Friday, April 30, 2010

Working for the Weekend

It's 10:53 a.m. as I start to write this blog and I'm counting the minutes before I'm able to leave my desk for the last time this week. When you squeeze all the things you want to do plus all the life maintenance activities into 2 days/week, it's easy to plan too much!

To do:

1. Strip at least 1 more window frame (likely to take 4 hours).
2. Vacuum a week's worth of Porter fur from kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and tv room (30 minutes).
3. Attend Colby Men's Lacrosse game vs. Bates tonight (3 hours + with travel time). Go Mules!
4. Attend Seize the Mic Karaoke Contest at the Waterville Opera House on Saturday night (4 hours + with travel time).
5. Attend excellent auction in Gardiner (most of Saturday!)
6. Walk on the Kennebec River Rail Trail with my friend, Beth.
7. Possibly drive somewhere in New England on Sunday for the Colby Men's Lacrosse NESCAC Tournament Game (lots of hours).
8. Walk Porter multiple times (3 hours).
9. Read the May issue of House Beautiful magazine (1 hour +)
10. Create a mood board (a la Young House Love) for my living room.
11. Clean up our study.
12. Cook a yummy spring Sunday dinner with fiddleheads and fresh seafood.
13. Squeeze in a margarita or two!
14. FurMINATE Porter (see the photo from last summer....excuse the moving mess.) I'm trying to teach him how to vacuum.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back to curtains...

You are probably picking up on a trend here: I have lots of ideas...and lots of desires...and no implementation. I keep telling myself if I only I didn't have to work...maybe I'd have time for all the things I want to do. Ohh...such is the life of a modern working lady.

So, our bedroom has been complete (other than all the things I wish I could buy to put in it) since, well, late-October. And we haven't had curtains this whole time! It was okay during the winter when it was dark for most of the time here in Maine- I'd just turn out the lights in the room to hide from the neighbors, but now that day light savings time is in effect...and summer is nipping at my heels, I really need to do something about our curtains!

We just have too much to do around the house- it's almost debilitating. Do I go outside and pull weeds? Stay inside and strip paint? Stay inside and strip wall paper? Paint? Vacuum dog hair? Clean dishes? Shop online for new light fixtures? Scour catalogs for more things I can't afford? Or do I sew curtains?

I told you I needed to quit my job.

I got a bunch of samples from Calico Corners and narrowed my search down to one specific print, but I'm still deciding on color. I think I'm veering away from brown. I think I like the light, slate blue color better. It's softer and more relaxing - good for a bedroom. The fabric is 55% linen and 45% rayon so it has a lovely drape. I can just imagine my completed curtains billowing in the cool summer breeze. Hah. Oh yeah- and these are the only new windows in our house. We added these during our major bedroom renovation:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Window Reburbish

The windows in our home are original, and if I may say, quite remarkable; we have floor to ceiling, triple-hung windows on the first floor and large double-hung windows on the second floor. Most visitors compliment the windows...and I have to admit that the windows were a major selling point for me. Of course, I didn't really examine the windows on our 2 visits pre-purchase. Original, antique windows dating to the mid-1800s are a good thing if you care about preserving the historic aesthetic of a house from 1840, but a bad thing if you dislike drafts in the middle of January in Maine. Our antique windows are also to blame for my sudden Tourette's syndrome-like symptoms every time an oil bill arrives.

Jon and I discussed replacing our windows, but after some research, I discovered that the cost would be prohibitive (even with those well-publicized tax credits). I didn't want to replace the original windows with vinyl, fake-paned, windows, because 1: we couldn't afford it, 2: I felt like the aesthetic of the house would be compromised (see basically any other Greek Revival in our town and you will understand), and 3: vinyl has serious environmental implications. If we were to replace our windows, I would want true, separated pane windows made of wood. Well...those type of windows are seriously expensive and not in budget. So I continued my research and found a community of people in Maine seriously dedicated to antique windows...hooray!

On John Leeke's Historic HomeWorks webpage, I found a subsite called, Save Maine Windows. And on that page, I found comments from Mike LeChance from Maine Historic Windows. He was definitely speaking my language, so I called him up and had him come over for an estimate.

We decided to focus on our second floor windows, which were in worse shape than the downstairs windows. Actually...the downstairs floor-to-ceiling windows are all painted shut, which has preserved them pretty well. The upstairs windows are plagued with many serious problems: broken sash cords, chipping paint, some rot, broken panes, and general mal-treatment. Not to mention that each window had been painted upwards of 10 times...possibly more.

When considering replacing our windows with new wood, separated pane windows I figured out that each window (on the second floor) would be between $700 and $1000 (that figure might still be conservative). Mike showed me an example of his work...which was spectacular - the man is truly an artisan - and then told me that each window would be around $300. Sold.

Mike has 5 of the 10 second floor windows right now. Here are the pictures pre-refurbish:

 This is our bathroom window- notice that it doesn't close!
In this shot, you see the two running channels that the windows (should) slide up and down within. The running channels should never be painted. Ours however have been painted, and painted, and painted again. Even the pulley systems have been painted. There are supposed to be sash cords, or ropes that run on the pulleys, connected to weights behind the running channels that make it easy to open and close the windows.
 Here's a broken sash cord. Notice that it was also painted at some point...why!? Every single sash cord on the second floor is broken meaning that we have to jam pieces of wood between the window sill and the window to keep it open. This is slightly treachorous- I nearly lost a finger or two last summer when putting the windows up or down.

 The paint is chipping badly on most of our windows. I'm not sure if you can tell how many coats of paint are on this window...tons.
 Here's a broken pane. There are many more like this. You can also notice the terrible putty job that was last done (most likely be an amateur).
Again...bad putty job. Chipping paint.

To save a little money, I am stripping the paint from the running channels, pulleys, and parting strips myself. This task is not all. I am actually using a wallpaper steamer on the paint- which is more effective than nasty chemical stripper- not to mention more environmentally friendly, and safer to my personal health. Because I have no idea how old some of the original layers of paint might be, I'm treating the process with serious caution: I use a respirator and vacuum the paint 'skin' and flakes with a shop vac that is lined with a HEPA quality lining bag and filter. Ordinarily one might use a heat gun to strip the paint...but a heat gun in an old wood house is a serious fire hazard. The steam makes the paint bubble and lift from the wood so that I can skim it off (with some elbow grease), but without a fire hazard and without nasty chemical residue from a stripping agent. Thanks go out to Mike LeChance for teaching me this method! When the first 5 windows come back...I'll post pictures. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rug fetish?

It seems I'm obsessed. My last post was way back in February. It is now April and I'm STILL talking about rugs. Unfortunately, I haven't actually purchased anything. I've mentioned Porter...our 110 lb Bernese Mountain Dog. He can't be trusted with anything valuable under-paw, which has paralyzed me from buying anything at all for our floors.

So the other day I was looking through the Williams Sonoma catalog dreaming of new fritatta pans (yes...fritatta pans) and I saw a rug with blue and white stripes. Now, I love blue and white anything...but stripes!? Stripes are the best! I flipped the pages with ferocity to...

this amazing Nautical Stripe Outdoor Rug. "Outdoor" basically means that it's made of polypropylene and to clean, you simply wash it off with a hose (or take it to a car wash - genius advice from my friend Alice at Henbogle ). A mold resistant, washable, and durable rug may be perfect for most peoples' outside deck or patio, but I think it's perfect for the INSIDE of my house. Porter's claws and occasional barf won't ruin this rug- oh no he won't!

The front hall seems to be taking the brunt of the beating from Porter's daily travels. As is evidenced by the scratched floor boards, he must spend his entire day sauntering back and forth from his lair (our living room) to the front door where he probably terrorizes the mail lady, the Jehovah's Witnesses, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, H.S. Football Boosters, and anyone else who dares to walk up to our house. So, I think I will buy this rug in the 3 x 9 size and put it in our front hall. We will strip the (AWFUL) wallpaper from the walls this summer and paint the hall yellow...and of course nothing goes better with yellow than blue and white!

I think I may actually purchase something. Williams are back in my good graces. Check out the excellent prices on this rug! Nautical Stripe Outdoor Rug from Williams Sonoma.