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(Lack of) Progress on the House

The rain has finally stopped and the sun has been out all day today. I can’t explain the relief I feel at finally getting some sunshine! So much rain did some good, at least; our house is much cleaner and I have finally gotten some reading in. Pre-children I read at least three good-size books and half a dozen magazines a month. Some of the books would be pretty weighty fiction or non-fiction. Since baby T came into the world, I have read three books (count them -three -in a year!) and maybe one or two magazines a month, none of it heavier stuff than Better Homes and Gardens. Not that theirs anything wrong with BHG (I’m pretty much a lifetime subscriber at this point), but I do like reading multiple things.

On the flip side, all this rain shredded my plans for the house and garden for early summer. Alabama has more than the usual 4 seasons: Winter, Spring, Early Summer, Really Fucking Hot, Late Summer, Autumn, and the Rainy Season (which apparently made two appearances this year). It usually doesn’t rain much between the middle of May and the first of September unless a hurricane comes through. Not this year.

My plan was to get the garden in and do a lot of work on the exterior of the house, such as all the painting, between about May 15 and the beginning of Really Fucking Hot, which normally sets in around the 4th of July. That hasn’t happened so far.

I’ve been working on the inside a bit, but nothing spectacular so far. Our young visitor finally went home, so now I have more time. I thought that today I would show you some before pictures of the interior of the house. I’ve already shown you the living room, but here’s the dining room, kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom.

The dining room doesn’t need a whole lot of work. The windows need to be replaced and we need to paint the trim. I would like to replace the bookcases below with some built-ins at some point in the future.


The balloon is from baby T’s first birthday party. Here’s the dead door into T’s room. There are three doors total into her room; we’ll be walling this one off at some point.


The kitchen needs a lot of work.

IMG_0292See that? That’s a bad attempt at a DIY faux texture paint job. Notice the seam down the middle. Yes, someone painted over the wallpaper. Here’s what the wallpaper looked like before they painted:


Yes, they only painted half the kitchen. Why? Did they get bored? You’re guess is as good as mine.

We’ll paint these cabinets and replace the hardware one day, but we’re keeping the cabinets themselves. They’re solid wood, after all.


The laundry room…well, see for yourself.


We need to fix that ceiling, rip out the wallpaper, and add some decent storage. The bathroom is the worst room I’m going to show you. I won’t show you the third bedroom right now. It’s pretty horrid. But the bathroom needs a complete overhaul.

IMG_0301That toilet is about 50 years old and doesn’t always flush properly. The $79 on special high efficiency toilet at Costco would be about a 1,000 better. (We’re considering that.) The bathtub and the surround are only about 10 years old, but they were the cheapest model available at the time and improperly installed. The shower rod is rusty and, believe it or not, the previous owner had wrapped it in PVC for showing to make it look better. The vanity is chipboard and is already falling apart. The one saving grace is the open shelves on the left in the above photo. I can’t wait to repaint them and make them into something awesome.

You can see the worst part of the bathroom in this picture.


That flooring was installed just prior to the sale, which means it’s not even a year old, and it is chipping, peeling, coming up, and just being disgusting. Cleaning it is awful. I only take consolation (small though it is) in knowing that whatever is underneath is probably worse.

There you have it. That’s the house as it currently stands.

In other news, we had baby T’s first birthday party last weekend. I’m going to have to stop calling her “baby” T. Here’s a picture of her before the party.


Have a great weekend!


The Big, Bad House Projects List Part Two

Here’s the exterior list. It’s not quite as long, but many of these are much bigger (not to mention more expensive) projects than those on the interior list.

We’ll get it all done someday. The kids may be in college first, but hey, better late than never, right?

Pressure wash siding

Repair holes in siding

Repair fascia

Paint front door

Paint front porch

Paint shutters

Paint porch railings

Paint foundation(?)

Install proper doors on crawlspaces

Extend downspout in the back

Add gutters and downspouts all around

Finish back porch

Paint back porch

Paint wooden fence

Cap chimney

Fix fence

Plant trees

The Big, Bad House Project List Part One

Here it is, the list of projects we need to complete to have our fixer-upper farmhouse up to date.  Some of these have to be done, while others are just things I want to do. It will take us a while, and it will be a long time before we get to some of the things that are optional, such as replacing the kitchen counters. The list is so long I’ve broken it up into two pieces. Here is the interior list; the exterior list will follow later.

Living Room

Paint walls

Paint trim

Replace side-wall window

Paint door

Change the ceiling

Extend the hearth

Install and paint floor trim

Replace the heater

Replace the storm door

Build built-ins

Dining Room

Paint trim

Install and paint floor trim

Change the ceiling

Install a new light fixture

Remove door to Teagan’s Room


Remove wallpaper

Paint walls

Install backsplash

Replace kitchen counter

Replace stove

Replace floors

Replace windows

Laundry Room

Repair ceiling

Repair hot water heater (eventually replace hot water heater)

Replace flooring

Build storage

Repair porch light

Fix the dryer vent


Replace window

Replace toilet

Replace tub

Tile tub surround

Replace floor

Paint walls

Paint cabinet

Install and paint trim

Install bead board

Replace shower head

Patch tub


Replace heater

Refinish or replace floors

Install and paint floor trim

Paint walls

Master Bedroom

Install and paint floor trim

Replace ceiling

Replace windows

Tear out and replace closet

Teagan’s Room

Install and paint floor trim

Replace window

Finish shelves

Install door

Third Bedroom

Possibly replace windows (or get them to open)

Paint walls

Replace flooring

Install and paint floor and ceiling trim

Install drywall in closet

Add ceiling fan


Replace window

Install radiant barrier

Install insulation


Insulate the whole downstairs

Upgrade the electrical wiring (add switches and light plates to all rooms)

Upgrade the plumbing

The Living Room Now

After the unexpected interruption, we now resume your regularly scheduled programming. Posting may still be a little light over the next few weeks, as we still have our young visitor and life has effectively been turned upside down.

I love our house more than I can say. I wouldn’t trade it for a brand new house with all the most modern upgrades. It does need a little work, however, and I’m going to do a series of posts describing the current state of the house and what needs to be done. I’ll also do after posts for each project.

The living room is in pretty good shape. The walls and trim need a coat of paint. We also need to add baseboards on the bottom trim. We plan to use 1/4 inch round pieces to give the trim that “chunky” look.


We also need to replace one more of the room’s three windows and add insulation to the walls. The hearth and fireplace need to be painted and fixed, and Mr. Heater here has to go. He deserves a post all his own and will get it soon.


None of these will be overly large projects. The room’s big project will be the ceiling. Check out this flashback to 1985.


Removing a popcorn ceiling isn’t difficult. It’s just a lot of tedious work. Tedious? I meant fun. Yes, it’s a lot of fun. Maybe if I say it enough times I’ll actually start believing it.

Help with color

One of our neighbors has a flock of chickens that includes a rooster. I’m not sure which neighbor it is because we are separated by at least 15 acres, but we can clearly hear him crowing every morning. (This would be why roosters aren’t permitted in urban areas.)

He’s normally a polite, mannerly gentleman. Not this morning. When I first took the dogs out at about 6:30 it sounded like he was shouting “I kill you!” “I kill you!” over and over again in chicken. My guess is a predator tried to get to his hens and he ran it off.  Our dog Floyd isn’t exactly the bravest dog that ever lived and this distant cacophony reduced him to hiding behind my legs.

I’m writing this morning because I would like your help with picking colors for the exterior of the house. I need to start the foundation beds soon so I can get all my pass along plants and transplants in the ground and it will be much easier to paint the foundation before I do so, so we need to pick all of the colors now. Here’s a picture of the current exterior:


The white vinyl siding is staying for now. The holly tree is going away. The current contenders for the door color are: red, orange, yellow, and green. The shade will be very bright regardless. I would like a deep blue for the porch. That leaves the foundation. Kelly refuses to let me just paint it white. I’m flummoxed.

What do you think?

(Disclaimer: I have NO color or fashion sense. I have been known to wear stripes and plaid together, and I can’t count the number of times Kelly has stopped me on my way out the door in the morning and gently suggested I change clothes.)

Moving with a baby (and other signs you might be crazy)

We realized even before T was born that we needed to sell our land in Tennessee and buy something much closer. Either that, or put off our homesteading plans for several years. We didn’t want to do that, so we put our land up for sale in late April of last year. Luckily for us, it sold really quickly, and we closed on it just before T’s birth.

In the meantime, we began searching for a place down here. We knew it was possible to find a place that met our requirements, as we’d seen several properties come up for sale already. It took longer than we expected, and not only did we not have a contract on a place before T joined our family, but she was six weeks old when we signed the contract for our house.

Moving with a baby is never easy. Moving with a newborn is even worse. Not only were we dealing with the sleep deprivation and other adjustments that come from having a baby, we were trying to pack to move out of our rental and to figure out how to do the repairs and renovations that had to be done before we could move in.

We closed on our house on a Wednesday. The following Monday I ended up in the hospital with my thyroid acting up. It had been giving me problems for some time but we didn’t know it. All the symptoms had been written off as stress or sleep deprivation. Instead, I had a toxic multinodular goiter that almost caused a thyroid storm.

So, I was out of the picture as far as moving or renovating was concerned, at least for a while. I ended up staying home for two weeks on a complicated cocktail of drugs trying to recover and get my thyroid under control.

If you’re keeping track, not only did we just have a baby and buy a house, but I had gotten deathly ill. And the house wasn’t fit to move into.

Kelly’s mom took care of the baby while she and her dad started on the house. First, they painted the dining room and two of the three bedrooms. Those rooms were bad enough that they had to be done before moving in. We decided the rest of the house could wait.

Next, they pulled out the awful carpets. Carpets are a no-no in a house with someone who has asthma (me) and animals. The original hardwoods were there, but they were in horrid shape. Check out the picture below.

hardwoods before

We had expected they would need refinishing, but this was something else again. Kelly and her dad went at it, and four days later the floors looked like this:

hardwoods after

After that backbreaking job, they put up the fence in the backyard. And then we were out of time. Our lease had ended and we needed to get out of the rental, so we hired a moving truck, called in our friends and family to help, and moved. It only took three trips with both the rental truck and our pickup. It’s surprising how much stuff people can acquire.

Now we’re here and settled, and things are going much better.  But yes –we’re probably crazy!