Archive for the ‘Howe’ Category

Our other houses, Part 2C (After North Howe roof deck)

Friday, July 27th, 2007

Please click through — these are some of my favorite pictures. (Except for the last one — not too flattering of me, I’m afraid, but feeding people on our deck was something we really enjoyed. Our last summer on Howe, we had a big crowd over for the Chicago Air & Water Show, and that was FUN. Only problem with roof deck entertaining was, if you forgot something in the kitchen, you had to go down 1.5 flights of stairs. And back. Maybe I’ll be able to track down those Air Show photos some time and post them — the planes whooshed right overhead. Don shot something like 6 rolls that day, and I lost my will to put them into albums. Which means that the Little One is sorely lacking in albums of her extreme youth.)


Our roof deck from the top of our stairs (the second summer)

roof-deck-at-dusk.jpgThe view from our shed looking east (and down), the first summer

looking-sw-on-roof-deck.jpgLooking southwest on roof deck

ne-corner-of-roof-deck.jpgLooking northeast

Roof deck dianthusRoof deck dianthus

mosquito-copper-sculpture-in-columbine.jpgColumbine and copper mosquito (garden art)

pots-near-center-chimney-on-roof-deck.jpgPots near center chimney

roof-deck-with-family.jpgFamily on deck (niece, father in law, me).

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Our other houses, Part 2B (Building the North Howe Roof Deck)

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

The roof deck was the thing I liked best about our townhouse. We were in the middle unit of a three-unit building, and we had the only roof deck. Very private despite being in the middle of the city. However, it was a big expanse of worn out decking surrounded by exceedingly dull benches; the roof leaked; and the sole water source was via a hose connected to a faucet 2.5 stories below in the “front yard.” (The “front yard” was maybe three feet deep by 12 feet wide. It had a pink dogwood and some tired ground cover. The dogwood was lovely, actually.)

Roof deck before

First we demolished the roof deck and replaced the roof.

This was complicated by our townhouse neighbor. He didn’t want our roofers to use the easy access side for moving roofing materials on or off the roof. He preferred that they haul the materials on the south side of the house — the side that was less than three feet from our neighbor’s house — the side that was so narrow that Don could climb up the house by placing his feet on our wall and his back on our neighbor’s house and shimmying up — chimney climbing. (He worried that they would damage the dogwood. He didn’t care so much about the three gas meters on the other side.)

He also objected to our roofers not speaking English. (In point of fact, they did speak English fairly fluently. To me. A ploy that I hope someday to be able to use somewhere, but probably won’t since I don’t have a second language.) The chief roofer called me about the problem, but I was in a meeting I couldn’t leave so I sent my secretary. (She was a good friend and tougher than I was, anyways. She was married to a cop and didn’t take any nonsense from anybody.) I’m not sure what was said, but the roofers continued to work and to use the sensible side for accessing the roof.

hanging-compressor.jpgAfter the roof was replaced, the deck guys came. They hung the air conditioning compressor from the rafters so they could install new decking. (When we bought the place, the compressor was inside a shed on the roof. Yes, inside. So, when it was blowing hot air, the hot air just stayed there. Forever. Or at least until winter. Periodically, the compressor would stop in protest. We improved the design by putting in decorative arbor-like rafters over it, which allowed it to be shaded and ventilated, and removing the front wall. Couldn’t do anything about the wall behind it or beside it.)

Roof deck with sleepers The deck guys put sleepers across the roof to nail the flooring to. (You can see the gap around the roof drain. They built a removable tile to cover the drain, yet allow us to access it for maintenance.)

Chimney framingThe deck builder was something of an artist. He suggested laying the cedar decking on an angle (or two angles so it was v-shaped). He routed the edges of each piece so they were slightly rounded. He sheathed the two chimneys in cedar, as well.

roof-deck-window-box.jpgHe was nervous about the height of the side walls, and suggested putting a fence on top of the walls. I suggested the window boxes. I think we both had good ideas.

As for the water supply, we had the handyman who did our bathrooms the next year run a supply up to the roof. Complete with a winter shut off valve, it was perfect for us. I had it split so I could have a permanent drip irrigation supplying my window boxes and pots, and still have a water source for hand washing or whatever. It was on an automatic timer, and watered the pots several times a day. (Repeated shallow watering was necessary because I was container gardening up on the exposed roof — I wouldn’t water that often if I had a reservoir of soil for the plants to hold the moisture.)

Next entry will be the after pictures.


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Our other houses, Part 2A (North Howe Kitchen Storage)

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

The townhouse I bought on Howe was intended for just me, but one thing led to another, and I wound up getting married and having a husband and his two cats and his stuff move in with me. Don sold his Cape Cod in Munster 24 hours after it was listed (around Thanksgiving), and his stuff and cats joined me between Christmas and New Year’s. (He stayed with his folks for the most part until we got married President’s Day weekend. Good thing, too. I was in crying hysterics over all his stuff on New Year’s Day. Because we were having the carpet replaced in the basement before installing the Murphy wall bed, I didn’t have a single place to sit that wasn’t covered with his stuff, and he was at work, eating bagels and cream cheese due to the Y2K hullabaloo.)

The marriage resulted in us having even more stuff — Besides doubles of all the usual household goods (two vacuum cleaners, two coffee pots, two blenders, two coffee grinders, two sets of china, two sets of silverware, two sets of pots, four slow cookers, knives by the dozen, four linear feet of cookbooks, and cookie sheets and pie plates galore), we had to go back to register for additional wedding gifts because our friends cleaned out the registry. I think we had sixteen place settings of our everyday china, twenty mugs, twelve sets of crystal, not to mention an entire set of Good Grips from Oxo.  Those Grips may be Good, but they are bulky. This excess of good fortune meant that we had to get clever about storage in the kitchen.

The kitchen itself was a small galley. One long side of the galley looked into the living room and the other was the west wall of our townhouse, shared with our neighbor. The kitchen, powder room, and living room comprised the first floor. (Look-out or English basement with wall bed, fireplace, full bath and laundry down a half flight of stairs; two bedrooms and full bath upstairs. Roof deck on top.)

The south exterior wall of the townhouse was less than three feet from our next door neighbor’s house. (Don did some chimney-style climbing there once.) So, the view to the south was essentially their siding. Ummm, nothing special to say the least, but sunny. So, Don installed shelving in our living room and kitchen windows, thereby stopping the eye before reaching the siding and getting the gigantic Good Grips out of my drawers.

Kitchen window shelvingKitchen window with built-in shelving

Living room window shelvingLiving room window with built-in shelving

He also installed a place to hang our wine glasses above our east-facing cabinets. (Hint: Take the crystal down while demolishing the bathroom upstairs, or the vibrations will jiggle them loose into a zillion pieces.)

Crystal storage and wine rackCrystal rack

He even added kitchen storage to our coat closet. (Hooray for Elfa and the Container Store’s regular sales thereof! We’ve reused some of this Elfa in four houses now.)

Elfa shelving in closet just north of the kitchen.jpgCloset with Elfa storage for kitchen and coats

We also had a four-foot baker’s rack, with a butcher’s block top that kept even more pots and pans, but we don’t have a picture of it from this house. (We used it as our kitchen for eighteen months in the orphan Italianate. You can do a lot with four feet of kitchen if you don’t put your microwave on it.)

We also had a magnetic knife hanger which got the knives off our countertop and out of our drawers. (Loved it, especially after Don took a knives class from The Chopping Block – Valentine’s present from me. He also took a series of Building Block classes there. He came home most every time with a new tool or spice or both. The lemon reamer was a good addition to our tool set.) The Little One might now be old enough we can hang our knives on the wall again.

And a spice rack from Ikea, also shown in the picture below. (Loved it. Tried desperately to find one like it for our Kensington house, but didn’t succeed. It was just the right depth that spices didn’t get lost. I still had another drawer of spices, but this helped so much.)

Knive rack and spice rack (Ikea)Knife rack and spice rack (Ikea)

Getting things out of kitchen cabinets and into spaces that weren’t being used sure made being married easier.


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Our other houses, Part 2 (North Howe)

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

After I sold my apartment in the Churchill (and stayed briefly in a small loft in the Cobbler Square Apartments, purportedly an old Dr. Scholl’s shoe factory), I bought a place on North Howe the week before I met Don in September. It was not an old house per se, but it was in a neighborhood of old houses (and new McMansions) and it turned out to be old enough that most of its systems needed replacing.  (Big clue:  The air conditioner quit working during the inspection.  Turned out to be a slow Freon leak.  Decided it was easier to replace the Freon every 18 months or so than to replace the compressor, which was 2.5 stories off the ground.) Our townhouse was built in the 1970s and looked more like the older new house at 1811 North Howe than the McMansion next door in the Then and Now pictures linked above. This links to a pretty bad picture from the Cook County Assessor.

By Easter, our relationship was at the point that Don and his father painted the whole interior (except the one bedroom I painted before my 2nd date with Don — I obliterated the cute ducklings and faux sky all by myself — the rest of the house had been painted  ceiling white, and it irritated Don).  Over time, we gutted two of the bathrooms, replaced a flat roof and roof deck, had a water source run up to the roof, installed (and reinstalled after the roof and deck were replaced) a drip irrigation system for all the pots on the roof, considered replacing the a/c, built lots of storage, changed out the washer and dryer, and … Anyway, the place had a new look when we sold it in 2001, after we’d been married a year.

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