basement redux..

by jennbona in , , ,

We decided that it was time to refinish the "finished" basement.  I mean, knotty pine panelling is nice and all, but it was time to go.
Look at all that stuff!

All cleaned out and ready for demo.

View towards stair.

Demo done! (so dusty)

Demo (towards stair)

Drywall progress

Tape and spackle done!

Ready to prime

We ripped out the paneling and ceiling, installed recessed lighting and then insulated and drywalled the space.  We were able to soffit the pipes that lead to the upper floor radiators.  We are going with a plank ceiling in the areas between the soffits and laminate on the floor.  Next step is to prime and paint, and install finished ceiling and flooring. It is still a work in process, but looks much better already, and adds about 300 SF of usable space to the house!

we have the best neighbors....

by jennbona in , ,

We really do love our neighbors.  These people will go out of their way to help each other, we have parties and BBQ's in the summer, they give us home baked treats not only when we moved in but also for holidays or just because they made extra.  They shovel our walk if we're not home.. one lets us use his snowblower all season (this has been awesome especially considering the amount of snow we've had this winter and last).

My good friend Carrie is the reason we bought our house.. she and I met through our children and she let me know about this house going on the market immediately.  She helped me remove about 1,000,000 staples and tacks from the second floor when we ripped up the carpet..  Her husband helped us move.. as in actually packed things for us and trucked it over here.  (That is big.. helping people move is not something most people volunteer to do!) She and her husband are from Charleston and moved here due to his job.... which is now relocating back to Charleston..   We are going to miss them so much... We are happy that they will now be closer to their family... but really it is not going to be the same around here without them.  Our children were going to be in the same grade... They walk past our house every evening when the weather is nice and often stop to hang out on the porch for a drink or just to chat...  Totally bummed.. 

The only positives in this are
  1. We love Charleston.
  2. We enjoy a good road trip
  3. We now will have a place to stay in Charleston

Picture from our last trip to Charleston in 2009... we're due for a road trip.

I wish them the best in their move.. selfishly hoping they will take their time with listing and all that...   

house numbers, sconces & porch stuff....

by jennbona in , , , , , ,

Our front porch is one of the reasons we bought our house.  It's large, wraps around the side of the house, and is concrete which I didn't think at first I would like but it's really smooth, and feels nice when you walk on it in your bare feet.  I also like that it doesn't have a railing around it which makes it feel so open.  The kids were into skateboarding a lot last summer and before we had any furniture they loved just going back and forth across the front.. and then they realized they could jump off the end of the porch on their board and onto the lawn so that became the skateboard trick of the summer.

OK.. anyway we needed to buy some porch furniture so we started with a nice sectional set that we purchased at Costco online (it's called the hampton).  It's really comfortable and fits well on the porch.  We may buy another one for the other side of the porch.. I also would like to get a table for the side porch but haven't found one I like yet.

On the driveway side of the house we put up a temporary piece of lattice just to give us a bit of privacy from our neighbor but mainly to support the climbing rose that is growing there.. by end of summer it was pretty well covered with the rose bush.  I found this nice wood lattice from that I would like to use... but still figuring out what we want there.

Part of the plan to spruce up the front of the house entailed getting some new house numbers to replace the colonial 1970's looking ones that were there and also replacing the crazy giant sconces with something that had cleaner lines. The house numbers are basic pin mounted bronze numbers - they do the job and look better than the old ones.. the sconces are from restoration hardware (braxton sconce).   We still want to replace the door bell, mail slot and either get a new storm door or at least update the hardware.  That's where we are with the front of the house for now... 

a penny saved.. is a tile floor

by jennbona in , , , ,

i knew even before we bought our house that i wanted to put a penny tile floor in somewhere.  as in real pennies.  we had seen a floor like this at the standard grill in new york and thought it was really pretty and on a small scale wouldn't be hard to fabricate.

so i saved a bunch of pennies, made a template, bought some mesh backing for mosaic tiles, glue that could hold metal and started making sheets of tile.  

then we just installed them directly over the existing ceramic tile in the vestibule with regular thin set.   

and then grouted it with laticrete epoxy grout in chocolate truffle.  

it was really very easy and i love the way it came out.. most people that first see it don't realize that it's pennies.  i like the blend of the different shades of copper that was created from using old wheat pennies right up to bright 2010 pennies.  oh and in case you want to know... it took 3,889 pennies (it's about 3'-8" x 5'-8").  so $38.89 for app. 24 sf of tile is not bad at all. goes.. another attempt at this blogging thing

by jennbona in , ,

ok.. so obviously we still have more work to do on the house, but we also didn't stop doing work back in april.. i just couldn't find the time to write about it... so i figured maybe just do an update on where we are with things.. and then i'll try to blog maybe once a month or so.

some of what we've been working on hasn't been fun stuff.. mostly mechanical systems and landscaping (that part is fun)

  • the boiler install was completed without any issue.. and seems to working just fine.
  • we broke down and had central air installed.. all it took was one day in April that was over 90 degrees and we started shopping around for contractors.  seriously, i don't know why i would even entertain the idea of living without AC.. 
  • there has been major landscaping going on around here of which I can take ZERO credit.. Glenn is like edward scissorhands chopping things down, moving plants around and planting new grass both in the back yard and front yard...  I will post some photos of his progress later.
  • we re-tiled the front vestibule.. this is one that i'm pretty proud of and i'll do a separate post on soon.
  • we put up some new house numbers, exterior wall sconces and purchased some really great porch furniture.. it's looking pretty good.
  • we have completely cleared out the third floor of all the stuff that migrated up there after we moved and have begun to work on the space.  we had a few extra outlets installed and are now beginning to skim coat the walls.. more to come!
  • we still HATE our kitchen!  although i have come up with numerous schemes for what i want to do with the space and hopefully we'll get the funds together soon so that i can actually put together a meal without having to balance things on my head while cooking.  the lack of counter space is ridiculous.. and it's hideous... and did i mention i HATE it?  

the glass is finally installed!

by jennbona in ,

Update on the never ending bathroom renovation... the glass tub enclosure is finally complete!  After contacting 4 different glass companies we went with a company called California Frameless Shower Doors. They were great to work with and we are very happy with the results!  Now mostly minor items left to finish in the bathroom... prep and paint the trim around the windows and doors, hooks etc.  We plan on replacing all the windows on the second floor at the same time so the current ones will have to do for now.

we need a new boiler...

by jennbona in , , ,

When we bought the house we knew it would need a new boiler (the current one is 47 years old).. however we were hoping to try to get by with the one that was here for at least one season... there was so much back and forth with the negotiations about the boiler, but the house also had knob and tube wiring throughout so we decided to have the old owner replace all the knob and tube instead of the boiler...  they threw the old 'home warranty' thing at us.. which is fine but of course only covers a very small amount towards the boiler.  we figured we could deal with the boiler at some time... well that time has come.

We also need a hot water heater...the current one is from 1981.  Of course we want to try to get the best and 'greenest' we can afford for both the boiler and HWH.

In  meeting with HVAC contractors to gather bids, we came across one that told us about the NJ Clean Energy Incentives Program which offers financial incentives on energy efficient improvements.  So if your estimated heating savings would be 25% or more NJ will put 50% toward the costs of the HVAC upgrades and then allow you to finance the balance interest free.  This allows us to go with a new direct vent 93% efficient boiler and direct vent HWH and we don't need to lay out tons of money right now.  And we'll save more on our gas bills.. which were pretty steep this winter.  The major downside of all of this is dealing with NJ state employees... this is taking so long to process and there was so much back and forth with paperwork... and we still don't have the boiler yet.  Fortunately the old one is hanging in there with a few minor quirks.. like one day just deciding to not shut off.. the house was up to 80 degrees.. and other times just shutting off completely. 

We should have the new boiler just in time for summer!

snow days

by jennbona in , ,

snow makes everything look better.. at least initially.. once it has been around for 2 weeks and is turning black from the pollution then it's not so nice..

below are some fresh snow photos of the house.  we only lost one tree limb in the front and needed to do some emergency pruning of trees along the driveway or else we wouldn't be able to get the car out.

the colors of 210

by jennbona in , , ,

After (mostly) all the wallpaper was finally removed.. and there was a lot of it... we started painting.  We are STILL painting - mainly trim.   Most of the wallpaper came off pretty easy - only one room was really bad and took longer to remove in that room then in the rest of the house.  Just so I can feel good about the fact that it is all gone, here are progress photos.
Then came my favorite part - picking out paint colors!   That being said - it took me a lot of time putting up samples on the walls and checking everything out in all kinds of light conditions before making final selections.  I am pretty happy with the results.  We used Benjamin Moore Aura Paint throughout and I have to say I was very impressed with the paint.  It has very low odor and the coverage is great... we went with the following colors throughout the house:

White Wisp 2137-70 on all the ceilings

Skylight Blue (a Farrow and Ball color) in the bathroom

Silver Sage (Finnaran and Haley not the Ben Moore one)

Horizon 1478 - Benjamin Moore

French Press AF-170 Benjamin Moore

Edgecomb Gray HC-173 Benjamin Moore

hardwood floors (redone!)

by jennbona in , ,

One of the first things we did was to remove all the carpet from the house.. it had seen better days, was smelly and dirty.. and had to go.  The good thing about all the carpet was that it seemed to have protected the floors really well.   The second floor is red pine and only one of the rooms had an area that was damaged.  The first floor is oak with an inlay around the perimeter in the living room and dining room.  Very nice floors but slightly worn.  So we decided to have them refinished as it would be easier to do before we move all our stuff in. 

The most difficult part of the process was that the carpet on the stairs had some type of clay based padding which apparently was used a lot in the 70's.... over time with the foot traffic on the steps it caused it to break down and was stuck to the floors.  We (and by we I mean Glenn) had to carefully scrape it off.  He had to wet it down to try to soften it.. there wasn't anything we could find that would help other than water.. But he eventually got it all off :)  They came out great!

We decided to go with a dark walnut stain on the first floor and kept the natural color on the second floor. 

Second floor bedroom sanded and with one coat of poly.

85% complete!

by jennbona in , , ,

ok.. we are almost there with the bathroom.. major items still to be done are the glass around the tub, new windows and prepping / painting the window and door trim.. minor items include hanging towel bars / hooks..

The vanities, medicine cabinets, wall sconces, and faucets are all from Restoration Hardware.. scored some major deals at the outlet and the clearance store in Lancaster, PA.  The subway tile is American Olean from Lowes.  The carrara marble counters are from Abruzzi Stone in Cherry Hill, NJ; really nice, friendly people and the price was good too.  The toilet is the Aquia dual flush model by Toto.  One of the biggest savings was the 1" honed hexagon floor.. I purchased it at 1/2 the cost of any other source I found thru a store on eBay.   I love how it all turned out - I think it's a good use of the space and better reflects the character of the house. 

bathroom design and finishes

by jennbona in , , ,

This is the new layout of the bathroom...  we relocated the toilet (basically it is directly opposite where it used to be)  there are low walls at either end of the tub which have a sill on them and then glass will be surrounding the tub. 

The finishes in the bathroom are pretty simple; white subway tile wainscot on the walls and 1" honed carrera marble in a hexagon pattern on the floors.  Below are some progress photos...we are not 100% complete yet but it's fully functional.. just some minor items (and the glass) to be finished.  So I will post nearly complete photos soon!

bathroom demo

by jennbona in ,

Here are some photos from the demo... this bathroom was put together pretty solid.  All the tile was set in 2" wet beds with wire below.  It was a dust nightmare.  We also discovered that at some time insulation had been blown into the walls from the outside so hopefully this will help out with heating and cooling. 

pink is not my color...

by jennbona in , ,

Before we even settled on the house, we knew that we wanted (needed) to rip out the bathroom first.. it was not pretty in pink.  One of the things that really bothered me about the layout was the full height plumbing wall that was blocking most of one of the windows in the room.  The size of the bathroom is really nice, it is much larger than what you typically find in an 80+ year old house.  So I came up with a layout that I thought would work better and would also allow us to have two vanities.  Since this is the main bathroom having two vanities is a plus.

This photo is from our walk through and you can make out in the upper left corner the radio that is plugged into an outlet on the other side of the wall and resting precariously on the top of the sliding door... an accident waiting to happen. 

This is the full height wall which was set about 12" off the outside wall blocking half the window into the room.

before photos

by jennbona in , , ,

Here are just a few photos from one of our walk throughs of the house. It's difficult to tell from the photos, but this house was dirty....really DIRTY. I don't think it had seen a vacuum, mop or any kind of cleaning solution in a long time. Thankfully we have already taken care of the nasty pink bathroom.. but still have to suffer with the kitchen for awhile.  We started with removing all the wallpaper (which was in most rooms - some up to 4 layers) and had the floors refinished.  Also renovated the bathroom.  Progress photos to come soon!

we bought a house...

by jennbona in , ,

So we finally bought a house after having looked a few years ago, then stopped looking and found one that pretty much had everything we were looking for in a house.. except a fireplace. It has great bones but had been neglected over the past 20 years or as the realtor put it had suffered from "deferred maintenance". For the most part, that's ok with us as we prefer to make it our own anyway and the less crap that was done to it over the years the better.

On Sept 1st the renovations began, mostly minor but it already looks much better and more like us. I thought this might be a good way for those who are interested to see the progress or if nothing else for myself to review where we started and how far along the progress is coming.