Tag Archives: remodeling

What To Do With an Attached Garage

February 23, 2012

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Originally I planned on making this great big kitchen in there. But then I realized it was less expensive to rebuild the existing kitchen in the house.

Then, I figured I would make this huge master bedroom suite, with a bathroom!! We are six people and the house has a mere 1 full bath and a tiny half-bath. It’s just not enough bathrooms. Additionally, the four bedrooms are oddly shaped. One is 10×12, two are 8×14 (that’s a tough dimension to work with when you have a 6-foot long bed, believe me), and another is a huge 15×17! The original builder, Mr. Rogers, did a great job building this home but when it came to the sizes of the room… well, FAIL. So we have three too-small bedrooms with one bedroom that is too large.

Anyway, I think I will have to forsake the master bedroom suite thing. I think I will have to convert the garage into a huge “conservatory,” kind of a combo music room and family room. Every single person in the family plays instruments, most of us two or more instruments. Do you have ANY idea how much space instruments consume?! TONS! And now my son is begging for a drum set! Gah!

Glorious space.....

We can’t put anything in the basement. It floods. Terribly. There’s no attic space and you know now how small and impractical the bedroom spaces are… currently, all the instruments are crammed into corners in the living room and dining room– the DOZENS of acoustic guitars (yes, dozens), amplifiers, keyboards, microphones, track recorders, pedals, tapes, etc etc etc. I’m drowning in music supplies!!!

So I have resolved that I have to create a WHOLE room devoted to musical instruments. Wow. maybe I can shoehorn another bathroom in there… I hope…

If you had an attached garage, to what would you convert it? And don’t tell me you’d use it to park your car, what a silly thing! 😉

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Blast From the Past, July Heat Wave Edition

July 22, 2011

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My son’s Biology course is finally over (the kid “A”ced it, too!!), so our summer has begun and our thoughts are turning toward wrapping up a few of the undone projects from last year’s renovation. I’m not planning any big projects this year– I tend to intersperse them every other year, for sanity’s sake! That, and I still have to pay off the kitchen renovation.

But we really can’t do much this week because of a very intense heat wave that’s hit the Northeast. I suffer in the heat, so I’m waiting until it passes before I attempt any projects. I remembered that about this time last year, we had a stretch of unusually hot weather, too. What were we doing then? I checked it out.

OH YEAH. Insulation.

Oh gosh, installing insulation in July is a nasty job. You have to wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, dust masks…. and the fiberglass seems to shake loose from the batts and go right for your face. But the job is SO WORTH it come winter. The house has never been toastier. Ever.



We also installed our plumbing about this time. We used the new-fangled material, PEX. It’s a very stiff plastic material, a suitable replacement for the super-expensive copper.



Have you heard about all the copper thefts going on? There’s been quite a bit in my area. These jerks will raid an entire house, ripping out the plumbing so they can sell the copper at the scrap yards. When we went to the scrapyard to sell our old copper pipes, the scrap yard took my husband’s driver’s license information! Apparently, the cops are monitoring the flow of copper in the area.

Did you notice how the husband installed the PEX into such lovely rings? 😀 I love the PEX manifold system. When we went away for a week-long vacation out of state, turning off the water supply was a piece of cake. And when we have to turn off the water supply to a fixture, all we have to do is turn the valve at the manifold.

Going over these photos is somewhat therapeutic for me. I’m not getting any new projects completed, and I feel somewhat low about that, from time to time. It’s easy to get discouraged with so many small (but important) things to do yet. Looking over the photos helps me remember how far we’ve come. I’m really praying that next year, we tackle the upstairs level. And get new windows. After that, it’s just the exterior and yard!!! Oh, and maintenance. :-p

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10 Things About My New Kitchen I Am Thankful For

June 14, 2011


I’m taking my dear friend Carole’s suggestion. After a particularly harried day fussing over a plumbing cob job problem, Carole said, “Go get a cup of coffee and look at before and after pics of your kitchen and cheer yourself up…” Hey, who am I to pass up a cup of coffee??

So I did. And I figured I’d write about the amazing things about my new kitchen that I am SO thankful for. Our kitchen renovation was a BIG job. I don’t think I’d ever tackled anything so intense, except maybe childbirth, lol. Even the 2007 living room renovation paled in comparison to last summer’s big kitchen blitz. We and some folks from our church rebuilt everything on our own– electrical, plumbing, heating system, insulation, drywall, flooring, cabinets and counters, and appliances. Whew, it was a very intense year. In case you missed all the tremendous fun from last year, you can check out some of my blog posts here.

Here are 10 things for which I am very thankful.

1. We’d gutted the kitchen and dining room to the bare bones. I am thankful for that because I’m a rather fussy person. I don’t like to inherit another person’s “disaster.” Old houses are almost never disasters– old houses are exceptional in that they are solidly built with superior craftsmanship and quality materials. In this, they have new construction beat. However, the common “disasters” that strike an old home is usually sub-par remodeling or neglect. My house has suffered from both, but especially from terrible “remodels” in some of the rooms. Much of my turmoil comes from fixing previous remodels. So I like to gut the walls and start from scratch. I don’t like patching up previous owners’ disasters. And I also like to see exactly what’s behind the walls. I’m still looking for those gold dubloons somewhere.

Kitchen Gutted

2. I am thankful for my dishwasher. My daughter and I STILL give thanks regularly for it. We used to wash loads and loads of dishes by hand. When I used to babysit kids, I was washing dishes for ten people three times a day.


I got a cheap dishwasher, too– the kind without the electronic panel and no fancy features. I’d heard that fancy dishwashers break easily. I got this cheapo model in case it died early– then I wouldn’t feel so bad if it broke on me. But it’s been going like a champ. And we LOVE it.

3. I am thankful for my vinyl plank flooring. My first choice was hardwoods (whose isn’t?!) but it was too expensive and I didn’t think I could install something like that myself. So I opted for easy care vinyl plank flooring. It really is very easy to take care of, and doesn’t look too bad!

DR flooring2

4. I am thankful for my kitchen window. I love this window. It’s so big, more than twice the size of the previous window. I can see the entire backyard through this thing. And when I open it, all the breezes come in. I love the woodwork and the pendant light!


5. I am thankful for my wood countertops. I bought them online and had them delivered, can you believe it?! 350 pounds of countertops! Laminate might have been a little cheaper, but it would have been too much work to custom make it to fit my large space. The wood is just so wonderful. I am just starting to relax a little about the countertops. Before, I was rather hyper about any scratch or swelling. But now I’m not as fussy, because if the wood gets a scratch or swells, I can simply sand it down and recoat the surface with oil.


6. I love my dining room. 🙂


7. I am SO thankful for insulation. Maybe that sounds kind of weird, but if you have ever lived in an old, uninsulated house, you know exactly what I mean. The insulated walls make the house so, so much more comfortable. I can’t wait to have the upstairs insulated.


8. I am thankful for new electric. For several years, we had no electricity in many of the rooms. After we gutted the living room in 2007 and saw the condition of the 100-year-old knob-and-tube wiring, I disconnected it for fear of fire. We were without electric in the kitchen except for a small ceiling light and one outlet. It was a pretty miserable room to be in, so dark and ugly.

When we gutted the kitchen and dining room, I wired new electricity throughout the house. I also wired Ethernet. Of course, in some of the upstairs bedrooms we only have one working outlet and a switch-operated ceiling light, but it’s one NEW outlet and a NEW light operated by a switch (before, the ceiling lights were pull-chain, ugh). I am very, very thankful for our new electric. I sleep so much better at night now.


9. I am thankful for drywall. I adore the inventor of drywall. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. There are some “hard core” old home owners who install plaster and lathe in their homes, but not me. Plaster is dusty, dirty, ugly, it cracks, it’s lumpy and bumpy and did I say it’s dusty? It also smells. :-p I like my drywall.

DR ceiling sheetrock

10. I’m thankful for my new cabinets. They cost me a verrry pretty penny, but I love them. They are solid plywood. Beautiful doors. I love the color and they are so durable.


Can you believe I’ve counted to ten already?! I could keep going on and on!

In case you’re wondering, this is what the old kitchen looked like.

Ugliest Kitchen1

Ugliest Kitchen2

Now you see why I am so thankful. 🙂

It’s rather easy to see only the things that go wrong when you have an old house (mostly because things are always going wrong in an old house!!). But there’s a lot of marvelous benefits to living in an old home. And I am grateful to have a home. I shudder when I remember apartment living!

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The “Tweener” Stage

August 30, 2010


We’re in the “tweener” stage. That’s the “between” stage– after demolition but before the kitchen is fully operational. Here is where we are, as of today:


Yay! 😀

In case we’ve forgotten from whence we’ve come, this is what it looked like four months ago:

Ugliest Kitchen1

And this was after demolition:

In Kitchen Looking to DR

You can see Livvy in the photos. After demolition, she was stalking around, disliking the change. Now, however, she is relaxing on the floor (well, it’s the underlayment; the final floor goes up soon), much more pleased with the room. 😀

I have a MILLION little things to do: build shelves, finish the window trim, pipe the gas for the clothes dryer, create a bench and coat rack area for coats and storing rain boots and etc, wire the telephone jacks and network control panel… not to mention the “big” things, like finish the cabinets, install the counters and sink, install plumbing, wire the stove…. whew… but we’re getting there. And notice the dishwasher! I haven’t operated a dishwasher since I was 14 years old. 😐

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My Birthday Present

July 27, 2010


I have been wanting one of these for soooooooooooooo long. Now that my kitchen is becoming a reality, I actually GOT ONE!!! Look what The Hubs got me for my birthday!


Isn’t is beautiful?? I love clocks. I am going to have my newly renovated house filled with them. 😀 Livvy seems to like it, too. We share the same birthday. 🙂 I didn’t get her a present “yet.” She has to wait until we finish the room. We’re going to build shelves and a cat walk for her, at the top of the walls, lol!

My new clock is going to go up on the wall where the chimney is. Right HERE!


Well, um, use a little creativity and try to imagine it. Ummmmm. It will look beautiful, I promise!

I’m doing the sheetrock and building pantry closets this week, which is why posts on all my blogs are so scarce. That, and the fact that I am totally exhausted. This is hard, physical work. I’m a week behind schedule and am trying to keep up on things…. more on it all, later.

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Buying Better Than Renting

July 24, 2010


Well, this makes me feel better.

Courtesy of New York Times

Sometimes I could kick myself for buying a 155 year old home. Especially when I have to try and install square sheets of drywall on VERY unsquare ceilings and walls. NOT fun.

The New York Times has a cost calculator at nytimes.com/interactive/business/buy-rent-calculator.html, comparing rental pros and cons with ownership pros and cons. Looks like buying a home gets you ahead in the finances than renting.

But not by much. :-p

Part of the reason for the less than stellar return rate, I think, is the severe drop in housing values and the severe rise in property taxes. I purchased my home for $62,5 over 13 years ago. It is now valued at $87,0 for taxation purposes, but I could never get that amount should I sell it right now. The market is bad, and no one wants a fixer upper. I do renovate it with the expectation that the market will improve, but I renovate mostly because the house needs the improvements, and we want to live comfortably and efficiently. Still, even though I have no intention of selling, it would be nice to know that my home is increasing in value as I improve it….

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It’s Too Beautiful Outside To Do Anything…

July 3, 2010


funny pictures of cats with captions

All I want to do is fool around and snap photos outside…

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Living in Chaos

July 2, 2010

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No amazing photos of progress these days… things are pretty humdrum right now. We’re still working on the wiring for the kitchen– it is ALMOST done! We are sooooo close to being able to close up the walls. I have to finish a few things up (thanks, all you wonderful guys and the very special young lady from my church, for all your very hard work!) yet. The electrical inspector will hopefully be here next week. After that, I can install the insulation, get the insulation inspected, and start putting up the WALLS! Yes, baby!

I’ve been preoccupied with other things this week, however, to have had much progress the last two weeks. I took a business trip to New York this week; I’ve had multitudes of assignments and deadlines for articles, and etc. So as you can expect, we are extremely eager to get this project FINISHED. I only have six more weeks scheduled for it.


Yes, believe it or not, I DO know where every single one of these wires belongs...

It’s been very difficult on the kids and husband. And I am surprised how difficult it has been on me, too. I am the one who started all this… I fully expected it to disrupt our lives… but the kids are finding it hard. Oh it was OK the first few weeks.. but we’ve been without a working kitchen/laundry room/dining room for almost two months now, with one more to go… it’s tough. We had to pack up a lot of their stuff (movies, DVD player, Playstation console, books, and most of the toys and things from their bedrooms) so that we could protect it all from the demolition dust and so that we could have space to wire their rooms with electricity, finally. It’s stressful when we need to dig something out (like my income paperwork because the IRS chose NOW to audit my income two years ago!). I really, really thought we were prepared for this renovation… but honestly, it’s SO big and SO disruptive that all my preparations are futile. Face it. We must endure these 3-4 months and live in chaos for a while. It WILL be worth it, it will! But it’s really, really tough for them right now, which makes it tough for me. I feel so bad. I want things to go smoothly, but it so out of my control. *sigh*

So as much as I am loving this time because my dream is FINALLY coming true after 12 years… it’s not a pipe dream. But I will be so happy to have the entire house electrified, to have clean central heating, to have the downstairs insulated… there’s still so much to do for the next few years (you should see the upstairs and the 100-year old windows, OY VEY!) but that will come. For now, we must grit our teeth and GET THROUGH this kitchen renovation!

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“Where Have You BEEN?!”

June 21, 2010


Oh my word. After a frenetic flurry of posts for the past few weeks, I see that I haven’t said a peep here in a WEEK! I am still here! I have been busy, as usual. But I did get a break for half a day. 😀 It was definitely too short.

When I last left off, we had an inspector here, from the local codes department. He told us a few things:

We could leave the plumbing in place, if we wanted to. It was old, but the drains were “grandfathered in” and the copper pipes looked OK. Still, we decided to re-do the water supply, with PEX. The copper is very old, especially in the upstairs bathroom above the kitchen. And I’m uncomfortable leaving the old pipes in after we install the new kitchen below it. Plus, the washer, kitchen, and dishwasher all need brand-new lines. So we’re redoing it all, using a PEX manifold system in the basement.

The inspector said that the rough framing all looked good, except for one thing: with our new partition walls, we created a “chase” which is a fire hazard. A chase is basically a tunnel through which air drafts (and fires) run up through the walls between the studs and into the joists, unimpeded. Balloon framing itself is such a hazard because of the chases– the studs are straight up from foundation sill plate to the attic rafters. Fire stops are required. The inspector said that sheetrock would be fine. So that’s what we did.


I have to make an appointment with the electrical inspector. Of course, we have to wire all the electric in first, haha. It’s time-consuming.


Half the time is spent figuring out how to get the wires where we need to place them. Wow, it’s tougher than you think. We have all sorts of impediments– 8-inch beams, brick nogging, 10-inch sill plate… whew. The other half of the job is spent drilling holes and running wire. It’s very easy to box things in and strip the wires/connect them.


We also have to build out various walls. To build them out is to add an additional layer of wood in the existing studs. This gives you more room for the narrow electrical boxes, and for the addition of insulation. It does add to the expense. My ceilings are over 9 feet high, so I have to buy the 10-foot studs and waste 1 foot of them. :S


And we’re still doing dishes by hand, in the old sink.


But not for long! TWO MORE MONTHS til I have a dishwasher!!! I haven’t operated a dishwasher in 28 YEARS, people!! It will be glorious.

By the way, my daughter doe snot wear glasses– those are fake. She was acting a “nerd.” LOL. Anything to make the dish-washing fun, I guess. Because right now, it’s NOT.

We also have ELECTRICITY in the upstairs bathroom!!! Woooooohooo! The first time in 3 years! We have a working light with a SWITCH! We have a GFCI outlet! And we have a newly installed medicine cabinet. I tell ya, modern living is RICH people, RICH.

This week on the schedule:

Wire the son’s bedroom upstairs*
Wire the bathroom ventilation fan/light fixture*
Install electrical boxes for kitchen, to prepare for the wires coming in
Prepare washing machine for plumbing area
Insulate above small area above dining room that leads into the garage
Install wiring for exterior light and switch
Install dryer vent hole through the wall
Install stove range hood vent hole through the wall
Buy more supplies
Do the plumbing (The Hubs is handling most of this)

* I have to go into The Attic to do this. Cry with me, my friends. It is a HORROR up there! 🙁 🙁

More to come!

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Great News and My Stash of New Stuff

June 2, 2010


I want to publicly thank the Lord Jesus and all of you dear readers out there– I AM SO STOKED!!! God is providing everything for this kitchen, I tell ya. This morning, within a 4 hour span, I earned all my drywall. That’s $500!!!! That came from some terrific ventures in paid blogging!! I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am to have one of my *big* ticket items covered. What a relief to me. I must thank you guys for reading my blog– it is a popular blog, and gets the attention of advertisers, who want me to mention them. So just by you reading and commenting and clicking a few advertiser links means the WORLD to me. Well, at least the KITCHEN to me. It’s all very symbiotic. 😀

I am paying for this kitchen redo in cash as much as possible. So far, I have been able to do it. All I have left to purchase is cabinets and countertops, flooring, insulation, and plumber’s fees for the gas lines for our new heaters (more on that later). I originally intended to make the budget under $3000 for the kitchen, but then the dining room got thrown into the mix, and then we decided that we really should redo the plumbing before we close up those walls. That more than doubled my original estimate. I’m really, really hoping to land a sponsorship with Kraftmaid cabinets… it’s not moving along like it should and I really do need to order something soon. But I’m praying something happens. I figure cabinets will cost me about $2500.

So that’s some really great news. 🙂

I also thought you’d like to see my stash of stuff that I’ve got stocked up here. Feel free to add your opinions or comments.

This is my sink. I love it.

I researched sinks for quite a long time before finally choosing a cast iron (which was my first choice, to begin with). I’ve had stainless steel here, and I find it very utilitarian and ugly. I looked into granite composite, but I am pretty rough on my sink– if I drained boiling hot pasta water in it and then accidentally ran the cold tap, the thing would crack. I finally opted for cast iron. This is a Kohler. It was SO HARD to find a sink with only three faucet holes! I spent hours searching. I love the scalloped design of the sink. It will look beautiful with my new Delta Touch H20 Technology faucet. The amazingly cool folks at Delta gave me this faucet for the kitchen renovation, in exchange for a review. I cannot wait to do a review on it!


This is the dishwasher I picked out. It’s a barebones, simple Hotpoint model. I do not like the dishwashers with all those buttons, doodads, electric panels, and such. All I want to do is wash my dishes, not bathe them in luxurious splendor. And I ain’t paying more than $300 to do it, either. In this case, I got a good deal on the Hotpoint: $200.



These are my lights. After hashing it over and over about what lights to get, I finally opted for chandeliers. I have two of the chandeliers (the kitchen is 12 x 23, and I like a lot of light), and a matching pendant light to go over my whopping 48-inch by 60-inch window. *sigh* I cannot wait to have it all done!


The paint scheme is difficult. I can’t make up my mind. This week, I’m liking the tan wall color (Dapper Tan, mind you) with burgundy and green trim. I know, I know, the red and green are SO 1990s….. but I LIKE them! Got any opinions?

paint body

paint trim

My house is a Greek Revival, very elegant with pediments over the doors and windows, and fluted trim. I have sage and gold striped wallpaper with acanthus leaves in the front entry… and my dining room will be red with white trim, and acanthus leaves for decor…. I wanted to go with a red kitchen, but my daughters vetoed it. So I think I’ll go with a neutral wall color, and “do up” the accents.

So that’s what I have so far. Well, I also have a huge box filled with electrical boxes and wire nuts, and screws, and crow bars… but I figured I’d skip that this time. 😉

Thanks again to all you who visit me and especially those of you who leave comments and encourage me. I think this thing MAY actually REALLY happen! After 13 years!!!!

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