Nov 2013

The Kitchen Cabinet Search Begins

Who knew there were so many things to think about when you’re considering kitchen cabinets? The doors alone had us stumped. Do we want inset, and if so - beaded or not beaded? Or do we want partial or full overlay instead? Do we care? All we kept saying was “as long as they look good,” but what if looking good depends on what we choose? Oh, the responsibility!

Our trip to the kitchen and baths store ended with me arming myself with brochures while Sig Other quietly said, “We’ve made some progress.” I like his positive thinking. Now, if only I knew what I liked in a kitchen cabinet.

Here’s a bad pic I found online that explains the different types of doors/drawers:
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The Fireplace

We’re insulating the house and getting a new heating system, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be using the fireplace.

And since our new home’s fireplace was built by my Dad (who was a talented mason contractor) and my Uncle (who was a great man), word to LC was “Whatever happens DO NOT let the gutters accidentally gut the fireplace.” Luckily it was the downstairs bathroom they accidentally started gutting instead.

The only change we’re thinking of making is with the mantel. As you see in the pre-gutting pic on the left, the mantelpiece is a brown wood. We’re leaning toward switching to a white shelf to match the molding we’ll be putting in (example pic on the right).

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A Time For Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving - A time to give thanks and gather with our loved ones. It has also turned out to be a time for LC to take the week off. I didn’t think of this when we worked out the schedule. And Christmas and New Year’s are coming up next. I’m very thankful we still have the apartment in the city!

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A Window Of Opportunity

There’s a window next to the fireplace that’s set back. While it brings in great light, we want to make the most of the area around it.

We’ve decided it would make a perfect window seat with a space for storage underneath. Hey, if I can’t get all the closets I need, at least maybe I can get a drawer.

Here’s an example of what we’re thinking:

window seat windowwindow seat example

Toto, Too?

Question of the day: Does the toilet have to perfectly match the tub and sink? As previously mentioned, Sig Other likes the Toto toilet. And what toilet does LC recommend? Yup. A Toto. But the tub and sink will probably be Kohler and the white shades are off.

I’m leaving this decision up to Sig Other since I’m just looking for a toilet that flushes without needing a jiggle of the handle and a shower that doesn’t spray brown water. I’m glad one of us has higher standards.

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We're Making Progress

Windows are going in…

And the chimney for the oil heat has come down...

with chimney arrowwithout chimney arrow

…making more room in the kitchen

before chimney removal arrow

after chimney arrow


Down To The Wires

Our electricity from the early 1900’s isn’t quite up to today’s standards. It kept the house going for over a hundred years, but alas, we won’t know if it could have gone a hundred years more. A complete rewiring is in the plan.
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Going With Our Gut

What do you do when it’s been decided not to gut the downstairs bathroom and the gutters don’t get the message until after they’ve started? You realize all the things you can do with it.

1. Move the wall back that had been pushed out into the living room to make the bathroom.

2. Move the bathroom door from the living room to the foyer.

3. Take out the shower and use some of the space from the bathroom for a coat closet.

4. Put in a higher toilet.

Gut away, gutters. May we never regret taking the walk-in shower from the downstairs. And if we do years down the line, may we have the space and the means to put one back in.

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Tiling Away the Hour

Things I learned at the tile store today:

1. There are lots of tiles to choose from.

2. There aren’t so many to choose from when you walk in and ask to see white wall tiles.

3. There are no floor tiles to choose from when you ask to see square gray tiles unless you mean giant squares or rectangle.

4. If you ask about the nice white marble wall tile after looking at the white ceramic tile, and you look and dress like me, you will be told “that’s too much money.”

My search for tiles (and a tile store) continues.


Some Before & After Pics

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kitchen back doorIMG_0769
main bedroomMain bedroom gutted
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The Bare Facts

Well, it turns out I’m a baby when it comes to walking through a gutted house. And I’m an even bigger baby watching others walk through it. While everyone else was talking about what we need to do, can do and can’t do, I was saying “be careful, watch where you’re walking” and “don’t fall through the floor.”

That said, it was a great experience seeing the house and imagining how it’s going to look finished.

The takeaway:

  • There’s more to do than originally planned in some areas, though none of it surprising
  • After all the possibilities we’ve considered, we decided to put all the upstairs walls pretty much back where they were
  • The downstairs still needs to be thought through

The not so good news:

  • My first purchase for the new house appears to be missing - yup, the fabulous reclining folding chair has up and gone away

QUOTE OF THE DAY goes to LC’s carpenter/sidekick who said we should take the shower out of the downstairs bathroom because:

“When you shower in there and you’re done with your shower, where ya gonna get dressed?”

Wise words.

And now for the pics:

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Image 12Image 17

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Think Inside the Flower Box

I love that we were left the flower boxes that sit on the front porch. I can’t imagine the house without them. But what to do with them in the winter?

Hoping I can come close to doing this:

From Better Homes and Gardens - cedar and boxwood boughs, green hypericum berries and baby’s breath

Not So Fast!

Those plans we made to see our gutted house today? Postponed due to the fact that the gutters are still gutting (and according to MVP Mom the neighbors can all hear the gutters still gutting. oops!).

In the meantime we’ve been told the kitchen can easily be opened into the dining room - but not so easily opened into the mudroom which of course was my preference.

I’ve been researching ways a kitchen and dining room can work together while still holding on to the charm of an older home. Here is one example we like, tho our kitchen will have more cabinets on the walls. Sometimes I wonder if once we see the gutted space all my research will get thrown out the window or if it’ll actually help us make informed decisions…
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What's In A Name?

Sig Other has decided we should name our home in the tradition of rich brits of which we are neither. And so without further ado, here are the frontrunners we have as of now:

  • Stillview Cottage
  • Wagon House
  • Maple Manor
  • The Hedge
  • Fish Pond Cottage
  • Frary’s Nest
  • Strawberry Cottage
  • The Old Charmer

Since I worry ‘The Old Charmer’ may lead people to mistakenly believe we’re referring to Sig Other and not our lovely home, that one will probably be taken off the list.


Hats Off!

Prepping for the burbs in more ways than one. Gave Sig Other a choice of LL Bean hats for those cold wintery days. He opted for the first one. Can’t wait to see him in it!Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 7.03.18 PM

I'm Feeling Gutted

10am. Confirmation from MVP (and new neighbor) Mom - Gutting has begun!

8pm. Call from our licensed contractor (LC). One surprise so far: And it’s regarding the downstairs bathroom that we decided not to touch. It may need a new vent. This is now on the list of things we will discuss when we meet him at the house Saturday. The list is growing...


Things Are Heating Up

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Topic of conversation today with LC: Gas vs. Oil Heat

  • It’s what we have

  • We just got an oil delivery

  • The burner is about 10 years old so there’s still more life to it

  • It’s expensive

  • The boiler may need servicing

  • The chimney needs to be repaired

  • It’s cheaper than oil

  • It’s cleaner

  • The oil burner will eventually need replacing

  • It can include hot water heating and our hot water heater is past its lifetime

  • It’ll allow us to get rid of the chimney that juts out in the kitchen and bathroom

  • It’ll cost a lot of $$$ up front to install

  • It’ll take us over budget

LC is going to crunch the numbers and get back to us with specifics. Sig other is now thinking about Forced Air Heat. My head is spinning...


Insurance Insanity

Our House Insurance Agent told us our renter’s insurance should cover our liability on the house thru the gutting, but to double check with that agent.

I call Renter’s Insurance Agent (RIA) and conversation goes like this:

RIA: “You need to have established residency. Did you live in the house before the gutting?”

Me: “No, we just bought it.”

RIA: “When are you gutting it?”

Me: “In a few days.”

RIA: “Get some sleeping bags and go live in the house between now and then.”

Me: “Seriously?”

RIA: “And make sure your neighbors see you coming and going from the house so if anything were to happen and they were ever deposed they will say you lived there.”

Email sent to Home Insurance Agent :

‘I’d like to pay extra to get the liability insurance through you.’


Remote Control

Sidelined by a virus so I’m unable to get out to the house like I’d planned. I work remotely for my day job seamlessly. But it’s so much more difficult to be in the city while your house is in the burbs being prepped for demo.

Things I had planned to do but can’t:

1. Take more pictures!!!
2. Say goodbye to the home as I knew and loved it
3. Ensure that everything is out of the house that needs to be saved

Things I’m doing instead:
1. Sleeping
2. Taking lots of liquids
3. Griping and groaning


One Last Decision

Well, we’ve done everything we can in the pre-demo phase. We made all the decisions LC asked us to make, I got the estimate to sign and we agreed on a kick-off day mid-week.

Just when we’re ready to sit back and let the demo begin, I bring up the bathroom pocket door again to Sig Other. That bathroom is the one room that wasn’t in the plan since it was recently done. And that one little room will cost a lot of money to demo, and a lot more to put back together again - all because I want the door to be in the foyer instead of the living room

I’ve been as practical as I can be with this process so far.

So what’s more practical: being financially prudent, or being all ‘I-don’t-want-to-race-thru-the-living-room-to-get-to-the-bathroom?’ I honestly don’t know the answer to that.


Our Cutest Door of all Doors

Note to LC today - DON’T destroy the little door!

There’s a sweet doorway between the kitchen and the stairwell with the cutest little door. The plan is to keep the doorway. But if we can’t manage to keep the little doorway, the backup plan is to use the door for a closet. The backup to the backup plan will be to find a place to build a closet so we can use the door.
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The Teensy Tiny Room

There’s a room upstairs in the house that’s tiny. It served as a bedroom for a child for many years before becoming a sewing room.

We’re kicking around 3 uses for this space:

1. A home office (for me)

2. A walk-in closet (also for me)

3. Added space to the adjacent room (not for me)

Sig Other is leaning toward #3. I’m trying to figure out how we could do 3 along with 1 or 2 and have yet to solve it.


A Berry Interesting Fact

Sig Other and I are the third owners of the house, the second being my relatives and the first being the man who built the house (CS) and his wife. I decided to research CS and found his Obit.
Apparently, he was known for growing some of Long Island’s largest Strawberries in his garden. Now, I’m obsessed with growing Strawberries in that yard. If only I knew exactly where he planted them. And if only I knew how to take care of any kind of plant.

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We Failed

So that really nice insurance inspector who ‘loved’ the house we bought and went on about how great it was that we’re going to bring it back to life? Well, he gave us a big FAIL based on us not moving into the house within the next two months. Apparently it’s ok for them to insure a house pre-gutting and post-gutting. But during a gutting? No way. Which means they are canceling the insurance which I paid a year in advance.

A confession: I already knew that insurance company was risky when we went with them. I just had to go online and research what other people went thru to know they were apt to cancel insurance on a whim and we gave them a better reason than most. But our Agent is on the case and says he already has some other options.

I will remember these lessons as I move forward with all things house related:

  • Cheaper is not better

  • The nicest people aren’t always so nice in the end

  • When someone says “there shouldn’t be any problem” (which is what the insurance agent said about the inspection) DON’T take their word for it

  • Our new house is wonderful, even if other people can’t see it


Who Needs Closets? I Do!

It hit me today: The house Sig other and I bought has LESS closet space than my 1 bedroom apartment which has NO closet space.

And since the cedar closet in the basement idea I had got squashed by my bro who knows this kinda stuff (the basement being too musty and not dry enough), today I was fixated on closets. Or rather, closets under the eaves which really aren’t much of a closet, if at all. But my research has shown they do have some possibilities:

  • Drawers

  • Bookshelves

  • Shoe holders

  • Mini-closets for hanging shirts or folded pants

  • Cabinets

LC says once the house has been gutted we’ll be able to see the layout better and only then can we make decisions about the walls, etc. I do hope I see some real closets when that happens. In the meantime, here are some eaves storage pics I found for inspiration...

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Back in The City

3 things I don’t love about living in the city.

  • Rat sightings

  • Incessant sirens

  • Cement as far as the eye can see

3 things I do love about living in the city
  • Walking everywhere

  • Having a doorman and a super

  • All the great people in it


Did Someone Say Pocket Door?

Big day today. Sig Other came out to the house. Yay!!!

Bro, sis-in-law and niece were there also, as was MVP Mom. Fun to see Bro go thru a house we used to play in and remember it in its glory. Not so much fun to hear him joke: “I feel sorry for whoever bought this house with all the work that’s ahead.”

Sig Other and I posed one of our challenges:

Downstairs Bathroom: It’s built off the back end of living room. The downstairs is a horseshoe with the living room on one side and the kitchen on the other. If nature calls while I’m cooking, that’ll be some race to the bathroom.

Bro’s Brilliant Idea: Pocket Door. It’ll allow us to put the bathroom door in the foyer. Let’s hope the budget can take it cause that’s the only room in the house we weren’t planning on gutting.

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Bye-Bye Budget, Hello Andersen Windows

7:30 am meeting with LC. I drag myself out of bed and over to the house, eyes drooping, fractured foot throbbing, and head cursing out Sig Other who managed to get out of this. Luckily, I have MVP Mom at my side. It isn’t long before the real battle of keeping the charming wood window moldings begins….and ends with one precious window trimming broken on the floor, unable to come off in one piece.

I meekly raise the white flag and agree - we can get rid of the charming window interior wooden frames that have been with the house since the early 1900’s because I have no choice but to believe they truly can’t be saved in a financially prudent way.

My heart is heavy. I vow to win the next battle: The Battle of Keeping the charming wood Doorways.

Oh, and that pesky thing called a budget which I’m in charge of? It’s day three and I blew it up with one decision: Out with the Replacement windows plan. In with the complete windows plan. A decision that received Sig Other’s 100% support.

Now I have to save some big bucks elsewhere in the budget…Dear Sig Other - those Toto toilets you’ve been wanting? Prepare to lose them.

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