Magic House Shit

We've been very busy these last few weeks. The bathroom is a bathroom again, all the rooms have new flooring, and the kitchen is basically finished.
The bathroom may be my favorite room in the house. While the walls were down, the guys put in paper faced insulation, so there isn't any noise transmitted. The toilet was rebuilt, so that it no longer aggravates me by running forever after flushing. There's also a new, non-grody medicine cabinet set into the wall, soon to be joined by another storage cabinet over the john. Lewis had a stroke of genius and used the natural stone, yellow '60s California Casual subway tiles I bought last year at ReStore (for a dollar a piece!) as the border with a neutral wall tile. We'd planned to use it on the backsplash in the kitchen, but it's shown to much better of effect in bathroom.

You might recall that we had to take the walls down to remove the old tub. Well, the headache was totally worth it, since we replaced it with a soaking tub and European shower head. It's absolutely amazing. The slope of the tub walls is just perfect for reclining lazily. I've noticed that the plastic tub doesn't hold heat as well as the old cast iron one, but it also isn't so goddamn cold when you first get in. Maybe we should have slid some insulation in between its walls, but there wasn't any provision for doing so.

The bathroom balances out the other remodeling heartbreaks. I decided the ceiling fan in the kitchen had to go. When Lewis took it down, we discovered that the reason the fan has rocked and looked like it might fly off and guillotine us all was that it was not hanging from a rafter after all. And the reason that one of the sockets kept burning through light bulbs turned out to be a major wiring problem, not a short in the fixture as previously assumed. A couple of years ago, my aunt Maria found an awesome local electrician who is now rewiring the entire house. I knew the wiring was bad enough that I didn't want to replace any more switches or outlets, but I didn't understand the scope of the shittiness. The electrician seemed genuinely surprised that a couple of my outlets worked. Soon, all of my outlets will be grounded, the light fixtures replaced, and flickering gone.

The biggest change in the house has been the flooring. Lewis laid real ceramic tile in the kitchen and bathroom, replacing execrable vinyl flooring. The dander and allergy fortress/carpet was torn up. The original tile lurked underneath, and it was a bitch to tear up. All of the houses in my area were built in a hurry in the 1950s on the cheap, so the tile was a real gem: black and white acetate tile that suggested an orthodontist's office or chiropractor. To say that I am glad that it is gone is an understatement. Removing it was very labor intensive, involving a long handled floor scraper that Lewis tells me was designed for breaking ice off of sidewalks, swearing, and buckets of sweat.

Further complicating matters is this:

Lewis went home for a couple of days and came back with this cast and his husband Ricardo to make up for his limited mobility. This is a good injury for a knitter, but a nightmare for a contractor. The doctors refused to give him a walking cast, which is a major drag. We thought it was just a break in his foot, but it turns out that his ankle, which has felt "funny" is also broken. He's talking about a "spider cast" right now and drawing lines in soapstone on his black fiberglass cast where he'd like to vent it. He has some really great power tools, so it might happen.

If you peer closely at that photo, you might notice the new floor. It's a light oak laminate from IKEA, a total steal at $1.25 a square foot. It's so much nicer than the old flooring and it makes my bright green living room look less jarring. The realtor who walked through a few weeks ago called the color "trouble", but I find it restful and clarifying, like clary sage. The lighter floor makes a huge difference in the look and feel of the house.

I look forward to being able to set up my new den. The old one was a den of iniquity with lots of hand me down furniture, too many bookcases, and a clusterfuck of cables. The new den will be an empowered space for creation, with lots of storage for yarn, a red desk, art on the wall, and an extremely comfortable futon. I'm sitting on the newest addition to the den now, a booger green yoga ball (pictured above) that I picked up for $10 to use as a chair. My Uncle Roy has been using one as his desk chair for ages. Anything to quit slumping in front of the computer! I do not want a dowager's hump.


My House and its Magical Powers for Shit

Please note: for the foreseeable future, this blog will feature renovation related content. Knitting just isn't isn't happening in the middle of this mess.

It all began when I couldn't flush the toilet. The tank would take so long to fill, that it was only possible to flush once, maybe twice a day. A temporary and depressing solution, throwing buckets of water down the toilet to force it to flush, was used until I realized that I essentially had an indoor outhouse. One day, I called my good friend Lewis in tears over the state of the bathroom. He agreed to help. I don't think he knew what he was getting himself into then, or he might not have volunteered so quickly. What started as a two hour plumbing fix grew in scope to include the entire house.
As most of you already know, my esteemed grandparents died last summer. For the first six months, I felt unmoored. Then, I resolved to get the fuck out of this place. It doesn't make sense to stay anymore, when its biggest attraction was being able to walk to their house. Far, far away it is. And that means selling the house. And unless it was going to be sold as a gut rehab, work would have to be done. There isn't a huge market for houses with a disreputable air.

At the outset of this undertaking, we planned the following improvements:

  • complete remodel of the bathroom
  • new floor in the kitchen
  • laminate flooring throughout
About halfway through, this has telescoped into:
  • moving a wall
  • new cabinets, countertop, and sink in the kitchen
  • paint, paint everywhere
  • more plumbing than can be discussed in mixed company
  • mysterious plans for the laundry room that are currently unknown to me
  • walling over a door
  • replacing all the windows
  • the clerks at Home Depot not only recognizing me, but asking if we liked the movie we'd discussed renting a few days before (Pineapple Express. Awesome.)

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