Posts Tagged 'home improvement'

Day 913


Zach would like me to title this post: “Two and a half years after buying the house, Sara lifts a finger”.

I would like it known that, last year, (day 600 ish of our mortgage) I did some touch-up painting on the floor of the east bedroom, where the paint had run under the tape. I’m not a complete layabout. And one time I stabilized the ladder while Zach worked. And I scolded the dog after I accidentally let him run across the newly oiled hardwood floor.

Zach said that priming these shingles was making him suicidal and he kept howling his displeasure from the back room. He threw his paintbrush in a fit of pique. So I took over and quite enjoyed it. Zach believes that is because half  the job was done before I arrived on my white horse.

My insistence that the task wasn’t so bad caused me to get saddled with the actual painting of this wall, which will happen next weekend, supposedly. If I choose not to apply a coat of paint, it has been threatened that my new large craft room will be relocated to this tiny (5′ by 8′ ish) room the color of…. let’s see… cigarette white tinged with yellow.

Stirrings-Mantel Display


I have really enjoyed my Stirrings Collaboration with new friend Jen from Painted Fish Studio, in which we’ve been looking for signs of spring. We’ve both known all along that spring comes sooner to Salt Lake City than to the midwest. So just as I’m thinking of wrapping up my contributions to the project, I’m looking forward to seeing more photos from her warming  climate.

In a time of year when I might have been discouraged or gloomy about the grayness of late winter, or the dampness of very early spring, instead I was encouraged to notice, to observe a quickening, to hope for small signs, and to share the sweet burgeoning of spring.  To me it has felt like a long, delicious season, when some around me are still complaining about the crispness at mid-morning.

Salt Lake’s spring is in full force, now. In bloom, in leaf, in music. From here, summer is so close at hand, a rapid ascent into often triple-digit clay oven conditions. Life is rampant and the birdsong is worth waking up for.

I want to thank Jen for co-publishing with me, and I hope to show you more of her thoughts and photos as winter withdraws from her neighborhood. I hope she feels spring as luxuriously as I have this year!

P.S. The flowers above sit on our new mantel, now installed in the great room, atop oiled floors and freshly painted buttery yellow walls.

We turned on the gas flame to test it and immediately turned it off: the season for that has passed. Something to look forward to in 6 months!


Tung Oil Floor

Because I work for a school, I actually get to take this thing called “Spring Break”, which I’d only ever heard about when I worked more corporate jobs. In the past, Zach and I have traveled, or camped, or otherwise vacationed. This time, though, Zach was determined to take care of the last, biggest project of home improvement: refinishing the hardwood floors in two adjoining rooms on the main floor (used to be three rooms before this renovation).

This is what the floor looked like in two rooms before we moved into the house (Zach had to completely clean the whole place…that was part of the reason we got a good deal). This was one of the only places the floor was even visible beneath the garbage:


One room was covered in pee-soaked gray carpet with cigarette burns. Underneath the carpet was awful linoleum tile that Zach pried up early on. He had to sand down glue squiggles. Last year we painted that floor a glossy chocolate brown as an interim solution to the UGLY. Here is a great “before” shot showing the state of the hardwood floor, the chocolate dining room floor (now showing a lot of wear), and the new patch Zach had to make in order to replace a piece of plywood that had been acting as a temporary patch and “lid” to our crawlspace. View: southwest.


Zach spent days sanding the floor (all red oak), and putting wood putty into every little flaw and crack. For perspective, just behind that black garbage can you can barely find the floor patch. View: west.


Then, each day for 5 days, he spent 5 hours on his hands and knees, removing every little dog and cat hair and then rubbing tung oil into the wood. Here is the first pass of many. View: north.


We are so pleased with how the oil made the wood grain pop, and how shiny it is now that it’s finished!


Oh, the work, though. It never ends. Mouldings are next. I am so thankful to have such a hard-working husband!

Stairs–Before and After

There’s a light at the end of this home-remodeling tunnel! My photo quality isn’t great, but I’m hoping you’ll still appreciate the before and after-difference…I do!

View Down the Stairs Before:


View Down the Stairs After:


View looking at old wall before the new window and chandelier:


View looking at clean new wall, window, and chandelier:


This photo is the entryway, before renovation, and is shown just so you can picture what the upper part of this area looked like for about 9 months. You’ll need your imagination to picture the pink insulation fluff that was hung in some places.  You’ll really have to stretch to imagine the plaster and 100-year-old coal dust that fell on our heads any time the Boogedy slammed a door upstairs.


Entryway–Before Pics

Actually, I failed to take a “before” picture, so you can’t really know how small and cramped our entryway felt before these changes. Last weekend Zach and his friend Ethan took down the wall that separated the entryway from the front parlor.


In this photo, I have estimated the size of the door that went from the parlor into the entryway. With little imagination, you will be able to block from your mind all of the things now visible where the wall once was.

I cannot tell you what an amazing difference this is. Our house feels grand!

Here is the view looking down from the stairs, again with an estimated doorway to show you how much more open the place feels!


Entry Room Window-Before and During photos

The west side of our entryway has always had a biggish window, made to seem small by the presence of a Huge swamp cooler taking up most of the opening. For ages, Zach has been talking about putting in a bigger window. His brother Eric came over on Saturday to help with this project. When they removed the swamp cooler, the whole window broke out, so then they had to do this whole project in the winter air.





It took both days Saturday and Sunday, and they finally finished at 4:00am in the morning (Sunday night). You cannot imagine how my heart was pounding as they were lifting the 4×8-ft window into its SECOND FLOOR spot from the outside on their ladders. AND, it was beginning to drizzle icy cold water which dripped onto their heads!

Here’s the view looking up from the entryway. Lots of Sky!!



Unfortunately, we hadn’t quite considered the view from the landing. Lots of roof and road. SO. It looks like I’ll be making sheer curtains, which will serve the dual purpose of shielding me from the street view as I run from the shower to the bedroom sans clothes.

Here’s the window at the dark of dawn. Finish details coming soon!


Spring Heartbreak


This will be our third summer in this house. Every year we’ve planted new baby fruit trees, and lovingly nurtured them all through the scorching heat with daily watering and care. This last summer the neighbor’s rabbit escaped her measley, miserable confines and ran away to our backyard paradise. The neighbor eventually gave up on fetching her home, because she is really hard to catch. That was ok with me, and we fed her leftovers and greens from our kitchen. Zach even put up barriers to keep her from eating the baby trees. However, once the snow got deep enough, she just walked up to the trees and was able to nibble the bark off of anything she wanted. And she did.


15 fruit trees will be dead this year. Heirloom apricots, almonds, peaches, dwarves and standards, all gone. Only the cherry and apple remain untouched.

Zach caught the rabbit and tossed her over the fence, but has vowed that we will be eating rabbit stew if she dares to return.


Update: We caught the rabbit. And my big words about rabbit stew were useless against her cute bunnyness. Instead, I gave her to my brother-in-law, who said she could live in his yard, where all the trees are adults. Plus, he lives 10 miles away.

Great Room-BEFORE pics

I know, I know…all I ever give you guys is Before pictures, never any Afters. But here’s the thing…Everyone expects before pics to look bad. I am not a great photographer, so my after pics never make anything look as good as it feels.


I’m so excited about this new project, Zach’s most ambitious yet. He tore down the wall between the dining room and second parlor in order to make a great room!


In doing so, he came across a LOT of foolish, dangerous mistakes made by previous homeowners, including THREE joists in a row that have been cut almost entirely through to accomodate sewer pipes. Can you guess what sits atop two of these two-thirds-gone joists?…That’s right, the bathtub. *Shudder*.

So, he had to build a weight-bearing wall to fix this problem. When it was built, it looked so much like a chimney that we have decided to put a mantel and gas fireplace there, and hang some artwork or a nice mirror over it. Can you picture it?


He’ll enclose part of the shaft as a cold-air return to vent the upstairs . Those big silver vents run heat/ac to the second floor bedrooms and future attic playroom. The left-hand side will be a cleverly concealed,  tall, narrow closet.

We’ll be closing a narrow door on the opposite wall:


and raising an archway of a bigger doorway:


Which means moving all the switches so that they make sense with the new orientation.

Zach found an old stovepipe chimney, and we’re still toying with the idea of putting a wood-burning stove into that taped off front parlor. Maybe we’d be going a little overkill with the romance of Fire, there. But we probably will at least leave some of that brick exposed and do something artsy. I’ll keep you posted.


Can I tell you how happy I am to have a husband who can do all this stuff? And DOES IT! Despite my ridiculous whining about living in construction dust. The man is a saint. A talented SAINT.

Kitchen Makeover–Before Pics


Big changes going on at the Moses Homestead. As usual. Zach is always undertaking a new improvement project and making our house better. Now, it’s time for a temporary kitchen re-do. Our eventual goal is to move the kitchen into a different room entirely. When we have an extra $7,000 in our pocket. For now, though, Zach will sand off the ghastly frosting texture that’s on the walls, we’ll repaint the cupboards and newly smoothed walls, and put on some pretty new knobs and pulls we found on sale at Lowe’s.



Getting these walls smooth is a huge job. We know because so far Zach has gotten rid of the frosting (huge globs of joint compound in peaks like a fluffy  cake) in 6 other rooms! If you’ve ever been to a Chinese bakery with fake cakes, you might be able to picture how dust and greasy cobwebs cling to the contours of our walls.

For the next two weeks, most of the contents of the kitchen will be housed in the dining room, and I will be doing some less-than-gourmet cooking on this single hotplate on the tabletop.


(This photo arrangement makes me feel so british, with my hotplate and my teakettle and tea assortment close at hand)

Before sanding the walls, Zach drew this family portrait, inspired by a great post on Apartment Therapy. We did notice how nice a formal moulding would look over this doorway.


New New Craft Room

I know I told you that I was getting a new craft room, but that plan has changed for the better. Since our roommates moved out, Zach decided to give the east bedroom over to my “craft crap.” This post by Zach shows the deplorable state of the room when we bought the house, and then after remodeling when it was empty and pretty. Here are some photos of nearly all of my stuff moved into its new home (taken this morning before sunrise!).

Will somebody please come help me organize this stuff?! I did go to the dollar store and buy some plastic bins for sorting fabrics by color. I’ll need triple what I bought, though, and more to sort all my tools of the trade.

I’m thinking big. Like bins for straight knitting needles or circular, Felting needles and foam, roving, carding combs, a Big box for all my Koigu,
bins for orphan blocks and pre-cut strips and bindings, stacking inboxes for origami papers and iron-on transfers, mason jars for beads and buttons. And someday I’ll have two tables, a tall one for fabric cutting and one for sewing.