Archive for the ‘Apartment 5’ Category

What to do with the salvaged tile?

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

I have been gradually removing mastic from the creamy yellow kitchen tile* without a clear destination for the cleaned-up tile. I have toyed with the notion of a backsplash in the kitchen, but we probably won’t have enough of the tile. Today, I am toying with tiling our kitchenette’s counter.

The kitchenette will be upstairs in our master sitting room. It will be a long wall with one of our apartment stoves, an undercounter refrigerator from my aunt and uncle, a half-size dishwasher (assuming I get the piece replaced that is bent), and one of our long sinks with a drainboard. I don’t remember which one. I think it was the one from the basement apartment (apartment 5). We may have only one long sink since I can only find a photo of one. (Two years is a long time to remember stuff.) I think that’s the stove we’re reusing, too.

Apartment 5 (I think) Sink

That way, we can have coffee on our upstairs porch at our convenience. We may never go downstairs again. :)

Anyway, I am thinking about using the yellow tile on the kitchenette’s counter and backsplash. In its original milieu, it had black trim, but I am thinking about green trim like that shown here (pictures 4, 5, and 6 in the link).


I liked that kitchen the first time I saw it in Old House Journal, and I like it still. I like the detail of setting it on diagonal on the counter, and running it straight on the backsplash. Plus, I, too, have Jadeite bowls that I could keep on shelves above the kitchenette. I wonder where you get custom Jadeite tile?

[Pause to investigate.] Thanks to retrorenovation, I guess you go to Nemo. Waterpolo looks good. Or to B & W Tiles. If only their catalog had a listing of the colors available. They have a fabulous variety of trim pieces. It does say: “Our glazed products product line includes over 48 different colors, including many colors from the 1920′s to the 1950′s. We have soft yellow, green, blues and tans as well as many intense colors such as cobalt blue, black and root beer.”

On the other hand, black trim looks good, too. wilkins avenue kitchen wood stain island tile countertops backsplash yellow blue And I can get it in a big box store. It has precedent in our house, too.

Or, look: a classic green, yellow and black tile installation.


Or I could go to the classic subway people. They have lots of trim pieces even though they are suspiciously quiet about price and claim that only professionals can handle their stuff. Or these folks.

Oh, dear. I’m afraid I’m getting trapped by too many choices again. However, I do better at making decisions when I have gathered information. And that’s what’s going on here: information gathering. When push comes to shove, I’ll be able to make a decision. I hope.

*I have removed mastic from 78 tiles, or a little more than 8 square feet. Not that I’m counting. Much.

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36 Yards of Concrete… So Far

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

For the past few weeks, Johnson Brothers Construction has been under our house, in our basement, digging, pouring, and propping. As will happen over 90+ years, our well-built house had developed some rather significant dips and sags. The original stone foundation needed some help. We hired Johnson Brothers based on several credible references, one calling them “the Click and Clack of foundation repair.” They brought lots of neat tools, and yes, that is a tractor in (really under) the house.




Then there are the “while you’re at it” sub-projects. Such as, “while you’re at it, why don’t you put a safe room down there,” or “while you’re at it, why don’t you dig this section of the basement out deeper so I can use it as shop space.” Actually, these are both good ideas, and added less than 20 percent to the cost of the initial project of stabilizing the house. We’ll keep telling ourselves this.

The concrete trucks have been out 3 times, first for the footings, then the walls, and late last week one more load for the new slab. The most impressive structures are the three-foot thick retaining walls that went up on the south and east sides, holding back the hill. They were designed to be so wide in order to wrap over the top of two original stone retaining walls that were failing. While taking a break from digging the footings, the guys heard a loud noise. Yes, one of the walls had collapsed. While scary, no harm was done. I’ve now got a nice pile of project stone in the back yard.


They use a concrete pump to get the concrete into the house. This saves them time and agravation as compared to trying to get the huge truck behind the house, close enough to use the chutes, or even worse, hauling by hand.



A French drain was installed under the new walls, piped into a new sump pump. Heavy plastic was placed under the new slab. It should be a dry place for my wood shop.

They are also installing several new beams supported by steel posts. The most impressive of these went up last week – the main beam for the house. They raised the center of the house five inches! My front door actually locks now!!


They plan to wrap up the project this week. All that remains is the installation of a few more beams (there will be a total of 9), and the safe room. It will be constructed of concrete block. The concrete truck will be out one more time to complete the safe room.

Once all is done the basement will contain roughly 800 square feet of shop space, a 3/4 bath, the safe room, new stairs up to the family room (from the existing garage), and a dumb waiter. I’ll post again when the safe room is complete. I know, it’s only a basement, but it’s the first real construction we’ve done.

(by Don)

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Craig’s List Score!

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

I virtuously scan Craig’s List here in Fayetteville, hoping for the sort of deals I used to find in Chicago. This weekend, I finally scored. Boxes of screen and storm sash hangers were there for $3 a box (ten sets in each box or thirty cents a set). You’ll see from the click-through, screen-and-storm-sash-hangers.jpg, that the sets used to retail for 40 cents. These days, however, they sell for two or three dollars a set.

So, I got Don to contact the sellers, and he bought them out. Even better, he learned that they have other stuff in their warehouse, stuff which might be useful for us a little later. (I guess their family owned a windows and doors store for sixty years, and now they’re slowly closing their warehouse.) We now own 45 sets of sash hangers, which will come in handy if we ever when we build storms and screens.  Now to keep an eye out for number tacks to identify which storms go with which windows. Although $4.99 for twenty windows and twenty storms isn’t bad, I’d love some like Jeannie’s House In Progress number tacks which go past single digits. Kilian seems to have a better price of $3.99 for “110+” of assorted tacks. I’m jealous, though, of the old stock someone bought from them already. 

Hang on:  Can anyone tell me why map tacks wouldn’t work?  Look at these map tacks. 


You can buy them to go up to 50 (double digits on a single tack) and they seem legible and long enough.  Are they sturdy enough?  Too big? (The smalls are 7/32 in diameter.  The pins are 5/16″ long.)  Too expensive?  We would need three boxes: to label window, storm, and screen, or about $15 for the first twenty-five windows.  Plus s/h.  The large map tacks (5/16″ diameter) come in red, and go up to 100.

We do have some other pressing matters, like, oh, say, rebuilding the window frames (see photo below) swinging in the air without any contact to the glass that I can see, or filling the gap between the fifty-year-old addition and the old part of the house. (Not only can you see daylight, but there’s a brisk breeze when a front is blowing through, which it was at lunchtime Wednesday when the temperature dropped from 63F to 28F in two hours.)

Window frame (south side)

Or, this week’s urgent need, covering up the direct critter access into the basement Apartment 5 with some chicken wire. Don took out the basement kitchen cabinets Monday and discovered a hole, a big, long hole sized for roosters or snakes or five-year-olds to go lollygagging through. The stud wall is swinging from the ceiling and you can see daylight under the studs. I don’t know what is holding up the two stories of house above it. Static electricity, maybe.

Hole under house before exposure Hole under house after hardware cloth installation

The hole is at the base of the house under this deck. You can’t see it so well in this picture (left) so I stopped Tuesday morning and snapped a picture of it with the hardware cloth installed (right). What is that pipe? It goes into the former basement kitchen around the sink. Maybe a vent??
Rotten sill

The picture above of a really rotten sill predates our buying the house, but the others are from Wednesday. (The painters pulled the ivy off the house.)

In other news, work is crazy busy. The Little One has reached a charming stage, again, except that she is very tired. She fell asleep by 6 p.m. Sunday night, and slept until we got her up the next morning. Either she’s about to grow into fluent reading or she’s about to grow an inch.  Or some other landmark event is coming.  She’s home for a snow day today, and I’m watching the weather to see if I am getting snowed in, too.

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Apartment 5 Demolition: Nearly Done

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

I think we are essentially done with the basement demolition, which includes: Apartment 5, the garage, and the basement itself. I guess we have a bit more in the bathroom, but not much.  And some kitchen appliances to take to the Habitat store.

Now we can see the ash removal space for the upstairs fireplace.  (It was behind the drywall.)  The rotten studs are gone.  (In making Apartment 5, the POs had dug out the basemen, but didn’t protect the stud walls from the now-dirt floor.  We saw some old insect damage, too, even though the termite inspection gave us an absolute clean bill of health.)  The nasty smelling closet where the toilet had leaked for untold years is gone.  And the whole flow is much improved, except that the removal of walls means that now the whole basement has turned into unconditioned space.  At least, until we figure out the whole workshop configuration and where to put doors, and what sort of doors.  Maybe French doors to allow the light to flow from conditioned space to unconditioned space.  Maybe today I will take measurements so I can start sketching out workshop space.

I say “we,” but it’s Don who does the demolition. I did remove a lot of the walls from Apartment 1′s dry bedroom and some of the wet bedroom, but Don hauled my trashcans of debris to the dumpster, and Don started the drywall tearout for me, and Don muscled out the worst bits for me. (I can use the prybar and a cheater quite well, but it sure is handy to have back up for me.) I didn’t do anything in the basement except admire it. Not even document it, apparently.

I would post pictures, but my before and after pictures don’t show how grody it was before, nor how (relatively) nice it is after.  However, take my word for it:  It is better.

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“Home is the wallpaper above the bed …

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

“Home is the wallpaper above the bed, the family dinner table, the church bells in the morning, the bruised shins of the playground, the small fears that come with dusk, the streets and squares and monuments and shops that constitute one’s first universe.” Henry Anatole Grunwald (1922-2005, Editor in Chief of Time, Inc. 1979-1987).

None of these wallpapers were above the bed, but they were certainly home for somebody.  Wallpapers 1-3 (left to right) were in Apartment 2, and Wallpapers 4-7 were in Apartment 5 (the basement apartment).  Wallpaper 4 (roosters and flowers) was in the kitchen, and Wallpaper 5, behind the medicine cabinet.

apt-2-back-room.jpg apt-2-somewhere.jpg living-room.jpg basement-kitchen.jpg basement-medicine-cabinet.jpg basement_1.jpg basement.jpg

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Kitchen sink in powder room?

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

We went to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Alliance Conference in North Little Rock this fall.  Well, Don did.  I drove down Friday night for the Saturday house tours.  (I love spying on other people’s houses.)  Besides drinking mimosas and getting to know North Little Rock, we saw a way to repurpose a kitchen sink with drainboard into a powder room sink. 


Don’t you like the curved corners on the cabinet to match the curves on the sink?  I believe the homeowner said it took his carpenter four full days to build.

We just happen to have a sink with drainboard in our Apartment 5 with the porcelain in pretty good shape.


And I think it will wind up somewhere like that.  Unless it winds up in our kitchen, of course. 

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The pipes are thawing (and not bursting)

Friday, January 4th, 2008

We have power to Apartment 1 now, and also to the hallway and Apartment 4′s kitchen outlet upstairs (on Apartment 1′s downstairs circuit for some reason). We also have hot water in the house although, as of noon yesterday, Apartment 4 still didn’t. No visible leaks (except, perhaps, in Apartment 5, which is the basement apartment, where we know we have a clogged sink), so no burst pipes yet. Only the Apartment 2 kitchen sink is still frozen.  (We thought we had lost power permanently in Apartment 2, but that turned out to be a blown fuse, so life is good.) Isn’t the stalagmite cool?  It was a stalactite until it started to thaw.

Ice in Apt 2 kitchen sink

Demolition and clean-up are progressing in the basement, where the water heater fired up a couple of times while Don was sweeping. Nasty, by the way (the sweeping).  Probably hadn’t been done in forty years.

The basement (not the apartment, but the basement part) is all cleaned and swept, with about 10 more minutes to finish cleaning the garage. Then, on to Apartment 5 (the basement apartment).

Apartment 2′s “switch” at the fuse box, for lack of a better term, is broken. The electric company guy said that can happen in the cold. Or maybe Don stressed it Wednesday with the 3 space heaters, and it cracked.

The electric company guy came by a second time, after turing the power to Apartment 1 back on, to change a bad meter. This is our second “bad” meter at this house.  We already had a gas meter replaced. I don’t recall replacing a meter in any of our other houses. Of course, we have eleven meters here, which would increase the odds of a bad one. Five gas and five electric meters for the five apartments, plus a sixth gas meter for the 95 gallon hot water heater, which is community property. Not sure which of the meters is new, but I do have before and after shots of the electric. Not the gas.  Aren’t they lovely?

Gas meters January 3, 2008 electric meters January 3, 2008 electric meters

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