An endless supply of Scary Closets

Oh, hey, what’s that over there in the corner of the bedroom? A ball of dog hair and dust the size of a tumbleweed? No, not that, the other thing. Oh! A door! Well where does it lead? You don’t know? You’ve never opened it? There’s an arctic draft coming from it? Sounds terrifying. Let’s open it up!

Innocent Door

Ahhhhhhh! Eww! What is it? What is it?! Hang on, lemme turn on the light…Oh. Just another staircase. With more bad paint. And crumbling walls. And nasty linoleum. Classic Deep Eaves.

Enter the Scary Closet

Yes, another set of stairs leading to another floor creating another space for dust, debris, dead bodies, ghosts, and potential to hide. And because I cannot build bulkheads or frame out a bathroom, but I am always trying to find an excuse to use wallpaper, I chose to confront that movie that scared me to death as a child (my friend’s parents had all kinds of cable): I redid Scary Closet #2. For Scary Closet #1, read / scroll halfway down this post.

Let’s look at the before:

floorboards

Nasty linoleum, nasty walls, nasty shelves, nasty stairs, nasty stain from 1985.

Top of StairsHere we are at the top, looking down from the (newly labeled) library.

The LibraryHere’s a wide shot of the “library” – a.k.a. old door OR.

I began by tearing up the linoleum strips which were just hanging around, not glued or nailed or even stuck due to the passage of time. I pulled out that shelf thing, which had been poorly nailed into the wall. And then began the real work. Fixing the walls. It took buckets (okay, a tub and a half) of patching stuff (technical term) slathered over major gaps, holes, and cracks to smooth out the disgusting, lumpy walls. Sanding, smoothing, more patch stuff, more sanding, vacuuming (still can’t spell it right and that’s all I used to blog about in the early days) and finally, priming the shit out of the stairwell. If you’re looking for a new way to get high, try painting a stairwell with stain-blocking primer. Like, three coats of it because the weird yellow stains just seep on through. Also, there were like, 16 foot ceilings over the stairs, so, that was not fun but a good arm workout.

Fresh PaintSome progress.

For the stairs, which had a few vomit-colored stairs among the rough, once-stained set, I opted to just go glossy white. *This shit will look so good on Pinterest* I thought, as I inhaled another deep breath of chemicals.

Pretty stairs

Do you know how hard it is to photograph a fucking stairwell like this? (Especially with the laziness that kept me from busting out the Nikon.) Almost harder than actually redoing it, which is why these photos are pretty awful. Sorry. But you should see these pretty white stairs in person. Three coats of primer and two coats of high gloss paint and only a few stains show through now (see above photo – second to top stair, right side, brown spot).

Stair-Closet Bisection

From the start, I have wanted to use wallpaper on something – namely, a wall. But also from the start (literally, like the second day of owning this house) I have detested the idea of wallpaper because I had to remove two bedrooms, a bathroom, a dining room, and a living room’s worth of wallpaper.

I hate wallpaper

 I’ve aged like, 10 years in the two we’ve had this house. Ugh. 

Anyhow. So I went to Target because I had seen some stick-on, removable, overpriced “wallpaper” rolls in pretty colors and I was sold. I made Lou take a break and help me measure and hang each section. Could I have left the wall white? Totally. Does it look like a glam little closet and staircase now? I think so.

Three brass hooks are on a board that I didn’t feel like removing, as it’s probably the linchpin holding up the entire wall. There were literally 100 of these hooks throughout the house when we bought it. We unscrewed them all and put them in a bucket in the basement, because we knew someday there’d be a Scary Closet they could go back into. The gold cord also (unintentionally)matches the gold in the wallpaper and the hooks. #pinterestthisshit

Hanging Light and Hooks

I finished up the closet with some not-at-all fancy but totally in budget carpet tiles which I measured and cut one by one (quite proud of my precision – I mean, in Lynn terms, not like, Lou precision – as that’s normally not my strength). Oh, and there’s a 1/4″ plywood board under them that’s on top of the original sub floor. The overall temp of the closet has risen about 20 degrees now.

New Carpet Tiles

We’re standing under the main stairs from the second floor to the third, in case you’re wondering why the sloped ceiling.

And for old time’s sake, here’s the “library” that used to be a kitchen, complete with cast iron sink, Sears cabinets, and a 1950s stove.

Formerly the Kitchen

Oh wait! One more thing. Not only does this stairwell go from the second floor to the third (and back down!), on the second floor landing of it, there’s a door that opens to the backyard.

Floating Door

Top right: Door to nowhere. 

I didn’t photo it from the inside because right now there’s just insulation stapled to it as it’s like a cardboard door and there are major gaps, hence the arctic blast that hits me while I’m sleeping. Outside the door there was once a staircase down to the yard, but like all things Deep Eaves, it was built with random wood and nails and other scraps you’d find around the home so we tore it down and are waiting to win the lottery for spring to rebuild.

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Hold on, before I talk about productivity…

Can we just talk about the greatness of the site Fuck Your Noguchi Coffee Table?

It’s been around for years now, but so has that feeling of jealousy-meets disbelief-plus a touch of disgust-and a dash of impressed.

It exists so that when you’re searching the interwebs for things like hallway sconces and you come across one you like and you dare look at the price and you’re like LOL JK LEMME TAB OVER TO THAT IKEA PAGE, it can console you. Well, sort of.

Oh, did you think last week’s tacky post about how much the house is costing was a one-time rant? Heh.

This is where a light will go

This is a hole in the world’s ugliest wall. It will not be filled with a $400 sconce.

When I first sat down tonight, it was to write about how I finished a project this weekend. But then, of course, there was the need to procrastinate. So, I’m going to go backwards to the FYNCT site, have a look around, then back another step to the ‘spensive lamp shop, where I will realize I cannot / do not want to buy anything, and then, reluctantly, I will write about “my project.”  My tiny, feeble attempt to have a space that looks like like it’s part of this framed chalkboard ambivalence, antlers, globe, tiny flag garland, and light fixture covered in pages from a book room.

P.S. Don’t worry, I’m not in a totally bad state. In fact, I’m quite excited about where all the progress is leading.

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I apologize in advance for this post

Lookout, honesty post! Starting the new year off with a bang. Actually, I’m just here to complain about how much this darn house costs. So honesty, and tackiness!

Now that the giving season – a time when we all reflect on how much we have and how thankful we should be, has passed, I can feel okay when I say, in the most pathetic voice ever, “I am really tired of spending so much on this house.” Okay, and sometimes at The Haven (BUT THAT BURGER). You have to eat in order to run the stairs from the basement to the third floor and back down carrying boards and gallons of paint (or just walk the dog), right?

I know we voluntarily got into this project and I know the house has increased in value and we now own stuff like a really sweet saw/vacuum combo unit…

I told you this was going to be tacky.*

BUT. Let’s talk about the latest gift we gave our house. Actually, it was really a gift the house slash oil company gave us. Christmas morning, when we were in California (a long way from Boston), we got a text from the tenants saying they had no hot water. NO HOT WATER. MERRY CHRISTMAS, WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU, HOME IMPROVEMENT GODS?

I could only imagine how much the holiday–spiked price would be for the oil company to even answer the phone, let alone go to our basement. It turned out to be a clogged chimney, which only cost <way too much> considering one guy spent a little time taking out a few bricks that had fallen from the top of the chimney and replacing parts without asking us, which did not have to be replaced right then. But that’s neither here nor there, just oil company business as usual. At least it wasn’t a whole new boiler system. That will probably happen on my birthday.

The next post will be something about how productive we’ve been. And trust me, we have really been productive! Here’s a sneak peek:

cutting wallpaper

*also on the credit card are monthly contributions to some non-profits so, you know, not a total asshole.

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730 days and counting

Happy two-year anniversary, you giant, paycheck-stealing, pretty, endless, battleship of a house, you.

As Hurricane Sandy was hitting NY and rain and wind were threatening to close the attorney’s office and registrar where our signing would be recorded that day, we were doing our walk through. Lou was already fixing things and we didn’t even own you yet.

fixing gutters

We’ve since replaced the gutters. Who knew gutters cost so much? 

You’ve brought us so much joy, Deep Eaves.

You make our boring weekends sound fun (we built a fence!). You make our lame Friday nights acceptable (can’t go out, need to save for that new toilet!). You give others a way to fill awkward silences: “So, how’s the house?!” is asked with feigned interested. I appreciate it. I mean, it’s not like we can whip out photos of the kids.

After our first winter spent washing both the dishes and our faces in the same ancient sink in a decrepit, unheated bathroom (if you can call it that), you have surely strengthened our immune systems and fortified the bacteria in our digestive tracks to resist almost anything.

dirty third floor sink

Are you grossed out yet? I am.

Well, except for that one 24-hour episode. But I still blame the crockpot.

We spent the morning of the Marathon Bomber chase in the backyard with my parents, despite orders to stay indoors, arranging bushes while helicopters buzzed overhead.

backyard with the parents

All but two of those bushes died. Figures.

We have planted two rounds of grass seed in the backyard, fingers crossed this last round will survive the coming winter. The first round didn’t survive the painters and fence project.

We found that $200 your previous people shoved in the cracks of the basement walls. Thanks for keeping it dry so we could promptly spend it on wine and cheese and a football game.

Speaking of the basement, our most valuable possessions in the entire 3,747 square feet of you are the Very Nice Tools in the basement. Not joking.

Jesus came with you and watched over us until we started up airbnb a couple months ago, at which point he now simply watches the ceiling in the laundry room from the top of the cabinet. Because a creepy Jesus bust does not a positive review make.

jesus on the wall

We (the royal we) have painted every room in this house, including closets, minus the interior stairwell to the basement, which i think about painting every time I’m in it, but have to remind myself NONONONO! NO MORE PAINTING.

Two years has brought all new plumbing. New electrical in many of the rooms (running wire was probably my least favorite, most hated project). Two new kitchens. Two new baths with a third on the way (with subway tile!). New paint on the exterior of the house. Credit cards. Loans. No signs of ghosts. Or the million dollars I was hoping was buried deep in the walls. Living in the best part of Boston, one of the few parts I will sincerely miss when we move away (someday). Paint on a majority of the clothes I own. Shoes that should have been replaced a long time ago. And Lou and I are still together!

deep eaves in snow

Someone learned to use a snow shovel.

This post marks the 50th blog entry. Pitiful for two years, but it sounds great when you consider that Lou is still trying to find the perfect pen with which to write a rough draft first post. Wait, I take that back. He’s busy drawing up countless plans for the next projects, the ones I’ll be posting about here. Because that’s how it works.

pumpkins on the porch

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A few things

Let’s talk about a few things going on here lately.

These donuts.

donuts cooling frosted donuts

They’re baked. I had to buy a donut pan, which means I had to go to bed, bath & beyond. I even bought the $4 coconut-flavored water almond milk for them. Which means they’re vegan (coconut oil instead of butter because we had it on hand and LOU bought it, not me, just sayin’…). But don’t worry, they’re FULL of sugar of the brown and powdered varieties and regular flour.

And they’re good. Fairly easy to make. Really easy to eat. A little like cupcakes, not so much donuts but hey, I like cupcakes too. Get the recipe here (note I did not put coconut on them because someone doesn’t like it, and no the almond milk doesn’t add coconut flavor, especially with the extra nutmeg I put in).

The doors on the third floor.

new third floor doors

There are a shit ton of doors in this house. And that is not an exaggeration. And none of the doors on the third floor could close because settling. And bad hinges. And old house.

I made Lou take off the bad doors, saw them down, put them back on the hinges, take them off a week later, drag them down to the backyard where I painted them, and drag them back up and put them back on the hinges a second time.

But guess what, all the doors are painted and open and close now and it is grand. And Lou has guns of steel! Thanks Lou.

The bulkheads where the basement meets the backyard.

Lou tore the old bulkheads off months ago. The stairwell holes have been covered with tarps and so far, no water has gotten in (yet…knock on wood). The past two weekends have been about building the bulkheads back up, starting with mixing, shoveling and forming cement for their base.

It is not a glamorous job or a glamorous house update but someone, namely Lou, has to do it. Because the mason wouldn’t help and we refuse to pay anyone and like they could do as good a job as Lou anyhow:

bulkhead close-up

I mean look at this concrete work. Top notch.*

*I learned tonight that the second cement pour of the first bulkhead entry is, and I quote, “Not so good.” It was said that I should have been there for so it wouldn’t look like crap. I’ll take a compliment when I hear one. I am really good at adding water and tamping that shit down. But I’m just happy this ugly bulkhead is still usable. You can’t undo concrete.

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The prettiest battleship

Months ago, I mentioned we were looking at some cheery colors to paint the house. Well, after putting several rounds of paint samples on the house and waiting on the painter, the weather, and the painter some more, the house is finally painted. It took tons of work, scraping and washing and scraping again, repairing boards and filling cracks, but it needed it, and the painters did a really nice job. And really, I’m just happy someone else had to paint it, as I paint everything else on this property.

Our neighborhood is full of colorfully-painted houses – there’s obviously no historical society around these parts to make sure everything is some colonial beige or plantation taupe. And while it seemed a little risky to paint this giant house a super-dark color, it was what Lou and I both envisioned for most of the time. Every time we tried a lighter shade of grey (and let’s be honest, grey was the only color we tried, minus one navy shade which still had grey undertones) we just wanted to go a little darker.

We ended up with Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze as the body color, which is also what’s in our bedroom…I guess we like it. It’s a dark grey with brownish-bronze undertones, and it looks good in both shadows and sunlight. The trim (porch railings, under the eaves, and beads at the top of the house) is a dark graphite color and the columns, the beams under the eaves, and the horizontal boards that go around the top of the house are white. And the red-orange door – Benjamin Moore’s Vermillion – adds a bold, fresh pop of color.

As we were deciding on what trim to paint what color, it eventually became too confusing to really envision fully – at least for me. And so I handed it over to Lou, who seemed to envision exactly how the house should look. Well, almost handed all of it over. If Lou had his way, he would have painted every inch of the house Urbane Bronze, making it one giant, monotone battleship. So we compromised. We painted the ugly metal window trim the body color to make it recede (Lou’s victory) and the columns and a few other details white (my victory). The windows themselves are still white and create some lightness, and the dark railings balance it all out.

prettiest_battleshipAnd while the painter’s initial comment when he saw the dark grey we chose was – in an Irish accent – “Oh, it’s go-ing to bay a gi-unt battleship!” he ended up really liking it. Or maybe that was just the final check we handed him talking.

Anyhow, I think it’s the prettiest of battleships.

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It’s just a fence

What’s worse than painting? How about, painting a fence? For two long hot, humid weekends? By yourself, because you are just no Tom Sawyer.

In the months after we first moved in, a couple good storms came and knocked down a section of our fence. At least, that’s how I remember it. And we spent a freezing cold night propping the fence back up, and there it’s sat, propped up by a couple 2x4s ever since.

Until a few weekends ago, when we finally replaced the fence around the majority of our yard. It was a fairly big debate about something that seems easy. We could go cheap and ugly. We could go cheap and low quality but not quite as ugly. We could go mid-range and be kind of satisfied but not really. We could go high end, and pay for it, and really have a lovely fence we liked looking at from far up high on our second floor. All of these options, of course, are assuming we do the fencing ourselves, me and Lou, because that’s how we do. The option of “pay someone else to do the fence” is not even really up for discussion, because, third floor bathroom/third floor floors/gutters/roof(?).

sampling

Sampling…

We went around and around on board type and stain color and board type and stain color and finally settled on the prettier, pricier boards. What, were you expecting anything less?

We did pay someone to remove the old fence and set the new posts but that’s where the help stopped.

STACKED BOARDS

About 100 boards were delivered, between 12′ and 18′ in length, and piled in our yard. We started on Labor Day weekend, and labored until the end of Monday in unusually warm, humid conditions. We did the same laboring the following weekend, in even hotter conditions.

Lou was in charge of measuring, cutting, and routing the ends for a nice edge. Then the boards came to me, and I was in charge of rolling stain on all sides of the board, then immediately wiping it in/off before it dried. Which basically had to happen in a matter of 120 seconds in the heat. What started as a desire for drip-free perfection soon morphed into the mantra, “It’s just a fence.” Well, one of us was saying that…

It was rough. Maybe it was the monotony. Maybe it was the heat Maybe it was other peoples labor day weekend photos. Maybe it was being in our once-green-lush-backyard now a dirt patch thanks to a summer of painters and fence boards living on it.

It was all of it. And more. Now it’s all but done. Just need a gate to keep the critters in. And here’s a photo dump so I can feel like I complained to someone and get all these photos off my phone. Thanks for listening.

SWEATY LOU

Sweating.

STAINED LEGS

Stain.

STAINED ENDS

Stain where it’s supposed to go. Kind of.

MORE ENDS LOU IN CHAIR

Time out.

LEVELER

The most level, precise, well-built fence in Boston.

JUST BEGINNING

So far to go.

GLOVES N BEER

FIRST SECTION LOU FENCE UNDER TREES

Looking good. 

BOARDS C-U BOARDS

Boards for days.

BEERS ON BOARDS

Coozies from a pre-homeownership life. What’s that like?

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