You can knock but don’t come in quite yet . . .

One afternoon a woman pulled into our driveway and caught me outside weeding.  She asked if we were renting the building on our property (the lab) and if so, could she take a quick tour.  Before I could say a word, she asked if the kitchen was newer. When I explained that the property had no plumbing, electric and was essentially a shell of a building she looked doubtful.  Was I serious?  She thought it looked cute from the street.

Apparently this summer we are working on fooling others into thinking the lab is a livable structure as the exterior has really come a long way.  The windows were broken, panes cracked, wood rotten, and frames chewed up by raccoons. The windows were just barely keeping the elements out.

Here are some of the photographs our window wizard took one day.  This was a 2nd story window that was in horrid condition. A raccoon or two must have been trapped inside the building at some point based on the paw prints on the mouldings.  They gnawed through several windows to try to escape.  The frames were also victim to moisture and rot and as you can see below. Not only was the window saved, it looks incredible.


There are some smaller details that have been tended to as well.  Once the door was cleaned up it was ready for a little jewelry. Our carpenter hung the door knocker today and it really dressed up the door.  It also made the lock stand out like a sore thumb but I’ll get to that!  The handle is original and solid brass; it was a mess of paint and dirt.  It cleaned up beautifully.




The last three windows are next and then hopefully we can move the improvements inside.  I promised pictures of the interior many moons ago and will make good on that promise next week.


Almost a Sunroom

The porch has been getting a whole lot of attention this past week. First it was stripped down to its original state (open air) and now it is being rebuilt.  It looks innocent enough in the pictures below but the wood rot was extensive and ripe for repair.

Here are some befores:



And some in-betweens:




RIP Sub-Zero

The year is 1969 and Richard Nixon is inaugurated as the 37th President of the United States, the Apollo 11 astronauts take their first walk on the moon . . . and our refrigerator is installed!!!

We took ownership of this house a year ago this past April and for most of that spring and summer did not notice that the refrigerator was not properly cooling. We weren’t living here and then when we did finally move in the refrigerator died.  Or so we thought.  Miraculously with the help of a Service Pro tech we were able to squeak out another 6 months.  Granted we had to get a college fridge to keep medicines, dairy and meats in, but it got us through a time of indecision.  We hadn’t finalized construction ideas until just recently and so it carried us through until we were ready to make some firm decisions.  And by firm decisions, I mean decisions to make a crazy mess of our kitchen.

In our future new kitchen, we wanted a separate fridge and freezer.  So, we did it and fortunately our future builder had time to install and piece together the parts in a much more sophisticated way than I expected.  The kitchen is still a bit out of sorts as you will see, but it functions and is comfortable.

The old sub-zero which easily weighed what two new ones weigh was hauled out and then the two new units brought in.  Our house is on a hill so they skipped one set of stairs and pulled up hillside.


Here is the old fridge.  Freezer on the bottom.IMG_0680And the new refrigerator – As you can see the units are bigger now than they were in 1969 so our contractor did some creative refitting of panels.



And, here is the new freezer just across the way in the old desk area –


The old cabinets are now in the basement and the granite was given away.  The freezer got temporary new panels and the countertop has since been replaced with a piece of black laminate.

Eventually these two units will live side-by-side but for now it gets the job done.



A Summer of Stalled Projects

It’s been a slow summer on the contractor front. Our patio and porch projects have been delayed for months so my husband and I decided to take matters into our own hands.

As you can see this is a path in progress!  This was much needed as the stairs from the driveway dumped our visitors into a patch of ivy, poison ivy and yew roots.  That ivy patch extended from the house as far as where you can see the dirt patch is in the picture.

So, we picked out flagstone and my husband got to work laying these down.  I am not sure which was more difficult the stone work or tracking down sod in August.

The next pressing issue was the courtyard.  The weeds were quickly taking over and despite long-term plans to change the configuration of this area, we figured it made sense to plant here as this is a high-traffic area and one of the more charming parts of the house.  So, we dropped in a number of Limelight & Phantom Hydrangeas, pink Veronica, Chicagoland Boxwood, False Spirea and some Winterthur Viburnum.  IMG_0230

The planting was complicated by the fact that every bed had yew stumps and roots so deep and stubborn that a stump grinder was our only option.  My husband rented one and alternated between that and a good ole pickax.  I think his blistered hands are still healing.

The plants went in and the courtyard was starting to improve yet it was not quite there until this past weekend. Mulch!  And, look at that lab door.  The windows and door are getting the royal treatment.  All summer long there has been burning and scraping in the lab and it should not be long before they all work and look great, too.  Detailed pictures to come.


And, this little guy came home with us in early July.  His name is Winston and he’s enjoying the mulch more than anyone else.  It’s tasty and great to roll in after getting doused by the hose.  You may notice the newspaper.  I put down layers under the mulch to try to keep the weeds at bay.  IMG_0590

The demo of our porch is supposed to commence tomorrow. The windows have been sitting in our garage for two weeks ready to replace the existing jalousies.  Casements are going in and should add some nice curb appeal to the house.

More pictures to come of the lab window restoration and our rock harvest of last weekend.  And hopefully some porch progress updates.

Enjoy these last days of summer!