Archive | September, 2010

Find the Kitty Friday 9/24

September 23, 2010


Find the Kitty Friday

It’s back! By popular demand! 😀

So.. can you find the kitty?


Here’s a little hint if you can’t find her: look for the two bright lights, shining like certified diamonds. 😉 How’s dat?

She was in a rare playful mood the other evening when I snapped the photo. She’s been unhappy, with all the changes that renovation brings. Yes, even the CAT is SICK of renovating. Ugh.

We are pretty happy right now, though– the dining room is complete, and we moved our table and furniture back in! Hurray! It’s been 4+ months…. I’ll have photos to come.

It’s a great day to have my table back in the house. 🙂

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Choices, Choices

September 23, 2010

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Well, I’m stumped. I can’t make up my mind about a clock for the dining room. I have a gorgeous (and HUGE) one for the kitchen, and the living room already has a nice swinging pendulum one… I want the dining room to have a classy, elegant clock. I’ve been surfing through the collection at, and I have whittled it down to two choices. They are both so beautiful

There’s this one. It’s a Westclock Deerfield, on sale at for only $20 (free shipping, too!). I like it because it’s simple, elegant, and made of wood. Its something I can see from across the room without having to squint.

But I really like this one, too. It’s the Ashton Sutton Discover Clock. It’s got a reproduction of an antique Dutch map created by Fredrick De Wit. I love that!! It’s a large clock, too– 18 inches. But it’s $60. 😐

I’ve said before that I am bananas about clocks… I would like to get some really nice ones… $60 is a bit much right now, but it’s still a great deal..

What do you think? Do you have a preference or any advice to add? My dining room is very traditional. Here’s what it looks like with the new flooring.


So I’m trying to build around the classic, traditional style. NO cheapo plastic Walmart clocks for me! Hmmm, choices, choices…

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I Love Wood Countertops

September 23, 2010


We’ve had a few curious guests drop in since we’ve started putting the house back together. Ever single person has commented on the gorgeous wood countertops (and even the photos of the counters receive praise from blog readers).

I LOVE my butcher block countertop. I had read all the pros and cons– some folks giving warnings about water damage and high maintenance. I have not had any problems with it. Sure, it’s more maintenance than the junky old laminate counters we had… but what’s so wrong about making the kids clean up the counters immediately after they use them? 😀

I slathered Waterlox on the counters. It has really made the difference. It’s a sealer/finisher type product. The wood absorbs the sealer, and it’s water-resistant. It’s very expensive stuff, and I’ll have to re-do the counters when the Waterlox wears off, but it’s very easy to put on, and it makes the counters look gorgeous.


You can see the beautiful grain of maple. Ahhh!

The wood adds a very warm ambiance to the kitchen.

Island 2

I just LOVE the wood.

You can see a glimpse of my cast iron sink in the background. We originally had a stainless steel kitchen sink, and it was “OK,” but I don’t really like the metal color. I like white sinks. The cast iron is very nice– I haven’t had a cast iron in decades– so I’m still getting used to how hard it is. The stainless steel had some “give”; no such luck with cast iron.

We’re wrapping up a LOT of loose ends this week. The kitchen still needs to be organized properly (we’re storing a lot of stuff on the gorgeous butcher block countertops right now), the dining room stuff unpacked, AND I have plans to re-paint the living room. I also hope to finish the baseboards and trim that I never finished, 3 years ago…

I cannot WAIT til it’s all over, and I can finally relax in my nice pink adirondack chair, sipping coffee and listening to the birds again. Wow. It will be SO worth it.

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Tip: Take Photos of Electrical

September 22, 2010

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Here’s a little tip if you’re removing a complicated electrical device (or plumbing component, or whatever)– snap a photo. The digital camera has been one of my best tools for renovation. Thanks to the camera, not only do I get to share this experience with you guys, but I also journalize the adventure here AND the photos serve as a virtual reference diary.

I took this photo of a GFCI outlet that I found was defective. I have to install a new GFCI, but before I dismantled the old one, I snapped a photo of the wiring, to have a diagram so I can rewire the new device.

Remember the GFCI

This saves me a bundle of time– in the past, I would have to go hunting through page after page in books, or searching the Internet or what-have-you. With the camera, I’ve got a diary of everything. I also snapped photos of the plumbing and others of the wiring, should I ever need to reference it in the future.

As a precaution– always take photos. What have you got to lose? And you might gain everything in so doing.

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Patiently Working…

September 22, 2010

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… that’s one of my daughters. I don’t know what I’d do without these kids.


She worked all day, painting the trim in the dining room, so that I could work on my writing assignments (and boy, did I have a ton of them). The other daughter cooked and cleaned… and the boys helped with laundry and cleaning.

Gosh, my kids are amazing.

THANKS, GUYS!!!!! I love you!

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Photos of the New Flooring

September 21, 2010


I was still too tired after the installation to take any photos, but my daughter graciously snapped a quartet of pics, some of which I uploaded. May I present to you our new dining room floor!

DR flooring2


It’s the same flooring as the kitchen: TrafficMaster Allure, in teak. The stuff is very durable, easy to install.. well, as easy as crawling around on your hands and knees for hours and hours, lol.

My muscles are throbbing. Holy cow. I’ve been doing renovation for over 4 months now, when are my muscles going to stop complaining? But they are definitely bigger and bulgier, whew.

With this flooring, once you begin, you must continue until you are finished. The vinyl planks have sticky edges, and dust or foot traffic will make the sticky edges less adhesive. However, I ran out of flooring at 2am last night (the same thing happened when I did the kitchen– I planned accurately!?). I covered the edges with tackless paper… I got more flooring today, but have not had ANY time to finish the install. Ugh.

I am nearing desperation now, wanting to finish this renovation. My living room (which is my office) is an absolute disaster, as it has become the repository for all the furniture and supplies necessary for the kitchen and dining room. Right now, it’s full of chairs, a china cabinet, bookshelves, boxes, rolled up rugs, guitars, desks, and tons of other stuff! I must have an organized area for my desk, or I am late for appointments and bills. I need my bills perfectly arranged, my papers in order. You should SEE my desk– looks like a tornado hit it. 🙁 No wonder I’m always late for everything. Ugh.

BUT. The end is near!!! It is!! Now that the floor is in, we have to paint the crown moulding once more, install the baseboard moulding, and MOVE IN! Yes! I’m hoping the entire process with be done in a few days.

Oh it will be so glorious to have ou normal life back again! And with a clean, modernized house, to boot! Yay!

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Planning the Heating System

September 21, 2010

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I haven’t touched on our plans for heating the home yet.. mostly because we have been absolutely consumed with so many other big projects that need our attentions now… I mentioned over the summer, during demolition, that we decided to rip out the forced air furnace ducts after seeing their dismal and dangerous condition when we ripped open the walls. I have always hated forced air heat, and the one in this house seemed particularly dusty and toxic. We were always sick with some respiratory illness or another. The ducts in the house were horrible. The sections of ducting had never been connected together; they simply sat inside each other. Well, they had once sat inside each other. After 60 years, the ducts had split apart, exposing the inside of the ducts to the plaster dust and lathe inside the walls, and to the toxic lining they had slathered all over the exterior of the ducts. Talk about horror- I HATE forced air systems. Filthy, inefficient, and expensive. Yuk.

We still have our forced air furnace installed, though. We are eventually going to sell it. We’ve consulted with our Furnace Guy about getting a new, modern heating system. I’m not too keen on central heating, but the Furnace Guy said that is the best way to go when it comes to house values. So far, the decision is to go with the hydronic baseboard heat. Before we closed up the walls in the kitchen, I constructed a shaft made of PVC pipe, for the allowing of PEX piping to go up to the second floor when we decide to install the heating system.

A gas fireplace with sufficient BTUs can heat an entire room or zone! And they look beautiful!

However, this winter we are not having it installed. I installed electric baseboard heat in the bedrooms upstairs, and we will be placing space heaters in some of the rooms downstairs. Of course, I’d just LOVE to install a fireplace in the house. The home did once have fireplaces– in the living room and in the dining room, but they were old coal-fueled fireplaces, and not the clean-burning fireplaces that we know today. I will be building a section in the living room and the dining room with the hope of installing a gas-fired fireplace in each room. It would be so cozy. And I hear that gas-fired heaters are much warmer. I know a few folks who have them, and their homes are almost hot in the winter!

So that’s our decision thus far. Next year we will be getting a hydronic system. It’s too big a project to do (and pay for) this year, so for this season, we’ll endure the electric baseboard heat and space heaters. I’ll have more updates on that, to come.

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Frantic Floor Installation

September 21, 2010


Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are STILL not moved into the dining room yet. I can’t believe it! This project has been dragging on for months. The loose ends are seemingly insurmountable… whew!

I pushed myself and got the remainder of the dining room trim installed. Well, MOST of it. I still have to rip out some old door jambs and replace them, and reinstall our French door. And then late last night, I finished (most of) the flooring installation. Here are some before photos. You can see the finished trim in these pics.

DR FLoor 1

DR floor2

DR floor3

Those big white spots on the red walls are spackle, the battle scars of my crown moulding struggles. :-p Drywall is a fabulous product, but geez, it’s touchy. One LITTLE budge with a crowbar, and BLAMMO! Through the wall ye go! I’m not used to such delicate wall surfaces! I’ll have to change my roughhousing habits…

So I spent roughly 6 hours installing the TrafficMaster Allure plank flooring (the same as in the kitchen). Oy, my aching hands and knees! The stuff is pretty easy to install (relatively speaking), but all that hunching over is a real back-cracker.

I’ll have some “After” photos later, when I can drag myself out of bed (yes, I am blogging in bed! Ah, the comforts of technology!) and snap photos. Thank God the kids can handle the laundry and cooking… I’m bushed! Thank God the floor is mostly done (I had to get more planks to finish the closet). One of the kids has been painting the crown moulding… I hope to finish the closet and finish the painting.. and on Thursday move in! But then again, I said that last week. :S

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Easy Pediments For Greek Revival Homes

September 17, 2010


My 1855 home was constructed in the Greek Revival style, a popular architectural style in Upstate New York from the 1840s to the 1860s. Even though my home is a modest home, the builder didn’t shirk from adding a few subtle but beautiful Greek Revival elements here. This is a photo of the original 1855 trim in the dining room.


Simple, but nice, don’t you think? Unfortunately, I could not salvage the original trim. It was encapsulated with lead paint, and was pitted horribly. It would take a whole lotta acne scar cream to fix those pits, baby. So I decided to get rid of it, and construct my own. Here’s how we did it.

First, I cut basic 1×6 lumber into a triangular shape. I didn’t take photos of all the complexities, but here’s a quick rundown of how I did it. I measured the length of the framing (a window or a doorway), and added more length for the fluted trim on each side (totaling 6.25 inches, in this case), plus a half-inch extra on each side. So if a window was 33 inches wide, I added 7.25 inches to that measurement, to account for the additional fluted trim and a slight overhang of the pediment on each side of the trim. I cut my board to this length; I then measured the center of the board, and measured four inches up on each side of the board– this made my triangle, and I cut it with the circular saw.

Make Pediment1

I decided to use pre-primed beaded corner for the pediment top.

In order to create a tight butt joint where the beaded corner would meet in the middle, I would have to cut the beaded corner ends at angles. So I measured each side of the pediment board with my angle tool to find the angle size.

Make pediment2

I then transferred this angle measurement to my miter saw. I LOVE my laser guide light.

Make pediment3

I then cut the beaded corner at the angle. It makes a perfect angle at the top of the triangle.
I did it again for the other side of the pediment.

Make pediment4

I then placed them together at the vertex of the pediment board. The trim boards have a nice, tight joint.

Make pediment5

Make pediment6

I then glued the beaded corner down, pre-drilled holes to avoid the wood from splitting, and nailed the pieces together.

Make pediment7

Voila! I have a simple pediment replacement. Add some fluted trim, some glossy paint, and I’ve got a Greek Revival window.


Photo taken before trim was painted.

This kind of carpentry work is not difficult at all, and it looks SO MUCH better than the cookie-cutter modular-home, basic casing trim that so many homes have. The trim work, even such basic trim as I have detailed here, adds so much to the house. We painted it this evening (haven’t taken any photos yet) and the trim looks absolutely fabulous, just so classy. I’ll post the photos when I get them. Little touches like these make all the difference!

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It’s Curtains!

September 17, 2010

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Yessss! I have FINALLY entered the stage in our renovation where we are decorating! It’s like the icing on the cake. 🙂 The kids and I are hashing through what we really want for design. I never really had any kind of concrete plan until about two weeks ago! I was so caught up in the “bones” of the renovation, that– even though I did have a general feel for basic architectural style– I really hadn’t formed a color scheme or design plan.

It helps very much to visit decor websites to get inspiration. It’s even better to visit decor websites and discover gorgeous styles for affordable prices. Look at this style, isn’t it heavenly? It looks like Scarlett O’Hara is going to walk by any moment.

These are also very beautiful. They are a tad too contemporary for my Greek Revival home, but would look beautiful in a modern home, or perhaps a cabin.

These are just a smidgen of the exquisite styles I found at Not only do they sell curtains, they offer advice on curtains, too– there’s step-by-step instructions on how to measure your curtains *just right* (I had no idea– no wonder mine always turned out rather funky); there’s a nice FAQ, and a curtain glossary, too. attempts to appeal to the DIY’er like me, and design professionals, too. They have an affiliate program for accredited design professionals (20% off all purchases). For us DIY’ers, helps us make the best choices– they offer five free fabric swatches at a time so we can see, feel, and choose the best curtain. They aim to please, definitely. The site is very high class, and obviously places premium on customer service. I nearly swooned over some of the curtains. What on earth will I choose?!?

So this is a much more exciting time than I thought it would be. I was kind of dreading the decor stage of the renovation, just because I didn’t have a vision. But now that it is starting to form, I am SO STOKED!! Pictures of my selection of curtains to come. 🙂 Just wait until you see!!!

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