1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Sunday, February 27, 2005

We Have Trim!

Hurray! Hurray! The day I've been waiting for has finally arrived. Darwin put up the first pieces of trim on the cabinets Saturday night, using the handy dandy Black & Decker cordless nailer I got for FREE!

Another handy tool was the Midwest Products Easy Cutter. I bought it last year to cut trim for my dollhouse, but it works well for this trim, too, since it's just thin lattice. No sawing required with these babies in hand. Though Darwin did look like he was about to bust a blood vessel in his forehead once when he was trying to cut a particularly hard piece of wood.

The trim looks just as wonderful as I envisioned it would. This is the culmination of all my daydreaming about the kitchen:

Of course, things didn't go perfectly. We ran out of trim after only seven doors, so we'll have to buy about 20 more lengths. The buying is easy ... it's priming and painting them I'm not looking forward to. Will the painting never END?

I think I've been underestimating the magnitude of this project. But having some of the trim up makes it feel so much closer to finished.


Saturday, February 26, 2005

Bottom Half Blues

We have finally moved on to the bottom half of the kitchen. Darwin took the doors and all their hardware off last night, and I filled the holes on the cabinet frame.

This morning, Darwin left bright and early to go fishing and I've been slaving away on the kitchen by myself. I think my least favorite part of home renovating is SANDING. I really, really hate it. I hate even touching sandpaper, and when you're sanding wood filler, that chalky dust gets everywhere.

Gives me flashbacks of standing at the blackboard in elementary school feeling like everyone in the class was staring at my butt.

After the sanding fiasco, I was planning to prime all the remaining cabinet frames and the backs of the bottom-half doors. It was going to be the LAST time to prime in the kitchen. The LAST!

Alas, I had forgotten to fill the holes left by the hardware in the cabinet doors. *Sigh* So I went to sanding again and wood puttying again. Another day of priming is in my future.

But I did get this much done:

I won't tell you about all the dried roach carcasses I found in the cabinet or about the horrible, plastic-bag-crumpling crunch they made when I pulled out these drawers.

I wasn't exactly surprised by this oh-so-appetizing find, since this is an old house and this is Alabama. But it didn't make it any less horrifying. I've been steering clear of the whole area since then.

I have a firm policy of no bug-touching.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Excuse Me While I Neatly Fold my Guest Towels

Last weekend we took three - count 'em three - old house tours and gave two impromptu tours of our house. I was pleasantly surprised as I looked around at my own house and wasn't too embarassed by it. No underwear lying about. No dishes in the sink (for once). No pairs of shoes under the living room coffee table.

The Christmas tree still up in February is not something I'm particularly proud of, but at least I had taken the ornaments and lights off.

Having a house in the process of being renovated gives me a little leeway. Paint cans stacked in the hall, sandpaper on the counter, patches of experimental paint on the walls, peeling paint on every inch of woodwork, slanty floor, leaky gutter - none of that embarasses me because it is part of an ongoing project.

So take that, Mom! I refuse to be ashamed that my house doesn't yet look like Martha Stewart's, that it probably doesn't even measure up to her prison cell. That's OK. I'd rather have my freedom - figuratively and literally.

Monday, February 21, 2005

I Heart Curtains

Who knew curtains made such a difference? Our kitchen looks positively transformed. Every time we go in there, we're pleasantly surprised.

I love the windows in our house because they're tall and let in lots of light. But the two windows in the kitchen were hidden behind vinyl roll-up blinds with avacado and rust-colored, glued-on fringe. Now the light, sheer curtains provide a backdrop for the table when closed and a focal point when open. How have we survived this long without them?

We might add a valance later, but for now I'm happy with these cheapy Wal-mart sheers.

In other kitchen news, Darwin put the bin pulls on the drawers. Woo-hoo! No more struggling to tug open the drawers with our fingertips.

The kitchen is really coming along. The next day we get to work on it, we'll be able to put trim on the upper cabinets. That will be the real moment of truth.

We're now debating whether or not to put up the toile wallpaper I've been planning all along. We think it might be too busy. But I hate to give it up because I found a scrapbook covered in green toile.

What do you think? I've got it set as the background for my Kitchen page, so you can check out a wider expanse of it there.

Next question, if we don't use the toile, what color should we paint the walls? My Fiestaware is rose, orange, yellow and green ... would yellow walls look OK if we found a way to tie it into the cabinets? Like a decorative something-or-other on the false drawer fronts and the trim over the sink?


Saturday, February 19, 2005

House Stalker

My time off had a way of disappearing itself ... the way time off tends to do. I began coming down with a sore throat/cold on Wednesday evening, and now I'm feeling miserable sometimes and OK sometimes.

In the OK times on Thursday I got a lot accomplished. I finally took the ornaments and lights down from the Christmas tree. After watching an episode of Christopher Lowell on de-cluttering, I tackled three huge boxes of clothes we had never unpacked from the move. I put away one box, packed up one box and found a whole box full of stuff for charity. I'm proud of myself for that one!

I also painted another coat of green in the kitchen. And I folded some sheets. Hey, that's something, right?

On Friday, I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond. *siiiiigggghhh* I am in love with that place. I bought three huge bags of organizational stuff and found a beautiful curtain rod for the kitchen. Darwin is hanging it right now, and I can hear his grunts of frustration while I type away in my comfy office chair.

When Darwin and I got home at 8:30 that night, we had a message from our across-the-street neighbors inviting us for dinner and dessert. Lucky us, they were still hanging out and having dessert.

So we walked across the street - so fun to be able to walk there - and had tiramisu with them. We also met two other Eutaw-ites (Eutawans?) and had a blast. We also got a tour of the neighbors' house, which you know I always love.

We ALSO found out from them that my favorite house in town is for sale. AND they have a key and offered to give us a tour of it today if we want it. Do you think we might want a tour? Hmmmm, let me think about that for a minute. YES, YES, YES, WE WANT A TOUR!

Oops, did I sound too eager there? Like a house stalker?

That's the good news for today. The bad news is, I got the day wrong for the auction. So clever of me. They told me Feb. 20, but I assumed it would be a Saturday. Oops. You know what they say about assuming.

Turns out the auction is on Sunday at 1 p.m. ... we already have plans with my parents and sister for lunch on Sunday. I'm disappointed, mostly because this auction has DOLLS.

But there will be others. Anyway, after all the wise comments on antiques the other day I was feeling less jazzed about antiques in general. And the neighbors' house last night? It was a regular house inside, like ours. It had excess stuff on the kitchen counters; it had "vintage" furniture rather than antique. It looked LIVED in.

And heck, that's more "us" anyway.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Time to Work

I am taking some much-needed time off from work. Thursday and Friday I'll be home working diligently on the kitchen instead of sitting behind a desk daydreaming about being home working on my kitchen.

I am NOT allowed to spend half the day reading blogs and tinkering with the html on my site.

On Saturday, we're going to an antique auction in Eutaw. The town is slightly famous for them. I hope some of our more knowledgable old house neighbors will be there to give us some pointers. Antiques are apparently a very important part of old home ownership in Eutaw. When we went on the tour last year, the guides kept spouting names of furniture designers, china manufacturers, etc., and we just nodded along, pretending not to be totally ignorant of it all.

Across-the-street neighbor Miss Judy (Darwin's sort-of aunt) pointed out that antiques are an investment that increases in value, while new furniture decreases in value (at least in the short term). That's an excellent point, but it's still tough for us to plunk down $3,500 for a dining room suite that's missing a leaf in the table when our kitchen reno is still in progress, we need new flooring in the back hall and office, the north side of the house and the front porch need new paint soon, the entire interior of the house needs new paint (all the way up to the 12-foot ceilings), and the whole master bathroom is due for a total tear-down and redo.

So I think this first antique auction will be more of a learning experience than an actual shopping trip. The card table in our dining room will have to do for now.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Neighborhood Tour

Saturday after my defensive driving class let out early (remember that ticket I complained about a while back?), I decided to take a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood with my camera. Everybody else is showing off their neighborhoods, so I figure it's my turn now.

I've added several thumbnail photos to my Town page. On my walk, I discovered my new favorite house in town. I can't believe I've never noticed it before, since it's directly in front of ours behind the tennis court. I couldn't get a good photo of the front because of the big magnolias, but it has so much character and fabulous gingerbread. In my Walking and Driving Guide to Historic Eutaw, Alabama, the house is called the Murphy-Henderson house. The first owner of my house was married to a Murphy before she was married to a Dunlap. Hmmm, wonder if they were related? The houses do have a similar style, though mine is on a smaller scale.

There are also quite a few houses that need help ...

Or are in the process of being helped ...


Saturday, February 12, 2005


Thanks for the advice. Here's a photo that will hopefully help illustrate the problem. This is where the brick-print vinyl meets the original pine floor.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Advice, Please?

Updated with a better photo:

I've mentioned before the horrible brick-print vinyl that covers the floor in the kitchen, office, laundry room and back part of the hall. The plan at the moment is to take out the vinyl and plywood subfloor in the kitchen and get back to the original painted pine floor. OK.

But that leaves the hall and the office with the monstrous vinyl. These areas have been porches, add-ons, etc. and don't have the luxury of nice floors underneath. They're ugly through and through.

So I need some help figuring out what would look good there.

The vinyl bumps up against the original dark pine floors of the middle section of the hall (covered by a rug at the moment) and will also be next to the painted pine kitchen floor. This floor is the first thing you see when you walk in the back door, and you'll be able to see where it meets the pine floors.

So it needs to look good. I've thought about linoleum or marmoleum, new hardwood floors (but wouldn't that clash with the pine?), stone-look ceramic tiles, cork, pretty much everything imaginable. I don't want it to look like a McMansion (so the ceramic tiles are out, in my opinion), and I also don't want it to look like an elementary school cafeteria (which Darwin says the marmoleum would do).

What do you think?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Blueberry Pie


I had a Coke float for the first time last night. It was strange, the way the foam solidified into an Icee-like substance and the biting liquid that remained welled up around the ice cream. I'm not sure that I liked it.

Can you tell we haven't done any work on the house this week? Oh wait, unless you count when I finally took down the snowman-shaped "Let It Snow" sign from beside the back door (no snow yet, by the way).

The Christmas tree is still standing. I'm pretending its not there, hoping the ornaments will take on a life of their own and leap neatly into the box.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Dream Countertop

I just remembered a dream I had last night. I was riding in a very small antique blue truck - yet I think I was in the future - and the road was wet with rain. I slammed on my brakes at a red light at the bottom of a hill, but my brakes locked and I couldn't stop. So I swerved to the right and ended up cruising through the backyards of some fabulous old houses. I even went through the kitchen of one of them, and in passing I noticed the countertops. They were tiled in a rose-colored stone. Jagged pieces, not squares. The stone was beautiful, sort of crystalline. I told myself in the dream to make a note of it because it would go perfectly with my Fiestaware.

Have I mentioned pink is my favorite color?

Spring (Green) is Here

Hurray for us! We took a big step forward in the kitchen work this weekend. Darwin has all but one set of the upper doors shaved to the right width and hung. Of course, they'll have to come down again for another coat of paint on the inside faces, but it's easier to paint the outsides with them up, so they're staying for now.

While Darwin was slaving away on that task, I did some priming and then finally got to indulge my desire to start painting GREEN!

Doesn't it look mahhhvelous? Of course, it'll look much better when we get the trim installed. Now it's a bit ragged, and there's still some wood showing here and there between the hinges of the bottom doors. The bottom doors will have to wait a week or two for their appointment with the table saw and the drill.

Just because I'm feeling generous (and masochistic), here's a photo of me priming the long strips of trim, yet to be cut. Lately, I look a bit more like Violet Beauregarde when she turns into a blueberry than like the oft-mentioned Veruca Salt.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Gimme, Gimme

The Veruca Salt in me is coming out again.

I've created a new page (like I don't have enough already!) dedicated to our Want List for the house, including realistic purchases - like an over-the-sink dish drainer and a shower curtain for the clawfoot tub - and not-so-realistic - like Bradbury & Bradbury wallpaper and a goose that lays golden eggs. OK, maybe not that last one.

I made this page mainly for our own benefit, to keep track of all the things we find for the house. I have so many links in my favorites list that I can hardly find anything again once I've fallen in love with it. Also, maybe this can help me (I say me, not we, because I am the shopper in the family) see the big picture of what we want, what we need now and what we need but not urgently. And to evaluate how much all of this is really going to cost.

So take a peek, if you'd like. It's not fully fleshed out yet, but I'm sure it will become a mammoth list soon enough.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Ode to a Sunny Morning

This morning, I stepped outside and saw this:

My own backyard. And I felt like I had swallowed a shot of joy. It coursed down my throat and into my stomach, and I smiled. The sun was shining - seems I haven't seen the sun in 100 years, though it's probably only been a week.

There's nothing extra special about our backyard. No manicured English garden, no roses tangling together on a trellis. But in our backyard, there is sky and grass. There are new magnolias and old crepe myrtles. There is a brown rabbit, an orange cat, a broken-down fence.

Best of all, on this patch of land is us.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Ghosts, You Have Bad Taste

I feel safe saying that here in writing. Surely ghosts can't read.

Maybe it's ridiculous, but I feel a little uncomfortable insulting the '70s decor in my old house where the living-challenged previous owners might hear me. This sounds even sillier considering we've had next to no mysterious happenings in our house - other than me forgetting I took my slippers off by the closet instead of beside the bed like I usually do and thinking a ghost moved them; the cats staring into the dining room all the time, transfixed by nothing at all; and this one time outside when I thought I saw the shadow of a man standing behind me.

I've always been obsessed with not offending people. I remember an occasion in elementary school when I was making fun of some commercial on TV, and then I was suddenly gripped with the fear that someone within hearing distance of me had a relative in that commercial and would be deeply wounded by my words.

Naturally, I would continue this tiptoeing behavior into my own ugly kitchen, bathroom, etc. The previous owners - both families - took care of our house, didn't destroy its integrity in any too-awful, irreparable way. So - though our house has a decidely ghost-free feel (we must've had happy, fulfilled POs) - I don't want to offend anyone that might be lurking about. I certainly don't want to turn anyone from a docile ghost-pet into a raging poltergeist. If that's even possible.

But why am I worrying about possible? I'm clearly insane.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Playing Hookie

Update: I didn't see a movie last night. Just as I suspected, my dear husband didn't feel like it. But we are planning to go Friday night and will probably see The Aviator because Darwin loves airplanes and I wouldn't mind being a wealthy movie mogul. Could do without the obsessive compulsive thing, though.

I want to see a movie. I'm tellin' ya, it's been FOREVER. Which for me, means a month. I'm dying here.

Tonight I was planning to go home and work on my house like a good little girl. But now I want to play hookie. I have Oscar-nominated-movies ignorance, but I still don't feel much inclination to see Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator or even Sideways, though my much-trusted sister recommends it. Does that make me evil?

I want to see Spanglish. But it's at the crappy theater with sticky concrete floors, overpriced tickets and damp-smelling seats. So maybe I will compromise and see a "smart person" movie instead.

Or maybe my sleep-deprived hubby will talk me out of this whim ...