Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Christmas Tradition

The Help is here! Not the movie, but they're working just as hard. Gus and Denise came into town Friday night and started sanding floors Saturday morning...after Gus and I tossed the stove out the window. He derived particular pleasure from that considering he had the privilege of the final rat extraction...

This doesn't end well...

Rats aside, we had plenty to do. Denise started with the baseboards and window trim. Gus took the monster edger and I handled the drum.

One day you won't need a mask in my living room.

Look at that Attention to Detail

Girl Works a Drum

And just look what a Christmas day gathered around power tools can get you...

Good-bye Gross-ness

Hello Red Oak

It's So Nice to See You Again!

Oh and for all of you feeling sorry for them, the Grinch gave them an extra piece of meat on Christmas Eve! ;-)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Twas 2 Days Before Christmas

This is not a picture of my house.

But it is a picture of the type and color of the soon-to-be roof. The outside of the house is to be painted a buttercream (yellow in guy speak). Apparently roofers do not stock scarlet roofs so the Harbor Farm roof is currently residing in some Malaysian factory, waiting to be crated by 10-year-olds and shipped to South Florida. 

Over the past week the electricity was brought up to code, the HVAC duct work replaced, and the ceilings painted. Oh and all that kitchen tile Gus and I laid last weekend has to be replaced, which is much more of a mental setback than anything else. There are plenty of silver linings to go along with this week's hiccups that I really can't complain and overall I'm still excited about the process. It's also fantastic that it's Christmas and I now live a mere 4-hour drive from my wonderful parents (or they from me since they're on their way here :). And it's equally fantastic that this winter is promising to be very mild because windows were not in the 2011 budget.

Here's some more pictures of the week's progress...

Street Legal
Round One :(
Floors for Christmas!
More Floors!

Floors and Walls

Lovely Sanded Baseboards and Trim Paint

Shower Drain and the Original Wood Siding

Ceilings are Painted!

Working in the Daylight Courtesy of an Early Christmas Weekend

Funny Before Picture of the Master Closet

Safety First!

 Critter tally 0!!! But the new stove is coming tomorrow...just to be on the safe side.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Define Progres...

I'm not certain exactly what Casey meant when he said he was "making progress" at the house today. When I took these pictures the house was empty except for a old boombox blaring static-y country music. Someone from Run Club saw these pictures and asked if they found a dead body. It was a legitimate question.

Master Bath...I think

Guest Bathroom Floor

On a high note, we finally purchased all the tile for the now non-existent floors. I tried to Google for an image of 'chocolate and marble' bathrooms in order to give you an idea of my "vision" for these spaces, but all it came back with were pictures of cake.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Renovation Won

After struggling with the question of whether to restore the hardwood floor in the kitchen or lay tile, taking various opinions and advice, and weighing financial pros and cons, it ultimately came down to my father's (the only weekend helper) decision. In true Gus-ism his verdict was, "No way. No how."

Save me!

Don't get the impression I didn't try. I had conceded to the 'restoration' aspect and was prepared to spend the weekend compromising my lung tissue to chemical strippers.  My truck was even filled with all sorts of scrapers, gloves, and masks. It just wasn't meant to be. She was too far gone. What Gus and I thought was a single layer of vinyl tile adhesive (recall the black goo?) was actually tarpaper laid over two more layers of vinyl tile and linoleum sheet. We would never have been able to finish this weekend...

So those are my excuses and because I am Type A-, the vision for Plan B was some sort of rustic, stone tiles. These 8"x12" beauties from Floor and Decor Outlets passed the style (and wallet) test. If I ever find the time I will post some inspiration pictures and pieces...

Coming unglued.

Peacock Slate

Some of the tiles are still unglued and we're still on Advil and bourbon, but the weekend was a giant reno leap and I'm happy with the decision. Besides there's plenty of freaking floors left to sand. 

Archimedes at work.

 Oh yeah, critter tally passed the funny point. Let's just say the budget now includes a new oven...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

You Just Can't Describe

There are some things you cannot photograph, like the smell of a decade of dust and squirrel droppings co-mingled with dead mouse. I don't know why you would want to anyway, but it would be nice to capture a full sensory record of rehab.

Tonight I prepped the walls for paint by filling in nail holes and knocking off the dust. There were a couple of old AC window units that were Casey's responsibility to remove, but I found my own pleasure in kicking them free. 

The last few inhabitants of this house have each left his or her mark with a selection of cheap, window dressing hardware mercilessly drilled into the trim. This useless, lightweight crap that often holds inappropriate blinds or tacky curtains, is one of my decorating pet peeves, and no matter where I live---always the first to go.  Again in the dark, I pried the tiny aluminum brackets from the wood and for the first time began to see the house as it must have seemed to original owner. Maybe he had it built, or built it himself. Were they thinking about the Truman Doctrine, Princess Elizabeth, or Howard Hughes? It's hard to know, but impossible not to peer out the same windows and not to wonder.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Floor Prep is Hell

It's a good thing I spent a few minutes today perusing design blogs, because by hour 3 of removing quarter round and carpet tack in the dark, it was only those images of charming, rustic, coastal cottages that were preventing me from burning this place down.
This seemingly innocuous pile of crap is the reason I will most certainly not be able to stand up straight tomorrow or open my right hand.


In case you don't know what quarter round is, it's the piece of trim that fits nicely between your floor and the baseboard. There's no sense in sanding the floor with the trim in place because it hides the seam and is cheap enough to replace, but let's be very clear, removing old quarter round and the rusty nails that hold it in place (did I mention in the dark?) is a @#%&*!

Ready for Sanding

Critter tally for the day: 1 dead mouse behind the oven

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Restoration vs. Renovation

Having tackled nearly identical vinyl tile in my Hawaii rental, I knew this kitchen floor was going to be a challenge. Removing the decades old tiles is easy, it's the underlying adhesive (otherwise known as the 'black goo') that's the tricky part.


The black goo
Kitchens floors in old houses were commonly laid with a cheaper, soft wood, like fir, in anticipation that the floors would be covered with tile, or linoleum, depending on the age of the house. Filled with dread at the prospect of having to use a chemical remover to strip the black goo, I decided last weekend that if the underlying wood was fir, and not hardwood, then the kitchen would be tiled. 

Denise was devastated by this decision. She wants any wood preserved at any cost---even my lung tissue. Yesterday she won. Hello respirator.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Backyard B&As

These are the backyard before & after (B&A) shots from today's foray into the jungle. As I cut the last piece of bamboo, sunlight flooded into the yard. If I hadn't been completely exhausted I'm sure I would have attributed some significance to the moment. Now, after two glasses of wine, I started calling tool and equipment rental companies for bush chippers. A great big shot-out to Gus who suggested calling the tree service sooner rather than later. Tellone's Tree Removal is scheduled for first thing tomorrow morning to trim the live oaks, remove Spanish moss, and take away the (now four large) piles that were cut by hand.

In case you're wondering why I'm spending so much time in the yard when there is so much to be done indoors and only 3 (gasp) weeks before moving day, it's because the house is being tented for termites this weekend and Casey is waiting on permit approval. The guys were happy for a weekend off and I was just happy for a 3-day weekend.


After - the pile of brush in front of the coop is Pile #4

Critter tally for the day: 1 snakeskin and 1 mouse

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

That's Why He Needed A Dumspter

For weeks my contractor, Casey, has been warning me about how many trips he will have to make with the dumpster, but in my mind I just couldn't see why. "It's only two toilets, two vanities, and an AC unit" I kept telling myself. Casey rang me around noon to tell me the crew was finished with demo in the bathrooms. Casey rings a lot. Mostly just to tell me what he has accomplished, but I think also to make sure I haven't fled the state...or country.

Having received a gracious reprieve from my Huntsville trip this week, I was in the office and could break away at lunch to see the progress.  Man was a I glad I had already shot 'Before' pictures! Casey's crew (which I discovered includes little brother Mark) does not mess around. And that's why he needed a dumpster... 

Guest Bath Before

...and During

Master Bath Before

...and During

After work I did some more work in the yard. It's dark by 6:30 this time of year so I only had about an hour. The pictures will look nicer in the daylight.

Southern Jungle

Hello Harbor Farm!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Keys and Trees

On Friday I FINALLY closed on the "farmhouse." It seems like I waited 6 months to write those words...or 6 years depending on who you ask. It was really supposed to be typed with more elation, but this morning it's mainly just a bleary-eyed obligation to the record. Closing was fairly anti-climatic, mostly only raising my blood pressure after noticing I was being over-charged for homeowner's insurance. But the word 'homeowner' was enough to remind me of the blessing of the moment and signing stayed the course. With keys in hand I gave the house a quick drive-by on Friday night and headed to the airport to retrieve Rachel, one of my best friends from college.

Rachel came into town to run a 12 mile obstacle race we had been planning for nearly a year, but yesterday, on race morning, the excitement of the those keys trumped the anticipation of running 12 miles through the mud and woods. A few cups of coffee and a (shorter) jog over the Dunedin Causeway and I couldn't wait another minute to show her the property and start chopping trees. I have known from the first minute I saw the farmhouse (and the three hardwood trees growing into the roofline of the kitchen) that should I ever own the place, removing those trees would be the very first order of business.

An exhausting few hours later we had cut down (by hand and brute force) the three trees...and two more just because. By the way, you know you have a good friend when she is willing to fly all the way from Chicago only to forgo a major event for slave labor.

Best of all, you can now see the south side of the house and out the kitchen windows.
Never before seen south side
Making her own obstacle course
Notice the stumps
Notice the smile
It might even be a backyard one day...and Toshi (always a huge help)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mabuhay (Welcome)

This is only a test. My entire life has been full of tests. Frankly, I am rather good at good at them. Retention of information is irrelevant, my short term memory has the perfect puissance for test taking. So if my long term memory is to be rifled with holes, it is only fitting that I begin a record of this journey. 

Welcome to Harbor Farm!