Monday, October 08, 2012

home improvement a la: if you give a mouse a cookie style

When we bought our house, two years ago, our realtor told us that it needed "some upgrades."  What that means, in layman's terms, is that our house needed a lot of work.

A Lot. 

Of course our home is livable, because Mr. S lived here for nearly 45 years and we've lived here for two years.  But our kitchen has the original appliances and the bathrooms are all vintage 1966.  At the moment, the children's toilet is taped closed because it runs constantly and we can't find a part to fix it.  Remember this? Even that part didn't work.

We often tell ourselves, SO WHAT? Our stove is better than our camping stove and we love camping. Heck, we could cook in the fireplace!!

(Or, at least boil a pot of water for coffee...)


And we don't really need three bathrooms, we really only need one. So what if we're looking at a cinderblock wall whenever we're on the commode?


It works! At least sometimes. Or at least until the children eat a big lunch and then all bets are off and you better hope there's a plunger nearby. What is it with little kids and their monstrous poops?


Whenever we feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of work to do in this house, we'll just look out the window at our magnificent yard. And we remember why we bought this place: it's a slice of heaven.


However, our little slice of heaven is decaying rapidly. For example, whenever it would rain, the water would overflow the gutters and pour down the windows, triggering massive water rot on all the frames. So we decided that we needed to replace our gutters that have been known to bear maple seedlings.

And frogs. 


Once we replaced our gutters, we determined that we needed to sand and touch up the paint on the rotting wood.


Alas, the wood was so rotted out that we needed to break out the wood and replace the entire section. And then we couldn't sand wood in other areas because it had lead-based paint...


So if we wanted to do the job right, we needed to break out all the wood.

Around the entire house. 


Then we decided that since they're painting, we may as well paint our shutters from burgundy to black.


And because the shutters looked so fantastic, we decided to replace our old front door.


And hey .... you know what would look really amazing with a NEW front door?



A new front stoop ... in flagstone! 


But how can you have that lovely flagstone stoop with that old cracked driveway that has caused multiple children multiple falls on their bicycles and scooters? So we replaced the driveway ... all 350+ feet of it.



But before we replaced and expanded the footprint of the driveway ... 




We had to tear down and rebuild the brick wall alongside our garage that was beyond repair.


(I had this guy stand guard over our new brick wall to ensure that the bobcat didn't hit it as they broke out the 6-inch concrete base of the OLD driveway. That would have been a major bummer.) 



And while we were on that side of the house....


We figured we'd just go ahead and replace the sliding glass door that wouldn't open and you could feel a cool breeze blow THROUGH it in the winter.


Because the new doors are so amazing, let's just bite the bullet and do the full frame replacement for almost all of our windows because they are drafty in the winter and the wood is totally rotted - thanks to the old gutters - and really, who needs to eat more than once a day?

Hey, speaking of gutters, that's what started this whole thing. 

The toilet?


It's still broken. 


  1. That's a lot of improvements in a (seemingly) short amount of time. Everything is coming together nicely, though it'd be great if the toilet that started it all was working. I'm sure Mr. S. would be proud. Thanks for sharing your updates with us.

    P.S. I loved you series "The Path" and wondered if you have made anymore decisions about what the future holds for you, Charlie, and your family?

    A reader who found you via the link on Michele S.'s blog

  2. Red door. Black shutters. Home sweet home. Yours has such curb appeal!!! Each of those projects combine into what looks like a massive amount of planning and organizing (my head is spinning just thinking about it!)!! Go Charlie!

    Your Numeroff description was awesome. Isn't that how it goes with kids? AND your home?

  3. Love this post! The house is looking great! I love to see house improvement post....maybe b/c I daydream of redoing my house:)

  4. I SO love your blog and I laughed out loud while reading this - it SO would have been my life if we hadn't already done this. Twice, in two homes...
    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE post before and after photos!!!

  5. Ohhhhh, you hit the nail on the head (so to speak)! But it really looks lovely - and I completely understand about the toilet!!

  6. After living in our rental in VA (I think ours was built in the 50's) I totally agree with all your changes. The house we were renting at the time needed all the exact same things that you've done to your house! I swear our windows were the worst. During the winter my mom taped visqueen up around the windows in the basement to prevent the crazy draft we'd have - although whenever I would turn on the old oven - it would heat the whole house up ; )

    Your house is looking beautiful Jen!

  7. Oh my. What a transformation! Great upgrades! I fear we are on the same track ... hub just tore out the hallway carpet, we just replaced the back door, I'm painting it today and pressure washing the house. Oh my.

    Christy in FL

  8. OMyGosh everything looks so great. I love what you're doing. I'm sure you've spent a bazillon dollars...from my point of view well worth every penny!! Can't wait to see what else you do. I haven't read here for a long time. I'm catching up today.

  9. However, the outside looks absolutely fabulous!

  10. Anon: I need to write the next installment of "The Path" because YES - there have been some decisions made and we're currently in what you might consider, "pre-execution" mode.

  11. Sandy, Tabatha, et al ....

    It has been such fun to do this work but also, incredibly stressful. We're currently not content with our driveway job (the guys made an absolute MESS, oil from their equipment seeped all over the road, they left their trash on the lawn [cigarette butts, McDonald's cups, etc,] and did some real shoddy work on the pavement) so we're trying to positively interface with them on getting things resolved to our satisfaction. When it comes to home improvement - the big lesson here is: DO NOT PAY FOR THE JOB IN FULL UNTIL YOU ARE 100% SATISFIED.

    What's been really interesting is the number of neighbors that have dropped by - or pulled up lawn chairs - to watch the transformation. There are few things more entertaining than watching OTHER PEOPLE spend gobs of money on home improvement, especially if it enhances the look of the neighborhood. Tomorrow, we start landscaping and hopefully, that money tree they're planting will yield a crop SOON!!!!