Friday, August 29, 2014

Step in Time Step in Time

Kick your knees up, step in time and take a step back in time to July 2013.  This is where we started with the steps and foyer. 

There was a wall separating the foyer and the dining room and two doors to get to the kitchen.

The carpet was the first to go. The steps were a mess.  Sticky from carpet tape. Tack track.  Nails.  Staples. Paint and more paint. Originally we were going to carpet the steps and the entire house.  Then we decided to laminate and I didn't think carpeted steps and the rest of the floors laminated would look nice.

They make a system of laminate pieces that go over the steps.  It's a unique system.  It also costs $60 per step!

So I got out the belt sander, orbital sander, Dremmel tool, and sand paper. And dust masks.  (Cause I wasn't warm enough.)

Many smashed knuckles later the steps were sanded.

But the first sanding wasn't enough.  The steps were rough, not smooth. There was still lots of paint left in the grooves and the stain didn't cover anything.  Replacing the staircase wasn't an option at this point.  *sigh* Another weekend of sanding. 

But the second round of sanding with a coarser grain of paper left the steps in MUCH better condition.

I added a little high gloss white enamel to the risers in the back.  And instantly every hole from every staple and nail ever put in the steps appeared.  It looks nice though.

Wood putty filled the holes.  It looks like the risers have poison ivy lotion on them. 

Now the problem of the first two steps.  We removed the newel post to put in the wall.  The step treads had been cut around newel post.  

I wanted two large steps on the bottom to make a grand entrance when you entered the foyer.  Stair treads can be bought in a 48" length or smaller.  Larger steps would need to be crafted.  48" is good!

Enter Mr. Sawzall and the bottom two steps were gone.  Careful of that first step.

Walt Kowalski's feet from under the steps (the steps down to the basement)

A little framing.  A LOT of measuring.

Instead of rounded treads, square goes well with the angles of the house. Suddenly, we've got some good looking stairs.

The sides will be encapsulated with trim to match.  Now we can finish the laminate floor in the dining room and foyer and I can finish painting and staining the stairs.  We like it. 


Last night, before bedtime, I had a clean comforter sitting on the bed.  It was freshly washed and dried and I didn't feel like putting it away last night.

I should have. 

This morning I went into the bedroom for socks and found this:


On the dresser!  The look from Pepper says it all. "Leave us alone and turn on the heat."

Don't worry Pepper, tomorrow it will be in the 90s.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Picket fences

We don't have enough to do, we're building fences, too.

Actually, it's baseboard.  But it looks like a fence.

And more floors! This time the hall upstairs.  Lots of cuts.

A few tricky pieces.  Even one diagonal piece.  This house is not square, but we've help disguise it.  
The landing at the top of the stairs had a bow to it. More like a belly.  No, not a beer belly, but close. After we installed several rows of floor, we were concerned we needed additional sub-layers underneath.

Between the padding and the laminate floor, the beer belly was much less noticeable. 

You can just see a bit of the steps.  More on that soon. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sweatin to the Floors

The electrician got the ceiling fan hung in the living room and dining room and not a moment too soon.  It's still summer and we are ready to install the floors.

That photo didn't show much.  Let me try another.

Better.  I love the brushed nickel finish with the dark cherry colored blades.  When running, they are very quiet, too.

They also cooled us nicely while we installed the floor. 



We couldn't go any farther until Walt Kowalski finishes the bottom steps.  You can see a preview of the step project in this photo.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Finishing Details

While Walt Kowalski is working upstairs finishing the bathroom, I'm working downstairs finishing the laundry room.

He built a small bulk head around the vent pipes.

And covered it with a nice bead board. 

He also used this for the access panel behind the shower.  Just in case we need to get to the plumbing.

Meanwhile...seams & screws and seams & screws and seams & screws for me.


We splurged.  Friday was Fryday.  We do it once a year.  Normally on the 4th of July, but the last few years we've postponed it to Labor Day because we've been away on vacation. 

This year we planned an end of summer picnic.  It was a perfect summer day, hot humid and a perfect summer evening. 

Healthy food is always a top priority. We are big grillers and bakers; frying is not a daily occurrence.

Chicken pieces

Fresh cut fries
And pumpkin gobs for dessert.

Dinner put everybody in a food coma.


Friday, August 22, 2014


Earlier this week, the mama of House #1 and I were running errands and made a wrong turn.  We didn't get lost.  We turned down a road that was under construction. 

Flagmen (and women)
Big yellow trucks
Hot stinky oil
Gravel chips everywhere

Once we realized what was going on, it was too late to turn back.  What a mess.  There were stone chips on the roof of my car!

We got home only to see this sign on the road to the Cat Ranch:

Noooooo!!! We were next.

*sigh*  Well, let's look at the positive.  Maybe it will slow down the traffic. 

Yesterday they arrived.  First the street sweepers, which put all cats on edge.  Then the convoy.  The noise made everybody run and hide.


I liked the idea of the Pilot Car.  When we were stuck in the construction, we did follow him.  Except he drove way too fast for me to follow closely behind on new gravel.  Probably the reason I had gravel on my roof.

I do admire the person driving the truck in reverse.  He spends the entire day going backwards.

Now the negatives.  I know all of the excess gravel is going to clog the gutter of the road.  Who do you think is going to have to clean it out?  The state's website says 'chipping is an effective treatment for lower-volume roads.' 

Lower-volume!  There is nothing about our road that is low-volume.  Not even the noise of the vehicles! 

Low-volume.  Ha!

They go on to say that this method has been extended to high-volume roads due to budget constraints.  Of course.  Grrr. 

Excuse me while I go sweep my driveway so no more stones end up in the house.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Final Piece

We installed the last piece of ceiling drywall!  (Technically, there is another small piece that goes in the top of the stairs to the basement, but I'm not counting that as proper ceiling.)

We installed the last piece of ceiling drywall!
More seams and screws. 
But it got us thinking about how far we've come in a year.  It has been an interesting year.  

July 2013


July 2013:


I almost, *almost* forgot about the two chimneys. They took up space. The old built in cabinet was nice, but beyond repair.  Beyond nose repair. 

We've got lots left to do, but we've come a long way, baby. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


While we were hanging the kitchen cabinets, Walt Kowalski happened to look out the back window towards the neighborhood.

"Look what's going on out back!"

"They are cleaning up the shrubs!"

This goes all the way back to Memorial Day weekend.  You can read all the original details here:  Drama and Windows.

It's never too late in the season to clean up your yard. Those branches would make a great bonfire.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


30 years ago Walt Kowalski and his brothers and sister bought their mom a porch swing.  She loved it.  Used it every day until she passed away.  Several moves, and storages later, the swing landed on Walt Kowalski's porch.  Several more moves and storages later, the swing found a new home on the front porch of Walt Kowalski's daughter's house.  
She was pleased to have her grandmother's swing and use it everyday.
Every time we visited, I admired the swing, but it also made me a little sad.  Although she used it and enjoyed it, the swing needed a little love.  It needed a little TLC.  J

So as an early birthday present, I commandeered the swing and brought it to the Cat Ranch. 

I started with a good scrubbing and power washing (warshing).  It was dirty after years of weather. 

The cleaning helped tremendously.  A day in the sun to dry and I was ready to sand.  Next came a day of sanding and gluing.  I started with a course grit and ended with a fine grit.  I couple of the back slats needed glued. 

Walt Kowalski said the original color was cedar, so that's what I picked.  But when I opened the can of stain, it looked really orange.  Too orange.  I had a moment of panic I picked the wrong color.

But the bright orange was absorbed by the wood and the color is perfect.  {big sigh}

Here you can see the difference between the unfinished back slats and the first coat on the seat.  It looks very nice. 

Up close the difference is even more dramatic. 

Another sanding before the second coat of stain is next on the agenda.  The stain is actually a stain AND weatherproofing all-in-one. 

I like it.  Walt Kowalski liked it.  I hope Walt Kowalski's daughters like it.  I hope mom (grandma) approves, too.