Sunday, May 18, 2014

Our Grandfathers' Things

This is not one of my blog topics that I had been planning and prepping for, but I thought it would still be nice to share.

Earlier this year, my grandfather passed away. He was a cowboy and a world traveler and a really nice guy. He and my grandmother lived in a house that was filled to the brim with items they had collected from their travels over the years. It wasn't safe for her to live there by herself, so the family gathered to empty out the house. It was very important to my grandmother that as much as possible of her many things would stay in the family.

Just this month, R's grandfather made the bold and courageous decision to leave his house of over 50 years to move into a new apartment in a senior community. The house he had been living in is where he raised his children, so it was full of all the mementos and artifacts of their life there.

In both cases, the houses were chock-full of stuff, and our parents did the heavy lifting of sorting through the trash and donatables. Our job was to sort through the things of value to pull out heirlooms we wanted to keep in the family and mementos that would remind us of our loved ones. We tried hard to only pick the things we really liked and would want to keep forever. Some items were great as-is, and a few others needed a little work.

My Grandfather's Things:
An elephant from one of their trips in the living room

A massive belt buckle turned object of art in the fireplace room (the white thing)

A bolo tie turned into a necklace

yay new necklace!

R's Grandpop's Things:

R's mother's step stool in the pantry
(with her name painted on the bottom in excellent 4th-grade cursive handwriting)

The big project: an old window that needed some love. 

I scraped off all the old pealing paint and loose caulk, and sanded

I recaulked so the panes were held in safely

Then I repainted both sides

I added little rings on both sides of the back

all done and looking fabulous on the living room wall

So, this wasn't exactly a project we were planning on, but it turned out nicely. Several of our rooms got a little upgrade, making them a bit more interesting and adding reminders of our grandparents throughout the house.

And- on the topic of family and multiple generations, our not-so-small-anymore kitten, Wally, has some big news this week. At 8 months old now, it was time for Wally to get snipped. Spaying and neutering our pets is an important thing to do to prevent more freezing little kittens in alleys, but I'm not feeling great about it today. The poor little guy is just miserable. We're crossing our fingers that he bounces back quickly and will again be the energetic little monster we've grown to tolerate.

Miserable Wally lounges sadly in his cone.

It's a little early for father's day- but seems like a good time to give a shout-out to the men in my life. Woot-Woot. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Renovation Update - Let's get started!

I mentioned over two months ago that our permits were finally approved to start our renovation. We reached out to several contractors to get estimates. Like every other part of this project to-date - this step also took way longer than expected. Some contractors wouldn't return our calls, some would come but never send the estimate. Some sent estimates for only part of the work. We found one we really liked, but even with them it took time to finalize the scope of work and get it all ready. So, now that we've done that, we are finally ready to get started. We have signed a contract and written our first check.  [Sidenote- I am so tired of giving the house tour and explaining what we want to do. Hopefully I have now done it for the last time.]

current state of the living room- we tore out the corner trying to find the source of a leak almost a year ago.

part of the living room where the new kitchen will go

the bar in the living room in all its glory

the current kitchen/laundry room, soon to be a bedroom

the current bathroom/sauna

As I described quite a while ago, we have big plans for our house. We want to renovate the basement into a functional apartment. On the first floor, we want to upgrade our kitchen, add a half bath and mud room, and open up the wall between the kitchen and dining room. On the second floor, we want to add a master bath & walk-in closet while closing in the sleeping porch. Originally we planned to do one project at a time, starting with just the basement and taking roughly 5 years to finish the whole shebang. As we talked to contractors though, it became clear that it would cost more to spread the projects out because we would inevitably end up tearing out finished work. So, instead, we revised the scope to try to do as much as possible now to set ourselves up for the future projects.

It took a while to figure out where to draw the line between phase 1 (being done now) and phase 2 (some random point in the future when we'll complete the rest of the renovations). We finally figured it out, based on our budget and what makes sense to do.

Phase 1:
  • totally renovate the basement
  • remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room
  • remove the pantry
  • close in the new mudroom and half bath
  • prep pipes for new half bath on first floor
  • close in the sleeping porch
  • add new washer/dryer upstairs

Phase 2:
  • complete the half bath
  • renovate the kitchen
  • add the master bath & closet
  • remove other walls upstairs to access old sleeping porch
  • add door from dining room to patio

So, phase 1 is a huge project, and preps us for phase 2 in the future without undoing any of the completed work in the basement. Ideally, it also sets us up to tackle some small parts of phase 2 ourselves, so that we can make progress while we save up for the contractors to come back. In particular, I'm thinking that the new master closet, which is just some framing and sheetrock, will happen really quickly [Hello massive, walk-in closet, I've been dreaming about you for a while].

Now that we've finally figured out the scope of work and nailed down the contractor, we are waiting for them to finish up their current project before they can start with us. That means it's time to start shopping. We need to start picking materials so that everything's ready to go when the contractors start. This is generally what we're going for: light and bright, neutral but not boring, and tasteful but durable.

  1. Neutral, light wall color
  2. Brushed nickel finishes
  3. Grey backsplash for the kitchen
  4. light quartz countertops
  5. more nickel finishes with elegant lines
  6. Faux-wood floor tile throughout
  7. White cabinets
  8. Light gray bathroom floor tile
  9. White subway tile for the shower walls

We're expecting them to start in 1 month (beginning of June), and then take roughly 2 months to complete. So, by mid-August, we should have a finished basement apartment, ready to be rented. I've been horrible at judging the timelines for this project so far, but hopefully we're really on track now and will have a tenant by the fall. Yay- actual progress!!!