Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kitchen - Thrill Of The Dig

For whatever reason, I love to look at a room of a "fixer-upper" and determine the challenges, and how to solve them.  Even more, I love the "dig", taking a room a part, piece by piece, like it is a puzzle, enjoying the unexpected discoveries along the way, and getting it down to a clean slate.

This is the picture of the kitchen before I started tearing it apart. Lovely, isn't it?  In it's day, it certainly was, but it probably has not been updated in 40-50 years, and obviously I can't do carpet in a kitchen.

One of the first things I did was take the ceiling fan down (of course), and because I could not figure out how to get it down in once piece, this was an added feature in one of our bonfires.  I then took up part of the carpet (which was glued to subfloor for added exercise) and pulled out the refrigerator (guessing it is from the 1960s at the latest).  This, of course, was after I took off the door, because I could not get it to budge, at first, and thought I could actually take it apart.

I then took the cabinet apart that surrounded the refrigerator.  I was hoping to keep it all as one piece, as I'm using all of the kitchen cabinets in my garage (waste nothing...).  No such luck, it as nailed too many times to the wall.  So I took it apart board by board, removed the nails, and yes, you'll see an episode down the road of the cabinet put back together and used in my garage.

When I removed the cabinet, I discovered some very cool vintage wallpaper.  At some point, I lost count, but I believe I unlayered eight different kinds of wallpaper.

Here you go with some wallpaper samples, and you'll also note that I discovered tile under the paneling also.  Underneath the tile/wallpaper and throughout the house (walls and ceiling), this 1921 structure also has tongue & groove wood. Nothing wrong with that, except noticing so far that the exterior walls do not have insulation.  Nice...

Another "adopted brother"/lifelong friend came by and we filled his trailer with items to take to Gary's Metals.  Afterall, I had a refrigerator with no door that didn't work anyway, had to get a new hot water heater, so I had that old one, and then there was this stove...

I guess I could have made slightly more with this stove if I put it on Craigslist, but really, it was very old, missing knobs, and with my schedule, I didn't have time to mess with meeting whoever may or may not want to buy it. So we loaded it on the trailer, along with the metal vent, to take to the scrap yard.

And while I wasn't quick enough to get the photo of my refrigerator flying through the air, I did capture the stove in a bit of a crunch.

So appliances are gone, took up more of the carpet, then time to tackle the rest of the cabinets and the ceiling.  This time, thanks to my brother for the large set of cabinets, I was able to keep the cabinets intact.  They are now all in the garage waiting to be placed - at some point.

You can see now that the wall is quite lovely with the wood on it (joking). I decided to take down one of the walls, put in a half wall that opens up into the living room. Stay tuned for that phone, my parents built the half-wall. 

I'm also opening up the ceiling. Actually, the ceiling had to change, so I took the tiles down and I needed some way to get to the attic to take out the chimney, so I just took down all of the wood. This is when I was convinced that I needed an "exposed" ceiling.

A carpenter starts this week on the ceiling project.  It will remain open and vaulted, but it will be insulated properly, and new wood and fake beams will give it the same look that I want.  Sure has given me a lot of bon fire wood. :) And did I mention there was a dead mouse behind the refrigerator that had been dead for a very, very, very long time. Nice. Stay tuned for more updates.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Age Doesn't Stop This Family

So I had the first-time task for me of taking out the chimney in my house.  I think I might have mentioned in an earlier post that I thought I could get a head start on this project while I waited for a carpenter with roofing skills and I would take down the chimney myself, and let him patch the roof.

Funny how roofs don't seem that high or steep until you get to the top of the ladder and literally crawl on the roof with claws like a cat. Anyway, I was determined and I made it to the chimney with sledgehammer, hammer and chisel in hand and ongoing prayers for coordination.

When I got ready to take the first swing, I noticed a wasp flying out of the chimney, and then another, and then another.

I quickly got back in cat-claw, must-crawl position and was now praying out loud to Jesus to please get me down that ladder safely and I will never be this stupid again.

He answered.  I made it down safe.  I went inside and tore up the couch.

The carpenter had a busy schedule, and said he didn't have time to take the chimney out in the attic. I was really hoping for since I had no access to the attic other than the tiny dormer outside, which would require more prayer to get up a ladder and likely Spanx.

Well, I had thought about taking the ceiling out of my kitchen and doing something different there, so what better way to get to the attic.

So what looked like this...(I know, not a pretty site as it is)

Soon looked like this...

Once I got into that attic, I realized I had a lot of storage space here, if I could eventually finish it a bit.  I had even hoped I could brainstorm a way into making this into a third/kids bedroom, but not likely.

In any case, I once again prayed for coordination as I walked from beam to beam, and placed a few scrap pieces of plywood down to provide a boardwalk to the chimney in the center of the house.  

I quickly learned that the process of taking the bricks down, across the boardwalk, and down the ladder was not going to work.  I began tossing the bricks down the chimney, only realizing the chimney was clogged from other bricks.  Ugh...eventually, I stacked out enough bricks to allow me to keep unclogging the chimney, and kept repeating the process.

When I got down from the attic, there was a knock on my door.  It was my cousin Jayne who is 78 years old.  She had on her jeans, sweatshirt, a ball cap, gloves, and tools in hand.

She had advised me to take out the chimney as one of the first projects and like the Talley side of the family will do, analyzed just how it should be done, how long it will take, etc.  So when I was in the living room removing the rest of the chimney, she took every single brick into the bedroom for me and tossed them out the window.

In this shot, you can see the shelves that resemble a Christmas-tree shape to the right.  It was the creative solution of Roscoe and Margaret, a couple that I remember fondly from my childhood and lived there more than 50 years.  The creative solution was not working for me, though, it was in the way, and that's why I took it out.

Here it is with the shelves and panel board removed...

and this is my spunky, full of life cousin Jayne, ready to knock down the world.

This is a lovely shot of me showing as I often do these days, the importance of wearing a heavy-duty mask for tasks like this.

With just the right tools and attitude, it was proven to me once again that there is nothing a girl shouldn't try (even when they realize there are wasps in the chimney while on the roof) and that age doesn't have to stop us from these kind of adventures.  My cousin Jayne reminded me of that fact that day and so many other days.

We conquered the task that day.

And we created a pile of bricks that I (along with the help of an adopted brother, bless their souls) stacked behind my garage for future use.

Stay tuned for upcoming post regarding the kitchen, but that's it for now. 


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Slow Process...

So, I had to leave town for a week of computer training, had friends staying with me for a weekend in Nashville, and then had my niece's, house progress has not been as fast as I would like (never is).

But few things have happened since my last post.  I came home one day after to work to find this Tonka toy in my driveway. My kind brother told me one day that he would pull out the bushes in my front yard as well as cut down the tree, and the next day by golly it was done.

Now, you can see the front my house.  I plan to close in the front porch, take the windows out and replace with a couple new windows, and center the door underneath the dormer. Eventually, I would like to add on a front porch, but we'll see what I get done with the rest of the house prior to spring/summer.

I have some great friends in my hometown, a few of the guys are sort of like adopted brothers.  So one day, my real brother takes bushes out and cuts a tree down for me.  I go out of town and I come back to find that an "adopted brother" surprised me by mowing my entire yard (1+ acre), cleaning up the front and doing who knows what with the boxwoods.  What a nice surprise!

This Saturday, the same "adopted brother" comes by with his four-wheeler on the trailer behind his truck (I love Southern Illinois).  He hooks the tree stump and pulls it to the backyard where the fire pit is.  He also takes the rest of the wood and stacks it up at the tree near the fire pit.

Because you see, not only is he helping a friend out, but my backyard is becoming a regular hangout with friends and some of these "adopted brothers."  My phone died before I could take more photos, but if you can burn a couch in one fire, you must try to top it or have some creative fun with the next one.  Prior to our bonfire, we had some discussions that somehow led to who has tried Spam and what your favorite cereal was growing up.  Turns out Cookie Crisp, Fruity Pepples and Captain Crunch's Crunch Berries were the clear winners and we (o.k., probably just me) had some serious cravings for these cereals.  So, this bonfire, among the normal hot dogs and chips, includes "Spam On A Stick" (in the photo) and Cookie Crisp, Fruity Pebbles and Crunch Berries (yes, with bowls, milk, the whole deal).

I graduated with all of these "brothers" in the photo, and am lucky to have these life-long friends.

By the way, another Southern Illinois thing.  When I left my house and drove down the main street of town, right smack in the middle of the road, in front of the funeral home, were two large deer.  Luckily, I didn't hit them, and at the next intersection was one of the town cops, so I just rolled down my window and told him. Moving from a big city to seeing deer in the middle of town's main street makes me laugh at the changes in my life.

Stay tuned for more demo, thus more bonfires. :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

There's More Than One Way To Skin A Cat, I Mean, Couch

In the middle of the living room floor, on top of the multi-level green shag carpet that needed to be taken up, was this lovely couch.  It's heavy, it is a recliner on both ends, and because I purchased the home from an estate, no one knew how the previous owner got this couch into the room.  Every way the sellers tried to get the couch out, it just didn't seem to fit through the door.

Well, I was going to wait a few days to line up some guys to try to figure this out, but it didn't take long to get tired of walking around it.  It stared at me like it had won, and screamed that it was something that I couldn't do on my own.

I accepted the challenge.  After my wasp/chimney episode, it was the perfect task to release some stress on something I could do.  I flipped it over, and with a saw, sledge hammer, crowbar, hammer, wrench and screwdrivers, began taking it apart with the back side and underneath so I could see the "guts" of this beast.

This is the pile it became.  It was broken down further with the metal in one pile, cushions and stuffing in trash bags and the mostly wood materials in a can.  I had pulled trim, shelves and other wood and had a stock pile going to burn.

And what better excuse to plan a Saturday night gathering, a "Burn The Couch" Bonfire.  Only in Southern Illinois, can you turn any excuse into a bon fire, as the answer to everything seems to be "just burn it."

So, a few of us gathered in the wide-open sky of my back yard, near one of the largest, coolest trees around, and with a truck playing music and hot dogs and smores ready, we started a small fire.  

We cooked our food over normal wood - logs, etc.  After dinner, we pile on the demo wood as if it was time for fireworks, and marveled at wallpaper walls, trim, shelves, and yes, a couch, as it blazed and turned to ashes.

Whatever works, right?

I tried the same strategy when I could not get this refrigerator out from the cabinet by myself.  I think the refrigerator is sort of retro, cool looking, but it stinks and doesn't work, so off to the dump it will go. 

It wasn't so easy.  I did get the doors off, and then I ripped up the carpet in front of the refrigerator, because clearly it was being nothing but a speed bump for my attempts at removing the refrigerator.  The carpet was glued to a linoleum floor, so it didn't come up easy.  I cut it in about 12" strips and yanked like there was no tomorrow.  I'm sweating by this point, a great deal, by the way.

I finally had to get behind the refrigerator in a dark closet that is behind this wall.  Unfortunately, to my discovery was a very old, dead mouse.  I took a photo of it, but it is sort of nasty, so I won't include it.  

The project almost came to a hault, until I heard that voice of my late father, telling me I was a chicken, big baby, etc.  It worked, I ignored the mouse, and after again yanking like there was no tomorrow, I moved the refrigerator away from the cabinet and in another area of the kitchen.  It awaits a pick-up from the local electric company which will give me a $50 credit on my bill and haul it off for free.

I got some grief from Facebook friends for not making something out of the couch springs and for getting rid of this retro fridge, because they know my love for scrap and old things.  So in their honor, I saved the cool metal kick plate (from the fridge) to the right, and I don't know how I'll use it, but I will.  

Springs, doors, and other metal accessories, however, went into the back of my step-dad's truck that I borrowed.  He's a coal miner, and works three different shifts which would drive me crazy.  I sometimes borrow the truck when he is sleeping in the middle of the day.

Needless to say, here's a photo I took and I know it rates up there with Beverly Hillbillies.  But the convenience is that the scrap yard is right down the road, and they gave me $24 for this junk, and I didn't have to get a dumpster ($$$) and I know it will be recycled.

So there you go.

On to more adventures, all of which don't happen as quickly as I would like. :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Let The House Renovation Begin

It's been a long, long time since I've posted on this blog.  Needless to say, "Jen's Adventures" was foreshadowing for the way life would turn from January 2011 to now.  It's been a learning experience and the summary is:  

  • I finally have a published book with name as a (co-) author.
  • It brought me back home to be with family and old friends.
  • It allowed me to lead a development and renovation of a heritage museum in my hometown.
  • It allowed me to establish a couple downtown events.
  • I was able to purchase and renovate (ongoing) a building next to the museum that I hope to turn into a bakery.
  • I have a vacation home rental property in Nashville now; again, long story, but it's a house I renovated.
  • And in addition to some career shifts, I just recently bought a 1921 house in my hometown of Carterville, Illinois.  So recent that I just closed on the house a week ago - Oct. 12th.

So, from here, I'll be blogging mostly on "the dig" as you might say; renovating this small gem of a house and the adventures that come my way.

One of the first tasks to complete is to remove the chimney from throughout the house.  I thought I could handle the inside, but was going to let a contractor handle starting it on the roof and patching the roof properly.

When rain and unfinished work postponed the contractor, I decided on the day after I bought the house to get started on this project and if I could get the chimney down for them, I would save some cash.

The extension ladder appeared long enough on the way up.  Soon, it would not as I hurried to get down.  After crawling to the top of the house and right before taking a slam at the chimney, wasps flew out of the chimney and towards me.  Somehow, I managed to stay calm and after thanking Jesus out loud a few times, I made it down the ladder safely.

From that adventure, I decided to do something calm like the removal of the boards surrounding the chimney in the living room.  I guess in 1921 and beyond, they did what they had to do, so a house had to have a chimney from the furnace for heat, and if it came right through the living room wall, you do a "when life gives you lemons" deal and surround it with shelves in the shape of a Christmas tree.

You'll note the tree-like shelves to the right of the photo below.  You'll also note a lovely ceiling fan that I couldn't wait to take down, especially because no one could ever find a switch for this light.  It came on when I actually put bulbs in it that worked, and it stayed on for two days until I finally flipped the breaker.

I took it down and put it in the stack for the local 

thrift store, and replaced it with a porcelain fixture with chain while this room is under construction.

Ta-da.  I would have taken a photo with the light on, but it doesn't translate, so just trust me, it works.

A lot more happened last week, but you'll have to give me a bit to catch up.  Stay tuned for another post when I'm not about to fall asleep.