ModFruGal v. Tree Rats 2 – Siding Update

As I wake this morning…like many mornings, to the jaw clenching sound of steady gnawing near my head…I am somewhat comforted.  It’s almost over.

We’ve made a decision on the siding problem.  After many quotes. many meetings, and a little professional encouragement from an architect friend – (Thanks AKK!) We are moving forward with Galvalume: 26 gauge, 12 inch rib in Burnished Slate.  Deposit paid, (*gulp*) materials ordered…we should get rolling in about 2 weeks.  I’ve included a photo of a barn done in the color we have chosen to give you some idea.  The theory is that the dark shade will help the house disappear into the woods.

I See a Red Door……

….and I want it painted black…..

It was only a matter of time… I had to have a black room.  I’ve seen so many beautiful ones in the past year and I wanted to play too.  The dining room was one of the few rooms we hadn’t painted before moving in, so it’s been on the list for awhile.  Feeling a bit worn out with the process of getting the siding out to bid,  I decided to focus on a small, instant gratification project.  Hello, French Bulldog Black from Martha Stewart’s Valspar line.

BTW, this is how we renovate.  (That’s how the mailbox got done towards the end of the kitchen remodel.)  When faced with a big project that is very involved with tons of planning and details, we get impatient and need to feel like we are moving forward…so we go completely off task for a weekend with a “play” project.  I guess we could call it the attention deficit approach to remodeling, but neither of us have ever been diagnosed…..yet.

I worry that keeping the chair rail white will make it feel too traditional, especially because I have this big traditional buffet (that I want to go away!)  I hate the temporary lampshades, and I don’t have a place for the cookbooks yet, but all in good time…I will have it worked out.  This is just a start.

For those who like these kind of details: The photo over the buffet is by Jon Armstrong at Blurbomat.  Deer “trophy” from Cardboard Safari.  White MCM glasses are a recent score from my fave antique store in Chicago.  Fawns are (2) Roselane and (1) Northern Pottery…all 3 found on e-bay.  Dining room table is a Pottery Barn Shelton just scored half price a few months ago.  Chairs are PB’s Marais knock-off, BUT I got them a few years ago at the Pottery Barn Outlet for $60 each.  All in all, an extremely inexpensive makeover.

We’ve had our fix, and now it’s back to research, negotiations, no shows, fuzzy math….

Previous Homeowner's Dining Room
Previous Homeowner's Dining Room
Before..New Floors, but BLAH Paint
DR Before Paint
Goodbye Milquetoast Mocha
View From Outside

Tree Rats Are Turning Me Into Joan Crawford

When our house was built in 1977, it was sided in a beautiful Western Cedar.  If it were not for all the animal and water damage, it would still be beautiful, alas, it is not.  It is their playground and they taunt me.

It has become apparent in our 9 months of living here, that our battle against the squirrels will never be over as long as the cedar is still on the house.   Indian chili pastes and sprays wash off and only last a short time.  I think they are probably developing a taste for the capsaicin buzz by now anyway.  As soon as we’ve patched up all the holes, they conspire in the woods and attack again….sometimes a new hole, sometimes right next to the old one….my personal favorite:  just pick the highest, most difficult to reach hole and eat right through the patch to the hardware cloth, then chew just far enough around it to access the old hole.  I have a metal plate in my hallway ceiling where one overzealous nester decided to try and chew through the sheetrock to greet new horizons.  Looking up and seeing that beady eye looking back at you is enough to send any sane homeowner into a frenzied, irrational tailspin.  As I frantically jab and scream at the hole in the ceiling with a coat hanger attached to an extension rod,  my children must wonder, “What’s happening to Mommy?”  Tree rats are turning me into Joan Crawford.  That’s what’s happening to Mommy.

There is no way we can DIY this one.  It would take years.  We just can’t lift panels that heavy, that high by ourselves and so we are at that place we hate to be….having to hire out labor.  I think T-111 will look cheap and present the same maintenance level.  We’ve had a quote for Hardie vertical panel (smooth with trim piece battens) and are awaiting the one for Galvalume (12 inch rib in 26 gauge).  As much as I love the look of the cedar, I just think the maintenance has already proved to be too much.  Our house backs up to a state natural area and the wildlife is plentiful.  We’d just prefer to admire the wildlife out the window as opposed to shaking our fists in the air like old farts every time we see a squirrel come near the house.

Our budget is, of course, the primary concern.  No Ipe rainscreens here.  We need an economical solution.

Front of House
Latest Breach
Siding Chewed
Siding Up Close
1977 Cedar Siding
Holes Before Patching

Let’s Get This Potty Started….

I have 3 bathrooms to renovate.  A big draw in buying this place was the condition of the baths-they may be ugly but are fully functional, thus buying us a bit of time.

Doesn’t it seem like a conspiracy when the one thing you didn’t want to deal with rudely forces itself on you like the flu?  The upstairs toilet is leaking.  There is NO way I’m ready to redo that whole bathroom yet because there are walls to be moved, so let’s just focus on potty replacement as our band-aid. That 70’s tile isn’t really all that bad, and the kids don’t seem to mind having only an 18 inch wide walkway by their sinks….really!  I’m sick of plunging anyway.

I’m down to 3 contenders.  The Toto Aquia Dual Flush, the Kohler Persuade Dual Flush and the Jacuzzi Espree.  The Espree is not dual flush, but a high efficiency flush. That plumbing guru Terry Love and his fans say this is a no brainer…Toto all the way.  I am put off by the…ahem…skidmark problem reported by Toto users.  They don’t seem to mind though….they say…”just keep a brush toilet ever!” Dedicated following.  I’ll admit my cheap and impatient side has me seduced by the NOW availability (Lowes) of the Espree. The other 2 are mail order only where I live.  Whatever we choose will be installed by my fabulous crafty counterpart.

Kitchen Remodel

The kitchen has finally reached a semi-photographable milestone.  There’s still trim to lay, painting and some minor finishing touches – but it’s basically done.

To give a bit of background, we recently purchased a 1977 modern home that hadn’t seen a lot of love in the past 35 years.  The kitchen had to be gutted -  the sink had been leaking for years, and the use of space made the kitchen feel a lot smaller than it really was.  We closed on a Friday and started the kitchen demo that night.  We knew it would be tough to live kitchen-less with kids, so we hoped to minimize down time.

I haven’t added up every last Lowe’s receipt, but, to put a number to it, we completed this job for $16k.  While not cheap, (we had hoped to keep it well under $15k), it’s not too bad for a full gut and redo with ALL new appliances.

We did everything ourselves except the flooring and the backsplash tiling – I know – why not?  The flooring was a continuation from the adjacent rooms, that were getting an upgrade from green shag, and the tiling was a simple combination of exhaustion and a need for precision with the tiles we chose.  We gave in!  Additional info on the tile we chose has been covered in this post.

Although we live more than 3 hours from an Ikea, Pricing cabinets made it very obvious that with truck rental and hotel costs, we were still saving immensely by doing an Ikea Kitchen.  To illustrate this point, we were quoted $14k for ONLY the base cabinets of Kraft Maid Venecia from Home Depot/Expo.  All of our cabinets, including uppers, and the desk area not shown here, cost $7k. The counter top material is quartz ordered/installed through the now defunct Expo-just in time!

We removed the soffits and 2 small walls that crowded the pass through area between the ovens and the fridge.  We also made the tough decision to install only one oven in order to maximize the open feeling and gain counter space.  We enjoy cooking together, so that’s why we placed the oven offset from the cooktop.  While one person cooks at the stove, the other can access the oven without anyone having to step out of the way – a decision I still stand by as it works great for us.

Utby feet from Ikea seemed like a good idea to show off the new floors rather than using toe kick plates.  As I clean under there and chase rolling grapes, I’m not so sure it was that practical, but I still love the look.

The Original Kitchen
Before with Soffits
Before Fridge Area
Rotten Floor at Sink
Demo in Progress
Finished Floor
Typical Renovation Mess
Finally Usable
Breakfast Bar
Backsplash at Sink
As of Yesterday

Those Wizards of Oz

The latest issue of Dwell had me nodding my head vigorously as I read the cover “Why are the world’s best houses in Australia and New Zealand?”

The Aussies have also got this building material I’ve been trying to source in the US – unsuccessfully, so this is a call for help if anyone knows.

The magic I’m after is concrete crib walls and concrete “sleepers” or rail ties.  Concrib in Australia makes the crib wall retention systems I’m so fascinated by – they are used in big commercial projects such as highway bridge erosion control.  Engineering genius- and I think the look is stunning – softer than solid hardscape.   The other option I seek is the concrete sleepers. The photos of those here are from Modular Concrete Sleepers and Boonah Landscaping.

I have a retaining wall situation in my 70’s modern home with a 6 foot high tower of crumbling, chipmunk infested, rotten wood sleepers.   I especially like the sleek joining of sleepers with the metal beams.  Anyone who has some knowledge to share will be my hero.