For the first time in its approximately 120-year-old life, this grand old house has two functional toilets, and two functional bathroom sinks.

The upstairs full bath still has a lot of tiling to finish, not to mention be painted and have the fixtures mounted. However, what is done looks amazing and is hopefully a testament to what the original bath may have looked like:

The porcelain sink, the most expensive purchase for the room

The porcelain sink, the most expensive purchase for the room


Presley on our new low-flow, comfort height toilet

Presley on our new low-flow, comfort height toilet

Published in: on September 10, 2008 at 10:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Tiling Tale

It is not a secret that Jeremy’s expertise has made this renovation possible. I am humbled every day by his courage, intelligence and utter skill when it comes to the projects we’ve encountered. From the beginning, however, about the time when I was given the title of “CEO of Aesthetics”, I knew that the finish and detail work would be mine to own. And in the last month, I have been kicked in the keister repeatedly with frustration regarding the detail work.

One of the main reasons I have always wanted to have an old home is to have a vintage bathroom. I love the white subway wall tile and white hexagon floor tile of turn-of-the-century bathrooms, of which I have enjoyed immensely in rentals throughout my eleven years in Cleveland. When I first saw our bathroom here with its disgusting green-patterned melamine walls, completely DIFFERENT green-patterned vinyl floors and the hideous mildew on the ceiling from a lack of a bathroom fan, I knew that this bathroom was screaming to be restored to its rightful turn-of-the-century glory. And finally, it is on its way.

That’s not to say that it has been easy. (When we’re finished, I’ll post a true before-and-after to show the entire process.) The hardest part of the transformation is to tile a room that is not plumb nor square and to get everything visually pleasing. I have had several breakdowns involving the bathroom floor alone because of the level of difficulty involved. The floor slopes, slants, and back again. And that’s nothing compared to what we had to do with the window in the shower.

Below are a few details of that shower window. Below those is a link to our Flickr page where more tiling detail pics are uploaded. As you enjoy them, know that much time, blood, sweat and tears have been shed to get to the photo you’re looking at.

Oh, I’m so not kidding.

An unlevel window frame

 The window in the shower was placed oddly in the original window frame. In order for me to start tiling this, Jeremy had to help me reframe the window. If you can’t notice the angles at the top, let me reassure you – they are way-wonky.

Waterproofing a window

After the window was reframed, I used asphalt felt (normally used in roofing) to waterproof the area around the window. This was attached to the surrounding cement board with construction adhesive.

For further images of how this tiling effort came out, and to see the progress of the floor and walls, head over to the Flickr page here:

A Tiling Tale.

Published in: on August 10, 2008 at 9:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

How we live

I knew that renovating a house would be long, hard work. I did realize this. No, really! I did! But I never knew that on the one year anniversary of being homeowners, we’d be living like we are. In a nutshell, it’s sort of like camping, but indoors. And with plumbing. But just as inconvenient, and just as dirty as camping.

Since April, we have gutted 4 rooms: the current kitchen, the current full bath, and the space that we are turning into the new first floor half bath and butler’s pantry. We had to do so much at once because we had the opportunity for Jeremy’s dad, Dale, to spend two weeks at our house overseeing some of the system work. Without his help, we couldn’t have made such progress finishing the plumbing and electrical in these rooms. So, we had to do a lot at once.

What’s left is a lot of tweaking with these systems and all of the finish work. This is going to take the better part of the summer. In the meantime, I thought I would upload some photos showing how these in-progress rooms look today. When I complain about inconveniences, people say… “Oh, but everything will look gorgeous when you’re done.” Sure, sure, this is true. But seriously. This is how we’re living.

The utility sink, where we brush our teeth, wash our faces, and clean out buckets used to mix grout:

It\'s a bit on the icky side, I realize

Opposite this wall, is our drill charging/coffee making/pantry area:

pay no attention to the alcohol next to the coffeemaker

 And the kitchen, where we make lots of frozen pizza and Lean Pockets:

If you look close, you\'ll see drywall!

 The new bathtub/shower, not yet tiled until some leaks are taken care of:

At least it is clean!

 To the left of the tub, where the new sink and toilet will be:

gutted, but with promise

The beginning of the new half bath, downstairs, which contains the only functional toilet in the house. Oh, and that white thing in the upper right hand corner? It’s a sheet. Which in this case, is also a door.  

the first contender to be finished

And last, but not least, the dining room. (In name only.) Right now, this is our Home Depot satellite office:

Published in: on June 16, 2008 at 9:42 pm  Comments (1)  

The renovation thus far, in numbers

Years lived in home: 1

Total money spent on home improvements: $10K

Funds left in renovation loan: $1,200

Funds needed to complete all proposed improvements: $40K

Times Katherine has broken down in tears due to being overwhelmed by demo: 5

Swear words uttered by Jeremy during projects: 178,299

Rooms affected by renovation projects: 7

Rooms completed: 0

Boxes of slate tile installed: 5.5 (out of 36 purchased)

Average trips to Home Depot per week: 3.5

Returns to Home Depot: 7, including 1 bathtub (post coming later)

Dumpsters rented: 2 (1 10 cubic yard, 1 15 cubic yard)

Animals present in home: 1 cat (permanently) 3 dogs (guests), 1 mouse (ousted)

Animals present on property: numerous birds, cats, oppossums, racoons, groundhogs, moles, squirrels (Uh, yeah, we do live in the city. Go figure.)

Unnecessary gas lines removed, in ft: 60

New plumbing fixures installed: 8

New outlets/lights installed: 20+

Glasses of wine consumed: too numerous to count

Published in: on June 16, 2008 at 7:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Installing a support wall

As referenced in previous posts, we had to build a support wall for the second floor joists before we could remove the wall that stood between the old dining room closet and the original kitchen. We realized that these old studs needed support as a cut through them revealed “pinching”: cut through a stud and a space is visible between the peices? Cool. Not a support wall. But if the two peices pinch together, closing the gap between the top and bottom? It’s supporting something, even if not originally intended to be.

Without further ado: the beautiful, sturdy, very-supportive, support wall.

Header wall before the studs were removed

 Header wall after studs were removed


Published in: on May 29, 2008 at 8:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

A tale of two sisters… or, well, six

When we bought the house last year, we knew that there was some minimal termite damage when looking at the joists in the basement with our home inspector. We didn’t know the extent of the damage, however, until we pulled up the floors in the future half bath.

Hungry little suckers, weren\'t they?






To ensure the safety and longevity of these joists, we had to sister them with new 2″x10″x13’2″ planks. (See post regarding how we brought these home.)

This process took two nights, the first night being a comedy (or tragedy) of errors. The original wood, 120 years old, was hand cut and not as precise as modern lumber. Not to mention the fact that the natural settling of the house ensures that nothing is symmetrical anymore. So, a ballet of fitting, cutting, measuring, refitting, recutting and remeasuring ensued. It took all of three hours, but we got the first one in:

Older sister, meet younger sister











The lighter colored wood is the new, the dark is the old. The following night, the other two were fitted in place (this is looking into the basement from the second floor):

Four of six sisters














Here’s Jeremy finishing the arduous task of nailing in the last nail:

Much harder than it looks

One problem averted, one to go. Next post: Building a header wall to support where we’re removing that previously noted itty bitty support wall.

Published in: on May 7, 2008 at 10:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kitchen + Closet = Half Bath + Butler’s Pantry

The first major remodel includes turning a space that was the original kitchen (cabinets and sink were here, oddly the fridge and stove were in an adjoining room) into a much-needed half bath and a butler’s pantry. See original confiuration here: 

Original Kitchen

Obviously, modern standards dictate a bit larger, more functional kitchen. As for the closet, it was a long, awkward storage space that opened into the dining room. Hence, it is better served as a portion of the new half bath. Note: there is only one full bath in the house now, on the second floor, so this first floor half bath is a much needed addition. 

Before demo, here was the view into this space, looking at the wall that divided the original kitchen and the closet: 

Before - original kitchen









Sexy, eh? Above the wood paneling was a dropped ceiling that had a hideous florescent light in it. Behind that was the original wainscoting for the room. After all of that was removed, the lovely plaster beneath: 

plaster under paneling







And under the window: 

under the paneling around the window








It took all of a weekend to strip this room of faux wood paneling, plaster and lathe strips, as well as the interior of the closet as well. The result?

naked space










So, the only thing left is to remove those studs, right? Heh. Not quite. It seems that this itty bitty wall was an itty bitty support wall. Next project: building a header wall against the outside closet wall for added support. That post is next, but in the meantime, here’s what the final configuration will look like: 

Post-remodel plan

Published in: on April 30, 2008 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

The little Aveo that could

Think you need a pickup truck or a large SUV to cart remodeling supplies back from Home Depot? Ha – think again.

When we needed to pick up new joists to sister our old, termite-damaged ones, we didn’t even need to rent the Home Depot truck. Note: These are 2″ x 10″ x 13 FEET.

Don\'t try this at home

This may be illegal in most states. We don’t recommend trying it.

Published in: on April 29, 2008 at 9:28 pm  Comments (1)  

What we did on our winter vacation

We took December through March off from any major projects on the house. Between our jobs, the cold and the incessant snow shoveling (Mother Nature kicked our butts January through March), we had enough to keep us busy.

Not that we didn’t have anything to do, however.

this show is as addictive as crack

Jeremy bought me “The Chosen Collection,” all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for Christmas. I say that he bought it for me, but in actuality, we tore through this box set together in 67 days. There are 144 episodes in the set, so for those without a calculator, we averaged a little over two episodes a day. 

Jeremy also spent a healthy amount of time working towards, and ultimately becoming, the 2008 Heisman Tropy-winning quarterback from Ohio State. (This occurred while playing NCAA 2008 on his beloved Playstation 3.) Here’s the screen shot of the proof: 

Check out the caption below the picture of virtual Jeremy.

I joke that part of the fantasy of playing virtual football for him is that in this game, Jeremy actually has a butt. 

There were also three great Christmas gifts that were stellar acquisitions for the house. In true form, Jeremy’s were functional: 

The miter saw he would marry if it were legal.

(I have to admit, I’m a little infatuated with this miter saw myself.)


4 tons of much-needed support

This is the 4-ton jack we are using to raise and level the floor joists in the basement. 

My Christmas addition to the house was a beautiful pair of genuine Tiffany lamps I scored with the help of a gift card from my Godfather (thanks, Mike!) These will be the vanity lamps in the eventual French boudoir-inspired spare bedroom:

A little pretty amidst the mess

Published in: on April 20, 2008 at 9:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Doing Laundry on the First Floor ROCKS!

Watch Jeremy as he describes his master plumbing efforts to make our laundry room functional. 

Have I mentioned lately how much I love this man? There are three videos following:

[livevideo id=CDEB77691F8542D28C69D73A14E088AF/435026/jeremy-mud-room-1.aspx]
Jeremy – Mud Room #1
[livevideo id=FBAA9C76220645DDBC5393D5ACB41955/435613/jeremy-basement.aspx]
Jeremy – Basement
[livevideo id=1960E6E3E1DA43D794C03A2129296030/435052/jeremy-mud-room-2.aspx]
Jeremy – Mud Room #2
Published in: on November 20, 2007 at 3:15 pm  Leave a Comment