Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kitchen Demolition

This week, we moved into full cabinet demolition. Sledge hammer, claw hammer, scrapers, heat guns, paint remover, crow bar, pry bar and circular saw all helped us handle this task. Let's just get straight to the pictures.

Last week, we started with paint stripping.

This week, we removed the cabinets. The cabinets were constructed in place, and made of timber- not plywood. The cheap laminate refacing material stripped off easily, as did the plastic trim.



Did you notice the larder in the picture above? You can see the vents in the wall still.

We did find one piece of an older flooring with what may have been a really nice pattern at some point.

The existing vinyl flooring pulled up without too much effort, the paper backing remained stuck on the floor. To remove that, we had to scrap by hand. Took all day, but we did it.

When we were done, we saw this:

Then, we went to dinner.

Special thanks to Norm (for the haul-off), Jes (for the loaner tools and radio), Ginny (for sharing great adhesive-scraping skills).

Another lesson learned: When you remove a garbage disposer, get ready for a very stinky mess.

Moss killer

Like the rest of the Pacific Northwest, our roof has provided a great a habitat for moss. This does not thrill these home-owners, so out came the moss killer. Not our most exciting project, but still... You know we have way more than just one picture, but let's not go overboard. After all, it's just moss killer.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Next Project: Operation New Kitchen

That's right, the kitchen. It's the project homeowners dream about, and home buyers focus on. It's the room where we congregate, and one of the first places we think to clean when company is coming over. The kitchen.

In the last eight weeks, or so, we've met a few contractors, and shopped around (online) for appliances, tiles, and cabinet styles. We've made most of the choices, purchased appliances (at a bargain- but that's another blog post), and have a start date.

In two short weeks, the floor will be refinished. We have that much time to demo, so a new post should be up soon (we've already snapped the first pictures of paint removal on the trim!). Stay tuned (if you are excited as this homeowner is!)!

Monday, October 4, 2010

"The List" of 2010

Remember this list? This list was posted in January 2010:

The upcoming projects include:
  • stripping woodwork (in progress)
  • removing old wallpaper (in progress, going great!)
  • paint walls and woodwork (I know, I know)
  • level yard
  • retaining wall along front sidewalk
  • french drains
  • fix gutters
  • repair driveway
  • new back patio pavers
  • Restore the 5 sash windows
So much for lists. In 2010 we've:
  • fixed one gutter of the two
  • finished the paint stripping/wallpaper removal and painting in the dining room
The yard project is about to get started, but the retaining wall is on the back burner, pending some other projects. This month, we're hoping to start the french drains and leveling of the yard, along with a landscaping overhaul. "Overhaul" sounds impressive, but mostly we'll remove most of the plants that aren't working, bring in some new ones, and (hopefully) build some raised beds for the 2011 gardening season.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dining Room Project: COMPLETE!

Finally, the dining room is done! Wallpaper is done, paint is stripped, plaster repaired. Walls and woodwork painted, furniture moved back in, drapes hung. This really blows my mind. Thanks goes to the wife, husband and the mother/mother-in-law.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dining room paint, Part I

Dining room painting has officially begun!! CanNOT wait to see the finished product and start moving back into the room! Paint product reviews and more pictures to come!

Here's a sneak peak:

Friday, August 27, 2010


Priming is done, and the ceiling is painted!! Picking up with wall paint next, and hopefully will get the painting done this week. Love it!

Have a look at our progress:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Next Up? Operation Back Yard!

After the dining room wallpaper/paint project, were hoped to move to the yard, building a retaining wall, installing french drains, etc. Unfortunately, the City's sewer plans will interfere with retaining wall construction (that's a long story), so we're going to shift the scope of this phase of the yard project. This phase will include new back patio, concrete removal/repair in driveway & sidewalks. That's still plenty of work!

We're going to remove most of the existing landscaping (including a 3-4 year old lilac, 2 year old ornamental plum, a holly, invasive butterfly bush, diseased but beautiful roses, lillies, tulips, etc, etc. We'll keep the fig, and work towards a clean slate of fescue, with a mulch boarder and two raised beds to garden in. I'm also hoping to add some shrubs in the front with red or purple foliage.

Do you all have any great ideas, or valuable lessons-learned about such projects? Your experience and feedback is invaluable! Please feel free to post a comment or email us NEPdxBungalow (at)!

Here's a glimpse at what we've got:

The yard when we moved in, July 2008:

Loved the flowers, but I just couldn't take it anymore:

We prune the fig tree several times a year, but it refuses to be discouraged:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Plaster. Repair. Done!

Finally! Could I have dragged my feet a little more?? Doubt it. It's finally done, so we can prime, paint and move on. I feel like celebrating already!

I hated having to sand big lumps of uneven plaster. I found that by using my razor scraper I could do a lot more than with just sanding. The razor scraper didn't throw the dust around, in the air, so I didn't have to tape myself into the room, either- big bonus! I anticipate this little lesson will go far in the rest of the house.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Gutterly awesome

Our home inspector had alerted us to the fact that our gutters sloped the wrong direction, but we figured this was a simple enough fix that we could take care of ourselves- and yes, we can do that. But it was never a priority.

This week, we spontaneously fixed it. We took turns with the hacksaw, to cut through the screws that were used to mount the gutter (and were then sealed with caulk, which disallowed us from unscrewing them) and finally, broke through. After that, it was simply a matter of holding the level to the bottom and repositioning the gutter nails.

Cutting through that one screw:

That night, it rained, and continued to rain for 48 hours. First time I was ever so happy about 48 hours of rain in June. It gave us a chance to admire our properly sloped gutter. Now, to fix the others...

Still stripping paint

First, I apologize for the lack of photos. Photos account for about 95% of the fun in a house blog, I think. I hope to add an updated photo with this post, soon.

It's been longer than usual, between posts, but we HAVE been working! We're nearing the end of the dining room project and it's hard to believe it's taken so long. I bet if we dedicate 3 or 4 weekends on the next room, we could get just as much done in that time frame. (Famous last words, maybe?)

Slow progress is still progress! We have the paint stripped now, and are about 30% through the "light sand" and hoping to finish the sanding, and the last plaster touch ups this week/weekend.

It's going to be great to take down the plastic over the doorway, and finally see (and USE!) our dining room.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wallpaper removal complete

The wallpaper is down! Steam, scapers, fabric softener, vinegar and a spray bottle allowed us to remove the wallpaper. A thorough washing with trisodium phosphate, and we are moving on. Next up, plaster repair and paint removal- both already in progress!
Paper is down!

Post-TSP wash

Preview: paint removal!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dining room wallpaper progress

Progress on the dining room wallpaper came to nearly a complete stop. We spent about 6 hours- scraping, sanding, thumping, scratching and finally, washing. Just have to finish the wash job, tomorrow. Then it's plaster-repair-time. When the plaster is repaired, and the woodwork is stripped, it will be time to prime and paint. Cannot wait.

A sneak peek:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A little work in the yard

Attempted some yard improvement today. The giant lillies have been moved to the small strip of no-man's land, along the side of the house. When these babies reach their 7 foot max height, I'll enjoy seeing and smelling them from the kitchen window. Here's what we had today:


Didn't even realize that the moss washed away, until I saw these pictures.

Artifacts, left from previous owners:

Why was burying garbage in the yard so popular? Some of this stuff is less than 10 years old.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Detail Oriented

Recently I was talking to a friend about the details in our home, so I'm posting pictures of a few details.

This picture is the cabinet next to the sink. We took the awesome laminate door off the cabinet when we moved in. This cabinet puzzles us. No idea what the original cabinet fronts and doors looked like, so no clues there. The slots go completely through the shelf. What do you think it is? Oh- the blue is painter's tape, which I used to hold the shelf liner still, until we can replace the cabinets. I'm tempted to keep this one, though, or find a way to reuse those shelves.

Here is one of a doorknob. We have most of the knobs on the doors, but two have been replaced with a less attractive knob. If you see these knobs for sale anywhere, please let me know!!

Finally, here is the floor. The portion of the house that is above the basement is oak, and the portion that is above the crawlspace (bedrooms and bathroom) is fir. I love the fir. Have a look:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wallpaper removal continues...

This weekend, we had some help removing wall paper. Even though she spent some time working solo (THANK YOU!) she stuck to it, and ended up removing the outer layers of paper that remained in the dining room, and getting down to plaster, too. Sunday night, we homeowners even got in on the activity.

East wall
South wall
West wall
North wall
How one homeowner likes to kick back, after working hard on wallpaper removal

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wallpaper removal has begun!

About a year and a half into homeownership, the wallpaper has finally met its fate. It is the end of an era... 5 layers of floral, splatter paint, and southwestern printed era.

The many layers of paint and wallpaper practically fell from the wall, except for the very first layer of paper. In about 10% of the total area, we got down to plaster, by just scraping the paper off (gently) while dry. With a a solution of 1/2 water and 1/2 fabric softener, the last of the paper scrapes up with a bit of elbow grease. The plaster, in general, looks very good.

We also discovered that behind the wallpaper was the last of the moisture from our insulation installation. Fortunately, there is no indication of mold (by smell or by my allergy-powered detector system), and the wallpaper comes off even more easily on these walls. In these areas, the dry-scraping-straight-to-plaster accounts for about 35% of the area.

The following pictures don't include the last shots of where we left off, tonight. We have a patch of plaster exposed that is about 2.5'x4." I will do the math for the total work hours per square foot of wallpaper removal, soon.

East Wall

South Wall

Some paper samples: