Monday, April 16, 2007

Patience...not my strongest virtue.

As I mentioned, this is a project that has been long in the planning, so when we finally decided to put pencil to graph paper and finalize our floor plan, we had very strong ideas about what we wanted. We decided to have the whole thing drawn up by a "real" architect though, so as to minimize our grief when we submit it at the planning office. She came over last Thursday, and (I'm so pleased) announced that there was "nothing" she would change about our plans. Yay!! It's so gratifying to get validation from professionals.

She took our home drawn plans, which were to scale and neatly labeled with all sorts of measurements, capped off with cute little arrows, just like I learned in Jr. High Drafting class, and said that she had "way more" information than she needed, and that she could have the plans back to us "very soon." This was Thursday. Now it's Monday. The first thing I said to Eli upon waking this morning was "Do you think we should call the architect?" He laughed.


So we continue the preparation phase of building remodeling.

When we first moved into the house I was sort of seduced by the idea that all this space (bigger than any apartment I'd ever rented) belonged to me, and I could therefore fill it with whatever I wanted. Eli does not have the garbage picking gene, but I think that even he went a little mad those first few years. When we decided to get serious about know, two years ago, the first thing we had to do was sort through our belongings and decide what was worth keeping and what we (okay, I) should never have picked up off of the neighbor's curbsides in the first place. Not surprisingly we found that much of the clutter in our house was actually (gasp) garbage.

And I thought we'd done a pretty tremendous job, so imagine my shock when I found that many of the treasured items that had managed to survive the first three or four cullings were actually very get ridable. In fact, the bulk of our remaining household goods fit into a stack of plastic storage totes that fit very nicely in one half of the living room. See?And actually that's sort of misleading because that garbage bag is full of old blankets that are waiting to be cut up to cushion the smaller and more delicate items.

The problem is, that even though we own no fine china, and that our book collection fits into two medium sized suitcases, several of the items which are left fall squarely into the awkward and difficult to store category. Take for instance the painting in the background of the picture. It's 8 feet tall, and a little over 6 feet wide. Not too heavy, but where the hell are we supposed to store it while we're tearing the house down? We thought about leaving it there, after all what could be more appropriate than a larger than life portrait of Kali the destroyer? Unfortunately I'm rather fond, and the probability of her surviving is slight. Luckily we have sympathetic friends with large basements.

Forgive the blurry picture.
When all was said and done the paintings, and boxes of sculptures made up the bulk of the items that were saved. Post renovation we are going to have a very minimal house, with few pieces of furniture, a bare minimum of dishes and kitchen equipment, but very full walls.
Our worldly possessions, in a friends basement, where they will stay until the house is ready to receive them. This is also rather misleading, since there's a washing machine, a large dresser and several foot lockers in this picture that belong to the basement, and the friend. I will probably try to claim the cut out of Einstein when we move it all back, but he's not ours either.

Reading over what I've just written, I have to in honesty confess that while the number of items mentally labeled "things to go in the house" is very small, the number of items which are mentally labeled "things to go to the studio since they are inherently creative and therefore worth saving" is growing by the minute. While we have donated and or hauled to the scrap yard many items of furniture that are no longer useful to us, I actually had to buy two more sets of library shelves for the studio to accommodate yarn, unspun wool, spinning wheels, and countless other items that got transferred over from the house. So I guess I'm not quite as virtuous as I thought. My inner child is saying "Yeah, but Eli's got the garage crammed full of tools and stuff. That's like my tools and stuff. yeah."

But the important thing is that the house is practically empty, and the weather is finally cooperating.

I was planning a post detailing all of the really awful parts of our house, but when I started thinking of what should go in it, I decided that seeing them all together would be too shocking, so instead I'm going to include them randomly at the end of regular posts. This is the stairway to our basement.


I wonder if tomorrow will be too soon to call the architect?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Well Finally...

I asked Eli what I should call this blog, and he suggested "Well Finally." I didn't think it was catchy enough, but it definitely embodies the spirit of the project.

For those of you who aren't familiar with our house I'll give you the 30 second at-a-glance. We bought the house 6 years ago, it was in pretty awful condition, and the price reflected that. We did a few quick repairs (every joint in the plumbing was cracked and the floor in the upstairs bathroom was questionable enough that we didn't want to walk on it for fear of ending up in the kitchen) and have lived in it ever since. It has always been the plan to gut the interior and rebuild it from the basement up, so other than building a back porch we haven't done any improvements since then.

But the time has come! Well finally...I must admit that I'm pretty fed up with living in a house with leaky ceilings, holes in the wall and exposed wiring.

So what you will find here over the next four or so months is the complete renovation of our house. It's going to be very "this old house" with me as Bob Villa...I will roam around and ask insightful questions like "Are those moldy 2x4's the only thing that's been holding up the living room floor?" and Eli will be the Norm Abram-capable-carpenter figure "Yes Jessy, they are, but have no fear we'll put it back together with 2x12 joists and a fancy-schmancy beam thingy," except he won't say beam thingy, he'll say something technical and I will smile and nod like I know what he's talking about. I'm trying to encourage him to use a quaint New England accent, but so far have had no luck.

As a good omen for the project let me leave you with a couple of pictures. This is the sink that I look at every day, wash my vegetables and dishes's pretty hideous isn't it? And this photo doesn't even show the counter top that it's set into which is yellow with (I'm not kidding) orange paisleys on it. looks even worse than it does in person...either that or I'm just used to it so I've stopped noticing...the other thing that you can't see in this photo is that the supports under the upper right corner have either rotted away or fallen off, so if you fill the sink with water and dishes it sags ominously, threatening to dump dirty dish water and pots and pans all over the kitchen floor.

Contrast that with this beauty! She comes from the Habitat for Humanity Restore, which is sort of like a thrift store for building supplies. It's deep, it's made out of cast iron, and it's enamel is unscratched and lovely....and it was a third of what they cost off the shelf at the Home Despot. I think I'm in love:

Of course it will be installed in the kitchen eventually...but it the fact that it's on the porch makes it convenient for pointing out the cracked window in the downstairs guest room (it's been broken since we moved in), the sagging porch and the cracked cement board siding....all of which will soon be in a dumpster!