Archive Monthly Archives: April 2013

Coming Clean

OK I did it. I admit it! There’s no one else to blame. I had no accomplices! It was all me.

I killed the pool.

It was a dark and stormy night… well not really. It was sixty degrees and sunny round noon but I just couldn’t take it anymore. There it was. All big and blue. Taking up our entire yard like it owned the place. I hated it.

Jared was upstairs ripping up the bathroom floor. So naive to the bloodbath, er… stale pool water bath that was about to take place in his own back yard.

“I hate you pool,” I said matter-of-factly from the sun porch. I picked up a small narrow blade that was lying in a milk crate. I walked over to the middle of the yard and stooped down behind the pool decking. I didn’t want my new neighbors to know my evil potential.

I stabbed. But the blade would not penetrate the aluminum pool siding. So I stabbed again. And again. This wasn’t working. Time to bring in the big guns. With a small, sharp drill bit, I tore into that siding. A perfect circle but no water. With a screwdriver I sealed the deal. Punctured the lining and watched the water seep out.

It didn’t take long for me to confess to Jared. In fact, I was kinda proud of it. I single handedly killed the pool. Now all that’s left to do is tear down that aluminum and cash it in to the scrap yard for a decent profit. I feel like a hitman ready to collect their payment for services rendered.

OK maybe I’ve been watching a little too much Bates Motel lately but seriously, I think above the ground swimming pools are an eyesore, a liability, and a waste of time in New England when they are open for a whole 3 months of the year. So yes, I’m very pleased with our decision to remove the pool. Even if it was slightly violent.


Finders Keepers

A new home can surprise you. Whether it’s ‘Surprise! You have no insulation!’ or ‘Surprise! Here’s a really old compass someone dropped in the wall!’ Hopefully you get more of the latter and that’s what today’s post is about.

We’ve found some interesting treasures in the last week. Some left behind by the last owner and some left behind by whoever built this house. For example, check out these little treasures mounted at the back door.

2013-04-15 14.49.11 2013-04-15 14.49.16With a little scrubbing and a coat of spray paint, we will proudly display these in our new home!

Then there was the big discovery of a Boston Herald newspaper from 1896 and a Boston Sunday Globe from 1892! We were told that this house was built in the 1920s but unless the contractors held on to a newspaper for a quarter of a century and then stuck it in the wall, we’re thinking this house may just be a late 19th century gem! Here are some articles and advertisements I managed to save. I can’t wait to display this collection of framed pieces of the past.





And finally, this ticket from Winthrop’s Fourth of July festivities.


For as long as I can remember, Winthrop was a wonderful place to be on Independence Day. The day began with the eclectic Horrible’s Parade followed by races and games at Coughlin Park. Barbeques and parties could be seen all over town during the day and the night would conclude with an impressive fireworks display. There is no date on this ticket and I can’t find an original date for the first annual Winthrop Fourth of July festivities anywhere. According to my grandmother, she remembers buying these tickets for 50 cents and given that it’s printed in colors that haven’t faded much at all, I’d say this ticket could be from the 1940s or 50s. What a great piece of Winthrop memorabilia!

Back to IKEA

We’ve made two edits to our kitchen plan in the past few days. The first is good news and the second is bad news… but not really.

First, because we need to support the wall between the kitchen and dining rooms, we’ll need to cheat the wall further back than I intended. This just means that there will be some extra space directly across from the refrigerator that will be kitchen space rather than mudroom space. We decided to create a large cabinet to house the trash, recycling, and cleaning products. I want it to go with the rest of the kitchen cabinetry so I’ve found some options at IKEA. I’m thinking either a large wardrobe cabinet or we add two more base cabinets with pull out function for trash and recycling and add shelves above for a kitchen command center or drop zone for keys and mail when we come in the backdoor.

command-1-300x232 drop zone IKEA Cabinet Open

Then the second edit to the kitchen is purely for budget reasons. Our lovely granite countertops with the look of marble will be swapped out for butcher block. I know a lot of people don’t like butcher block but I actually love the look. And in fact, it was my original intention for my dream kitchen and it was Jared that talked me into granite. Here’s some inspiration pictures to prove this will not be your mother’s butcher block!




Did You See the Bubble?

Like many older homes, we have a pretty significant slope in our mudroom and the hallway leading out to the backyard. When my Dad told me that it could be leveled before we lay down any flooring, I assumed that would mean a subfloor angled to counteract the slope.

Silly Julie.

No, instead they simply jacked up our entire floor from the basement! Now to me, this seems like quite the process. But between Dad and Joe, they just went into the basement with a bunch of pipes and wood blocks and all of the sudden, the floor was moving under my feet.

OK, now who has Carole King stuck in their head? “I feel the earth move under my feet. I feel the sky tumblin’ down!”

Anyways… this is not the end of the process but it sure did go quickly and seem like just about anyone can jack their floor up! Here’s the step by step breakdown courtesy of

  1. You will need to purchase several beams. The beams will be hoisted by the jacks to provide the support under the sagging floor. Purchase as many beams as needed, depending on the extent of the sag that is occurring in the floor. You will also need floor jacks that you will placed under the beams. Small sags will only require the use of one floor jack, while large sags will require two or more floor jacks.
  2. On the area of the floor where the sag is the most pronounced, place a large level. Check the level as you raise the floor in order to see at what point the sag has been eliminated. It should be noted that the process of addressing a sagging floor will occur over a period of time, even several weeks if the sag is great. You will need to work on this process over time in order not to cause other structural damage to the flooring or your home.
  3. Underneath the floor, in a crawlspace or basement, position the floor jack or jacks and place the beam in position. Carefully hoist the jack until the beam reaches the floor underneath. Continue to raise the jack until you feel some resistance. When this happens, stop hoisting the jack and lock it in place. Check the level to see how much of the sag has been eliminated.
  4. Wait between 1 day and 7 days and turn the jack hoist another 1/4 to 1/2 turn. You want to continue this process in the same intervals (1 to 7 days) until the level has reached the correct the position. Once this happens, you should have eliminated the sag from your floor.

IMG_0775So once we had a level floor the next step involves digging a four foot hole in the basement in order to pour concrete to secure the new support. Guess who got to do that. Yup, my husband. You see, apparently there is “young buck” work on the job site. It’s an unwritten rule that my Dad and his fellow contractors implement wholeheartedly. My poor hubby has lugged buckets of plaster, thrown rolls of carpeting into the dumpster, and now has dug a four foot hole in our basement. Gotta love the man.

IMG_0798 IMG_0799IMG_0797

Blinding Me with Science!

Hope everyone got that Thomas Dolby reference and it’s now stuck in your head. “She blinded me with science! And hit me with technology!”

Moving on- we’re draining the pool. How does one drain a swimming pool exactly? I had no idea other than to open the floodgates and probably piss our new neighbors off and flood our own basement. But leave it to my Dad to know exactly how to do it- with science!

I believe that if my Dad were not a master carpenter, he would be a high school science teacher. The man knows all kinds of crazy stuff about physics and astronomy. It’s like living with the cast of the Big Bang Theory!

So just how do you drain a pool using science? You create a siphon with a garden hose. For this to work, the water source (the pool) must be higher than the spot where the water will pour out (the drain on the street). The water hose has to be primed, then gravity takes care of the rest. Just make sure the hose is submerged in your water source at all times. If the water level falls below the end of the hose, you have to restart the siphoning process.

Here’s a step by step breakdown courtesy of

  1. Fill the hose completely with water. Keep the ends of the hose upward to prevent the water from draining back out.
  2. Place one hand over each end of the hose and turn it upside down. Place one end of the hose into the contained area you want to drain.
  3. Aim the other end of the hose to your draining location. This may be a bucket, floor drain or other acceptable destination.
  4. Remove your hands from both ends of the hose at the same time. Water should begin flowing out of the end of the hose that is not submerged.

2013-04-15 14.49.34

2013-04-20 11.51.25

What a Week

There’s so much to say I don’t even know where to start. I guess I’ll start by saying it’s been a crazy week to say the least. Between the bombings at the marathon on Monday and then the search for the bombers and finally the lockdown of the city and capture of the terrorist on Friday- it’s felt like we’re living in a movie. And on top of all of that- we completely gutted our new home. It’s a miracle we’re all still standing.

With the gutting of the house came a lot of questions answered and a lot of lessons learned. Lesson number one: with any major renovation  just go ahead and double the budget because it’s going to happen. Even being the most detail oriented people and researching everything to death, Jared and I are still stretching our budget to a frightening number.

So allow me to get off my sassy horse with all my “sexy appliances” and “high end fixtures.” We’re going to have to get a lot more realistic about what we can afford. That means even harder bargain hunting, getting really creative, putting in a lot of hours ourselves, and making compromises.

But that’s all the negative stuff. Let’s talk positives! Check out all we’ve accomplished in the last week.

1. Completely gutted the entire first floor- living room, dining room, kitchen, back mudroom, and entryway.

IMG_0770 IMG_07712. Gutted the upstairs bathroom. As I mentioned on Friday, this was not in our plans for a good year or two. However, with the kitchen ceiling open, we needed to move the pipes for the bathroom (directly above the kitchen) now.

IMG_0779 IMG_07783. Found a great new spot for the toilet though! Kidding.

IMG_07804. Two interesting discoveries were made. There’s a gorgeous curve from the staircase in the kitchen. This was blocked by a doorway to the basement before but we think it’s way too cool to cover again. And then there was the discovery that the back mudroom used to be an open porch. There was siding above the drop ceiling and this awesome post they built right into the wall!IMG_0773 IMG_07745. Then there was a lot of progress on our bedroom which I’m pretty proud to say, I did most of myself. Wall paper down, check! Vinyl flooring in closet up, check! Drop ceiling down thanks to me and Mum, check!

IMG_0781 IMG_0783 DSC_00646. And finally, Mum and I got really well acquainted with the wallpaper steamer. The entire hallway and up the stairs is covered with 80s purpley blue streaky wallpaper and whoever put it up used a lot more glue than the bedroom walls. Those ripped off like nothing but the hallway was another story. We’ve gotten most of the walls done before we figuratively and quite literally ran out of steam.

DSC_0088 DSC_0087





Craigslist? Why Not?

I know it’s easy to be weary of Craigslist but honestly, it can be a fantastic tool when you’re remodeling.

We knew going into this that our house had design choices from the past 60 years that we had no interest in saving. But I understand that just because it’s not our taste, doesn’t mean someone in isn’t going to love it. As I like to say- there’s a butt for every seat.

So with that in mind and the prospect of maybe making a couple bucks, we posted our white appliances and ornate glass lighting fixtures on Craigslist. If you know of anyone interested, please leave me a comment and we’ll chat. And if you’re interested in posting anything on Craigslist, here are a few helpful tips.

Please note: These are just general sales tips. Craigslist has safety and scam information here. And you should always be careful when agreeing to meet anyone or giving any personal information.

1. Always post a good image. With an emphasis on good!

You’d never buy something sight unseen, right? Probably wouldn’t buy it in the dark or without your glasses either. So enough with the dark and blurry images. A clear image shows you have nothing to hide. Plus, the majority of people will click on image-based ads first or even filter by “must have image.”

2. Repost like it’s your job!

This will keep your post on top and assure that even the most lazy Craigslist browser will see your post. Craigslist will place the most recent post on top but has parameters to stop constant reposting. It’s also to stop those spam posters that have nothing better to do than take over the site. Repost daily!

3. It’s all in the Details!

Be as specific as you can possibly be in your ad. Use brand names, list materials and colors that may not come through in your images. Before anyone takes the time to come collect your unwanted goods, they need to know they want it! I mean, would you buy a car if an ad said: Car. Runs on gas.

There's Good News, And Then…

So just when all the walls are opened up and everything is going smoothly… we learn we’ll have to do the upstairs bathroom NOW. While the ceiling is opened in the kitchen, the pipes for the bathroom are directly above it.

Remember that full bath upstairs that we were going to wait a year on? That giant eyesore that we were going to live with for a while because we’re already spending all our money remodeling the entire first floor? That second most expensive room in a house to remodel after the kitchen? Yeah… that room.

Last I checked, this house didn’t come with a money tree in the backyard. I could check again but I think I’m right.

If we had all the money and time in the world we would obviously want to redo this 1960s bath/laundry room. We knew that maybe in a year or two we would change the layout and replace the outdated decor with some new fixtures. But that plan just moved up to NOW.

So if we must we must. We’ll give the plumber our new layout for the bath. He’ll move all the pipes to the appropriate places. We’ll slide all the fixtures around the room accordingly. And then we’ll probably live just like that for a while- no tile or flooring or walls but a functional bath with everything where we want it.

But that’s no fun to think about! So let’s focus on what it could look like when we do finally make it pretty!

I love these soothing tans and ivories with the dark wood vanities.


Picture 3But (surprise, surprise) I also love the rustic look of these weathered vanities.

Picture1Picture 4Maybe I could compromise masculine dark wood with rustic weathered like this.

Picture 5And finally, I love the large floor tiles in the photo on the left and the mesh door on the stackable laundry unit on the right. A tall cabinet next to the laundry is a must for hamper and detergent as well!

Picture 6

Have Hammer, Will Demo

Jared sent me some photos from the first day of demo. I was still at work so I showed my team. There were a lot of “wows” and one “you guys have some large cojones!”

I guess it does take guts to buy a home and then rip it to shreds. But without your own stamp, how does a house feel like your home? I promise you, we’re not pulling a Beetlejuice here and turning a lovely old farmhouse into a concrete mansion. It’s all about maintaining the true integrity of the home while making it our own.

Now- are you ready for this?!

Living Room Before

2013-04-15 14.51.23

2013-04-15 14.51.33Living Room After

photo (3)

photo (2)Dining Room Before

2013-04-15 14.52.35

2013-04-15 14.52.16Dining Room After

photo (7)

photo (6)Kitchen Before

2013-04-15 14.52.512013-04-15 14.52.562013-04-15 14.53.53Kitchen After

photo (5)photo (4)photoAnd one random old compass in the wall.


Chateau de Bris

We wasted no time getting to the bottom of a couple unknowns. Within five minutes of the previous owner pulling away from our house and Jared and I finally left to our own devices- we tore some stuff up!

First to the master bedroom closet. Prying up some linoleum, we discovered the floor lined with the New York Times from 1958. You think we could take the NYT up on their advertisement for 7 days in Miami for $113?

photo (2)And under it was…

photo (3)Hardwood! Woo hoo! Those will sand up nice! Definite rustic look but… hellooooo! That’s what we want! If only we knew what was under the carpeting all over the first floor…

photo (1)Bam! And to quote my favorite DIYer Nicole Curtis from Rehab Addict, “why in the hell would you cover that up?!”

Wallpaper came off walls in the bedroom like a bandaid only less painful.

photoAnd then then the big guns showed up. With Dad came tools and then the dust really started to fly.

2013-04-15 15.04.18 (1) 2013-04-15 15.04.59Chimney chase revealed! No more 45 degree angle walls. We’ll frame this off and gain some square footage. We were hoping the chimney would be in better shape and we’d have a small section of exposed brick in our home. But no such luck. As my Dad said, these were never meant to be seen. Oh well.

Over on the kitchen side of the chase, we discovered there used to be a stove in a pink kitchen! Luckily, it’s already been sealed so one less to do.

2013-04-15 15.33.27More demolition to come. Stay tuned.



1 2 3