My Back Hurts

guestroomHaving now slept in my guest room for two nights (I pulled the mattress and box springs off my bed to avoid the possibility of damage from the deluge), I tender my sincere apologies to anyone who’s stayed therein.

The guest room mattress is absolute crap.

One less thing to eventually move, I suppose.

The twin bed in the “starving student garret” is much more comfortable. But that room is (on purpose) close to freezing right now; I’m trying to keep that roof nice and cold to mitigate the weeping.

The roofer comes later today; fingers crossed I can still afford a new guest room mattress after that check (and after I move).

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Revenge of the House

wall

I think I’ve hurt my house’s feelings; it’s acting out.

This morning, I opened my eyes to a disconcerting bulge in the plaster almost directly above, on the wall behind my bed. So I got dressed, laid down some plastic and towels, then poked at it. It began weeping.

Clearly, the house is sad that I’m threatening to sell it. Clearly.

Outside, at about the same location on the house as the interior problem, there’s a killer icicle. (Seriously – that thing could kill someone were it to fall on them…but, it’s inside my fenced backyard, so if it does fall, well, I think I would win that lawsuit.)

I thought it was a box gutter problem, but Dyami Plotke (of The Penultimate Woodshop renown), tells me it’s likely a result of ice damming – melting water from the house’s escaping heat being forced back under the shingles by the gutters, which are probably full up with ice.

And, he kindly gave me several options for fixing the problem…none of which are in my skillset even if I had a 40′ ladder. (Dyami, by the way, is a division manager for a New York roofing company, and is an expert in diagnosing and fixing these kinds of things. Too bad he’s a 10-hour drive away.)

But there’s nothing to be done in the short term…other than be vigilant about changing that towel tucked into the plastic behind my bed (there’s more plastic taped atop the baseboard and onto the carpet, to create an “overflow” trough with more towels, in case I manage to sleep through my every-two hours alarm tonight to change the towels).

I have a roofer who specializes in old houses coming tomorrow at lunch time; I’m just hoping he can do something to mitigate the immediate problem (so I can get some sleep), and that a permanent fix can be effected quickly.

Then, it looks like I’m breaking out the hawk and knives again. Then the paint.

I don’t like it when my house cries. It’s making me want to cry, too.

ice

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Boring, but Necessary

houseinsnow

I planned to go to the shop today to build my kitchen corner table/counter. I was looking forward to playing with the Festool Domino and a brand-spanking-new band saw blade (what can I say…I’m easily excited).

The shop is 12 miles from my house. The picture above is from 10 a.m. It’s 5:30 p.m. now, and the snow just stopped falling.

Instead, I stayed home and did some stultifying but necessary jobs – things I’ve been putting off for weeks.

The 2-3° back bevel Orion Henderson writes MUST be employed when using non-mortise hinges? Yeah…I forgot to do that when I hung the cabinet doors; they weren’t closing quite all the way, but I’ve been living with the shame. Today, they all came down, got hit with my No. 7, then received a swipe of fresh paint down the edge.

All the toe kick pieces for the cabinet bases are mitered and fit, and the first coat of paint is drying (and I turned up the heat in hopes it will dry in time for a second coat before bed).

The beech backsplash is mitered (87° – what fun) and the Formby’s is drying. Another coat of that before bed, too.

Tomorrow, I hope to find time to get the doors back up and the toe kick and backsplash installed. And as soon as I get that table built, the kitchen will be 100-percent done.

I took down the first old termite-barf cabinet on Dec. 29, 2013, and I’ve been working on the kitchen (albeit sometimes in dribs and drabs) ever since. I won’t know what to do with myself! Although the basement is a tip, my closet needs culling and I’ve never liked the tile in the 1/2 bath on the first floor…and I suppose I should shovel the walk again.

base

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I Speak Jive

As I get my house ready to put back on the market, I’ve been spending a lot of time perusing home-buying sites; I’m learning a new lexicon. (I’m also learning that some Realtors are truly horrid photographers. Could you not move the pile of dirty clothes off the bed before taking that shot? And how about doing the dishes? Also, that fish-eye lens is fooling no one.)

Speaking the lingo, as it were, makes scanning listings go a lot more quickly (not that it matters right now; the pickings are slim in February).

• “Cozy?” Small.
• “Charming?” Far too small.
• “Adorable?” Far too small, plus twee wallpaper in every room.
• “Quaint?” It’ll be needing a new electric panel and plumbing.
• “Luxurious?” Bad taste in expensive carpeting.
• “Near?” In the bad neighborhood adjacent to the one in which you’re interested.
• “Refurbished?” Lick-and-a promise paint job and cheap carpeting.
• “Renovated?” Original woodwork is likely missing. As are interior walls.
• “New?” Not interested.
• “Professionally decorated?” By a professional decorator? Really?
• “One-of-a-kind?” There’s a reason for that.
• “Nice?” If that’s the best descriptor…it’s probably not.
• “Park like?” There are two trees.
• “Investment opportunity?” You’d be embarrassed to collect the rent on the sh*thole.
• “Needs a little TLC?” Zuul lives in the basement.

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One Final Piece to the Kitchen Puzzle

stoveendThe last piece to build for the kitchen is a counter-height something or other to go to the left of the stove. But there are a few challenges (aren’t there always) and design considerations.

The trim on the door at the other end of that counter run does the same.

On the other end of the same run, I simply notched the counter for the door trim, and fit the cabinet frame flush with the trim. No window sill to get in the way.

The curve is the most noticeable and vexing thing; it starts about 19″ to the left of the stove, and continues around to about 4″ behind the window trim. And that window trim? It encroaches on about 3″ of the counter depth – not to mention the sill juts out a couple inches.

While I suppose I could build a base cabinet that fits the curve, I simply don’t want to. A square one shallow enough to avoid dealing with the curve wouldn’t offer enough storage to be worth the trouble (plus it would annoy me to know there’s wasted space behind). And anyway, I don’t think it would look good to have a cabinet bumping into the window (the sill in particular would be a problem).

Besides – I spent a fair amount of time and effort kerfing that baseboard to conform to the curve. I’m not about to cover it up. (Yeah, yeah – I still need to do the curved shoe moulding…seriously considering a flexible product for that.)

Also, I want a covered place (that is, not in a footpath) to stash the cats’ food bowls and dry-food container, with enough room for them to comfortably eat (and enough room for a decent-sized dog to get under, in case potential new owners prefer canines).

So something more in a table vein seems in order. But I wouldn’t like how a leg at the front-left corner would visually compete with the window trim and baseboard.

So I played around in SketchUp and came up with the following, which progress from “Oh HELL no” to “Hell no” to “Eh, maybe” to “Yeah, I think so.” I’m still waiting for “Heck yeah!” to strike. (And there’s the slim chance that I might punt – but probably not.)

I already have the countertop (same Ikea Numerär) I used for the rest, and the legs are spaced not only to be visually appealing (to me, anyway), but to accommodate a towel rail. I think that would look more elegant than my current solution of hanging towels from the stove and/or dishwasher handle.

Functional (and matches the rest of the cabinets, of course), but there really is ample cabinet space already – about 40 percent more than what I tore out. Also, I just don't like it,

It’s functional, I suppose (and matches the rest of the cabinets, of course), but there is ample cabinet space already – about 40 percent more than what I tore out. Also, to my mind it implies I couldn’t build a properly sized space-filling cabinet, and therefore makes everything look like stock cabinets from the big-box…which is what I tore out because they didn’t fit and were clearly cheap stock cabinets from a big-box rather than pieces custom-made to fit the space. (It’s possible I’m overthinking things.)

Too blocky and too basic. The straight legs look too heavy, though the straight lines would match the square cabinets). I just don't like it.

This is too blocky and too basic. The straight legs look too heavy, though the straight lines would match the square cabinets. Really what it comes down to is I just don’t like it.

The tapered legs here (I'd probably taper them on two sides rather than on only the one side drawn) lighten things up a bit and make it look more design-y (technical term).  But it feels like a wasted opportunity to introduce another storage option to the space as whole. And only an Irish wolfhound needs that height to fit under. (Ans since an Irish wolfhound would not fit in this house at all...)

The tapered legs here (I’d probably taper them on two sides rather than on only the one side drawn) lighten things up a bit and make it look more design-y (technical term). But it feels like a wasted opportunity to introduce another storage option to the space as whole. And only an Irish wolfhound needs that much height to fit under (and since an Irish wolfhound would not fit in this house at all…)

This one, I'm almost sold on. The taper starts below the slat shelf, a shelf that seems like a good place to store a bag of potatoes or onions, or to simply display a nice bowl. The 19" clearance under it to the floor is plenty for my cats (and their food storage bin) and for a medium-sized dog, but I'm not sure about, say, a Labrador retriever. (Again, I may be overthinking it.)

This one, I’m almost sold on. The taper starts below the slat shelf, a shelf that seems like a good place to store a bag of potatoes or onions, or to simply display a nice bowl. The 19″ clearance under it to the floor is plenty for my cats (and their food-storage bin) and for a medium-sized dog. But I’m not sure about, say, a Labrador retriever.

I suppose the third iteration could work, but I feel as if I’d have to add a drawer, so that it can masquerade as a desk/worktable (and then where would the towels go?). But a drawer means more work than simply grabbing the Domino to make a simple, solid base (don’t hate – it’s a kitchen counter, not an heirloom build; hand-cut tenons need not apply).

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Dirty Girl

DiningRoom

Decor tip: Empty boxes and overflow furniture/appliances/trash cans show off a dining room to full effect.

Friends of a friend are looking for a place in my neighborhood, and in the price range in which I plan to list. My house isn’t yet officially back on the market, but who says no to a potential buyer?! I, however, have been living in a state of relative filth (but it’s my filth, and I’m OK with that) for months now during my wee kitchen proj…who am I kidding. I’m simply an atrocious housekeeper.

I’d rather read/edit/build/cook/work/garden/do just about anything rather than clean. So I had but two hours after work tonight in which to:

• Feed the cats and hope they finished their stinky food in time for me to hide the bowls
• Vacuum three levels of the house and two staircases
• Clean both litter boxes
• Fold and put away the massive pile of clean laundry that usually lives on the guest-room bed
• Re-clean one litter box and re-vacuum the floor around it
• Clean the bathrooms (well, put my crap away and wipe out the sinks, anyway)
• Make the beds
• Clean up the fresh cat puke (note: there is no non-fresh cat puke…that I know of; that’s the one chore I do whenever necessary)
• Stash as many as possible of the plethora of tools scattered about the first floor (which I will now never again be able to find)
• Re-clean the other litter box and re-vacuum the floor around it. Because my cats hate me.
• Empty the dishwasher so as to be able to remove the pile of dirty dishes from my sink and stash them therein
• Clean the rest of the kitchen (all those nice new cabinets with plenty of storage space, yet I leave crap all over the counters)
• Take out the trash
• Gather and hide the many cat toys
• Give up on getting the shop/study in presentable shape
• Give up on scrubbing the shower, or removing the bug carcasses from the little-used tub on the third floor
• Give up on de-cat-hairing the curtains in the living room
• Give up on whisking off, folding and stashing the blanket that protects my pretty, new couch from cat hair (and keeps me from wholly enjoying it)
• Give up on sweeping the front porch
• Give up on picking up the trash on the sidewalk/berm (the joy of inner-city living)
• Make coffee to cover up any smells I didn’t address
• Wash my hands and wash my hands of it.

Then one minute spent answering the door and saying hello, followed by five minutes of apologizing for the less-than-pristine state of things. And 40 or so minutes spent showing my two visitors around house and pointing out all the stuff that is a) less than perfect and b) needs cleaning. I am a terrible (but honest) salesperson (who needs to hire a cleaning service).

Nice couple. They seemed to like it. Fingers crossed.

Study

At least it shows why I want to move, I guess?

 

 

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Please Excuse the Dust

fridgerun

After 100+ years, the floors in my house have settled to a series of gentle (and a few not-so-gentle) undulations. So when I built and installed the kitchen cabinets, I set each on a separate base to make it easier to level the run. It still wasn’t easy; one base had a 1/2″ differential from side to side.

The time has now come to cover up my “cheat” with a proper-looking toe kick. While the construction will be a snap (3/4″ poplar with mitered corners, simply nailed to the plywood bases), I can’t decide if it should be black or white – and I have to paint before the install.

toekicksI’m leaning toward black, not only to match the bases of the refrigerator, stove and dishwasher, but to better blend with the dust and cat hair that inevitably collects beneath the cabinets.

But I wonder if a dark band will pull the eye down too much…thereby drawing more notice to said dust.

All but one of the many images in my “inspiration kitchens” folder, however, show a white toe kick when the base cabinets – like mine – don’t feature furniture-style feet. All of the many images in my “inspiration kitchens” folder, however, look as if they’re from from houses where there might well be live-in help with the cleaning.

So: Black or white? If you have white kitchen cabinets (and like me clean your floors no more than twice a month), do me a favor and take a look at your baseboards. Then let me know what you think.

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