Celeste Project

Life and Times of the Old Blue House

New Appliances

Time sure files when you're in school.  I owe all of you some recent photos of the new kitchen and laundry room.  We've come quite a long way since the last ones that I posted.  Anyway, we're at the point now where we need to finalize the appliance selection so that we can finalize the cabinets, trim, etc.  So I got to do my favorite part of renovation.... shopping.  This time I was looking for a fridge and stove.  I happened across a scratch and dent sale and picked up both for what I had been expecting to pay for just the fridge. . The idea here is skin the fridge so that it looks like an old ice box.  I've got some examples below that you can look at.   Since no one will ever see the dings, I don't care about them.  And our renovation budget is sooo much happier. .

Blue Hawk Rotary Tool

I didn't want to spend a few hundred bucks on a Dremel rotary tool so I got one of these to help me clean up all the light fixtures and hardware.  It's variable speed and it has the flexible drive cable extension. When you're contorting yourself to reach into some of the nooks and crannies on light fixtures, the cable drive helps more than you would think. It's really nice not to have to maneuver the entire tool into such tight spaces. It also makes it a lot nicer to use since you don't have to hold the main part the whole time, just the working head. It's been working hard now for quite some time. mostly scrubbing, polishing and buffing. It's had quite some hours of use and it's doing quite well. I found the contents of the kit to be mostly quite useful. Some were, at least for me, redundant. I have a much better pair of needle nosed pliers than the ones in the kit. Your mileage on this may vary considerably. I'll be posting more on my favorite attachments later.

Kitchen Chandaliers

So when I found them hanging around from the warehouse roof of an antique store the two of them looked a lot like this but covered in dust bunnies and funk.  After a good bath, they looked like this (and yes, they picked up some dust hanging around my house waiting for me): Kitchen Chandalier - Before - Bottom Up Kitchen Chandalier - Before - Top Down So I went to work with the paint stripper. I have to take a detour here to talk about Kleen Strip.  It works - amazingly well.  It smells like the inside of a nail polish bottle and it will make your skin burn.  I'd compare getting Kleen Strip on you to getting hit with a branding iron.  It hurts - a lot.  A spot no bigger around than pencil eraser on my pinky had me running for the kitchen faucet like I was on fire.    I did find that washing the area really well and slapping some yogurt on it seems to kill the burn pretty quickly.  Three rounds of stripper and a methodical attack with the dremel tool left me with what you see below. If you look closely at the photos, you can still some of the original red, blue, and green paint.  I only got flecks of it when I was stripping but the "arms" of the chandelier were bright purple. I found a color swatch on line that it is about the right color and included it for reference.  These things were truly Victorian painted ladies. Amazingly enough, DHB looked them up on line and found out they are cast aluminum. Kitchen Chandalier - Traces of Original Paint 6 Kitchen Chandalier - Traces of Original Paint 5 Kitchen Chandalier - Traces of Original Paint 4 Kitchen Chandalier - Traces of Original Paint 3 Kitchen Chandalier - Traces of Original Paint 2 Kitchen Chandalier - Traces of Original Paint 1 2014-06-01-16.25.26 Royal Purple

Victorian Light Fixtures

I've been owing this post to someone I met for quite some time.  I thought I had photos of these already but, alas, no I do not.  I also owe my dear readers quite an update as well.  So I'm going to post these and scamper on home.  

Having the house leveled causes leaks

Many of you will be familiar with our reviews of the Pennsylvania Traditions Laminate Flooring. Well it looks like we're finally be replacing it. It's obviously all done in by water - and, given that it's essentially some pressboard wiht a pretty picture on it, once the water really started soaking in, well... you can see it in the picture below.image Now, to be perfectly honest, this flooring has stood up to some wear and water far beyond what it should have, given the price. And, quite frankly, we certainly got our money's worth out of it. But, it's dead. But why? Well, it's not from normal water splashing out of the shower/tub or the commode. Nope. Not at all. You see, we had the house leveled last winter (see our prior post) and when they raised the floor, it somehow broke the wax seal on our toilet flange which caused the toilet to leak into the laminate. Now, of course that's not something you notice right away. Nope. Nosireebobarooni. Not right away. In fact, we didn't know about it until the laminate started swelling up. Luckily, our plumber (Ethan - see prior posts) was under the house helping me install the pex plumbing with our manifold system and he identified the issue. So.... DearHunnyBunny has yet another project to add to the DearHunnyBunny list. <sigh>

Plumbing Runs – Part 2

Old Steel PlumbingSo DHB opened up the floor and found a lot of extra steel pipes still run all over under the house.  He started removing those last night to clear out the ancient history and to make sure that we're not trying run around something we no longer need.  It will save time and materials once Ethan the plumber shows up to help us. Long and short is that we need to get this ancient crap out of the way so we can do things in a more modern manner. Our plumbing manifolds are already paying off in time saved doing the existing runs.   And boy does the double carbon filter make a huge difference in bathing and making coffee or tea. Even the puppies seem to like their filtered water better.
Double Carbon Water Filters

These are the two carbon water filters we installed in series. Honestly, we'll use the first filter later as a sediment filter. We've teed off the main water inlet, dividing out water into filtered (for inside the house) and unfiltered (for outside the house - and the toilets).

We got the filters at Walmart as a kit. (We bought two of them) While the installation isn't trivial its not difficult. You need a day when you can shut the water to the house off. Most people would simply put it in line and be done. However we didn't want to filter water to the toilets. We just didn't see a good reason to filter something just to pee in it. Nor did we want to filter the outside water to the garden hoses. So we designed 3 manifolds. One is for unfiltered water. One is for hot water and one for cold filtered water.

Landscape Planning

So I have an odd shaped lot - almost like a right triangle or a slice of pizza.  Let me tell you, it's not easy to figure out what to do with it.Flying Wedge And to make it even more interesting, the house is placed a bit oddly on the lot.  It's a bit close to the street out front. My "Stickfigure" Layout of the house on the lot So I have an added challenge there.  I'm actually planning to make it work to my advantage since when I'm done  with the landscape there won't be any lawn in the front.  Why bother mowing 4 1/2 feet of grass?  That's how much space there is between the crepe myrtles and the walkway from the carport to the front door.  I can replace that with shrubbery and flowerbeds.  It will look better that what we have now.  The area between the house, carport, trees and crepe myrtles doesn't get enough sun for grass to survive. So if you have an area that's really too small to mow, consider replacing it.  You can replace with other types of plantings like ground covers, flowers, bushes, decorative grasses or even a path or patio.

New Kitchen – Then and Now

First lets look at where we started....  A child's bedroom with a very strange closet situation.  Most of the closet had been taken over by AC ductwork.... Where we are now....  Gutted to the studs... waiting for new windows...  Less creepy crawlies....  Have to get into the walls on the outside.  The MO-RONS who did the siding should be harmed for putting plywood up against soil in an area known to have termites.  So now we'll be working our way down the back of the house removing all the skirting and fixing the damage.  Unfortunately, unlike the front of the house, the little buggers in the back got up into the attic :/  Which means we're actually replacing structural parts of the wall in order to make the repairs.  Why?  Because some cheap, penny-wise and dollar stupid in-DUH-vidual decided that burying plywood all around the bottom of the house was a grand idea.

Laundry Room – From the Start

Let's take a little trip down memory lane, shall we?  So in the beginning, our laundry room was just another bed room with a very odd closet and some crappy windows. . Then came the demo where we gutted everything down to the studs. laundrydemo4 We found that the rock wool insulation they used in the walls had fallen so that only about the bottom 1/3 of the wall was actually insulated.  We also found that the critters had been happily nesting in it for quite some time.  The cellulose in the attic was so old it had apparently started decomposing.  Given that this was likely done in the 70's, having it last for 40-50 years isn't so bad.  But it has to go because it just isn't effective insulation now.  Fortunately, we're ripping the ceilings down too or we'd have to vacuum it out of the attic space (ICK!!!).  I promise you, it's bad enough when it's falling around you like a stinky dusty black blizzard. . We also found more termite damage - mostly in the pine floors so those are gone.  We have a few spots in the sub-floor that need patching.  We're replacing the old pine planks in those areas with pressure treated plywood.  We're pretty sure that the treated wood won't be very palatable to our creepy crawly little friends. .

Vortex Insulation Collection System

Vortex DustRight

Vortex DustRight

I'm not sure where DHB found this thing but he located it on line.  (Rockler.com) Its been just amazing.  It was sold for dust collection (collecting sawdust from power tools, that is) in a work shop but it's just awesome at sucking up insulation.  My only complaint is that it could be bigger 🙂  It hooks up to the ShopVac and uses a vortex process to spin the insulation down and keeps it from making such an awful mess. It really helps keep the house much cleaner because insulation goes EVERYWHERE.  You may even find it in *ahem* sensitive spots. [DHB Here] Yup, this thing is tha BOMB. I caught an email ad from Rockler.com a few months ago and this thing was on sale. Now, I knew that no matter what, I could use it in the workshop out back. But. I had this really wild idea... You see, someone took the time to put wonderful blown-in cellulose insulation into our attics (say, 30 years ago). And packed-down cellulose is hard to clear out of an attic that has various electric cables, etc., running under the insulation. So, DHB was left with pulling down the ceiling sheetrock, insulation and all. Hauling out the sheetrock, and then trying to sweep up all the insulation with a broom and shop vac. Problem was, this stuff will clog a shop vac in a hurry. So, I figured that if the darned thing worked for wood chips and saw dust, why not cellulose too? And, you know what? It works great on cellulose on the ground after you pull down the celing. And you know what else? It even works on cellulose that you don't pull down out of the ceiling!!! Worth Mentioning: The S.O. is right when she said that she wishes the container was a bit larger. At about 3-4 gallons worth of debris, you will have to empty it a lot. But, the top is easliy removable and the bottom is lightweight, so that's really no problem at all. What's really cool is that since you are using a vortex (kinda like the Dyson vacuums), the vacuum loses a bit of suction power. Now whyile this is normally a bad thing, in this case it's great because it means the totally awesome super-sucking shop vac suction is reduced just enough to get the insulation and not pick up the nails and other heavier debris. So, insofar as a rating, I have to give this a 4 out of 5 just because of the bin size and no other reason.
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