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We’ve been renovating our house for over a year now.

Actually the time spent working on it probably numbers 5 or 6 weeks, but we’ve somehow managed to squeeze it into 12+ months.

Currently we’re trying to re-imagine the kitchen.  Although the whole house needed a makeover, the kitchen was possibly the homeliest.  We took down wallpaper, stripped the ceiling of its popcorn, painted the walls and changed the floor plan a while back.

We’ve finally climbed back in the saddle and are 2/3 of the way through cabinet door refacing thanks to Jen’s vision and our friend’s (Matt) trim skills.

Now somehow over the past few days we’ve managed to tackle one project a day.

On Monday I took part of the day off to remove one of the layers of the kitchen floor.  At some point in the previous owner’s tenure, they put down some new vinyl flooring- and for some uknown reason- laid down a 2nd layer of subfloor.  With the help of a circular saw, prybar and hammer, we got back to ground level.


Here’s a shot of the foyer which still has the old floor.  I’ve already scored it with the circular saw so that it can be pryed out at our “convenience”.


On Tuesday we had a new dishwasher installed.  It replaced a lovely bisque colored machine that leaked and literally fell apart days before the new one arrived.


Today Jen and Howard put in a new light fixture over the sink and tonight we selected and installed the globes- which of course took two trips to Lowes.


So now all we have to do is:

  • Finish refacing the cabinet doors
  • Degloss the cabinets themselves
  • Paint the cabinets & doors
  • Install new hardware
  • Lay new cork flooring
  • Finish crown molding and trim on pass through to family room
  • Fix the oven we scored cheaply on Craigslist
  • Install oven, cook top and vent hood
  • Procure and mount bi-fold doors for laundry area
  • Figure out counter tops

I think that covers it.

At this point we ought to be done in another year or so.

Thinking of buying a home and making lots of renovations.  Call me first.



When we bought our house 9 months ago we knew it needed a ton of updating.

To this point we’ve done somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4’s of a ton worth of work.

One area that still needs more attention is the kitchen.  We’ve done a few cosmetic things, but ever since the day we saw the place Jen has wanted to change the feel and flow of that space to open it up.

My job as the budget watcher has been to remind her that we couldn’t afford to make radical changes- rerouting plumbing, moving windows, replacing cabinetry, etc.   Of course this challenge has only made Jen think harder about how she can pull it off despite the limitations.

Then one day we’re standing in the kitchen and Jen tells me that she’d stayed up until 3am that night and figured it out.  ALL we need to do is cut apart a few cabinets, rebuild and relocate them, patch the floor and VIOLA- we’re good.  I’m not sure what I said next, but the look on my face clearly communicated what was in my head- “Woman you must be crazy!”.  Eventually I had the good sense to tell her that I’d mull over her idea.

Enter my friend Jim.  Jim is a member of our church community who coincidentally used to be a master cabinet maker in a previous phase of his life.  You can guess what happened next when Jen discovered this.  Jim ends up standing in our kitchen taking in Jen’s plan.  After her pitch he said, “I think we can make that happen.”

We put two different dates on the books to have Jim start the project.  Both got canceled due to kid’s illnesses.  Then on Sunday Jim approached me and asked what I was doing today.  He works for a school system and was off for MLK day.  He told us that he wanted to use his day off to work on our kitchen.  Which was very welcome news.

So today I went to work and Jen and Jim launched their master plan for kitchen dominance.  I thought this would be a 3 day project.  Jim and Jen finished it today.  Take a peek:

The kitchen we used to have. An L-shape counter divided the space in half and the fridge was in an awkward spot.


The L-shaped counter has been cut off and repositioned where the fridge used to be. The flow is opened up, the room is more balanced and the space feels more natural.  (The dark spot on the floor shows you where the old counter was.)


Meet our friend Jim. He’s got carpentry skills for days.  An hour before I took this shot, the cabinet he’s working on was just a pile of wood in the driveway.


We had to turn a double cabinet into a single. Eventually we’ll add another cabinet over the fridge.


So short story- Jim and Jen 1- Kitchen 0.

Of course we’re far from done.  Now we need to paint and reface the cabinets, scrape newly exposed popcorn ceiling (uggghh), install new counters (wait until you hear Jen’s plan for that), replace the crown moulding, get new appliances, install flooring, paint, etc.

So, if you are feeling handy, let Jen know.

She’ll put you to work.

img_08104If you’ve followed our blog or lives for any time now you know that we bought a house back in April. It was built in 1976, had but one previous owner and came complete with a great neighborhood, easy living layout, yard with big trees, and a VERY dated interior.

So for the past 8 months we’ve been chipping away at the renovations. Back in the spring we took up the shag carpet in the hallway but ran out of gas and didn’t install the new cork flooring that we’d ordered.

My resourceful mother-in-law taped down a few moving pads so that the kids wouldn’t have to walk, crawl and play on the sub-floor. And that’s how the hallway has stayed. Until Saturday.

We were planning on cutting apart our kitchen cabinets (Jen’s idea), but our handy friend who was going to help us wasn’t able to come. So instead of destroying our kitchen, we set our sights on the hall floor. We left the kids with the grandparents and Jen and I got ready to lay the 28 boards needed to finish this long overdue project. We started around 10:30 and I thought we’d be done by dinner time.

Yeah, right.

goodwillhuntingmath2Laying click together flooring isn’t very hard at all- IF you don’t have to cut it. Unfortunately, our 21ft long hallway has 7 doorways. Each required 4 cuts to each door jam so that the flooring could slide underneath and look finished. Then there were the hours of measuring to accommodate every jig and jog. My cut diagrams looked like the blackboards at MIT after Will Hunting got done with them.  On top of that, the hall is only 3 feet wide.  That’s not alot of room for two grown people to work side by side and swing a rubber mallet.  And you don’t even want to know exactly how we got the last row squeezed in there.  Let’s just say that 200 years ago we’d have been burned as witches because it took some serious floor laying magic.

All in all it took us 13 hours to finish one hallway.  Both of us have hobbled around- trading complaints about our aches and pains- for the past couple of days.  But at least we have flooring instead of moving blankets.

Here’s the final result:


It may not look like much, but then again you should have seen the moving blankets.

After we can walk upright again we’ll start thinking about the next project.


As you’ve probably heard, we’ve still got a bit of work to do on our home. Jen’s stated goal is to have all renovations completed is Christmas ’08. While that sounds far off, we’re aware that the year has sped by already. So, we decided to tackle a project or two on this holiday weekend.

For the past 4 months our dining room has been a paint and flooring storage area w/blockades set up to keep the small people in our house out of it. We bought a new dining room table (surprise- on Criagslist) two weeks ago and thought we could put it to use if we actually had a usable space to put it in.

So we got up this morning determined not to sleep again until we had laid about 140 sq feet of cork flooring. 9 hours later- with some help from God on the weather and child watching by Howard & Judy- we’re finished.

Here’s the dining room as of this am:
(And that’s after about an hour of cleaning!)

Here’s what it looks like tonight:

We’re feeling handy and ready for some sleep!

There are many, many things that I love and appreciate about my wife. Somewhere on that lengthy list is this:

“Jen is a great shopper. She loves to get a deal and HATES to pay full price.”

Take this little combo for example:

When we set up camp in our new family room Jen told me that we’d need a sofa table and some “real” lamps to put on it. Given that most of our lamps came from Target and cost less than $20, I understood. the need for something more substantial. However, I wondered what these essential pieces of serenity and relaxation would cost us.

The table came to us courtesy of Craigslist and a $20 spot.

The lamps were picked off of the clearance rack at Pier 1 last night for $49 each. They originally retailed for $125.00 each.

Total cost for one sofa table and 2 grown up lamps: $127 tax included.

My wife is thrifty- and awesome!

Last week we got a call from a family member telling us that they had ordered us a housewarming gift and that it would be arriving within the week. “Nice“, we thought.

Then on Saturday we got a call from Circuit City telling us that we’d have a delivery coming that afternoon. “Hmmmmm, this is getting interesting“, we thought.

Finally, the truck pulled up and the Circuit City guys brought in our gift.

What??????? No Way!“, we exclaimed.

This is undoubtedly the best housewarming gift ever.

If you’ve been meaning to send us something, you’d better step your game up.

And to that now legendary family member, we’re speechless and grateful.

We chose our latest home because of the established neighborhood with lots of trees. As a bonus we got lots of critters who feel free to use our yard whenever they feel like it. So far we’ve seen lots of birds (bluebirds, robins, cardinals, hummingbirds, finches, woodpeckers, and others we haven’t learned to identify yet), bunnies, bugs (including lightning bugs- Addy’s current favorite), the occasional cat and a herd of squirrels. We’ve heard about the raccoons and deer that roam our hood, but they haven’t dropped by yet.

Yesterday I got this shot of a squirrel who was hanging right outside our sliding glass door. I think he was taunting me, but I could be wrong.

Of course, having all the animals around is great for the kids. Who needs a zoo? And, if the cost of food keeps going up- all those survival shows I’ve been watching on the discovery channel are really going to pay off with some good eating!

The fine folks from Time Warner Cable came today and ushered us back into the 21st century with high speed internet and 200 channels of cable tv- including a dvr and a magic glow-in-the-dark-remote. (Yes, I’ll keep pushing the button even in broad daylight.)

I wasn’t home for the install, but Jen says it took about 4 hours and that the cable guys were not only chased over the fence by my in-laws’ dog (all 12 pounds of her), but that they had to run all new cable and do a lot of work in our crawl space. That’s what you call earning your money.

How does this news affect you?

  • If you’ve been looking for Jen online or via email- she’s back! Anyone selling any kind of household good on Craigslist will be thrilled to hear this since Jen will check the new listings every night.
  • If we’ve watched the same tv shows in the past, we’ll suddenly be conversant again. 5 months without a dvr put a serious dent in our keeping up with our favorite shows.
  • If you feel horrible about that fact that you watch too much tv, don’t exercise enough and aren’t as productive as you should be- you ‘ll know for sure now that you aren’t alone. Glad we can ease your guilty conscience.
  • If you’ve been thinking about a career in cable installation, and don’t like running from dogs or spending hours crawling under homes- think again.

That is all for now. As you were.

We’ve been in the house full-time now for almost a week and the pace of home improvement has slowed considerably. My guess is that we worked so hard for so long just to get in, that we’ve gone into recovery mode.

We still don’t have cable yet (that should happen on Thursday), but we’ve discovered that we can get about 10 channels with a good old fashioned set of rabbit ears. Know what 10 channels have in common with the 200 that cable offers? There’s not anything you want to watch on them either.

Well, at least we’ll be back on the internet at home on Thursday….

In the meantime, we finally unpacked the Wii we got back in March and have been playing in the evenings. Last night Jen and Judy went one on one in about every game we own. I’d have taken pictures, but feared they might chuck one of the remotes at me. And they both have a pretty mean forehand in the tennis game.

My guess is that we’ll get back to work in the next few days and I’ll have more to show you then.

Sorry for the lapse in activity here. Been busy making the move from the apartment to the house in Raleigh. We’re finally in, but far from unpacked. And we LOVE our new place. But more on that later.

Last night I got a reminder that despite all of the transition in our lives, some things don’t change. Like my daughter’s ability to make me laugh by simply stating the obvious truth. We were sitting in our new living room (which now has a floor, but still lacks new paint, curtains, pics on the wall and finishing trim- see bad pic below) watching tv.

Addy was due to go to bed in about 10 minutes. (We put her down between 8:30-9pm every evening. She’s usually still awake when we turn in between 11-12pm.) The show we were watching went to commercial. I started sorting through a stack of mail, only vaguely aware of the Ambien CR sleep-aid pitch droning in the background. After it finished, Addy turned, caught my eye and said,

“Dad, I have trouble going to sleep at night.”

So there you have it.
My daughter IS paying attention to all the commercials on tv.
She wants drugs.
AND she is adorable.

I’ll keep the last one and try to do something about the first two.
After we get unpacked of course.