The decision between spray foam and fiber glass was an easy one theoretically but a hard one financially. In old homes when you have open exterior walls, spray foam is a no brainer. It’s far superior and really the only way you will meet current R values when you have 4” exterior walls. In our case, we only have the kitchen walls and master bed/bath/closet walls exposed. Even still, spray foam was a thousand dollars more than fiberglass or 30% more. And because of the water lines running through the basement crawl space, we had to spray foam that as well, which added another $1250. Excuse me while I breath into a bag...
Despite the cost difference, this was the best choice. We are (hopefully) never going to gut these rooms again and it’s the only way to get good insulation in these walls. We are also paying so much to run a new heating and cooling system, we didn’t want to regret not spending the extra money here. The plan is to put new blown in insulation in the front part of the house next fall when we have (hopefully) replenished the coffers.
On to blueboard, plaster, and still more wallpaper removal!
We got our rough plumbing signed off this week! Yay! That means we can go for our rough building inspection next week. In preparation for that, we had to add blocking in some of the open walls where there was a cavity that went from roof to the first floor. This is one of the many items we are doing ourselves. So, we got a new table saw to make the job go smoother. I’ve been wanting a table saw forever, so I’m excited about this purchase.
Before the walls get spray foamed and boarded up, I took some pictures of some of the really cool old building techniques. The upper left picture is an old dowel joint. The upper middle picture is what those cavities we had to block off looked like. And the bottom two pictures are a dowel poking through a beam and a really cool example of how they used to just use wood how it was cut.
All of our new windows have been installed! It’s amazing what a difference the new windows make. They let in a lot more natural light and look so clean. I’m most excited about the new kitchen window looking out into the back yard. One of the things I didn’t like about our old house was the fact that you couldn’t see out of the kitchen directly to the yard. With the addition of this new window you will be able to see the side yard and the backyard from the sink, which is a huge bonus with the kids. It also helps to brighten up the kitchen that was previously a dark hole.
The new year brings new resolutions and this year one of mine is to write on this blog more often! The last couple of months have been brutal to say the least. Work has been nuts and it’s been freezing here in the north east. The cold has slowed progress at the house. The plumber just started this week and the HVAC guys have been tied up with emergency calls. So, not a lot happening unfortunately.
On a personal level, we have been in California for the last couple of days. Both of my grandparents unfortunately passed away this last year. Because our family and my brothers family live far away (Boston and Mobile) we waited until the new year to scatter their ashes.
I was very close to my grandparents, my grandmother more than my grandfather, but only because my grandmother was a talker. She passed away unexpectedly in January last year. It occurred to me the other day that she doesn’t even know we bought this house. If she was still alive, she would be allllll over this blog. She loved to know what we were up to at all times. And she would’ve talked incessantly about this project and called me weekly to hear about it’s progress. My grandfather did know we bought this house and was excited for us. I miss them both and it was bittersweet to say goodbye.
While we are in California we are helping my mom and aunt get the last remaining things out of my grandparents house, which is already sold. I am fortunate that my mom and my aunt agreed to let me have my grandmothers table. I am not an overly sentimental person, but there is something comforting knowing that the table my grandmother had in her dining room and that we ate every thanksgiving meal at when I was a kid (including the one where my cousin threw up on this table after my dad gave her the tiniest bite of sweet potato, ah memories!) - this table will be moving into our home. In a small way it’s like having a piece of them come to Boston with me and I know that would make her really happy. I have big plans for this table!
This has been a crazy couple of weeks. In addition to it being the holiday season, which for us means I’m gone on week nights a lot more at networking events, at work we finished 5 projects in the space of 3 weeks. I’m tired! But also feeling more energized about the house. Especially since the electricians are flying! No plumbing yet, but I’m hoping it won’t hold us up too much.
Somewhere in the last couple weeks I started watching YouTube videos on how to install replacement windows. Our subs at work that do this kind of install are really really busy. And I was tired of waiting and also game to try to do the install to save money. Chris, Hawthorn’s VP of Operations, was encouraging when I told him my plan. He was also on standby today to answer some last minute questions. After about half a day and two trips to the hardware store, I got 4 of our new windows installed with some help from my BIL Eric. Only 30 something to go, Ha!
Happy New Year Readers! 2018 is going to be great!
This is going to be our kitchen? Is what Paul asked when I showed him the above picture I made for this blog posting. I take for granted sometimes, that because I design all day long and I have everything tucked neatly inside my head, that he can't read my mind. This overflows into other aspects of our marriage ha!
Things are finally moving at a little better clip at the house because the HVAC and electrical is underway. For those of you that live in/near Medway, we hired Burroughs Plumbing and HVAC and Castle Electric. Both companies live local and I was very impressed by both their positivity and interest in the project. Through Hawthorn (the firm I work for) I have learned that having a good team is essential.
So back to the kitchen. As someone that has designed probably 100+ kitchens, it is sooooo weird to design my (our) own. I also cook and we spend a lot of time in our kitchen since its some of the only time we get to spend with the kids after work and school. I have always dreamed of having an island which is a big reason why the chimney came down. But other than that - I don't need fancy things. I have been cooking for 15 years and I've never wanted a double oven. I also don't need a huge refrigerator. We shop weekly and don't keep a lot of freezer items. But we have a commercial grade freezer for the barn. The big must-haves are a great dishwasher and a beverage refrigerator for drinks and wine. I also want tray dividers and some good spice storage. Since we are not going to have a kitchen table, I wanted the seating on the island to be on three sides so if we end up eating dinner here, we can look at each other.
As for style - we are tiling the floor for practicality and because there is not enough of the original floors to put it in the new kitchen. I like two toned cabinets and have always liked black. I have also had or made open shelving for my everyday dishes in the last two kitchen's we've had - so I know I like the open shelving. Those were the basic design ideas. The above is just a quick rendering of what the look is going to be - so you will have to keep reading this blog to see how it turns out in real life!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. We usually host for thanksgiving but since we are currently living in an apartment my in-laws offered to host this year. It was a great day with family. As the girls are getting older it makes these big holidays even more fun because they get so excited. This year, aside from being thankful for our health and family, we are thankful for the opportunity to do this project. It’s a long process, but we are blessed with the chance to bring this house back to life and create our dream home.
Next year we will get to host Thanksgiving in our new kitchen! There has been a lot of progress this week in the house. The remaining fireplace wall in the kitchen has finally come down and the ceiling framing in the kitchen is done. When we tore out the ceiling it was discovered that the beam supporting the second floor was actually about 20” farther into the dining room. Basically this means the kitchen got bigger. I’m starting to get really excited about the space - it’s huge! Ignore the pile of wood in the picture. I asked them to leave it so I can sort through what I want to keep. Old growth wood is hard to find!
It has been established thatI love wallpaper. Unfortunately, none of the existing wallpaper in the house is salvageable. It’s old, peeling, and quite dirty. Since we are waiting for plumbing and HVAC to start, I thought I would get a jump start on removing the wallpaper in the living room. Good idea!
The last time time I tried to remove wallpaper did not go well. It started with high hopes and ended with me paying someone to do it after I had a mini breakdown. I still consider that $200 some of the best money I’ve ever spent. That said, I went to Lowe’s this morning and got wallpaper remover and tools. I carefully dowsed the walls with the remover, waited the appropriate amount of time, and set about scraping. Thirty minutes later I had removed one square foot of wallpaper. Clearly this was turning into a bad idea!
Not in the mood for giving up...I went to Home Depot and rented a steamer. Once I was back at the house I decided to try again. I started in the side entrance this time and with the steamer, that paper practically fell off the wall and revealed a weird bird stencil on the wall. Then I gave the living room another chance. It was easier with the steamer but still a lot of scraping. I discovered that part of the issue was someone has partially removed a layer of wallpaper, painted over it, then papered over the paint. Yikes!
I still have a lot more work to do, but I feel more confident now and have a much better plan for next time!
It has been a slow couple of weeks. We hired an electrician (more on that later) and have just been finishing up the demo. The plumbing and HVAC is going to start next week, so once that begins we can tighten up the schedule a little bit. This stage of a remodel always seems like it takes forever, but in our case it’s made worse by us doing the work ourselves and mostly on weekends. Have I mentioned we have young kids? Ha!
In case you haven’t read the about us section, I work for a residential construction company in Needham. So I’m very familiar with the remodeling process and how clients usually start to feel at about this stage. It’s the feeling that you are never moving back into your home. It’s combined with a feeling that everything is not within your control. And all of this is compounded by all the budget numbers being firmed up and the money seemingly flying out the door. So stressful. Fortunately Paul and I both drink wine - so bottoms up to this phase!
We just got back from a much needed vacation. Now that we are back though, its time to finish the rest of the demolition so we can move on to the rough plumbing, hvac, and electrical. Paul and his brother have been handing most of the demolition until this point, but we will need to call in some reinforcements to finish the demo of the kitchen chimney. You read that right - we decided to take it out. At the end of the day, it just felt like a better fit for our family.
In the meantime, I'm obsessing about wallpaper. I love wallpaper and especially in an old home like this where wallpaper was traditionally used to cover the lathe and plaster walls. The house currently has wallpaper in almost every room, but its in terrible condition and needs to be removed. We will have to skim coat the walls and most of them will be freshly painted. Right now I am thinking of wallpapering the girls hall bath and the side entrance between the kitchen/dining and the living room.
For the girls I want something very girly and a little more floral. Their rooms are not too girly so I was thinking we could step it up on the fussy scale in that bathroom. Wallpaper is a good wall treatment in bathrooms because its typically easy to clean. I'm looking at two papers from Anthropologie for that space. Feel free to weigh in - the pictures are above and below.
For the side entrance I want something black and white. Its not a big space and we have color in other places, so I want something neutral but bold. Right now I am between a gorgeous Schumacher wallpaper called the Queen of Spain (right) and another one from England. I'm seriously leaning toward the Schumacher paper, but I'm going to give myself some time to make this decision since its one of the last things to go in the house.