Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Progress - September to March

Four months ago, I shared some thoughts and pictures of the renovation progress. Of late we have been relentlessly changing and updating our little cottage. I purchased a Mission-Style rocking chair from an auction which set off a barrage of new design ideas. We have concluded that the design, going forward, would be an Arts-and-Crafts theme with invigorating colors and refreshing contrasts.

I thought, for this blog, it might be neat to just go through some of the stages of renovations, room by room.

It has been a long journey so far with a long way to go. Each time we change something we ask ourselves if Elmer and Mildred would approve. We do our best not to discard the history of the house.

The Garage.

Room for one more...

The Kitchen.

The Kitchen has, by far, been through the most evident transformation.

The new appliances were a major addition to the old place.  

 Just need to add the back splash. Wait till you see the Rookwood Pottery tiles we have to insert into the brick facade. 

 The old pantry was sealed off with an over-sized refrigerator and a new pantry was created in the adjoining closet.
Previous Pantry
New Pantry

Pantry replaced with Refrigerator

The  island replaced the wall between the kitchen and dining room.

The Bathroom.

We are re-purposing as much as we can. The cabinet in was from Mom's kitchen, the large mirror in the bathroom was the original mirror above the fireplace.

Here is the master bedroom.

Another auction find - flooring

Unfinished closets

Noni’s bedroom.

The office, library, and family room are still mostly untouched but the plans are underway.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016 - New Memories

It has been a really long time since I shared any updates on the Hofmann Haus. In spite of the tremendous amount of work going on, little of it has been notable as far as a blog goes. Attaching a wire to a new circuit isn’t exactly riveting, no matter how vital. 

The whole 2nd floor was this color

But the holiday reminded me that it has been forty years since Gramps has been around for Thanksgiving dinner, and forty-nine since Grandma has cooked a turkey. It has already been two years since Mom and Aunt Joan have been home for the holidays and nearly a year since Jim and I began this project.

I want to take a few lines of this account to thank Jim for tirelessly spending days and evenings all alone to install outlets, drill holes to run wires, fill every possible cavity with an over-abundance of insulation, and remove a preposterous amount of drywall. OMG I hate drywall dust. He promises the insulation made out of rocks and wool will keep us sweltering, even in the coldest temperatures, and keep us safe from the threat of fire.  

Poor guy has been running back and forth to the permit office. Something about codes and standards having changed in the last ten years, updated wiring with circuit breakers equipped with Arc-Fault protection.  

We installed new windows to reduce drafts and improve the appearance.  In the process we discovered the original windows were an original Anderson patent!  That old bottle labeled “poison” found in the wall is still perplexing! 

The old chimney

The cottage is starting to shape up. By September we were ready to start framing the bedrooms and bathroom. By the end of October we had installed all of the insulation in the second floor. And November has been dedicated to stripping paint of old doors and getting the kitchen ready for the new cabinets. 

Then next couple of months promise to have substantial, visible changes worth blogging about. Until then, here are a few pictures of the tedious, not-so-sexy work that has been going on. 

Original Stencils

Friday, June 3, 2016

May -the Final Episode

The final episode for our May vacation has sadly taken me almost a week to publish, and I apologize for that. They had to drag me, kicking and screaming, back to my day job. As hot as it was and as hard as we worked only made me want to keep going. 

We were pretty darn proud or ourselves when the holiday rolled around. We had completed the painting we had said we wanted to get done, Jim had successfully installed the new electric service, and I had disposed of all the drywall debris, excess insulation and the stinky old furniture from the living room. And to round out the week we installed a new door and storm door in the basement.

Now, let’s look at each one of those feats independently as each came with its own set of circumstantial adventures.

Painting was by far the bulk of the week’s work. The objective was to complete the three sides of the cottage we could reach with ladders. The back of the house towers three stories above the driveway so it will have to wait until we rent something more suitable than an extension ladder. And, considering the condition of the old cedar shakes, everything we painted had to be scraped, painted with primer, then painted again with the finished color. Good thing both Jim and I have insufferable tenacity. We simply kept working until the goal was achieved, with some help from Ethan for the high spots.

I had to reaffirm my trust in Jim’s judgement more than once when he climbed a precariously balanced ladder just to reach the last square foot of area. But I never had to question his dedication.

Removal of the drywall and insulation from the upstairs was tiring. The temperatures in the space so close to the roof were intolerable at times. Combine that with a dust mask, flying filament adhering to sweaty skin, and constant bending and tossing and you have a recipe for a hazardous work environment. However, it didn’t compare to my days in old automotive factories that were built before air conditioning was available. So, like before, I pushed on  till every speck of dust was neatly captured in the ShopVac. When it rained Jim would come upstairs to partake in hurling debris out the third story window to the Bagsters below. I do say, we make the most excellent team.

I was of little help with the electric service, but I made a good cheerleader. And, just like everyone told us, the inspectors never pass an installation the first time, especially if it was installed by the home owner. You could hear the smirk in voice as he said “this won’t do” and “that won’t do”. It was a minor setback, though not unexpected. A few alterations and it should be ready for inspection in another week or so.

Ahh, installing a door should be such a breeze, right? They come already framed and drilled. Guess again. They come framed for a relatively new structure that has standard widths and heights. Not necessarily for a doorway that was carved into glass block and concrete. Thank goodness for chisels and shims. Jim masterfully installed the door like a pro, but only after a couple of trips to Home Depot. We finally found a pre-manufactured trim set that we thought would work. It was artfully molded to add some appeal to the doorway and wide enough to cover the unsightly edges of the glass block. A little creative framing at the top of the door frame and presto, beautiful.

Poor Jim had to fly out of town on Monday afternoon and wanted to make sure he installed the storm door for me as well. So Sunday evening, after a family get together, we headed back to the Hofmann Haus and began what was to be the most compelling adventure of the week. Nothing went smoothly. And I mean nothing. First of all, that beautiful molding…not so conducive to holding a storm door. We overcame that obstacle only to run right smack into another. The creative top frame, yep, you guessed it. That required some sawing and filing of the storm door frame to make it fit. 

But next came the real humdinger. The door required the owner to drill the holes for the lockset. No big deal, until you realize you need a ½” and a ¾” drill bit and Home Depot has been closed for several hours. Since standing there swearing wasn’t accomplishing anything I suggested we give Meijer a shot, the only place open 24 hours. Jim thought for sure it was a hopeless cause but grudgingly went along with it because, really, what other choice did he have. They had the ½” bit but no ¾”. We ended purchasing an entire set of spade bits, doubting it would be a solution, but getting desperate.

The door gods must have been smiling on us. Both bits worked and we had functioning mechanical parts in no time.

Memorial Day came and Jim had to fly out to North Dakota. I took a break from work until after our family dinner.
During dinner I conned Ethan into coming down the Hofmann Haus with me afterward to dispose of the old living room furniture. There were three large pieces in a small room with even smaller doors. We concluded the best way to get rid of it was to just hurl it over the side of the deck. While trying to maneuver it around doors and railings Ethan twisted his back and I bruised my big toe. Mission accomplished, we left hoping the bulk trash collector wouldn’t pass us by. Tuesday was a glorious day when they took all of the trash, yard waste, and furniture. 

I went back to work knowing we had made major progress and that my next blog would be all about the new roof. The roofers pulled up right behind the trash collector!