Monthly Archives: December 2011

Cabinets Out!

There is some space that surrounds these cabinets that is called a kitchen. They take up the whole wall.

They are dark, big, and dirty.

And no, I won’t need the storage later.

I don’t even want the wall there (much less cabinets).

And so they go.

Brian (Paul’s brother) was town town over Christmas weekend. They spent about an hour pulling them out.

There. So much better. Now the linoleum needs to be lifted (and the 2 layers of tile underneath).

Then the wall.

It  is supporting wall so some of it needs to stay with a header, but it is just aching to lead you into the living room.

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Wallpaper Exodus & Heat

Dad is working hard removing all of our wallpaper from the living room. There is some sort of wallpaper that she described as being made of Japanese grass. We sort of liked it and might have kept it except two problems:

1) It was very porous and fibrous and attracted Marta’s cat hair.

2) The top was torn in several places from the asbestos abatement so needed to be removed.

Fortunately dad found this product called DIF that was odorless and allowed the wallpaper to basically fall off the wall so he has been able to make major improvements this week in removing almost all of it from living room and hallway. H is planning on being done tomorrow by finishing in the entryway.

The bathroom is the only other place we have wallpaper. It is the kind we would not live with even if it wasn’t damaged. It is funky and fortunately is put up in a gloss white wall.  It has all it can do to stay up on the wall right now, so it will be very easy to remove tomorrow.

Our house is getting naked. Stripped down to the bare bones.

Today we have heat. We had the new ducts put in with a 95.5% efficiency furnace on Tues & Wed this week. Today the inspector came and verified that the leakage is less than 6% which what is needed to meet the new standard of efficiency. Next step is getting the skylights sealed so the house can actually retain the heat that the awesome furnace is putting out!

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Paradox of choice

Lowe’s. A great example of the paradox of choice if I have ever seen it.  If you don’t know about this paradox, you are missing out. Hear it from the king of choice himself, Barry Schwartz. Basically, the more choices we have, the less likely we are to choose and the less happy we are with our choice. More leaves us with less.

We  went in for very specific things and came out something that fit that description, like a faucet and a new front doorknob.  This is what home ownership is about – getting excited about a doorknob.

I do love our front door though.

It is important to stay in love with the simple things.

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Kitchen cabinet paint

First on the list was cleaning the scum, slime, dirt, cat hair, ect out of the rooms. Next was unpacking a bit. Before the kitchen can be unpacked I wanted to put a fresh coat of pain inside the cabinets to paint over the stains that were under the lime green contact paper that we removed.  Dad did the work over the week and they look great.  Zero-VOC’s from the local paint store. This means no odor so bird safe, and clean off with water. Wonderful!

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“Skylight” Illusions

The skylights look nice from this perspective, below and looking up:

This is one in the kitchen:

Here is a 4 foot square in the hallway/living room/kitchen junction:

The funny thing is, when you peek up behind the plastic you see a gaping hole to the attic.  For example, the four foot “skylight” above is really a 4 foot hole where all our heat gets sucked up into the attic (below)

The standard is to have a insulated box that follows between the skylight in the roof down to the window in the ceiling.  Not this house. Henry decided to just use a few nails to tack up some reflecting stuff around the hole- but there is no structure or sealing.  The house is amazingly drafty. This is not helping matters. When you take out the 3 nails that is holding up all this silver you see above, this hole looks like this:

Yup.  It is just a big hole. One giant illusion.

The bathroom has a panel of illusionary skylights as well.  When you go into the attic you can look down and see them.  It should be a box that goes from roof to ceiling. Instead it is open…so when you open the bathroom door hard enough, the suction actually can pop one of these small cheap plastic panels up into the attic and then insulation drifts down into the sink. Also note the classy electrical work Henry did.

I need to learn more about Henry. What I know is that he was married to Marta for 30+ years and died about 10 years ago.  He did a lot of work on this house himself. Marta referred to him as an engineer, but his jobs are definitely a DIY quality. I am sure I can learn more about Henry from Marta as time goes on.

We are just sealing up the skylights.  Putting drywall over them, saying good-bye to the natural light and saying hello to heating bill savings. We will revisit this option later when we have more money to frame and insulate everything out like it should be.

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Messy beauty

Despite the house being a mess, there is beauty all around.  Despite the acoustic ceiling coming off in a few days I put together myself a little living room. The dogs approve

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Bedroom/Office combo

So today I set-up the room that we will be living out of for a few weeks. It houses both of our offices, the bed, our clothes in boxes, our bird cage, and several aquariums of fish and geckos. Cozy. I feel like I’m 20 again and living with a boyfriend in an efficiency.

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In the new house…sort of

So moving into the new house means life is all about mess, boxes, and chaos. I am not even going to pretend like I have it under control nor will I filter it for this blog.

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So it begins….

I only have moment to begin this blog so all I wanted to say is this:

  • house buying was so much simpler than I thought
  • home repair is more complex than I thought (due to the choreography of workers)
  • moving took longer than I imagined
  • getting sick while moving is not a good idea
  • while paying for someone to clean for you is
  • I’m a pretty good at backing up a loaded trailer

We purchased our first home in Ojai, CA on Nov 18. The woman rented it from us until Dec 2 so she could have time to move out and make arrangements. We started moving Dec 2 ad finished Dec 6th.  We did it mostly on our own with a trailer and our Vibe, and a bit of help from friends on three evenings.

Today is the first day that I am fully here and not running back to the rental.  This feels good.   We have loads of work to do in the next week or two which include asbestos abatement of heating ducts, tile and ceilings. It is work we did not expect to do right away, but found necessary. And so it begins…

This blog is about our progress and evolution of the house, and probably us too.  It is really more for us to look back on, but it is here for anyone who wants to share the journey with us as well.

This house has landscaping that lends itself to fairies, elves, and magic. Ferns are weeds here. Moss abounds in place of grass. I love that.  I wanted to give this place a name and  just this morning, a name arrived.

Alchemy: any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.
This house has “so much potential” is what we keep hearing from contractors and also what we felt from the first day we walked in.  I never dated or married “potential”, but I think a house lends itself into that way of thinking. It needs work and with a bit of pixy dust, creativity, hard work and cash, I know we can transform it.
Alchemy Grove it is.
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Days of randomness

Life right now is filled with little things like this…I am wearing the same pair of pants for 2-3 days…then I open another box and find a clean pair. WhoooHooo!  I put them on.  Later in the store I reach in my pocket to find a random guitar pick and a broken birthday candle. Sigh. I can’t even explain to the clerk.

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