It has been a long time since I’ve made an update about the house. There’s always something to be done around here, from re-arranging furniture to covering over old paint. Since it’s been a year, I figured I’d post an update with lots of pictures about what we’ve accomplished these last 12 months. I’ll go on a room by room tour of our home.
Garage: We haven’t done too much with the garage this past year. But there are potentially big plans coming. I did knock about a dozen wasps/hornets nests off the garage the other day before they all come back. We also had a bat box installed at the back of the garage.
We had bats in the attic and in the basement. We hired Joe the Batman to come install some one-way doors and close up any holes. He was super friendly and very fairly priced. He was one of the two good contractors we’ve had out. We had a general contractor come out to give us a quote and ideas about our bathroom. He said it would take him three weeks and we wouldn’t be able to use the bathroom during that time, so that wasn’t going to work. We also asked him about installing a dryer vent in the basement, he said it would be pretty cheap and he could do it in a couple weeks. Then, while walking around the outside of the house, he started eating pieces of our grass and told us to give him a call in 6 months. It was very odd.
Speaking of the bathroom, we had Mad City Bath come out to give us a quote for redoing the bathroom. It was a very weird and unpleasant experience. First, the salesman swore like a sailor and complained about his job most of the time. We agreed to do a bathroom remodel with them, and it was stupid expensive. About one week later a guy came by to do some measurements in the bathroom. We didn’t hear anything for two weeks when they sent another person out to take a couple pictures of our basement pipes. Another week went by and we got a call saying they couldn’t install the bathtub type we wanted and offered us an $80 discount. $80 was less than 50% of one monthly payment on a five year loan. So, that wasn’t going to work. They wanted another salesman to come back out to our house. We just said no, the time ran out for when they were contractually obligated to start the work, and we got our deposit back. Our advice is don’t be bullied by contractors. We looked more closely at their bad reviews online and they were scary. For instance, they are known for not getting the appropriate permits and throwing the home-owner under the bus. Anyway, it was very good that we got out of that contract!
Keeping in the bathroom, we have done a lot of work to make it look like what we want. When we first moved in, as you may remember, I was taking a shower and the pipe holding up the shower head just sort of fell apart. We got that fixed and haven’t had the same problem since. We put up bead board around the bathroom to cover some weird wall damage that had been painted over. We took out the giant vanity that hit your legs when going to the bathroom and replaced it with a wall-mounted sink. We covered the tile with peel-and-stick tiles. We removed a bunch of hair from the drain when moving the clawfoot tub to put tiles underneath. We bought a new toilet paper roll holder with bears on it and installed that. We also hired our favorite electricians (the other good contractor we’ve worked with), the Veeter Brothers. They installed two new lights above the mirror and a fan.
While installing the fan through the attic (and out the side of the house), they found really old eskimo pie wrappers. Apparently, a long time ago, someone was hiding their wrappers from their parents in the attic!
Next stop on our tour is the kitchen. I guess this is as good a place as any to talk about the floors. We sanded the wood floors down and covered them anew. They look kind of amazing now! We found so much stuff under the oven when we moved it, it was gross. A DumDum found its way under and melted into the floor. Everyone should move their ovens every two or three years and do a good cleaning, it’s amazing and gross what you’ll find.
The first thing we did when we moved in was move the washer and dryer out of the kitchen and into the basement. There were already hookups for them down there, so it wasn’t that hard to set up. Moving them down there, on the other hand, was very difficult. We had to go out the front of the house and in through the cellar. The basement stairs weren’t wide enough. The difficulty with going the outdoor route, is that the stairs through the cellar door are not flat and there are three stairs going up before the six or seven going back down. But amazingly we got them downstairs without breaking them and got them set up and working. It’s been wonderful not having to share our laundry machines anymore.
Back in the kitchen, we moved the refrigerator across the room as it was blocking a few cabinets and drawers. We hooked it up where the washer and dryer had been, unfortunately, the ice maker no longer works. We hooked the water up to it, but there might be something frozen somewhere or perhaps need a new part. Since we have ice trays, it’s not really that big of a deal. Where the refrigerator was, we put a rolling cart that now stores chips and condiments and houses Tatum’s coffee maker. We repainted just about the entire kitchen, took the drawers and cabinets off to repaint them. We’ve been a bit slow at putting the drawers and doors back, but we’re getting there. Tatum just finished repainting the last of the cabinet shelves so everything is white and clean. At some point, we’re going to redo the counter tops, but that project is still a ways off. Most excitingly, probably, is that we installed a dishwasher. We cut out the cabinet next to the sink and plopped it in. It only took four days and about fifteen trips to various hardware stores. Having a dishwasher is wonderful! The Veeter Brothers also replaced some outlets that had been tripping repeatedly on us. I think that’s just about it for the kitchen.
In the living room, when we first moved in, I tried to close the shades and they fell off the wall. We took them down and replaced them with a curtain. It was very long and didn’t look the best, so we switched it out with some faux-wood blinds. Now the house looks much classier and it’s way easier to close the blinds. We added some translucent sticky to the doors for privacy and painted some of the trim. Other than that, we’ve added a lot furniture and art. Currently, our treadmill also resides in the living room. It’s a good thing we got it a month ago or so as it makes it much easier to exercise without getting near other people.
In the dining room, we’ve also added a blind (two windows still need blinds). We’ll get the rest of the blinds after this pandemic cools off. Again, mostly just furniture and art. Oh, we had Dirty Ducts come out and clean our Ducts and abate our asbestos. There was some asbestos in the heating vent and some around the ducts in the basement. The ducts were really gross, full of hair, lint, coins, pencils, etc. But we’ve had a lot fewer runny noses since we had them cleaned out, probably because Tatum is allergic to cats and previous owners had cats. The downstairs bedroom is similar to the other rooms on the first floor. We started by repainting the walls. We added one blind, and still need to get the other. We’ve moved the bed a few times, but it’s hard because the windows aren’t centered on the walls so there’s no place to put the bed that makes 100% sense. I think we’re at a happy place with it now, though.
Now we move into the upstairs. This was probably the most work for rooms we don’t use too much. We first tried to use a steam cleaner on the carpet. That didn’t go well, it just brought the smells to the surface and sprayed filth out the back side. We decided to pull out all the carpet upstairs. It was covered with stains, apparently, previous pets had been using the upstairs carpet as a litter box. Once we had all the carpet out, we painted the wood beams a nice grey (over Kilz). We then got a ~12′ carpet remnant in Baraboo that didn’t fit into the back of our car. We held onto it with the back door open as we drove the half hour home. It wouldn’t fit up the stairs, so we hauled it in through a window. I climbed a step ladder and shoved it in about 2 feet, while Tatum leaned on it and held on for dear life. I ran up the stairs and helped her pull it in through the window. It fit perfect. We then got a futon for that room and set it up. Even though that room is the bigger of the two, I would call it our back-up guest room. The futon isn’t the most comfortable, so it’s probably better for kids.
The other, smaller room has a full size bed. We got the frame from the street in Middleton (with a free sign on it). It’s metal and was covered in spider webs, so we put it in the garage for a while to air out. We then spray painted it and now it looks really nice. Since a standard mattress won’t fit up our stairs, we ordered a rolled up mattress. We got it up the stairs, cut the cords off, and it shot open! It was fun and a little bit dangerous to open in such a small room. We’ve used that room a few times when guests come stay.
Last for inside the house is the basement. We cleaned out an old room that had been more or less forgotten about. It was full of dirt, broken glass, and boxes of picture frames. After returning the picture frames to the previous owners, we cleaned out all the dirt and glass. We sprayed the entire basement with Ms. Moffett’s revenge (an insecticide and spider-cide). There were thousands of spiders and other insects in the basement. During a bad storm we weren’t able to sleep in the basement because the ceiling was crawling. After that settled, we painted the small dirty room with a refillable spray painter. Now that it’s white and clean, we are using the room as a pantry. It’s really come in handy these days as we have lots of canned vegetables and fruits, along with dry goods like pastas. My goal is to one day make the basement a livable space, with maybe a couch or a futon, a TV, maybe a mini-fridge, etc. We did add a stand alone freezer on the other side of the basement, next to the washer and dryer. That has also been super helpful as we’ve been stocking up on bread from Kwik Trip over the last few months during their 49 cent bread sales and storing them in the freezer.
In the front porch, there was some really old carpet with tar-like substance underneath that was used to install the carpet. We stripped that out, did our best to remove the tar, and painted the floor blue. We now use it for growing vegetables. I think that just about leaves us with the yard. First, we added a digital TV antenna to our existing TV tower and are happy to now get about 15 stations including the news and Packers games. We removed some fence from the front yard and an unused compost area. We bought a giant compost bin on a turner. We have been slowly repainting the back porch a nice shade of blue. Unfortunately, that project started the day before it got cold so we had to put it on hold. We had the electric company cut some branches off the wires.
We trimmed some other branches and put up a couple bird feeders. We still have an incredibly long list of projects, but every project gets us feeling a little better!