortment of daffodils coming up, too, just to the right of the shot above.

I’m not convinced that the Dr. Seuss Tree is going to make it, though – it was a really hard winter, and it’s looking… less than lively, compared to the rest of the yard.



There is a random assortment of grasses, which is encouraging.


And more tulips popping up:


Plus we’ve cleared out all of the construction trash left when we took down the potting shed, so we are no longer bringing down the tone of the block. (Much to the relief of all the neighbors.) Now we just need to go over the yard with a fine-tooth comb to make sure we have all the glass picked up. That should be fun. (ha.)

But at least things are growing, and the weather’s getting better.

Plan of attack for this year is to put in a vegetable garden in the raised beds, and just watch the rest of the yard to see what comes up/survived the winter (and our total inattention for most of the fall last year). So far, we’ve got buds on both the lilac and the apple tree, and the holly seems to be coming back. There is some sort of voracious tree species that is determined to make ours a wooded lot, so we’ve been doing a lot of digging those up. (I like a tree, truly, but I don’t need 42 of them!)

Inside, I’ve started the tomatoes and the thyme, with surprising results:



They seem to be thriving – this image is actually from a couple of weeks ago – there are about 40+ tomato plants now, all about 3-4″ tall. Yay! The thyme is soooo tiny that I’m just hoping it will actually yield a useable amount by the end of summer. At this rate, we’ll be lucky to get a tablespoon out of them.

I’m tentatively planning to plant the seedlings and the rest of the veggie seeds in the 3rd week of May – we should be well past frost (knock on wood) at that point. We’ll see. You can’t really trust Chicago weather in the spring… or the fall. Or the summer…. oh, nevermind.


Some Minor Kitchen Updates

While the rest of the construction has been going on, we’ve been tending to some little things in the kitchen at the same time.

You may have noticed that our kitchen radiator cover changed color. Sort of drastically. Pre-painting, it was dingy white, with pieces of a Polish-language Yellow Pages ad permanently adhered to the top.


Dave suggested a new color: red. I wasn’t sold on the idea at first, but figured red had to be better than grungy white with chunks of cover stock… so off I went to the suburbs, where I proceeded to buy a large amount of red spray paint. (Can’t buy it in the city, but happily there is a Lowes about 3 feet from the city limits.)


There is some original info painted on the inside cover of the radiator cover, so I didn’t want to cover that with paint. Some sort of survivalist supply catalog had arrived that week, so it became my masking material.

radiator3 radiator2

I’m a little worried about the guy who used to live here… some of the selling points (ha) on those knives were a little scary.

You may also remember our giant random fridge, which lived in the corner of the kitchen:


I certainly do, because for 4 months we had wet food. That particular model apparently has a tendency to clog its own freezer drain with slime mold (ew ew ew), which then causes water to dump into the fridge. The space inside the fridge was also really inefficiently designed, so it didn’t hold very much but somehow always managed to be full. After finding our produce water-logged and rotting and pulling dripping milk cartons out of the fridge on a regular basis, we figured it might be cheaper in the long run to just replace the thing.

Behold, the stainless behemoth:


I’m not a huge fan of stainless, but I definitely didn’t want black, and the stove is a black/stainless combo… so here we are. After having it for a month or two now, I can say that keeping it clean is a giant pain in my butt. There are perpetually Spike nose prints all over the bottom, and suspiciously Dave-sized handprints all over the top.

We have also been on the hunt for a small table to put in the kitchen, and lo and behold, Craigslist turned up a doozy:


Complete with chrome hairpin legs. Like everything else in this house, it needs some work, but I love the red edges and the enameled top. (Notice that red radiator in the background? Not bad, eh?) The lady we bought it from was finishing clearing out her mother’s estate, and this was the table where she at all of her early childhood meals. It had lived in a basement for a couple of decades since then, so the chrome needs some love and it could stand a little work on the wooden base, which we will get to at some point. We just have to quit using it long enough to do that.

The chairs are temporary – they were left in the house when we closed, and they’ve come in handy. Once we figure out what kind of chairs we want, they may be relegated to the basement (or the alley…), but for now, they work just fine.

For a Minute, We Had a House.

Only a minute, though.

Check it! It looks like a place where people live, not a construction/experimental plastering zone:



Mostly thanks to the use of clever camera angles.

Note that they don’t include this angle:


Remember when I mentioned that there was something slowing down work on the library? Well it started like this.


Just a little hole, due to the leaky shower pipe back in the fall. It had apparently been leaking for a while, and things were looking a little moldy up there. So we knew we had to pull it down… So first, we cleaned up all the plaster dust in the library. Then we moved all the dining room furniture in there and hung up some plastic sheeting to keep the dust as confined as possible.


Finally, we called my brother and rented a Sawz-all.

Tony wields the Sawz-all.

Tony wields the Sawz-all.

(FYI: the Sawz-all is Dave’s favorite tool in the whole world. I am a little surprised Tony got to use it. There may have been arm wrestling involved, although I don’t know because I was pretty much banned from the room.)

When I emerged from hiding, this is what the ceiling looked like:


We found where all the spiders live.


We also found that at some point, the bathroom directly above the center of the dining room had a leaky toilet or a bad wax ring. Which rotted out a section of the wood which held up the old drywall. doh. So we replaced the rotted wood, too. The spiders didn’t seem to mind much.

Spike had a tough day, staying out of the dining room.


Well. As you can tell by the paw prints, he mostly stayed out of the dining room.

Speaking of the Library

There has been some progress in there… it is now wholly hole-less. (Say that 3 times fast, I dare you.) I don’t know about you, but I find that nearly miraculous.

So we started (and by we, I mean Dave) by filling the holes:



And it looked so good! You know, to have walls you can’t see into.

But then, Dave started to really look at the walls. And they were… a little dinged up. So he thought he’d just take care of the dings. (Remember when I was going to only remove the loose paint? Same scenario…)

So we ended up here:




And after 2 weeks of sanding, I think we are giving up on the ceiling. So we may have a slightly different look in there than originally planned.

Ready for more photoshop magic? I knew you would be. Here was the plan:

don't laugh.

Don’t laugh. Those are bookcases on the left. Really.

It’s not going to be that far from the plan, and we’re getting there. Slowly. We bought the paint, anyway. We also discovered that the ceiling is almost 2.5″ lower on one side of the room than the other. So that white band at the top, while cool, is probably just going to emphasize that fact rather than disguise it – so we’ve tossed that idea and we’re going to paint to the ceiling like normal people.

I like the idea of bringing a little gold into the room, so I have my eyes on some accents like these, although I haven’t actually bought anything just yet:


Accordion table and scallop table from Urban Outfitters, lamp from Target

We’ve bought the paint and the tinted primer, and we already have the bookshelves, chairs and rug (remember this? The photoshop one is just a placeholder). We’re a bit stuck at the moment due to another project, which I’ll post about later. But at least we’re seeing some progress, right?

The Death Star, and Other Chandeliers

I think I mentioned early on that when we bought the house, the light fixture in the front hallway was fairly unique. We call it the Death Star:


It’s a 70’s (maybe) masterpiece of smoked acrylic and fishing line string art.

I’m sure someone would be over the moon (ha) to have it, but it is just not our style. So it’s going up on ebay or the Apartment Therapy classifieds shortly.

Since we knew we weren’t keeping it, we had the electrician take it down when he looked at the wiring. He was kind enough to leave us an extra hole during the process, which you can see here.


Not quite the lighting I had in mind, but we were waiting on something kinda spectacular, thanks to my friend Brandy.

See, Brandy bought a place about a year ago, and although much of her place was in stellar shape, several of the fixtures were just not her style. So she offered them to us. And we jumped for joy, because they were pretty sweet in our eyes.

Here it is, straight from the ceiling:


Glorious, yes? And it’s getting cleaned up so it my grace our entryway. It’s going to class up the joint to no end.

Sadly, it can’t go up until we fix the hole and the damage done by yet another rogue smoke detector. The smoke detector was placed right on a curve in the plaster over the stairs (WHY??), so that’s going to take a little finessing.

But once it’s done… it is going to be awesome.

One of the smaller chandeliers that Brandy gifted us is going to live in the library (because libraries require a chandelier. Duh.). So here it is, after I took it apart to start cleaning it:


ooh, shiny!


and all back together again:


I debated replacing the “candles” with something else, but I kind of like their vintage creamy and gold color right now. I might change my mind once everything’s up in the library, but for now, I’m feeling quite pleased.

Psst… if you have old faux candles and want new ones, check out this site. They even have velvet ones. (!)

Oh yeah. We took the flooring out…

And then, after a couple of weeks (or possibly a couple of months), we thought that maybe we should do something about the fact that we ripped out the ancient, smelly linoleum from the smoker’s back room. And what was left was a lot of nail-spiked quarter round and raw wood subfloor.

Which is cool, but not really useful as flooring, because it’s the holey, knotty wood that isn’t supposed to be seen.

Speaking of cool, when I ripped up the lino in the closet, I found a giant piece of kraft paper under it. This sticker was affixed to one part –


So I guess we have a good idea of what they originally used for insulation up here. And that it originated in Minnesota, just like me.

The plan was to use some carpet tiles that we already had for those rooms. But we wanted to put a little something in between the wood and the carpet tiles. So we went to our favorite Home Depot and wandered around looking at our options. We came up with a felted, plastic-backed underlayment which would insulate a very little bit, close up the gaps between the boards, and allow us to lay down the carpet without too much shifting around.


Well. In theory. That’s the second roll, from the second trip to Home Depot. Math skills! They are useful. Not something I have in abundance, obviously, but they would come in handy. Especially since I didn’t think about the fact that I should double check how many carpet tiles I would need to complete the room.


The closet has carpet tiles, all cut to fit. The rest of the back room? Well… it’s still a work in progress.

p.s. Sorry for the fuzzy phone pictures; this was during the time when I didn’t actually know where my camera was. I did find it eventually…