Old House Restoration

A real family makes an old house their home...for the 2nd time
The Splendido's renovate, restore and rejuvenate their home with their own hands - all while living in the house
and balancing their family needs...you know...like most families have to do it!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Finishing Touches - Mulch Makes Everything Look Better

I finished laying the slate patio on Mother's Day. Since then we have enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner...and of course S'MORES on it. It has functioned as the outdoor living area we hoped for.

Although I 'finished' on Mother's Day I did spend another 4 hours making everything stronger the following weekend. I put on the knee pads and used a paint stirring stick to manually compact the stone dust in-between every joint...yes you read that right - every joint with a 2 inch wide stick (there is probably a medical diagnosis for someone like me). Then I filled the newly compacted cracks with more stone dust. Happy to say the slates now feel snug as a bug in a rug.

So now it is finally safe to say....I.AM.DONE.

...or am I? I looked around and the slate patio looked great, but the landscaping around the slates?...not so much. The grass and weeds were growing and the dirt areas just looked...dirty. It is a good thing that mulch makes everything look better.

Mulching Process:
  • Paige and I went around the whole patio and removed all the weeds. 
  • Karen weeded the gardens
  • Then I removed the grass around the entrance walkway 
  • I also went around with my flat shovel and cut a nice 4 inch deep edge around the whole parameter. 
  • Place landscape fabric in as many areas as possible to keep the weeds at bay
  • Cover with 4 inches of mulch
Mulch Colors
  • Premium Brown - This is my color of choice - it is almost black when first laid out or when it is wet, but dries to a dark natural looking brown. There is no dye in this mulch. Does not stain clothing, but will make you look dirty!
  • Dark Brown - this is a dyed mulch. Stains clothes. The dye wears out/fades on top from the rain/sun leaving it not looking so dark brown after a while.
  • Black - Great looking when first spread out, but again this is a dyed mulch. Stains clothes. The dye wears out/fades on top. Looks gray after a period of time.
  • Red - Another dyed mulch. Same problems as above and I consider this the commercial mulch. Every Dunkin Donuts, gas station, medical building uses the red mulch. I do not want my house to look like them. 
  • Playground - Natural wood chip mulch. Light tan color. No dyes. No dirt. Will keep your kids clothes cleaner than any other mulch.
Mulching Tips
  • If planting flowers - I like to mulch first, then plant flowers. Just move some mulch out of the way and plant your flower and push the mulch back around the flower. Flowers are delicate and can easily get trampled or squished during the mulching process.
  • If planting shrubs I usually plant the shrubs first and then mulch. Shrubs need a much larger hole and you will make a mess of your mulch if you mulch first.
  • Notice I said a flat shovel for making my edge. A flat shovel makes a much nicer looking natural border than a spade shovel. The rounded bottom of the spade shovel makes an uneven edge.
  • 4 inch deep edge is important too. This way you can place 2 inches of mulch and still have 2 inches until the top of the edge. This way if grass is growing up to your edge, the grass will stop when it hits the air. If you place your mulch all the way to the top of the edge where it meets the grass, your grass will just keeping growing into your mulch bed. I learned this the hard way.
  • 4 inches of mulch over the rest of your garden area is ideal for blocking out weeds...but landscape fabric is better...unless you are placing the mulch on a steep hill that will be walked on often. If this is the case you may want to skip the fabric because the fabric is slippery and the much will slip down when walked on revealing the fabric - again I learned this the hard way...so I know!.
  • Freshly laid mulch can have an 'aroma' for the first few days after being spread out - and not in a good way - so keep this in mind if you are having guests over...this is one you don't want to learn the hard way...
  • I like to place the mulch into a medium size plastic garbage can and carry it to where it is to be spread out.
  • Yes using a wheelbarrow is less strenuous, but my way is faster and easier to control.
    • Much faster to lay the garbage can on its side next to your pile of mulch and push the mulch into it with a spade shovel than it is to fill a wheelbarrow one shovel full at a time.
    • The garbage can allows me to control exactly how much mulch I dump out and where I place it. 
    • It is easier to tip-toe through the tulips in a flower bed than to maneuver a wheelbarrow around all the flowers.
Some photos to show you what I mean:

How to make a mulch bedHow to make a mulch bed

3 truck loads (4.25 yards of mulch)

Paige getting into the action

 Before & Afters

Before                                                           In Process

How to make a mulch bed and slate patio
After - Nice Mulch Bed
How to make a mulch bed and slate patio
Before                                                          After

Mulch Bed with Slates
Mulch Bed with Slates

Mulch really is the finishing touch that make everything look better.

Now the project is complete!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

This Old House Contest - Breakfast Nook Bench & Butler's Pantry

I watch and read This Old House (and Ask This Old House) every chance I get. I dvr the episodes and watch them during any down time to get inspiration and to get the nerve to make a change!

I don't usually enter the contests, but it was a rainy Saturday morning and I couldn't work outside (yet), so I was surfing the web. One of my favorites is ThisOldHouse.com. I was just clicking away and saw the contest link. I figured the kids are still asleep and it is raining...so what the heck.

Link to Entry
I decided to enter The Breakfast Nook Bench in their Woodworking category. The website said it received my entry and they would post it after the editors have had an opportunity to review my entry. Today they posted my entry on their website! Whether I win or not, I got to admit it was fun to see my handy-work on their website! If you get a chance - visit this link to rate my entry. It is called Bench for Breakfast Nook - John S. Niskayuna, NY.

A little added enticement to visit the above link is I have yet to reveal the finished product on this blog yet, so you will get a sneak peek at The Butler's Pantry and Breakfast Nook Bench.

I believe there is also a chance that some of the entries may appear in a Fall issue of This Old House. Now that would be really cool! ***fingers crossed***

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Relaxing Project

After a month of hard work getting the slate patio completed, the kids and I decided it was time to do a fun project to help us all relax. Karen and the kids gave me this great triple double hammock for this past Christmas. It is comfortable...hopefully I can carve out some time to actually use it!!!

The kids definitely dominated the hammock the first day

However, I did get a a few 
minutes with My Little Helper.

I did sneak out that first night at 9:30 to do some stargazing. The kids and I are astro-buffs. We have an annual membership at MiSci and go to planetariums often. Unfortunately the hammock was not great for viewing the stars through my gigantic binoculars, because of the rocking back and forth. But it was very relaxing and I had a perfect view of Mars, the Red Planet!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Are there wood floors under there?...Breakfast Nook Floor - Before & After

removing linoleum floors - restoring wood floors
Original linoleum and some wallpaper remnants
After finishing the patio, I have taken a well deserved break from projects this past week. Therefore, I'll go back to a past project- the Breakfast Nook/Butler's Pantry posts. The first entry showed the Moravian Light I brought back from the dead and converted into a pendent light. The next item I tackled was the butler's pantry itself, but since you can see the wood floors in the after pictures - I will write about how I restored the wood floors instead. This means I have to go out of chronological order (which if you share my Type A personality - you know it is driving me crazy...but I have to do it).

The kitchen and breakfast nook share the exact same floor...which is not good for either of them! The kitchen floor is over 2 times larger than the nook, so I figured I would use the nook as my practice floor. Actually the whole nook restoration is a practice run for the kitchen, because almost the exact same changes need to happen in both - just in a larger scale.

removing linoleum floors - restoring wood floorsWhen we first walked through the house the obligatory home buyer question was asked "Do you think there are wood floors under there?" Extremely dirty looking and permanently stained - it is safe to say the floors were in rough shape - even before Karen started chipping away at various areas to get the answer to our question. Her archaeological digs (those first few days in our new house!) determined there were wide plank pine floors under the layers of linoleum, felt, plywood and tar paper. In the picture to the left you can see her handy work at the corner of the swinging door. She also did a larger area hidden underneath the runner (to protect us from splinters) at the top of the picture. We lived with these areas for 6+ months until I started this project in January.

Her work was not for naught. The rest of our house has very nice oak wood floors, but Paul Schaefer was known for his use of wide plank floors...so we were excited to see the wide planks, knowing we could bring back some authenticity. Even so I was honestly not looking forward to the job at all. I did a similar process at the old house and it was no fun at all. When it comes to getting that tar paper off the floor there are two schools of thought:
  1. Sand it off - using a new sanding disk every square foot or so (the tar fills in the grit making the sandpaper useless real fast)
  2. Use hot water and a hand scraper and get ready to get mucky!...this is the way I go....if anyone else has used the sanding method with success please let me know!!!
Restoring Your Wood Floors

Step 1 - Remove the Linoleum

No pictures, but the linoleum removed pretty easily with a heavy duty floor clean up scraper. I just repeatedly slammed that in between the linoleum and the plywood and peeled up the linoleum.

Step 2 - Remove the Plywood

removing linoleum floors - How to restore wood floors
removing the plywood revealed the tar paper
Gloves and a face mask a must. My knee pads would have been nice, too. A mixture of hammers, screwdrivers, crowbars, floors scrapers and good ole brute force were able to remove the plywood, felt and any remaining nails. So many nails!

removing linoleum floors - How to restore wood floors
Use any means possible to get the old stuff up

Step 3 - Removing the Tar Paper

Tar Paper/Tar stuck to the beautiful wood - how sad
After 75+ years the tar figured it had squatter's rights to the pine boards. For some silly reason I thought I would try various "products" you can get at the hardware store to make this process easier. I'll save you some time and a lot of effort...don't try any of them. None of them help. I returned them all for a refund. By the end of day one - I was shot. My back was killing. I decided to stop and that Sunday would be another day. I would go back to my tried and true hot water method.

Hot Water Method of Removing Tar Paper
  • Boil water in the tea kettle
  • Pour scolding hot water in a 5 gallon pail
  • Dip 4 old beach towels into pail
  • Pick up a towel (with thick rubber gloves - they are hot!)
  • Let excess water drip back into pail
  • Lay towels over the floors in a single layer
  • Wait 15 minutes
  • Pick up the towels
  • Scape the floor boards with a 2 inch paint scraper
  • Repeat above steps 2 more times until most of the tar is gone.
Using this method is tedious, you are on your hands and knees for hours, back breaking, wet, dirty, sloppy, gooey work. Sounds fun right?! (Seeing the mess I was making, I did here the kids say, "how come you get all the fun."...really!?) When it is all said and done, I probably touched every inch of wood on that floor 8-12 times...2 inches at a time! I really may need to revisit the sanding option for the bigger kitchen floor.

Funny thing is after all that hard work you are left with a floor that is tar free but does not look very nice (see above). But don't fret. They will still look great when you are done. Keep reading on!

Restoring wood floors
Imagine scraping every inch with this 8-12 times!

Step 4 - Sand the Floor

Restoring wood floors
After sanding - they are starting to look like something
All that water will raise the grain of the wood, plus the wood will have many uneven spots and little remnants of tar. So sanding is still necessary. I used a 5 inch orbital sander we have owned for 10 years. About half way through the sanding it broke...wood floors is not really its intended purpose. I did go out and buy another 5 inch orbital to finish the job (they are used on so many projects!). In my last post I mentioned how one of the benefits of doing your own work is being able to buy new tools...however, that same excitement does not exist when you are buying a new tool to replace the one you just broke.

Step 5 - Stain the Floor & Polyethylene

Start light - you can always go darker. That was Karen's and my mantra when it came to the floors. We thought about having light pine boards, but had an inkling based on past experience with restoring woods floors that had been abused by nails, tar and the like that we would eventually end up dark. We were never going for pristine. We wanted the rustic wood floors. Our house has an Adirondack rustic feel from the outside, so having non-perfect wide planks floors would fit in just right.

Light stain did not do the job...too uneven.
With that said, I first applied a pre-stain conditioner that is supposed to help even out the stains absorption into soft woods. Then I applied a light stain and decided we would live with it for a few days to see what we thought....my initial thought was - we are going dark. This light stain was way too uneven.

So then I went to my local Benjamin Moore dealer and talked to them about some ideas I had in my head. As with most stains, you apply the stain, wait a few minutes and then wipe off the stain. I was noticing as I started going darker, everything looked fine when applied, but once I wiped the stain off all the unevenness reappeared. So I had used a PolyShade product on my last kitchen. It is a polyurethane and stain all in one. The big difference here is you apply it and leave it to dry. So it covers imperfections better (uneven color, nail holes, etc). Our last kitchen's floor looked fantastic for 5 years or so, before we started getting wear spots at the heavy use areas (in front of the sink, etc.). This is because the PolyShade does not penetrate the wood. So over time it has the potential to wear out.

These are what I used
My idea this time, was even though the directions say All in One - I would still cover the whole floor with 3 additional coats of real polyurethane as if I had stained it. I talked with the folks at Benjamin Moore about whether my plan should give me the coverage I was looking for without getting wear patterns over the years and they assured me I was on to something. They suggested I go with a good Polyurethane. They said this brand (pictured right) is stronger than most. The only down side is it is only allowed to be sold in Quarts.They can sell me 4 quarts, but they are not allowed to sell a gallon. Nonsensical.

So with that, I applied the Mission Oak PolyShade and three coats of Satin poly with a Lambs Wool applicator (very important).

Staining Process
  • Apply a pre-stain conditioner - especially if you are staining a soft wood.
  • Apply your stain according to directions. Stains get wiped off after waiting a few minutes. PolyStains do not get wiped off.
  • Wait for the stain to dry.
  • Apply a second coat if you want a deeper color  (I went with one coat)
  • Apply polyurethane according to directions - I used a lambs wool applicator
  • After it dries lightly sand with a very fine sandpaper
  • Wipe off sanding dust with tack cloth
  • Apply 2nd and 3rd coats of poly following the same steps. Do not sand after your final coat.
If everything was done right you should end up with something like this! Better than I ever imagined!

Restoring wood floors

The floors still look great 3 months later (as they should). After some real life use they do look more satin than semi-gloss as the above picture suggests. We LOVE the floor!

The nice part is when restoring on a budget this project cost practically nothing!...as long as you do the work yourself.
  • Sanding disks for orbital sander - $5
  • PolyShade - $13
  • Poly - 2 quarts - $16
  • Lambs wool applicator - $8 (refills are cheaper if doing future jobs)
The best $42 you will ever spend!...of course I had to buy a new orbital, but that will be used for years to come.

It should go to show you no matter what your wood floors look, like they can be saved! Especially if you are willing to go a little rustic. A rustic real wood floor beats a new vinyl, linoleum or (most) laminates any day! Go for it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"Mommy Wants S'mores on the Patio for Mother's Day"

Previously on Restoring the Splendor, I had just finished laying out and compacting all the Crusher Run with lots of help from 6 year old Lily. While we were working together, My Little Helper mentioned that it would be great if the patio was ready for Mother's Day (7 days later), because "Mommy wants s'mores on the patio for Mother's Day."...she is sooo funny....love her!

I told her that would be nice but there is still a lot of work to be done and I don't think daddy can get it all done by then. She went on to tell me, "no worries - you are the best so you will get it done."

As Monday and Tuesday came and went Lily continued to giggle and pull me to the side to secretively whisper in my ear about how excited mommy is gonna be about the s'mores...and a few days later it had expanded into pancakes on the patio for breakfast, too, instead of the Mother's Day tradition of breakfast in bed. Oh brother! I became a man on a mission! Yes, making mommy's day special was very important, but keeping my Superman status in Lily's eyes was just as important!

Carly Supervising
the Work
I had to buy these
Several of our wonderful neighbors donated to our project too! Mark & Michele donated a pile of slates (pictured right) that I used for the uphill walkway that will welcome guests from the yard to the patio. Also Peter and Trish donated some very thick and heavy slates we used as the step off the door we use the most. Those slates will take the most pounding so it is nice to know those are sturdy! Thank you all!

My pallet of slates delivered

Even with the great donations and the found slates Karen unearthed from under the sod and dirt on day one of this project on April 12th - I still had to buy 100+ slates from Faddegon's Nursery. I chose Faddegon's because they are local, I like the friendly and knowledgeable staff, and they gave me a pallet and left me alone to pick every slate myself. I purposely was looking for 1/2" thick slates. A little light duty for most patios (most people use 3/4"-2" thick slates), but I was trying to match the thickness of the 225+ slates I already had. Faddegon's delivered the slates during the week. Then I moved them to the patio area that evening.

Baseball, softball and other family commitments kept me from doing more during the week, so with Lily's (oops I mean mommy's) Mother's Day's expectations on my mind, I knew I had to take a 1/2 day vacation on Friday if there was any chance of getting this done. I borrowed the company truck and went to George's Market on the way home to get the first of 3 loads of Stone Dust (for you do-it-yourself-ers - in the end I used 4 yards of stone dust).

Laying Down a Slate Patio - Part II

In Part 1 of my How to Make a Slate Patio posts, I discussed how to prepare the site to make a sturdy base. I will now finish that process...hopefully in time for pancakes!!!

Day 1 - Friday

Step 1 - Test Your Pattern

I started laying down a completely random example of the non-pattern I planned on using and then got Karen's approval (obviously most important step!). Since I only did a test area and was going for a completely random look, I did not number the slates. But if you are doing your own patio and you lay out every slate in exactly the pattern you want, then remember to number every slate with chalk and take digital pictures of your example so you can place them down in the same order again.

Making a slate patio | Building a Slate Patio
Test pattern and screen guides laid out in background (see step 2 below)
Step 2 thru Step 8 - Work a section at a time

Working in 4 foot sections:
  • Step 2 - I laid my 2"x3" boards (discussed in my previous post) parallel to each other on their flat side in order to get a very smooth surface of stone dust 1.5" thick. 
    • Note: assuming you used a level during the preparation of the site as discussed in my first post about this process you do not need to re-level anything. Just lay down the boards and move on...of course me being me - I checked for level and proper pitch away from the house again anyway!
  • Step 3 - I made piles of stone dust in each section using my wheelbarrow.
  • Step 4 - I used a metal rake to preliminarily level the area
  • Step 5 - I hand-tamped the area of stone dust to compact it
  • Step 6 - I then used another board placed between both 2x3's to screen the stone dust to a perfectly smooth surface that was 1.5 inches thick (see below)
  • Step 7 - I picked up the 2x3 on the inside edge of my working area and filled the void left by the wood with stone dust
  • Step 8 - I then laid out some of the slates in a random pattern in the section I just smoothed out, making sure to leave access to the remaining 2x3 for the next section.
    • There were some open voids in the pattern, where I would need to cut a slate to size in a later (see Step 9)
Lay down the 2x3 making a new 4 foot section and repeat steps 2 thru 8 until the whole patio is covered. Sounds easy doesn't it?! Sure it is easy to write about it and read about it, but it is a killer on your body!

Making a slate patio | Building a Slate Patio
Example of Screening the Stone Dust
You can also see the previous sections completed by using steps 2 thru 8 above
Making a slate patio | Building a Slate Patio
Knee pads and gloves are mandatory for this type of work
In the above picture you can tell it is still early in the process on Friday...How? I am still smiling and don't look like a beaten down and battered man.

Making a slate patio | Building a Slate Patio

By the end of Friday I had worked from 1-8pm and got about half of the area done. My in-laws came Friday evening to visit for Mother's Day. When they saw how sore I was, they lovingly suggested that I take it easy and not try to finish by Mother's Day. I jokingly said to them, "Do you even know me?"

Day 2 - Saturday
Making a slate patio | Building a Slate Patio

Started at 5:50am on Saturday. I knew it was relatively quiet work so the neighbors would not hate me. Just repeating Steps 2 thru 8 above. I had to get an early start because like for most families - springtime Saturday's are spent mostly going from one ball field to another. I had to help coach the twins at A-Ball at 10am and then go watch the end of Paige's softball game. Around 8am it started raining on me. It was not so bad for me. It kind of felt nice. However, it was not so nice to the twins. Their game got canceled. More time for me to work! The picture to the right shows how far I was able to get done on Saturday morning...

...because luckily the rain had stopped in time to see this!

Paige playing catcher for the first time this year!

After the game I was able to finish laying out the rest of the patio by 3pm. Then came the next step.

Step 9 - Cutting Slate

After I was done laying out the majority of the full pieces, I had some (many?) smaller squares and rectangles that I needed to fill in with pieces of slate. I would need to cut the slate to size. I realized slates are cut to size at quarries before being shipped, but as a homeowner I had no idea what to expect. I talked to my brother, Jim, who owns Select Shower Door, Glass & Mirror in Cold Springs, NY. Besides windows, mirrors and shower doors, he does a lot of patios and all other facets of contracting, too. He told me it was easy, but very dusty so to use a face mask and work away from the house. He told me to buy a diamond circular saw blade (or to rent a wet saw for less dust).

Personally I see one of the huge advantages of doing all my own work (besides the satisfaction of a job well done) is that I get to buy new tools - no questions asked!!! It is hard to believe that I have been doing home improvements since 2005 all without owning a corded circular saw (or a table saw for that matter)....and I have done quite a bit of extensive woodwork both at this house and my last house. My trusty 18v Ryobi rechargeable 5" Circular Saw and some homemade saw guides (I'll discuss these in future posts) got me through those projects with relative ease. But for cutting through stone - I figured I needed to go old school. I picked up a diamond blade and an inexpensive corded circular saw.

Besides being uber dusty cutting the slates was easy! Not as easy as cutting through wood, but it was much easier than I had anticipated.

Even though the slate cutting was going well - I was hurting. It took me about 2 more hours to cut all my pieces and lay them out. I was shot. Karen came home from shopping for flowers and plants at Faddegon's with her mom and I said "uncle." I had no more juice...and I was starting to feel sick. It was 5:30 and my day was done...but the patio was not.

As I walked around the house stiff and moaning Karen made me promise I would not try to finish it and just take Sunday off. I promised (but my fingers were crossed).

Day 3 - Mother's Day

Step 10 - "Grout" the seams

Making a slate patio | Building a Slate Patio
It was nice of the sun to join me
I woke up on Mother's Day feeling like garbage. But I knew I only had 2 hours of work left to make the patio ready. So I got up before the sun and started working. By the time the sun had come over the horizon (pictured right) I was about halfway done with sweeping the stone dust between the crevices.

Grouting - Finishing Touches
  • Dump piles of stone dust along the patio
  • Sweep the stone dust into the crevices
  • Walk around on patio looking for loose slates
    • Because most of my slates were hidden underground for decades they did not have squared edges anymore. Therefore they could rock under foot. (The new slates did not have this problem)
  • Hand compact the stone dust around and under the loose slates until properly supported
  • Sweep more sand
  • Wet all the seams with a house to help settle all the stone dust

The above finishing touches will need to be done a few more times over the coming months as things settle more, but that is to be expected with any natural slate patio (i.e.-not mortared in with cement or gator dust), but especially if you are reusing slates that have some rounded edges.

To the left is a picture I took after I had sprayed all the seams with water to help settle the stone dust. I actually like the vibrant colors when it is wet. They do sell sealers than can be added if you like the wet look. I am not going to do that because I am not sure how natural it looks...plus I would want to live with it as is for a while and enjoy it before making a permanent decision like that.

The After Pictures!

I am glad to say I had the patio furniture in place by 8am and Lily and I were able to say "Pancakes are served on the patio!" Happy Mother's Day Karen!

Making a slate patio | Building a Slate Patio
As for the patio furniture - I need to give a shout out to Karen. This furniture was ugly. It started this past week as white and peeling. It would actually shed flecks of paint every time we moved it....plus Karen said the white did not match our house. She prepped and painted the set this week. They look great! Thank you honey!

Making a slate patio | Building a Slate Patio

We will be cleaning up the edges by adding mulch and landscaping over the coming weeks/months/years but that is a separate project!

Making a slate patio | Building a Slate Patio

You know what? It turns out Lily was right, because mommy (and all of us) enjoyed s'mores roasted over the fire pit on Sunday evening. Yum!

Walkway entrance from the yard


Making a slate patio | Building a Slate Patio | Before & After

This Before picture is not a true Before. It actually looks almost decent in this before picture. Trust me it did not look that way when we started the project. We did not even know most of these slates existed until Karen unearthed them. She dug into the ground and heard a "Clang." She found about 30 slates this way!

Luke just hanging with me on the patio
showing me his best Derek Jeter batting stance
I am very happy with the results. All-in-all what Karen started as a quick and easy patio project on April 12th became a much expanded and a completely renovated 500 sq ft outdoor living space by May 11th.

I am glad to say I was able to spend a lot of time sitting on this patio on Sunday. I made sure Karen got to do what she wanted for Mother's Day first. Luckily for me that involved just watching the kids so she could be free to plant new flowers and shrubs around the house. After those several days of busting my rump, being asked to sit and watch the kids was A.O.K. with me. I explained to the kids that I could not play daddy-monster tag that day, but I would be happy to just sit on the patio and watch them play on their playground... and thankfully this time they were fine with just that.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Before Photos - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I am in the midst of working on the outside of the house - after all - although it doesn't feel like it, it is 'supposed to be' spring so many of my posts have been about the outdoors. Except I know many people come to an old house blog to see the house, not the grounds. We have done some work inside the house up to this point, but I have not written them yet (key word 'yet').

To please a few that have wanted to see some more inside shots I thought I would throw together a quick entry with before pictures from almost every room. I am glad to say this is a fantastic house already. We are lucky! Restoring the Splendor is definitely not a gut job...in fact we do not plan on changing the footprint or interior walls at all. No bump outs or additions needed. A HUGE factor in falling in love with this house.

The Good - several of the rooms are great as is and just need some fresh paint.

The Bad - The Roof - was horrible when we got here. It did not look bad in the pictures, but the peeling paint in ALL the bedroom ceilings told us otherwise. We had the roof repaired (and then some) as soon as we moved in...more on that in a later post.

The Bad - continued - The Electrical - we already had it updated to 200 amp service by Tom Nappi of Niskayuna Electric.

The Ugly - the Butler's Pantry and the Kitchen - you will see for yourself below.

The front of house on when we had it inspected
stone, clap board, aged copper...LOVE
With all this said, the house was "move in ready." I believe that is what Karen said and then she may have said, "sure it needs some work, but we can take our time, because it is not so bad." She'd make a good salesman. She knew I was concerned that buying this house meant many more years of work ahead of us transforming every room into the was she (I mean we) wanted it...and as for taking our time...let's just say it is only 9 months later and I have a blog to document all we have done and all we will do.   :-)   I am treading on thin ice right now...I better get back to the post...

Entry Foyer Design Ideas
Entry Foyer
The Entry Foyer - Look. At. That. Door!  The moment we walked through it I knew I was in trouble (meaning I had to start packing the old house because we would be moving). We have not touched the foyer. It is in good shape. Eventually we will remove the wallpaper and paint, but this room is waaay low on the Honey Do List because it looks nice.

BTW - Wallpaper does not scare us. It should not scare anybody away from a house they otherwise love. I have become an expert at wallpaper removal - EVERY ROOM & HALLWAY in the last house had wallpaper floor to ceiling. Notice I said had wallpaper. If you want pointers just ask...I can't say I can come over and help you (I have enough on my own plate)...but free tips? No problem. I'm sure I will explain my wallpaper removal process in a future entry.

Gossip Bench & Phone Closet
Phone Closet - Gossip Bench Closet
Also in the foyer area is this great nook and cranny. A phone closet. As of now the only change we made was to make this old phone closet and old phone closet once again. It was empty when we moved in. Karen has a knack for finding really nice (and many times valuable) antiques for next to nothing. She has an eye for it. She found a great Gossip Bench and I actually found a reproduction (but still old) Candlestick phone...I searched near and far for just the right phone...well actually just near...I found this at the garage sale directly across the street...here I just took a picture...

Gossip Bench and Candlestick Phone Closet
Gossip Bench & Candlestick Phone
Home improvements, old home restoration, house renovations
Before - Living Room
Here is a before picture of the living room. Very before. Not our furniture - it was the previos owners. We wish it was. We like it better than our furniture ;-) Again this is a great room. Nothing to do here except paint the trim Benjamin Moore White Dove (our new color choice for all our trim). But again this room is low on the list because it looks great the way it is.

In case you are reading this A.S., most of the trim in the old house is White Chocolate. I have to admit we chose that color partially because of the name. I mean who doesn't like white chocolate from time to time? Karen gets me a white chocolate bunny every Easter...because she knows its not Easter unless I get a white chocolate bunny.

Another view of the living room. Man...I really did like that furniture.

Master - not our furniture - it even has a sitting area - never had that before.
Master Bedroom - Another good. It is huge! Have I mentioned how lucky we are? The accent wall and the hallway have wallpaper that will be removed. Also it needs a light fixture and some ceiling repairs from the water leaks discussed above. But all in all a great room. HOWEVER if I learned one thing from the last house is DO NOT save your master bedroom for last!!! We just never got around to doing our bedroom at the previous house until January & February of 2013. We put our offer on this house and that house on the market within the month!...and I loved the color we chose for that room!...Grey Cashmere...we will use it here somewhere.

I actually was hoping we had a room with almost no work to be done. This oldest child's bedroom (i.e.- the largest bedroom) needed no work other than some ceiling repairs (basically minor scraping, light spackle and paint). The only problem - Paige swore up and down that she must have a pink room. Her room at the old house was VERY pink. She was upset before we moved in about this new room not being pink. Thank goodness she has come around and now loves this color, too. Whew.

Lily's room is also in great shape other than the ceilings...did I mention there was a roof problem? Another room that will only need minor fixing.

Up till now I have shown you mostly "The Good" and I would understand if you are thinking Restore the Spendor? It kind of looks great already...and I agree. But believe me there are some bad and ugly to come...plus this blog is not necessarily about fixing a house that is in shambles - definitely not the case - it is about restoring and renovating where needed and making this house our home.

The Bad and The Ugly

Luke's Room is a classic Paul Shaefer room. It has built-ins galore. The Dresser is built-in. The headboard is built-in. There is even a pull down desk built right into the wood work. Very cool. The only thing uncool is that everything is painted one color. Nothing stands out in the room. It is very dull. No pop. However, nothing that a little paint can't fix....oh and of course there are some ceiling repairs to be made...are you catching the common trend in all the upstairs rooms?! This room will take a while to paint. There is so much wood work. Trim work takes a while to paint. Give me a wide open wall any day. In the meantime we have made this a cool big boy room by getting him a platform bed. He gets to sleep up high and has cool matchbox race tracks and trains under the bed...and a teepee in his room. He loves it. I'd be happy too!

Built-In Desk on left. Built-In Headboard on right

The Office. It is GREAT to have one, but it is obviously way outdated with its wall-to-wall paneling. A lot of PITA painting in our future here. In case you haven't done it before - paneling is not fun to paint. A little history - my understanding is that this room was used as the maid's quarters for the family that owned this house during its first few decades.

The Breakfast Nook and Butlers Pantry - We loved the idea of this room immediately. We just didn't love the decor. Very old looking...and not in the good way. More tired looking than old. The good news - we renovated this room already! Paint, new hardware and cabinets doors that I refaced, a really cool rehab to the laminate counter-top, built-in breakfast bench that I designed and built (I still look at it and say "I can't believe I made that"), wide plank wood floors, and more...blog entries coming soon!

Up to this point during our initial walk-through of this house I have to admit although every room needed something, nothing was all that bad...then we opened the swinging doors to the kitchen...YIKES.

This kitchen has been waiting for us. We are just the people to bring it back to life. 

The obligatory first step Karen does for any of our restorations...she peels off some of the wallpaper in many different spots. She says she does this "to see what we are dealing with." I say she does this "so I don't dilly-dally." She knows the worst it looks the sooner I get to work.

Florescent lights galore in this room. They gave Karen a headache. They were an eyesore to me because the cabinet would swing open and hit it hard enough that the light always looked like it was about to fall down. And you cant see it, but the back side of the cover was actually cracked with a hole.

In the picture to the right you can see some more of Karen's handy-work. We have started this room! The lights have been replaced. Wallpaper removed. Ceiling and walls painted. Then I stopped in April because spring arrived (but really has spring arrived?) and I started the slate patio. So the kitchen looks better than this but it still does not look good. I like to say we are 25% done...the harder 75% remains.

Look at that 2 inch thick laminate counter! The linoleum floor! The cabinets need a facelift! We have our work cut out for us.

This was a black fan...until I cleaned it! So gross!!!
I love this fan...now...not then. I restored the fan, the fan cover and controls. They were caked with decades worth of grease. In fact, I thought this was a black fan when we moved in. No really. I had no idea it was silver!

Speaking of gross. I really do not know how the family we purchased the house from ate. Maybe they BBQ'd a lot, because they couldn't have use this beast. Only a couple burners worked and lets just say when we opened the oven to take a look inside we slammed it shut as fast as we could and never opened it again!!! Our friends at Earl B Feiden's helped us out of this jam. We love our new stove, but you will have to wait until the after pictures of the kitchen...and since I am not currently working on the kitchen...that may be a little ways off.

"Holy old and dirty linoleum Batman." What Robin would say if he was in the Splendido house. (Karen and Paige like to watch Jeopardy)
There is no cleaning this thing...and once again you can see some of Karen's handy-work. Like the saying goes - you got to make it look worse, before it can look better.

You have seen this picture before - but the slate patio was definitely another great area in need of a lot of attention. I am glad to say I am getting there! Almost done.

That does it for my current before pictures. There are a few rooms missing. 2 of the 3 bathrooms need a lot of help. The dining room just needed paint and a new light (done - coming soon). The basement is a great start for a basement. Partially finished. Beautiful fireplace...not sure when we will ever use it...but it is grand.

I'll finish this little before tour with a couple of cool trinkets from around the house and yard.

Basset Hound Door Knocker
Roman Soldier Head
sticking out of ground
Who me?

I look forward to sharing my renovation how to's, restoration challenges and successes (*hopefully*),  and more. As for now, I need to wrap this up and go coach some little league. Busy, busy, busy.