Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Houzz Adventures

For those of you not familiar with the site—it’s an amazing site with lots of décor inspiration.   It has pictures of décor for any style and it allows you to interact with other decorating enthusiasts and professionals in the “Discussions” area.  A few weeks ago, I posted my kitchen to the site here looking for feedback on how to update it without breaking the bank.  I could not believe the response I got—90+ responses! 

The most interesting thing was the variety of feedback that I received.  Some preservationist-minded people said things like “I love your kitchen the way it is—don’t change a thing!” and others suggested improvements like crown molding and generic granite countertops that sounded a bit more like they belonged in more of a suburban tract house.  The trick was weeding through the comments to find the gems—of which there were many.
Most people agreed that we need to lose our curtains and probably upgrade the counters and light fixture over the table.  Most people also agreed that we should update our dining set to more of a mid-century style as well. Our dining set was purchased at Stickley so it’s a bit hard to let go of such high-quality furniture.  Hopefully we’ll be able to replace it with my dream Saarinen table and a set of Danish Modern chairs in a few years.

So stay tuned to see the evolution of our kitchen—there will be lots of change to come!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

We’re on the Level!

During the construction (those are new steps, too!)

This is another blast from the past—and by “past”, I mean earlier this year.  In the spring, my Dad came up and we re-leveled the patio.  It was April which meant that it was barely warm enough for us to be outside…but that’s one of the hazards of living in Rochester.
Our patio is Pennsylvania Bluestone.   The stones range from about 18" x 18" to 24" x 24".  The patio stones had become rather un-level (is that a word?) over the years and it was a trip hazard.  The screen porch (which comes off the house from the main level) had no gutter, so the rain from the roof had been pouring onto the patio for 47 years--definitely not good for keeping patios level.  So this project involved also adding a gutter to the screen porch leading to a drainage pipe under the patio leading to the back yard. 

Dad’s original idea was to work on it section by section so that we didn’t lose the layout of the bluestone.  Dad and Dex did most of the labor since the stones were so heavy.  They moved a section of the stones, laid new coarse sand, used the mechanical tamper, then laid paver sand, then laid the stones on top.  Problem with the stone is that the underside was “rough cut”.  So each stone had to be laid by trial and error—scooping out sand in places and adding sand in others.  After about a week of this back breaking work, it was done.  It’s beautiful, it’s level, but pitched away from the house so we don’t have moisture issues.  BeautifulAnd thank goodness for my Dad and husband. 
Size of Patio:  800 Square Feet
Yards of Sand:  10 (and 3 trips from the landscape guy)
Feet of new gutters and drainage:  60
Broken backs:  2

Our beautiful finished patio!!  And a gorgeous Rochester spring sky.

Blast from the Past: August 2011--Painting the entire house—warning, do not try this at home

Last summer (2011) we painted the entire house.   I honestly cannot believe that I just wrote that because this was not a project I think I ever want to do again.  Dex and I each took off one week of vacation and Dad came up.  When I say “we painted the entire house”, I mean we:
-stripped, sanded, reglazed, primed and painted 60+ windows (exterior side)
-caulked, primed (where necessary) and painted the entire house (2700 square feet upstairs with cathedral ceilings and a walkout basement.  We needed a 35’ extension ladder to reach the top of the back of the house)
-repaired more rotten wooden siding on the screen porch
-stained huge soffits over 35’ in the air
It took us 9 days working from sun up to sun down (and sometimes past sun down).  We went through 35+ GALLONS OF PAINT!  The good news is that the house looks absolutely beautiful.  Our neighbors said that house hasn’t looked this good in 20 years.  Yay for us!
East Side of the House

South side of house (new stairs, too!)

Close up of South side of house--this side needed the most help

Monday, February 6, 2012

Siding Woes and Rodent Phobia (from last summer)

I’m really behind on updating this blog.  I guess it’s because we’ve been so busy with updating our HOUSE, that the blog has suffered.  Here is my attempt to catch up:

When we bought our house, we knew it had some rotten siding.  My Dad was willing to help us repair it so we thought it would just take time and $$ but we would get it done.  The thought of not being able to GET our siding never entered our minds!

There was a design flaw in the house and the builder installed a horizontal drip edge in the rear part of the house along the bottom of the first floor where you can see both levels of the home due to the walkout basement.  Over time, this drip edge has slowly collected water and caused the bottom of the vertical siding to rot away.  Upon closer inspection, it’s apparent where our previous homeowner had attempted to repair the rot with wood filler and the like, but there are still holes in the siding.  Holes that I was SURE rodents were finding their way into at night.  How do I know this?  Because I could hear “scurrying” all night long in the wall behind the headboard in the master suite.  So to prevent my long, slow slide into rodent madness, my nice hubby plugged all those holes with steel wool.  But the problem is that didn't really help.  Those buggers were still finding their way in behind that siding and into my nightmares.  I decided it was really time to do something about that siding. 

Our house is stained with an opaque stain.  Little did we know we had redwood siding under that opaque stain.  To be specific, the siding is “Clear” (no knotholes), 14’ boards of variable width T&G (tongue and groove) redwood siding.  If you don't know what that means, don't worry, I didn't either before I had to try to replicate it!

PROBLEM:  It’s very difficult (read: expensive) to get redwood siding anymore.  And if we were able to get the redwood, it would have to be custom milled to those sizes.  Ka-ching!!
We consulted contractors—perplexed contractors, I should add.  Ones that really didn't want to do the work because it was "hard".  Here were the options they came up with (if I could even get a response):

1.       More than one said that we should cut out the rot and belt our house with other wood.  (Hello, put a BELT around the house??)
2.       Another said we’ll need to re-side the entire house with vinyl.  (Vinyl?!!  Seriously?)
3.       Another said that if it were him, he would save the redwood and re-side the bad areas with cedar.  The downside—it means that all the wood has to be custom milled.   And then we would have to stain it to match the other wood—which is doable since the stain is opaque.

Guess which contractor we went with:  Yes, contractor #3.    Rochester Custom Exteriors.  They have their own crew, no subcontractors, and they did a fantastic job.    Now the rodents can find another house to live in.

Update:  It's been about 8 months since the new siding went in and I haven't heard one thing in the wall behind my bed.