Sunday, November 1, 2009

In the dining room by Thanksgiving

Here is the original picture of the dining room from this May; things haven't really changed much since then; the focus has, of course, been carriage house livability. As you'll recall, one driver for the roof project was leaks above this room; there is some damage to the late-period drywall on the ceiling and the wallpaper was basically a loss, as you can see even in this picture.

But it's a fantastic room; all the woodwork looks like this, very little of the molding is missing, and the floor, while chopped up a lot from the room's use as the kitchen of the apartment in 304 during the 70's and 80's, is still attractive.

So we've come up with the goal of making this one room usable by Thanksgiving, and having a good-sized meal there. A collateral goal will be the installation of a sink in the kitchen, which is the room to the west of the dining room which was last used as a kitchen in the big house (it was a bedroom for 304 in the 70's and 80's, and it is currently my sawing shop, because the generation of sawdust in the carriage house has been denied approval by the household environmental management commission, a body whose membership comprises my wife).

This picture, taken in August while the roof was off (hence the bit of light showing at the top of the wall) shows what we're going to have to fix up in terms of the ceiling. Actually, it doesn't show the worst of it, which is just off the top of the picture - that entire sheet of drywall there is rotten and moldy around the edge, reportedly due to an overflow in the bathtub upstairs. Which I take to mean repeated and egregious overflow; a single incident would not account for the damage I see.

So anyway, I guess I haven't posted a to-do list recently!
  1. Carriage house livability

    • Garage area livability
      • Remove superfluous fiberglass insulation (40% complete)
      • Caulk everywhere (a lot is done; more to be done)
      • Some plaster patching (done on southwest, need to move everything out off the east wall to continue the process)
      • More paint, aye!
      • Seriously considering laying down a heating pad and hardwood veneer on the south end of the downstairs; the white walls certainly make the area look like a place you could live in

    • Windows
      • Kitchen window is the only one left

    • Bathroom
      • Attach and plumb vanity

  2. Carriage house electrical work
    • Replace stolen ground wire outside
    • Entryway lighting
    • Overhead light for washer/dryer area
    • Separate circuit for bedroom to permit use of air conditioner

  3. Carriage house paint and trim
    • Paint walls and trim in bathroom
    • All window trim

  4. Dining room (target: Thanksgiving. Yes, 2009, pipe down over there.)

    • Remove and scrape wallpaper (30% done, thanks to daughter)
    • Remove all damaged plaster on walls
    • Remove damaged drywall from ceiling
    • Restore plaster on walls
    • Drywall ceiling
    • Paint (I'm still liking that semi-gloss ultra white)
    • Clean and maintain the woodwork and buffet
    • Shore up under floor (soft spot from long-standing leak in roof fixed in 90's)
    • Polish floor

  5. Remainder of big house

    • Upstairs bathroom plumbing
    • Addition of sink in kitchen
    • Cleaning
    • Winterization, a lengthy process
    • Heat
    • Electrical systems: oh the humanity!


  1. This is a wonderful idea! I remember some early holidays in my aunt and uncle's similarly challenged house when they had just moved back from England to small-town Illinois. One year we'd be in the dining room... then the dining room turned into a den when the playroom turned into a dining room... then they dug some pocket doors out from inside the wall... We never knew what the house would look like, but it was always exciting to see what they'd do next. 20 years in, it looks nothing like that first Christmas.

    I've been following your progress with great interest since you announced over on MeFi (I'm Madamina, if I haven't already introduced myself). Great job so far!

  2. Well, some days it feels like I haven't done much, but when I read this blog I realize I haven't really lost any steam yet. Progress is being made. I knew it was going to be slow; I had hoped to get some of the big house functional before the end of the summer, but when you get down to it, the carriage house turned out to be a dandy little house to start with. We're pretty comfortable here, so it makes sense to get it really functional before tackling the bigger building. (And of course the roof kind of needed not to leak before we started interior repairs.)

  3. It's good you've gotten the roof done; even if you should stall out until Spring that should prevent more damage until then.

    In a week or two I should be moving into an apartment. No telling what I'll find that needs work.

  4. I am constantly impressed by the sheer number of different house related things you know how to do. I lived in a fixer up model once, and never got anything done because I didn't know where to start or what to do about anything. Good for you!

  5. I only kind-of know how to do things, actually. Growing up, my dad built our house (a log cabin kit) and then added on a section. None of it was done particularly professionally, although it's all still standing now, at 35 years and counting, so it wasn't badly done. It gave me the basic belief that I could build a house, but didn't really give me much in the way of skills.

    I'm getting the skills as I go, by doing a lot of Googling and just trying things out. An awful lot of these posts consist of, "Well, this is supposed to work like this" because I've never done any of it. I had never installed baseboard heat or an overhead light, never strung wire through an existing wall. Never done masonry. Never mixed concrete. Never plastered a wall.

    I just start with the basic assumption that other people have done it, so (1) it must be possible and (2) they've probably posted something on YouTube. So far, as I hope you can tell from my writing, I'm having a blast.