Sunday, November 30, 2014

Choosing a Paint Palette

Embarking upon a DIY restoration/renovation is a major commitment and it is one where attention to detail counts. I want to ensure that the final result is a polished, professional look throughout the whole property. Where to begin? Paint.

Some background here: My mom is an interior designer with a brilliant eye for aesthetics. She's one with an eye for 1,000 shades of white and I learned at a young age after watching her buried in paint samples (still to this day) that a polished look does not come from simply picking a color for each room. The colors must work together in harmony with one another for a house to flow together from room-to-room. Simply picking colors on the fly can cause there to be a disjointed separation between rooms.

My dad and I spent many weekends painting rooms in our family's home and he taught me a lot of great painting skills, but it wasn't until I was doing it myself in college that I started to learn th 'pro tips' for creating a seamless paint job. I used to paint houses back in college for extra cash, since it paid well and I was good at it. It didn't take long to learn that the quality of paint that you use is essential to a good final result (though perhaps more importantly is the prep work). Benjamin Moore's colors, unlike Valspar, Gliddon and Behr, uses 8 color points verses 4 color points for every color. This produces a richer, more dynamic color that helps the walls or trim to feel deeper, more elaborate, rather than flat and dull.

I scoured the photos on Houzz to find paint colors that would really make the place 'pop' and found that the two most common trim and ceiling colors that caught my eye were Benjamin Moore's White Dove and Decorator's White. Countless hours later I arrived at a paint palette that was accented by two deeper colors. Granted, the palette evolved over time, but here were the inital choices I arrived at (all Benjamin Moore): 

White Dove - trim and cabintery

Decorator's White - Ceiling

Grey Horse - Default color for walls, flat finish

French Beret - Bedroom walls (later discarded and replaced by Clark and Kensington's Blackberry, flat finish)

Midsummer Night - Sleeping Porch walls (later discarded because it was too 'blah' brown) 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

More roach droppings

Hey look.
A second avalanche of roach feces.
This is not a good sign.

The Archeaological Dig

A cross-section of the layers of flooring in the easter bunny room and guest bedroom.

It's like an archealogical dig:

Sleeping Porch: The Notch

At least they notched around the cornice!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Priming the bathroom walls

Today I primed over the drywall tears in the bathroom that was caused by removing that impossible gooey wallpaper. Something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kitchen: Final-ly moved in

This is what happens when you move during final exam days in law school:

It's going to be a pain to finish demolition with all that stuff on the floor.
and yes, there's no refrigerator.
I'll be living out of that cooler for a while. The one with the paint can on top of it.
How appropriate.
At least the curtains are up.

Bathroom Floor: Removing the first layer

This slippery, smelly wood had to go.

They never sealed around the edges of the toilet, so all the urine splashes had soaked down into the wood and started rotting the wood. Pair that with a moisture problem, an adhesive that gets smelly when wet, and mold and you've got yourself a recipe for  a knock-your-socks-off stench that is so foul that no amount of incense can cover up.

Here's a picture of the rotten boards:

It was so bad that I literally had to leave the room for a breathe of fresh air every few minutes. But the end result was worth it. No more slippery floors when getting out of the shower:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bedroom Chimney Discovery

I found a chimney hidden in the closet wall! I wonder if the master bedroom used to be the kitchen and this was the flue?

and on the other side, from the guest bedroom (a.k.a., the smurf room):

Thursday, November 20, 2014

7 Layers Deep

7 layers into the kitchen floor and...behold! Hardwoods and 3 holes!

The 3 holes clearly were once used for a washer/dryer connection (hot water, cold water and drain tube)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Workshop Surprise

CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY! Finally got the door to the workshop unlocked and WOW! What a great surprise to finally see what was behind that door!

The built-in tabletop wraps all the way around the room, and the pegboard is floor-to-ceiling along every wall, even on the ceiling!

I figured the little workshop in the back might have something special in it, since the seller was a carpenter and all, but I had no idea that it would be this nice!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

New HVAC System Installed

Today I had the HVAC system replaced, which was paid for by the repair costs that the seller provided upon closing. The old units were in complete disrepair. In fact, the inspection guys said they'd never seen a temperature differential as bad as the AC unit that was originally here. They tried to fire up the furnace too but the whole attic filled up with a gas smell each time they tried so it definitely had to go too.

The new AC condenser, AC compresser, and furnace cost $4,500, including installation and seems to work great now! Just in time for winter!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Bathroom Wallpaper Stripping

I started stripping the wallpaper in the bathroom. 

This wallpaper is thick and has a slightly gooey texture to it. The drywall was not primed before it was applied with super-adhesive. Even with Downy it is not coming off the walls cleanly and has stripped off some of the drywall paper backing. I'll have to joint skim it to smooth it back out again, but honestly I'm planning on removing the drywall and putting concrete backerboard on the walls so that it can be tiled from floor to ceiling with white subway tile. While I could do that with the drywall, it will inevitably lead to moisture issues and failure of the tile-job, so let's do it right from the start. 

But for now, this is what I have to work with...

Yea...pretty scary huh?

So here's how it goes:
  1. Peel off existing wallpaper with fingers
  2. On remaining wallpaper that was apparently superglued to the wall, roll a wallpaper removal thingamabob in circles around wallpaper to pierce tiny little holes in it. 
  3. Use sponge to rub a mixture of downy and water on the super-wallpaper
  4. Let soak for 5 minutes. The holes supposedly help the mixture penetrate the wall, but in this case, the wallpaper is not paper, but rather some sort of goo substance that magically levels itself back out and closes up the holes, so that remover thingamabob was $8 wasted
  5. Take a flexible scraper and begin obsessively-compulsively digging off the wallpaper. 
  6. Call friend Tiffany to come help. Request that she bring champagne.
  7. Open the bottle of bubbly and drink it together
  8. Open a second bottle of bubbly and wander into the bathroom to stare at the walls in disbelief.
  9. Re-commence obsessively scraping and picking at the walls, this time with someone to entertain and assist you
  10. Occassionally you'll get a 'good one'—a big nice strip of wallpaper off—but more often than not, only tiny little slivers will come off piece-by-piece. 
  11. Get jealous when friend gets a 'good one'. Vow to beat her to the next "ooOoOooOooo that's a good one!"
What I learned:

  • When removing old wallpaper, shave down the corners of the scraper so that you don't jab the wall.

Roaches in the Wine

My friend Tiffany was helping me remove the wallpaper in the bathroom and she asked if I could fetch her glass of wine that she'd left on the kitchen stove just a few minutes prior. I handed her the glass of wine and she handed it right back, because, well...

Unacceptable. These roaches need to go, stat.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hallway Hardwoods Uncovered

So here's what we've got:

laminates over
vinyl tiles over
plywood over
hardwoods (Southern Longleaf Pine!)

and a great, big missing chunk of floor where the old heater used to be.
Not to mention a hundreds of staples ready to gouge your feet.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Moving Day!

So the boxes were ready...
...of course, they came from the bar

so then I picked up the van....
{expert parking job if I may say so myself!}

and the moving van was packed...

So that today I could simply unload the first truck of stuff...

Hidden beneath the vines

Discovered these guys on the chain link fence in the back of the garden hidden under some vines! Apparently this used to be a cut-through to Eastwood Park, but now it is so overgrown that it would have to be cleared out to be use-able again.

An Avalanche of Roach Feces

Pulling up the laminate floors in the kitchen led to an unsettling discovery:

Yes. That's exactly what it looks like.
An avalanche of roach feces came pouring out of the wall.

Uncovering original hardwoods in Eastwood Bungalow

Hiding underneath the laminate flooring was this beautiful solid oak floor

Laminate flooring removal in progress

Looking toward the kitchen

A view of the detailed craftsman knot inlay that borders the edges of the floors in the living and dining rooms. While most of the floor is thin planks of oak, the inlay border is made of cherry and has a vibrant deep red color to it.
Looking into kitchen from dining room

Friday, November 7, 2014

Exterior: Clapboards

Took a peek under the aluminum siding and removed some of the asbestos panels. Found these beautiful clapboards, which, per the neighbor across the street, have been covered up for over 60 years!

Early Christmas Present

Opened up the locked metal storage shed only to find this baby in it. I needed one of these!

It didn't work at first so I went on the adventure of taking my first motor apart. Cleaned every part of it, put it back together but she still wouldn't start. This video online was a great help in teaching me about the engine:


So I went in search of a carburator repair kit, but alas, no luck. Ended up replacing the air filter, giving it new oil and gasoline, and replacing the spark plug. It then gave me a chug but still wouldn't start. So I ran across another video that mentioned spraying carburator and choke cleaner onto it. With a little luck that puppy powered right up and has been a reliable motor ever since!


Got the keys! All 500 of them!

notice how the duplicates are taped together. There were 5 more keys in the house too...that went to other locks

Digging Deeper

Ok, so here's what's under the laminates in the hallway and guest bedroom.
Guess I'll have to dig deeper.

Same deal in the kitchen:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Eastwood (Houston, TX)

Here's some snapshots of the neighborhood from Google Maps:

My street

And from Apple Maps, respectively. I basically live in Sherwood Forest.

Learn more about the history of the Eastwood neighborhood in Houston, TX