Beyond the Laundry Room: Where do we go from here?

OK, NEW RULES. I AM DECLARING THEM:

1. No more tearing things apart.*

2. No more starting another major project until the other major projects are wrapped up.**

*Unless I really want to.

**Unless it seems like maybe it won’t be a major project but instead something quick and easy. I can’t control where it goes from there.

Now that the laundry room is this close to being done, we’re starting to decide which thing(s?) we’re going to focus our energies on now.

If you have followed this blog for a while and paid some attention, it might occur to you that there are a literal wealth of options.

1. The dining room, last seen with a gaping hole in the wall where a door used to be, no ceiling, old electrical, and crazy patterned walls. Doesn’t make sense to do much about this until the electrical is done.

2. The front parlor room adjacent to the dining room, last seen with a gaping hole in the wall from an old stove vent, no ceiling, old electrical, and the coolest corner radiator. It has since become my workshop because I choose to live like an animal and need somewhere to do my crafts. And by crafts, I mean making piles of sawdust bigger than Linus. It doesn’t make much sense to do anything about this until electrical is done. It’ll be so weird to use this room as a proper room someday instead of the place I make baseboards and stuff.

3. The entire entryway/hallway/staircase situation. It’s a huge amount of space but not really a room, but it is the heart of the house and it looks like crap. All the walls are bare plaster now, but they do need significant repair in places and a nice skim coat in others before paint can happen. Since there are already so many holes from electrical being added/removed, I’m requesting that any holes the electrician needs to make for adjacent rooms and spaces come through these walls, where possible. I’d rather have one wall that looks like swiss cheese to repair than a dozen that all need a few patches here and there. ANYWAY. It’s a huge job. I can’t wrap my mind around the amount of joint compound I will use.

4. The mudroom? Which I (mostly) gutted in a fit of crazy? (Did I even mention that??). I don’t even know what to do about this mess. I want to torch it.

5. The downstairs bathroom? Gutted down to the studs. The contents are now sitting in the living room.

6. Our bedroom, where the bare plaster walls are pretty much ready for skim coat and paint…except for waiting on the electrical to be installed.

7. Oh god, don’t even TALK to me about the yard. Someone casually and politely told me yesterday that they do ticket here if you let your lawn get too long. I don’t think we’re at the point where it’s breaking any laws, but it is breaking all laws of taste and decency and looks like an overgrown weed patch. The lawn is one of the few things that is 100% Max’s domain, so if it isn’t mowed this weekend, I guess I’ll be single and ready to mingle on Monday.

There’s more, but I’ll stop there, since I’m going to have a panic attack if I keep going.

Basically, the house is a whole lot of chaos, but it also maybe looks worse than it is.

The electrical I can’t do legally in our county. We have a great electrician who I love and is super affordable, BUT he is impossible to nail down. I can usually get him for like most of a day, and then he’ll come back two weeks later but only if I call him every other day and sound really sad about my ceiling-less rooms and under-electrified second floor. It’s annoying, though, because updating/adding electrical is a big hang-up for getting this stuff done. We can’t close in ceilings or even really repair walls until it’s complete, not only because it’s MUCH easier to run this stuff with open framing but also because I don’t want to make holes in already repaired walls. Let’s just get it done and get on with things!

SO!

I think we’re going to make a pantry.

A quick n dirty, no-major-frills, simple, semi-temporary pantry. It’ll hold lots of stuff, and right now another place to stash things is nice. One of the things about living in a major renovation is that even though you have all this newfound space, there’s comparatively little space to actually put anything where it’ll be safe and clean and hidden away.

pantry pantry2

Here are some fun and attractive pictures of the the outside of the pantry when we bought the house. That door on the left in the first picture of the kitchen when it still looked so scary is the door to the pantry. It used to be the door to a back staircase, which was removed a long time ago. I have zero interest in restoring the old staircase. As cool as it would be, this house just isn’t that big and having two staircases in the year 2014 just seems silly, and it’s already gone.

Probably when the stairs were removed, this closet in the dining room was added. It’s obviously a later addition because the door and trim don’t match even a little.

wallframing

SO, I knocked out the wall in the middle that separated the pantry from this closet, ripped out the door and frame, and framed in the opening.

cavernouspit

Then it looked like this, from the kitchen side. Like a shit-stained cavernous pit of despair and wreckage. There used to be a doorway into the kitchen at the back left corner (the exit of the stairs up from the basement!), which was framed in presumably when they renovated the kitchen last, but they never did anything more with the inside of the closet. So on the left we had about 2/3 of a wall (the plaster on the left is actually in fairly decent shape, wood-paneling-patterned wallpaper notwithstanding), no ceiling, and a wall on the right that was a TOTAL mess. The plaster was all failing and miserable and falling apart everywhere.

This was back in January. Nothing happened since then.

Stop judging me.

BUT! This week! Things occurred!

1. I put Max to work on gutting the right wall down to the studs, since this is the wall we’ll drywall and I wanted the electrician to have super easy access to make his whole job faster, in the hope that he could then dedicate himself to other things.

2. Max managed to remove most of the plaster and some of the lath, so roundabout 2 in the morning the night before the electrician showed up, I finished the job myself. What are you gonna do. (save me from this abusive relationship)

3. My friend John and John’s Truck and I went to Lowe’s and bought DRYWALL! This was incredibly exciting. I drive a ’02 VW Jetta that can fit in the trunk, at most, four salted almonds, so any time I get to haul something enormous or approaching me-sized, I get VERY jazzed. I feel really empowered with my drywall stock.

4. The electrician came and roughed in all the electrical in the pantry. HALLELUJAH.

SO. In order, a photo journal.

maxemo

This is, without question, the sexiest outfit Max has ever worn. He took off the Tyvek suit after about 4 seconds (too hot!), but it makes me happy when he takes on something renovation-related. He can totally handle demo.

drywall1

On the dining room side of things, I was itching to get the drywall up over the framed in doorway I’ve been staring at for 5 months. First, I had to clean up the edges of the plaster. To do this, I used a 4′ level and pencil to draw a clean, square line around the doorframe.

oscillating

Then I used my new VERY FAVORITE TOOL EVER, this oscillating tool I picked up from Lowe’s. Admittedly I cheaped out and got the most inexpensive one in the store, which I made a semi-serious resolution to stop doing, but I have to say…this thing is AMAZING. It comes in handy CONSTANTLY now that I have it. It has lots of different attachments (sanding pads, rounded blades like this one, straight blades of various sizes for wood and metal…), and it seems more than powerful enough for me.

ANYWAY, this thing is perfect for making clean cuts in plaster (or drywall) quickly. I’ve actually asked the electricians to start using it when they’re here and making new holes—they seem excited to have a tool that makes the job a little easier and less messy, and I’m excited to have less repair work to contend with afterward.

Anyway, for this wall, I pretty much just ran the blade up my pencil line until I hit the lath, and the unwanted plaster fell away and the remaining plaster stayed beautifully intact. Like so:

wallprep

I proceeded to use my nail gun to nail scrap pieces of lath to the new framing, like large shims, to bring everything out to the same level.

drywall

I marked all my studs on the wall above so I would know where I could safety screw the drywall into, cut the drywall to size, and screwed it up. Cleaning up the edges of the plaster really allowed for MUCH more precision, which should make the patch job much easier when I get to that!

The drywall is about 1/8″ below the surface of the plaster, which is perfect. After the seams are taped and mudded, I’ll skim coat the whole wall and it should be pretty much imperceptible once it’s all said and done. I’m sort of excited about it. For now, even just having the drywall up feels VERY WEIRD after looking at the gaping hole for so many months, and makes the dining room feel less janky. And to think, someday it’ll even have a ceiling!

Don’t ask me how I’m going to patch in that elaborate baseboard. Fuck if I know. It’ll be OK.

As you can see, there is a coaxial cable sticking out of the wall, as well as a space for a new receptacle next to it! YAYYYY! Right now our coaxial cable comes in through the basement, up a radiator pipe, and into the front room that way. My hope is that the credenza (or some piece of furniture, undecided) will sit on this wall and hold our modem and airport and crap, all concealed, and we can get it out of the front parlor room. We also plan to split the coaxial cable down in the basement so that we have cable hook-ups in a few rooms, just in case, but those cables need to be run another day.

It’s also exciting to have another outlet in the room! The dining room has ONE outlet currently, and I have a plan to add one more, so that’ll be three. I know that’s still less than modern standards, but I think that’s OK. I’m not sure how many we could possibly use!

ANYWAY, back to the pantry…brace yourselves…

pantry1

Ouch, so scary!! Someday it will be nice and bright and cute. Promise. Although the light really does make the condition extra apparent and extra horrifying…

newspaper

I did find this scrunched up piece of newspaper in the wall—the Kingston Daily Leader from July 8, 1936. Cool! I’m going to try some methods to flatten it out. No piles of money (yet), but plenty of old newspapers and masking tape in this house! The date is probably also a good indication of when the staircase was removed, and makes sense given the context of the Depression and the house being divided into multiple living units.

lights

We have LIGHTS! It’s so weird being able to really see this room without a flash light or work lamp. Clearly there’s been some water damage or something over the years to that top part of the back wall, but all of the framing looks great. The space is 8′ long and less than three feet white, so two lights seemed to make more sense.

outlets-pantry

We also have outlets! YAYYYY! The receptacles aren’t in place yet, obviously, but the wiring is. I had the electrician install them at countertop height as sort of a last-minute decision, just in case this room does eventually become part of the kitchen and somehow it isn’t necessary to demo it again? I know, I know… #wishfulthinking

floor

I gotta say, I’m super excited about the floor in here. It’s not original since it would have been open when the stairs were here (so probably installed in the 30s), but it is beautiful unfinished pine! I’d love to sand and seal it.

beadboard

Naturally, I seem to do nothing these days that does not involve messing with the kitchen again…and this time, I set my sights on the weird beadboard panel above the pantry door! I sort of love this thing, to be honest, just because it’s so strange and creative and weird, but I love the idea of restoring the transom window more. Soooo…

transom

BOOM. Sorry kitchen. (Again). But with a little extra work and a pretty piece of glass (I have a good idea!), there will be the prettiest little transom window over this weird little door. It’ll allow a little more natural light into the pantry while also providing a little ambient light in the kitchen when the pantry light is on. It’ll be nice!

So, yay pantry! We’re waiting until more of the electrical is done elsewhere, then getting it all inspected, and then we can start closing up the walls! This will be a good chance to try drywall for the first time and maybe test some techniques I’ve been pondering for the ceilings. It’s nice to start small like this and learn on the way before taking on the bigger jobs. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

BUT THEN. CEILINGS. YOU’RE ON MY LIST.


65 Comments

  1. You astound me with your energy and drive, Daniel. Even reading this makes me exhausted. That said, I’m so excited about your pantry! And laundry room! And Max’s sexy demo outfit. :)

  2. A Friday post–made my weekend! Anyway, is the “semi-temporary” description because the pantry just might be annexed for kitchen space one day, or for some other reason? Every little bit, even removal of the beadboard, is PROGRESS. Your kitchen will forgive you. (P.S. Max is seriously cute all Tyveked out.)

    • Yes! Someday if we renovate the kitchen again, I’d like to remove the pantry entirely and gain more space in the kitchen. It’s a very awkwardly proportioned space as it is, so there just isn’t any point in spending too much cash on it——nothing fancy in here! I plan for it to still be cute and nice, but I’m mostly excited for it to be clean and usable space!

  3. I spit out my 4pm grilled cheese sandwich when I read “so if it isn’t mowed this weekend, I guess I’ll be single and ready to mingle on Monday”. Love your sense of humor and I love seeing your work around the house. I grew up near Kingston and I’ve been really enjoying watching you give this house some TLC. Keep the momentum going!

  4. The amount of comedy Daniel wrote above especially 1 – 7 list made me giggle! By the way, clever use of a tool to cut ragged plaster clean, you made the job looking very professional :D

  5. ARGH! Will you leave that kitchen bloody alone? Please? What has it ever done to you?

    Also: Max – way cute in that suit. You should hide all his clothes and replace them with paper onesies.

    • I can’t leave it alone!!! I’M CRAZZY

      I know, it’s getting ridiculous at this point. The back of the house is so weird, though, and our first big renovation push didn’t exactly address everything as comprehensively as I wish it had. This isn’t even the last time the kitchen will get messed with…this much I know. :)

  6. This whole post is, as they all are, so exciting and inspiring, but I have to say that my favorite phrase in the whole post is “has one outlet currently”; that outlet is for current, right?

  7. I am so excited to see you put in a nice new transom!

  8. Haha, I can’t imagine how you can even be thinking about the outside of the house right now! Good for you for making Max deal with that. Can you do a post one day about being the more enthusiastic renovator in your relationship? I feel like I have to beg my boyfriend to do anything!!

    • Laura, I totally hear you on this one! I always think that these DIY projects could be fun activities for my husband and I to share. Unfortunately, he sees them as forms of marital torture. We often end up fighting because he gets in such a bad mood unless I allow him to work alone. It is so frustrating.

      Max, great progress. I am excited to see how this goes.

    • Oh, I think about the outside of the house constantly! One of the big challenges has been leaving it (mostly) alone and just maintaining what’s there. I have big plans for it, but all of the projects feel very large in scale and just NOT what we should be focusing on right now. I’m hoping we can get at least a few little landscaping things done this spring/summer/fall, though.

      And yes, I’m thinking about doing a series of posts reflecting on the first year of home ownership (coming up in two weeks! Insane!), and that’s something I’d like to address a bit. I’m sure you understand why it can be sensitive territory, but I think it’s important and maybe helpful.

  9. I love your writing – always gives me a good laugh (in the nicest possible way). What are those two narrow pipes in the corner next to the old door/ new wall? Are they able to be moved inside a wall?

    • Those are heat pipes that lead to a radiator in a room upstairs. It may be possible to move them inside the walls, but probably fairly difficult and expensive, and they really don’t bother me that much! If I had tons of cash, maybe…but we aren’t really in a position to throw money at something like that. :)

  10. Best line of this post? “I drive a ’02 VW Jetta that can fit in the trunk, at most, four salted almonds …” Too funny! I love your writing style!! Kudos on making more progress!

  11. A thought for your electrician that worked for us – run the wires (i.e. make the holes) all at once, labeling the ends. Then you’ll be able to patch the walls while waiting for him to come back and actually install the boxes and connect them to the panel. Nothing feels like progress quite like seeing intact walls!

  12. Another great post Dan!

    Love seeing how things progress on the ol homestead. I think having a clean place to store food stuffs and what not safely, and in an organized fashion isn’t a bad thing at all, even if you eventually rip it out when you do the big redo of that space.

    Just getting a barely functioning home into a functioning place takes a lot of effort, as is evident here on the ol’ blog, and being able to fashion trim work, redo wiring etc is something I hope to be able to partake in. I’m in the home search myself, though it’s still slow and no homes in the lower price bracket where I live are showing up, but the occasional condo, with high HOA fees. *sigh*. Schools here let out in early June so hope things pick up SOON.

    Keep at it, and get that grass cut! :-)

  13. A pantry!?! I totally hate you.
    But I forgive you because that picture of Max in the Tyvek suit is completely amazing.
    I’m actually really excited about your transom window. I live in a crappily renovated railroad in Brooklyn and at a some point they installed two transom windows in the wall between our bedroom and living room to let light in since there are no windows in the living room or kitchen, but they did a REALLY shit job of it. They’re both poorly framed and were done with two panes of glass, and each of them had one of the panes break. Whoever removed the broken panes did a really half assed job and left a fun little border of sticky glazing and jagged little pieces of glass.
    You can’t tell unless you’re up close, which no one ever is because they’re up high, but I’ve hated them since the day I moved in.
    I’d LOVE to replace them if you show me how. Please show me how. PLEASE.

  14. I love your blog and I love how your home is turning out! Absolutely stunning!

  15. I can’t believe you’ve done all this work without an oscillating saw! I use my husband’s Fein brand one when he doesn’t take it to work (hardwood floor co) and it’s the bee’s knees. We actually just call it the Fein saw, I didn’t know it’s type. Same with the Sawsall, which I think is an oscillating saber saw? I don’t know, lots of demo here too…not much rebuilding yet, sigh.

  16. OH. My god. I think I got an actual boner in my lady zone when you boomed that transom photo.

    • Sarah, Thanks for the loud guffaw I just let loose! Good thing I wasn’t drinking anything at the time. I do know what you mean, though I’m not sure whether to be embarrassed or proud of it. :-)

  17. I get so excited whenever I see that you’ve posted! Your house looks amazing and your writing always makes me laugh. Good luck with the pantry. I can’t wait to see the finished laundry room though!

  18. Transom equals best idea ever. I know you have a lot of work yet to go, but I have to say I’m a little bit jealous that your ceilings are high enough for transoms.

  19. Okay, I had to skim the majority of the post to come down here to say that when I read “piles of sawdust bigger than Linus,” I immediately was all, “Doesn’t he mean piles of sawdust bigger than Pigpen?”

    And then my brain got out of “Peanuts” territory and back into “Daniel and Max’s life, where they have a dog named Linus” territory, and everything clicked into place.

    Carry on.

  20. I think this is a great strategy. This house is really your first “all-yours” remodeling/reconstruction job since your apts were rentals. Starting in the small rooms and then moving on is a great way to go, this way you build on and build up your skills in order to tackle the big projects. Good luck.

  21. So happy today! I love it. Can totally feel your energy, Mr Daniel. Hope you get that lawn mowed by Monday! haha

  22. Totally addicted to your blog! My husband and I left Manhattan 3 years ago for the wilds of western WA. We bought a ruin of a house on Possession Sound and are also up to our eyebrows in plaster dust, mouse doo, and Home Depot receipts. It’s refreshing to see what I like to call a sympathetic renovation. I hate to see old houses turned into open concept travesties. Awesome job, love what you’ve done.

  23. See you later asshole door! (That’s what I would yell when putting up the dining room drywall)

  24. You have accomplished SO MUCH in a year! I hope you feel good about it and focus on what you have done, not what remains. GOOD JOB!

    The electrician thing would drive me nuts, but hopefully you’ve figured out how to get him to do what you want. Maybe check Angie’s List for an electrician special? Would drive me nuts.

    You are so smart to do some smaller spaces first. I do think I’d do the bedroom, just because that’s a good place to feel free from the stress and not look at what needs to be done all night. But that’s just me.

  25. I love seeing your house come back to life. I look forward to every post – they can’t come fast enough for me.

    That said, you and Max need to go away for a long weekend to a lovely place where nothing needs to be worked on and you can just go for walks and have a nice drink and a few laughs over a meal that someone else cooks.

    This is the voice of experience speaking.

  26. Max is a total glamazon in his white serial killer slash demo onesie. Loves it!

    Your house is so much fun to hear about, and I’m so glad you put the time in re: blogging about your kitchen redo on a dime because my new house has a horrible kitchen and I gotta redo it temporarily with zero dollars. Your posts are super helpful, so thank you!

    I hope your electrician feels inspired to just BOOP show up and do all your electrical in one day. :)

  27. We got our builders to put in a pantry when we did the kitchen reno. They made a 3 panel door – two obscure glass panels and one solid panel at the bottom. Several people have commented that it’s nice we managed to keep the old pantry (totally wasn’t one there before – the kitchen was a tiny cramped s**t hole). The pantry makes me happy in an ‘I’ll have enough tins of tomatoes for the apocalypse’ kind of way. The shelves are lined with fake marble (farble?) sticky back plastic – a whole crapload cheaper than the quartz worktops and nearly as lovely. Does your fabulous plaster cutting tool have a name? – we deffo need one of those. Bernice x

  28. Looks great, as per usual. Will you get hardware that allows you to crank/tilt the transom window open? Maybe a new electrician would make your life easier? I know how hard it is to find someone good and also affordable, but sheesh, sounds like quite an ordeal to track this fella down.

  29. Can hardly wait to see you organize the pantry. I imagine that you will have all sorts of gizmos for hanging mops, swiffers, etc. I like pantries because I think it is one way to win the $$$ kitchen war. A little room is much better than $500 a linear foot cabinets. Maybe you could think about shelves on the outside wall that would be two shelves deep, a magic disappearing first row of shelves. I also wouldn’t put it past you to arrange a library type ladder in there.
    Max is a real sport to dress up for you. Tell that electrician you will make him famous if he
    cooperates. Plant a few perennials about now. It takes a while to get them going. Waiting for the next installment.

  30. A pantry is the ultimate luxe! Thank you for another witty, inspiring post :)

  31. Be sure to support Max’s goals, so that you can grow together. You seem like wonderful partners. The pantry is going to be a huge help and it looks great.

  32. Uhm. You guys are still going to be together by the time the big renovations are done, right…?

  33. love hearing from you. among the very few bloggers who step back and amortize the emo/relationship issues of reno are young house love. they have explicitly made the point that small projects, finishable in a day or a week, without the intermittant attentions of even the finest cheap electrician, are the only strategies for sanity. this sounds great, can’t wait to see the transom.

  34. Goodness gracious, good googly moogly! I’m going to show my husband this post so that he could get off my butt about me moving things around in the apartment. He is ever so lucky! But I think it’s worth the temporary chaos… I mean just look at the progress you’ve made! You’re awesome– like a box of fruit loops!

    xx/ http://www.hometohem.com

  35. Oh wow! My 1928 home doesn’t have a pantry, so I’m really jealous. I do have a little stairway from the kitchen to the basement that could offer some pantry-ish storage, and it has the same drywall issues you’ve been blogging about lately. I’m taking careful notes and trying to get up the courage to tackle it. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  36. My house isn’t as old as yours, nor does it have the potential of grandeur that yours does, but seeing the work you put into your house always inspires me to keep working on my own house remodels and renovations!

    While I’m very jealous of your pantry and transom window….my understanding from the beginning of this post was that you weren’t going to start a new project until the last project was finished?? ;-) So on that note, how’s the laundry room wrapping up??? (PS-Your mood board for your laundry room was exactly what I envisioned for my own laundry room! Really excited to take on that project later this year!!)

    Keep up the good work!

  37. Plaster buttons! Old newspapers! Lath scraps! Dust! Water stains! Wonky plumbing!

    Sounds just like my place.

    Seriously, love on Max a bit – you SO are not going to leave him over an un-mowed yard! He’s too cute in a paper jumpsuit LOL. Max, ignore the crazy boy, he’s just inhaled too much sawdust recently! (teasing you both, of course.) Max, you should hop on here and let us hear your side of the story!

  38. Ooooooooo . . . I hope Max got that grass cut at the weekend . . .

    I would keep the pantry, for ever and ever. I think it’s great to restore these kinds of features in a period house. It’s never been a great dream of mine to have a built-in kitchen – I really prefer free-standing furniture. I’d say, in this kitchen, when you come to the second phase of renovation, removing the cabinets with their extensions (that reach to ceiling height – are they the sofits??) will change the space dramatically enough. Then you can go from there, leaving the pantry and its little window intact, and all your readers will breathe a sigh of relief, and you’ll have spared yourself a ‘save-the-pantry’ protest. Mark my words!

    Daniel, it’s great to sense your enthusiasm and energy again – that’s what makes your blog so inspiring to me! And as ever, your great writing AND your self-effacing humour.

    PS. Forgot to say that your handiwork could put many a tradesman to shame, Daniel. You know what they say: better an enthusiastic amateur, than a disinterested professional.

  39. Seeing the light come through the top of the pantry door made me envision a two-way swinging saloon-style oak door. But just one, not two and maybe with a frosted panel of some sort. I did a Google image search but nothing substantive came up.

    Anyway, in my head, it would look amazing.

  40. Love the transom idea! I am on a quest to add them over most of our interior doors.. Thus far, the guestroom got a non-opening one. It was super simple, and cost pretty much nothing. Not that its very interesting, but you can see how we did it here: http://www.storefrontlife.com/adding-a-transom-window/

  41. Where are you guys showering? Does it function well? Our reno is very similar in vehemence to yours, and like the laundry room motivation (to have somewhere to clean up after making massive messes elsewhere in the place), I’d rate a working bathroom as high on the priority list. (Also, since renovating causes fighting in our marriage, being able to shower together sometimes goes a long way towards making sure everybody still likes each other generally.)

    Aside from that, you guys have generally prioritized what we have (the washer/dryer closet was the second thing we did, and we’re about to trick out the front hall closet with shelves while you are working on the pantry). I might make a recommendation that while you’re working on the pantry, you finish up getting your electrical run everywhere else, then have a company come in and hang (not finish) the drywall on your missing ceilings/gaping holes. Finishing costs a bundle and takes a week and creates dust, but just hanging is economical, fast, and it means that suddenly you have solid walls (noise reducing, warmth-coolness promoting, and fire safety promoting) and no more mysterious dust-producing nooks in those rooms. It’s not pretty when it’s unfinished, of course, but it means you can actually set furniture in all those rooms and use them normally while you focus on finishing one room at a time.

    It’s a lot of function added for just a little money, and it really means a lot that suddenly you have the option of spending time ANYWHERE IN THE HOUSE. Not just the bedroom. The world is your oyster.
    You go from living in a house of chaos with a few oasis functioning rooms to living in an oasis functioning house with one chaos room (the one you’re actively working on).

  42. Oh Happy Day just completed a narrow pantry renovation. She has a window in hers and it might be a little wider, but it’s interesting to see different sized and shaped pantries. I’m sure you’ve seen it since she referenced your black VCT kitchen floor in her decision to go the same way.

    We have a basement pantry room that certainly functions, but is old, dusty and really the original shelves could be more efficient. I mean, it’s an 9’x5′ room but there are only shelves on the short walls with 7′ open space in the middle. Since it’s in the basement I have to make sure everything in the pantry is mouse proof (although i discovered that the mouse can’t climb my classy plastic shelf in there, so the pasta and sugar get to live there.

    I agree with other commenters that a pantry is probably more functional than adding another 3′ of depth to your kitchen. All you’ll gain with removing the pantry is more open space in the center of the kitchen and maybe 1 or 2 additional drawers/cabinets.

  43. Definitely go for the transom rebuild. I built one (and a door jamb to accommodate it) over our master bathroom door that matches the original transom over our bedroom door. I did it all with mortise and tenon joints just like the original, so it was a good excuse to buy a new router bit for rail and stile window construction. I used salvaged glass for the panels, and found a matching transom lift on ebay, hinging it from the top. I still admire it while laying in bed almost every morning when I wake up. It may even be the single thing I’m most proud of adding to our house over everything we’ve done. Weird, I know.

    The progress is looking great. Have you thought about doing a beadboard ceiling instead of drywall in the pantry? That was very common in smaller rooms that were not main traffic pattern areas.

    Also, I’ve gotta laugh at your rules. We set and broken those very rules in our home more than I like to count.

  44. Guess I missed some things while I was away…

    Why is it that you can’t touch your electricals legally? Do you need some kind of degree for that? Just wondering, because electricity is *the* most interesting thing in a renovation if you ask me (at least in execution).

    Nice job on the plaster with the oscillating tool, way easier than trying to fill up all the holes that would be present with plaster afterwards. Now I want one too, urgently, guess I’ll have to bump it to the top of my want-list!

    • Actually, it turns out I was misinformed! I did some more research and I actually could do the work myself (since I own the house), as long as I get a permit and have it inspected (which has to be done regardless). That said, I’ll probably continue to have my electrician work on it for this major stuff…he knows what he’s doing, has help, and can get it done MUCH faster than I could and more efficiently. He’s very affordable, and both for safety and sanity, this just seems like one of those things that’s worthwhile to hire out——even if I’m technically (probably) capable of doing it myself.

  45. Oh man! I love living vicariously through your DIY renovations! This house is going to look absolutely amazing when you guys are finished with it. I can’t wait to read more! Thanks Daniel.

  46. Oh, please rough up the outside as well; I so need the company! I, too, suffer form Project ADD and have started a reno/demo/project/ in every room of my house–and the front and back yard as well! Trees are down, some have been split for the fireplace but most not; the old patio is pulled out, the lumber for the pergola is delivered but untouched–and one out of three bathrooms is, ahem, in the midst of… work. Even the walk-in closet is ripped apart. Dammit!

  47. “Fuck if I know. It’ll be OK.”
    Truer words were never spoken.
    Also, as per usual… hilarious.

  48. Good to see such a progress and your way of storytelling is really entertaining! :) I can share all your feelings about doing this home-improvement “stuff” because we are just in the middle of building a swimming pool in our backyard and it’s a pretty hard task… It’s supposed to be made in this style, especially like the detail on the 8th picture (I am showing you the nice but not real pictures to make myself feel better, of course… :) ), but let’s see how will it turn out… We had quite fun while doing the drawing because we are really not experts in this field. I just hope that it will work out and we can enjoy our (probably not perfect, but still) own pool…

  49. I so look forward to your posts! You are hilarious. You and your boyfriend are super cute together. I am in complete awe of your DIY awesomeness. I love that you are restoring this house to something better. Keep on rocking on.

  50. Random ‘corner of the dining room’ thought. I find those radiator pipes very odd looking – though I know steam boiler heat is common on the east coast. Have you thought about framing in a chase for them since you are going to have to recreate the baseboard and all?

    Anxious to see the final Laundry Room (yes, it deserves capital letters). My laundry area is in the basement – rock foundation, though thankfully concrete floors, and is ugly as sin with low ceiling and nasty rough walls (and needs more lights).

    • You know, those radiator pipes never really bothered me too much (we have them in several rooms, and they’re pretty normal in old houses, especially when radiator heat was not the original heat source, as in ours), but I actually think we are going to get them buried in the wall, since it’s all open on the other side. They can be re-run with PEX now, which isn’t very difficult or expensive, and actually saves some energy over time because it’s less water to heat! The pipes were originally run when the radiators ran on steam, rather than hot water, but now there’s no need to have such large pipes. Of course we’ll have to patch in a couple of floor boards, but we already have to do that in this room anyway. So, yay! :)

      • You know that I’m from the Midwest and steam/hot water boilers just aren’t very common here. Most houses have air heat – even THE bungalow, which is right at 100 years old now had a gravity hot air system. Even the bigger Victorians down the street have been retrofitted.

        I think that corner of the room will look tons better without them. And re floor patches – if you have matching hardwoods in a closet somewhere, use those for floor patches – you have twice the repairs, but the boards will match.

  51. About the money in the walls thing: take it seriously!
    My neighbourhood is similar depression era vintage. It is old enough that mods may have been made in the years following the depression. I found stuff in the walls of my house.
    People at that time were afraid of banks and many also put money in wall cavies and other caches. Today as elders they venture beyond the proverbial mattress but still stick to cash, CDs and the like.
    A roofing contractor found $35,000 cash in a cavity in the roof of my neighbours house. The house was built in 1903 so the factors accord with a concurrent or post depression reno.
    Look for stock certificates and bonds depending on your neighbourhood. Mine would have been a young up and coming urban professional neighbourhood in the 1900-1940 era which is why savings were made and potentially still exist behind those lathe and horse hair plaster walls.

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