The Office (and powder room)

Finally put the finishing touches on the office this weekend after completing the painting and trim work (with hand tools!). Installed 10 feet of industrial shelving that I got for a steal and made a desk from a door that I stained and added IKEA legs to. Put in some art and fixtures in the bathroom. Now it’s time for a beer.
shelves desk and new windows desk top powder room art bear skin reading material

Our slanted ceiling shower solution

After scouring the internet for days and not being able to to find an acceptable solution to installing a shower rod in our slanted ceiling bathroom, I decided to have a custom rod and hardware solution made to my specs by a company that makes store fixtures. The factory happens to be across the street from my office so I went over there about a month ago with a drawing and some measurements and it took a couple weeks and about a hundred bucks, but I think the result is great. It looks really good and works perfectly. An expertly cut and grommeted liner and curtain later, and we have a finished looking solution that I’ve yet to see the equal of. No more suction cup hooks and bunched up shower curtains!

Slanted ceiling shower rod Hardware close-up

The Office

Finally, the end is in sight! The final floor to be reconstructed, in what will be my home office, has been completed and is awaiting the maple. 3 new windows have been installed, and some sweet tile has been laid in the powder room. This should tide us over until spring when the second round of renos will begin again (sigh).

New tile New windows and wall

Not so cute.

This week the contractors came in and started work on leveling our floors in preparation for our new hardwood installation. In doing so, they uncovered a bit of a nightmare situation in the back part of the house (see photos). The previous owners had, by incompetently trying to level the floor, caused more problems for us. Basically, they had attempted to raise the floor with a jack that wasn’t even shored — it just sunk into the ground. Insane. I have no idea what they were thinking, but I know how they tried to cover it up. Frustrating, but our contractor has assured us that he can fix the problem and prevent and further damage. It’ll push our schedule back a couple days, but at least we’ll have the peace of mind that our house will be stable.

He also uncovered the original hardwood floors which had been covered up by no less than 3 subfloors, some linoleum and topped with some carpeting. Again, I have no idea why people do the things they do. Laziness? Cheapness? Plain stupidity? It’s anyone’s guess.

On a brighter note (literally), they’ve managed to open up our ground floor considerably by taking out a wall in the entranceway and widening the doorway between the living room and dining room. We can’t wait to see it all finished with the maple floors installed. It’ll make all this stress and frustration more than worthwhile! We also picked out our new stove and washer/dryer set. It’ll be the first time we’ve used a new gas stove that didn’t require throwing a match into the oven or burner and hoping the house doesn’t blow up.

Yikes. The new entranceway. Dining room/Living room opening.

Hobo Cat

Today was spent cat-proofing the front porch and more gutter cleaning (my favourite). The neighbor’s cat has been using our porch as his/her second home and, judging by the smell, a litter box. I dug out the area that Hobo Cat was using as access to discover that there had been chicken wire laid down when the garden was originally excavated. Chicken wire is a pretty good deterrent, but any skunk or cat worth it’s salt will rip through it in no time. 2x2cm hardware cloth, buried a foot down and extending a foot from the porch wall, is a much better deterrent and will surely foil the evil Hobo Cat. He spent the afternoon watching me from across the street with pure feline loathing in his hateful little eyes.

Meanwhile D spent the afternoon in the upstairs bathroom cleaning off the dried grout that had been left all over the hastily finished tile with vinegar, Comet and elbow grease. My dad always told me, “if you’re gonna do it, do it right the first time”. If only the previous owner’s father had imparted that little piece of wisdom to him, we wouldn’t be fixing or redoing a lot of the stuff that we are.

Tomorrow the contractor is coming by to take up a section of the main subfloor to have a look-see at the joists to give us an idea of what it’ll take to level the floors out. While we’ve got the floors up, I’m having a basement specialist come by to give us a quote on waterproofing the crawlspace. I don’t think it’s done very well right now and in the spring/summer things could potentially get pretty “earthy”.

Gutter Balls

Today I went by the house to try and clear out some of the gutters, which have apparently never been looked at before. Maybe the previous owners didn’t own a ladder (we just bought our first one the other day). Unfortunately there’s a nice hard pack of frozen dirt in them, but I managed to chip away an inch or so off the top and clear out most of the leaves that have been blocking them up. The weight of the crud has caused the gutter over the porch to noticeably sag and drain water in the center, so I did my best to relieve some of the strain. My new heavy duty Wonderbar, having previously put to use prying up the linoleum tile, also makes a great icepick/scraper.

A few days ago, we arrived at the house only to be assaulted by the unmistakable scent of skunk(s?). We figure they are getting under the porch or possibly into the crawlspace. There’s about a 10″ gap between our neighbour’s house and ours and it’s never been properly sealed, so there’s a good chance that the little buggers have dug down into the most inaccessible part of the house. Great. I’ve researched a couple repellent suggestions (naphtha flakes and ammonia rags) that we’re going to try out before calling in the pros, who charge $300+ just for trapping the animal. Properly sealing these cozy areas will have to wait until the ground thaws, but once we know the critters are out – and hopefully they do leave – I’ll put up some temporary galvanized wire mesh to discourage any more unwanted tenants.

The front Clogged gutters Kitchen and back office Living room looking into dining room Backyard

First Steps

Yesterday we spent the day tearing up all the cat hair-infested, toddler-stained carpeting on the main floor. No bonus hardwood floor revelations, only some 1940s school-grade institutional linoleum tile covering the sub floor. While I was ripping out the carpet some of the tile was knocked loose so I decided to pry it all up and be done with it. Our original plan was to just install laminate flooring over whatever was under there, but once I got going I couldn’t stop. D, being the cautious sensible one, smartly made a run to Home Despot to acquire some asbestos-grade ventilators. I was ready to plow ahead – asbestos be damned – but I’m glad she did it, just in case. We bagged it up, rolled up the carpet and underlay and now we’re faced with the next decision – to level or not to level our somewhat wonky floors. It seems our little house has sagged in the middle over the years, as these things (and people) do. That said, just being rid of that carpet brightens the place immensely.

The old carpet Ripping it up “You just had to rip that shit up, didn’t you?”