Friday, March 14, 2008

my kitchen!

...this is my kitchen as i envision in in my mind. maybe you can see the 2 sample counter chips- they are a pretty mottled blue, with grey and black flecks. one is shiny, and the other is matte. not sure which one I'll pick yet, but I'm leaning towards the shiny one.

...and here we have the healthy dose of reality! this is the kitchen as it looks now! (remember, I'm the eternal optimist!) there is also a picture of how the kitchen looked on the day we bought the house in the blog "in the beginning" it's the second picture.

when we bought the house, there was a kitchen, of sorts, but it was awful. the cabinets were plastic and other than the sink, that was pretty much it for traditional kitchen. in the course of the ripping out, Dave decided that the kitchen has to go. so now I'll get a newly designed Lowe's kitchen much sooner than i thought. i enjoyed designing my kitchen. it was very painless, and i was surprised at how easy and quick it was. there was so much to choose from, but we had already decided on white cabinets- that would look kind of old and farmhousey. i just told the guy what i wanted, and a few clicks of the mouse later, he printed out my pictures. all this will have to wait, though, until the foundation issues in the addition are resolved, sometime this spring.

so meanwhile, i continue to dream... and plan. mark W. was up in the beginning of march, and graciously offered to help. (didn't have to ask twice!!) he wired the kitchen for us. but before he did that, he took out the end window, and also took out the door, and made that into a window. i had decided to change things around, since the kitchen was very inefficiently laid out, with 5 doors and 2 windows. it was going to be impossible to have an eat-in kitchen, which is what we want. with this new layout, we have a more normal sounding 2 doors and 2 windows.

we really enjoyed having mark for the day, and i know that it was a big help to Dave to have him. mark just took off, and worked his way around the room- ripping out windows and doors, and replacing the door with our new window. then he ran all the wires, making sure that we would have enough plugs and switches- and before the day was done, we had a safely and efficiently wired kitchen! we are thankful for good friends like mark, and his son D.

this is the second kitchen that mark has worked on for me- he did most of the renovations on the high street kitchen. after i had closed on that house, he told me that i should watch the movie "the money pit", starring tom hanks and some lady. (can't remember who at the moment) i took his advice, and after i was done watching it, i was a bit panicked! obviously, we didn't watch that movie again before buying this house! anyway, it's always fun to have mark around, and we both would give our eye teeth to have been a fly on the wall at his house, and hear what he said to Kathy when he got home that night!

it's the little things that count!

like the title says- it's the little things that make a house a home. things like a toilet and shower, heat, insulation, electric, lights- you know, the things you rarely think about until they're not there. (and believe me, i've done that before!)
the outside wood furnace has been installed, and you can see dave in one of the pictures working on the heating system. that is coming along slowly, but surely. we will have 3 zones of heat- 2 donwstairs, and one up. so we'll be toasty warm. and in bradford county, that will be a very good thing!
D is working on getting the insulation up, after dave is done with the wiring. and in another picture, you can see dave, along with G and DW, working on wiring and nailers for the drywall.
much of the work that needs to be done now is only work that dave can do, and is quite time consuming. alot of it needs to be done before we can plan on moving in, and it's all behind-the-scenes work. the plan is for the next several times for dave to go up on his own, with only one son to come along and help. that way he can get more done, with less interruptions, and concentrate on the "little" things that must be done for us to move in.
so for now, i guess that's it for major happenings that look great in pictures. i still have several blogs up my sleeve- including our adventurous eating while we're there. remember- it's not about what you eat, but the memories that you make while doing it!

putting it back together

we're back at it again, encouraged by the progress that we've made so far. the whole downstairs, as well as the attic storage is ripped out, and now we're ready to put it back together. we've lots of drywall, and lots of (mostly) willing boys to help, and i go up several days in January and February, and we work together, making a good dent in what we have to do. Dave has gone ahead of me, and replaced all the outdated and dangerous wiring, as well as installing some of the hot water baseboard heat. so now we can just roll right along. (theoretically) sometimes we "roll" smoothly, and other times it's bumpy and tedious. in the master bedroom and front living room we've decided to leave the beam ceiling exposed. the original hand hewn beams are a marvel- over 30' long, and 200 years old! we don't want to cover them, and leaving them exposed will add more character to the house, as well as being a conversation starter. however, with this decision comes the fact that we need to top off the drywall on the walls in these rooms with a "j" channel, which can be frustrating and definitely slows us down a bit. but the extra work is worth it, as the walls look nice, and it's a great finishing touch.
Dave has also been busy working on the new bathroom. we've taken one of the downstairs rooms, and divided it in 2- one family bathroom, and one for the master bedroom. he's been working on this steadily, and has installed the shower, drywall and first coat of mud, (including the closet), all the plumbing and laid the concrete board, as well as the tiles. it's starting to look like a bathroom in there! this is of course one of the necessities for us to move in, so this project has priority.
it is during one of these visits to work on the house that i begin to see light at the end of the tunnel. (relatively speaking, of course- and keeping in mind that I'm the eternal optimist!) we've managed to clean up, and it's finally starting to look better. perhaps we can really move in and live here in the spring! we have progressed in our cleaning from using rakes, shovels and tubs, to a broom, to a shop vac. one of these days we might acutally get to use water, cleaning fluids and a mop!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

tearing apart

first off, i feel i must apologize for the jumbled up mess the pictures seem to be. i wanted them to be a bit more organized and neat looking, but i was having lots of trouble uploading my images, so i guess i'll settle for what i have.
our first day up to work on the house was january 2. the 3 boys were all anxious to get started ripping out the plaster and lath. we figured we might as well put all that energy and testosterone to work! D, N and G got right to work ripping and tearing. they soon perfected a system that seemed to work well, and used it to do all the rooms. first, one boy would scrape all the plaster off the ceiling. then it would be shoveled into a tub, (dave had to make a Lowe's run to get more tubs to keep up with them!) and carried out to the dumpster. next, the same for the walls, being careful not to get electrocuted with the old wires in the wall! after the room was relatively clean, they took out all the lath- ceilings and walls, and put that in a huge pile outside. working together they did the bathrooms, master bedroom, living rooms, hallway- up and down, kitchen and laundry room in very short order. there are a few pictures of this undertaking, but soon i had to stop taking any more pictures, as with all the plaster dust flying around, the camera could no longer "see"!
meanwhile, dave was ripping out the nasty old bathroom that had been plunked right where the front door was supposed to be. that didn't take too long, and opening up the hallway again to let in all the southern light really made a difference. i can't wait until the new front door goes in. dave got a beautiful special order door from Lowe's- mahagony with an oval window, gold caning and sidelights.
i came up one of the days they were there, and oversaw the cleaning out of the remainder of the junk in the house. also, the basement needed a fair amount of attention. decades earlier, a very industrious and prolific woman had canned just about anything you could imagine- from meat and corn, to cherries and pickled something-or-other, and the jars were all still in the basement. they all needed to be sorted and emptied. G and N helped me with this job. (too bad we already did chemistry last year, as there were some amazing looking molds growing in some of the jars!)
dave and the boys spent lots of time at the house in january, as he had several vacation days to use. they made lots of progress, and we found truth in the saying- "it has to get worse before it gets better"

in the beginning...

so here we are at the very beginning. this is what the house looked like on the day that we closed, December 11, 2007. due to the delay in closing, the dumpster we ordered was already there- all 10 cubic yards of it! (you can just make out gabriel and i standing in it.) we were surprised to see how large it was- almost as big as a small house! even more surprisingly, we would fill it to overflowing in the next few weeks- a total of 14 tons!

we came back to the house after signing the papers, and i walked around taking pictures. it definitely looked a little more rough than we had remembered! i think at that point that both dave and i were thinking to ourselves "what have we gotten ourselves into!?" however, we were confident in the future potential that exists in this amazing but neglected house. from some of the pictures hopefully you can see the gorgeous woodwork, particularly around the downstairs windows and fireplaces. i love the (grand) hallway and upstairs landing, and even the sitting room at the top of the steps. there are also 4 bedrooms upstairs, plus the master downstairs. we will add 2 bathrooms off the main hallway, one of them being the master bath. with the double living room, kitchen and utility and laundry room, there will be lots of room for our family. you can see, however, that the kitchen leaves alot to be desired! I'll post some pictures, and tell of the exciting plans for that on another day.

that first evening, we got right to work on cleaning up the yard, and also carrying out some of the junk from the house. it was soon dark, and without any electricity we reluctantly left our new home, already making plans to come back soon, and start the work in earnest.

Monday, March 03, 2008

we finally found it!

After several years of looking, we've finally found the house that we think we can all live with! we eventually expanded our search north to bradford county, after i looked on the lowe's website to see where the stores were located. we had decided that dave would plan on transfering to another store, as he still wants to work for lowe's, since they are a good employer. there is a store in sayre, pa, which is just about as north as you can get without going into new york. just a few weeks after we made a trip to bradford county to meet our real estate agent, and check out the area, we found a huge, old colonial farmhouse that was for sale just outside of the little town of monroeton. we made an appointment to go through the house, and while we originally liked it (i loved it!) it was too expensive.

fast forward several months, and wade through many details like the sale of our home in new berlin, the impending foreclosure of the house in monroeton, B's birth in october, a drastic price plunge, sewer issues, and great difficulty in getting a signed deed- and as of december 11, we were the proud owners of the oldest framed house in bradford county, along with 6.91 acres along towanda creek.

now the fun really begins! there is an almost unfathomable amount of work to be done on the house, but we have been able to look past all that, to see the diamond in the rough that it is. (interestingly, a friend of ours looked at our house, and was heard to remark that she had expected the potential to be a bit easier to see- not buried so deeply!) we can see in our minds eye how nice it will look in a few years- and i can imagine a house full of children and grandchildren some day, as it is certainly large enough to accomodate everyone at 3000+ square feet!

the house was very well built in 1807, but unfortunately for the last 50+ years, very little upkeep and maintainance has been done on it, and almost no modernizing. the "short list" of projects is very daunting- ripping out the plaster and lath and hanging new drywall throughout the whole house, new wiring, new bathrooms, a whole new heating system, refinishing floors, new roof, windows and siding, new kitchen and new doors. we are thankful that dave works at lowe's, as this makes the project all the more feasable. we are able to use his 10% employee discount, and also take advantage of sales and special order returns. we got a lowe's credit card, and we went shopping for a bunch of stuff for the house. (that was really fun!) we got tiles for the bathrooms, all the fixtures, sinks toilets and tubs- even a jacuzzi! we also bought all the new windows, and boatloads of drywall. additionally, we bought ladders, brooms, work lights and a shop vac. we also added new doors, as well as wire, outlets and switches to do the electrical work. we will do all the work ourselves, with the help of the teenage sons- D, N and G. i will work on the house as i'm able, with M's contribution being helping with the little girls, A and B. so for the last several months, we've been traveling to moroeton several days a week, and are making progress on the to-do list. dave spends every day off working on the house, and the boys often go along to help out. there is still much work to be done, but we're confident that we can accomplish this task- and still be on speaking terms when we're done!


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