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House Post: New Dryer Venting

I KNOW, my life is just TOO EXCITING, right?


The last three contractors/service people who have entered our basement have all zeroed in on our dryer and said “um…you know that’s super dangerous to have it vented like that, right?”

So: new year, new me, I finally got off my ass to do something about it.


Apparently, though, I did not take a good picture of the previous configuration? Anyway: the main problem is the white plastic ducting you can see there. It snags dryer lint and gets overheated and was a nasty fire risk.


See? Loooooots of dryer lint. Now – you can clean this out with either forced air (like a leaf blower) or these attachments they make that spin around, etc. However. The plastic is super fragile and old and probably would have shredded if I’d tried that.


It was also very jankily held up by, if you can see closely, plastic stripping held together with twist ties.


I opted to also replace the elbow coming out of the dyer at the same time because why not. I also probably should have bought the semi-rigid duct stuff instead of this more flexible stuff but live and learn, it was only $30 spent in materials and in 3 more years if I am unhappy with this I will do it over. It only took about 2 hours of my life.


And the final new venting: straighter, smoother on the inside, and stronger overall. I turned on the dryer and went outside to test to make sure it was blowing strongly, and it was, despite the 16′ length from dyer to exterior wall.

So: boring, but quick and easy and a decent improvement in overall house safety.


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House Post: Kitchen Cabinet Pulls

One of my Christmas presents this year is to do a small but impactful upgrade to the kitchen: new cabinet pulls.

You may recall that I’d already stripped the wallpaper and repainted. I also added a dish soap dispenser and swapped the antique microwave for a vent hood. Other than that – not much has changed in the kitchen.

It’s a great kitchen. The cabinets are a touch outdated, but I like wood rather than white cabinets, so I’m inclined to keep them that way. Eventually, we’ll replace the floor and the countertops, but that’s more in the 3-5 year plan.

In the meantime: cabinet pulls. I forgot to take a picture of the current/old ones, because I’m an idiot, but you can see the outline of where it was in the first picture.

The second picture is a potential replacement.




It’s definitely a significant improvement, but I’m not in love with the style. It looks a little too prefab for me.

I know I want something Art Deco-y. I know I can’t spend $25 per pull, much as I might lust after these, from the House of Antique Hardware. (They’re also not the right size; I need 3″ pulls because I have zero interest in messing around with wood filler, etc.)

These are a distinct possibility but I’m not sure I love the rounded look.

This one is also a possibility, but the smallest it comes is 3.5″.


On the off chance that anyone out there enjoys haunting the internet for cabinet pulls in your spare time, here are my requirements:

  • 3″ center to center
  • satin or brushed nickel finish
  • under $10 per
  • art deco styling
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House Goal Planning for 2019

I’ll recap the overall house progress of 2018 in a later post, but for now: what do I want to get accomplished in 2019?

  • All interior cosmetic work done: all wallpaper stripped, all holes filled in, all walls painted. That means the sun room front bedroom, and the room we call the kitchen nook.
  • Next phase of work planned out: exterior paint, bathrooms, kitchen upgrades.
  • Landscaping figured out: clean up back lot, deal with shrubs/trees in front yard, put actual effort into yard work.
  • Regrading projects around the foundation, so we avoid the small leaks that we’ve suffered from.
  • Purge/cleanout of unnecessary things, possibly to culminate in a yard sale this summer.
  • Stretch goals will be some woodworking: refinishing a coffee table, possibly re-upholstering.

It is, however, starting to feel like we’re finishing something big and resting a bit. We’re more into the nice-to-have rather than the must-have. Which is great.

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House Post: #@$&#%! Roof

Home ownership is a neverending exploration of all the dumb shit things that cost money, I tell you what.

Already this fall, we spent almost $1k to get some diseased trees removed.

Earlier this week, we had a nasty windstorm. I remember smugly thinking, “so glad we got those trees taken care of, I don’t have to worry any more about these storms!”



Cue frantic calling of all the roofers I could find via Google. Most of them didn’t quite laugh at me, but they were baffled that I thought that they might have ANY time to even come LOOK at the roof when winter is coming.

Yeah. Winter is coming. Hence why I want the damn thing fixed before SNOW.


Anyway, a very nice man finally agreed to come take a look and then I texted him probably waaaaaay too many times when he got delayed a couple of times and then on Saturday he came with a guy and they tacked the shingles back on.



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House Post: Living Room Begins!

I hit the jackpot with my in-laws, in more ways than one. Right now, though, the top of that list is that they come visit and we get huge things done.

This weekend, for example, we took down all of the living room wallpaper!


…and after!

It’s tough to describe the paint job underneath. It looks like there is a layer of rust-colored paint, covered by a taupe color in stripes and the whole thing was treated with something that made it crackle. Then there are these fake woodgrain-looking patches. And the lines between the stripes are sort of patterned dots.

It’s just odd. Someone put a TON of work into making it look like this, and I just can’t entirely figure out why.

As you can see in the last picture, the final bit to do is scrub off the glue, and we’ve already started.

If all goes as planned, this is on track to finish by the end of October!

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House Post: Pesto!

I planted a ton of basil this year, hoping for a scenario exactly like this: truly absurd amounts of basil to harvest at the end of the year. Then, my hopes looked dashed when some kind of pest got into the basil. I pulled into my driveway every day and got grumpy when I saw how the plants were basically gone.

But! Miracle of miracle, the basil came roaring back late in the summer. I did absolutely nothing, so I’m not sure what happened, but I’m glad it did.


7.5 cups total all in little tupperwares for scooping out this winter for various meals – pizza, pasta, and the like.

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House Post: More Radiators

There are eight cast-iron radiators in this house. They are powered via a steam heat furnace in the basement. They are huge and heavy and I kind of love them. They heat the house up quickly, and bring out a sort of old-house cozy smell and feel as they do. It’s also a moist heat, even in the depth of winter.

However, each of the radiators has its own problems. Some of them have been hideous colors. Some of them are neutral colors, but the paint is peeling badly. All of them are truly, unbelievably heavy.

Previously, we sent out two radiators to be sandblasted and I repainted them.

While I was doing the dining room, I sent out the next three radiators, all in rooms that were now finished. I also unhooked the study radiator to strip wallpaper and paint behind it. So: three radiators refinished, four rooms of painting completely done.


Study radiator: refinished already, but the wall behind it was not yet done.


Upstairs library, needed the wallpaper glue washed, then plastered, then primed, then two coats of paint. Each step was quick; it was the drying time that dragged this out.


It took us an hour and much agony to get these out and into the truck…


…and it took the guy at the granite shed about 2 minutes per radiator to move them over to the sandblasting area, a much further distance than we’d carried them.

They hung out at the granite shed for a few weeks – they do them in their off hours, when they’re not doing granite work – and then a week ago they were ready!


Then painted with primer and two coats of Rustoleum’s high heat paint in silver.



Four radiators still to go, hopefully next summer. Two of them are our largest in the house and we’ll have to hire people to help us get them out. I’ll also have sold the truck by then, hopefully, so it’s going to be a lot more complicated next time around either way.

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House Post: Dining Room Reveal Part 2

When last we left the dining room, I had removed the wallpaper and skimcoated the awful lower half texture. I’d also done the prime coat.

First things first: the new paint!

On the top is Sherwin Williams “Fine Wine” and on the bottom is SW “Fresh Linen.”


You can tell from some of those in-progress photos that it absolutely needed three coats of paint on the top. Red is hard.

I had originally hoped to paint a color called “Red Bay” for obvious reasons but when I put it on the wall it looked like tomato soup.


Then, new chair rail. I spent a long time choosing new chair rail; I brought three different samples home from the lumber yard after dithering forĀ weeks. They already know me pretty well – like they don’t even ask my name to look up my account anymore, sigh – but they got to know me extra- well because once or twice a week I’d go in and stare at the trim samples for 20 minutes and sigh heavily. It just felt like a huge decision.

I knew right off the bat that “traditional” chair rail was not for me; it was too large, too fussy, and just not right for the overall style of our house. So I was looking at things labeled for baseboards, ceilings, etc. One of my options was technically outdoor window trim.

I ended up with something that’s supposed to be for baseboards – and flipped it upside down. It echoed the lintels over my doors and windows well, was the right size/depth, and I just liked the look of it.


Then I had to learn how to “cope” the corner joints, which took a fair bit of practice. The picture above is my fifth try and my best one on the practice piece. You can learn more about coping here, but it’s basically doing a custom cut so the trim fits together. It’s the best option for old houses without square corners whose walls are likely to keep shifting.

So, then I cut all the chair rail (eight pieces total, and each one was a different length), and put it all up using a combination of measurement, a level, and my gut instinct. My floors slope so much that even though they are level according to gravity and the broader universe, the top of the chair rail on one end could measure as much as 1.5″ higher than the other.



I am so ridiculously pleased with the way it’s turned out.

At this point, I have a little more work to do: scrubbing the floors and baseboards to get rid of construction dust, patching the nail holes in the chair rail, and washing and ironing all the curtains. Then I have to put the new outlet covers on, and put the room back together. Finally, I have to paint the radiator and put that back in place. That was supposed to be done two weeks ago, but Tristan had other plans, so it’s getting done this week instead.

Next up: three more radiators got sandblasted and repainted, and then we’ll tackle the living room as probably our last project of 2018.

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House Post: Dining Room Reveal, Part 1

Damn straight I’m going to stretch this out over two weeks, because a) it was a ridiculous amount of work and b) I’m ridiculously proud of it!

Let’s review briefly, shall we?

The very first thing I did in the dining room was to rip up the carpet and expose the hardwood floors. Then I tried to fix the dining room chandelier but broke it and just replaced it. Then I dithered for a long, long, looooooooong time about exactly what I wanted to do in the room. Then I couldn’t ride in August and all my frustration bubbled over and I said eff it and started skimcoating and pushing HARD to finish.

As a reminder, here’s a before photo of the room.

So, in order, we:

  • removed the carpet
  • removed the wallpaper
  • scrubbed and plastered the walls
  • removed the old chair rail (quarter round)
  • skimcoated the texture underneath the old chair rail

Some progress photos for you.

Next week…final painting & chair rail installation!


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House Post: Almost-Finished Terrace

The bulk of the work on the kitchen garden terrace is done, and it’s been fun to see what grows and what doesn’t grow all summer.


Last week, I finally got off my butt and put in the last layer of terracing: just one set of boards across the very top.


As you can see, the grass growing around is a bit out of control. The last step will be to trim that all down/rip it out as best possible, lay down landscape fabric, and then put some drainage rocks on top – at the bottom, top, and along the side by the stairs.

That may happen this fall, or it may happen next spring. Frankly, it depends more on budget than on time.