Renovation on hold; focus shifts to ark building

wet hibiscus

The average annual rainfall in Cleveland in August is 3.63 inches. So far, our side of the city has received well over 15 inches this month, with more to come in the next few days. While some parts of the state are in a drought, it seems we are about to float away into Lake Erie.

 bush in back yard

Things could be worse, however: many homeowners across NE Ohio are dealing with flooded basements this week. Thankfully, ours is in its usual state of constant dampness.

While I was dissapointed not to be able to work out in the yard all weekend due to the weather, Jeremy made the most of it and constructed a new island for our kitchen. Previously, we placed a piece of MDF on two sawhorses to get the feel of how an island would look and function in our kitchen. The idea didn’t work too well as it fell short in height, width and length and wasn’t very sturdy.

The new island, however, is the exact dimensions of what we eventually want to create and makes imagining the future scenario much easier:

the new and improved makeshift island

Where you see a George Foreman grill will be a gas cooktop, and the area behind the wine bottle will have bar seating. Oh, and the bottom will consist of cabinets and a trash recepticle, not just 2×4 planks.

So as Jeremy constructed the island and I did some organizing and cleaning, there was one member of the household who was even less pleased with the rainy weather. Presley absolutely adores her supervised romps in the fenced-in yard, as a life-long indoor cat getting her first taste of nature’s freedom would. Her usual enthusiastic charge out of the back door has been thwarted one too many times by pelting rain drops of late, so she since has given up trying.

She’s happiest stalking butterflies next to the garage…

“it’s easier to hide when they don’t mow the yard”

…or sitting on the cool metal plate in the shade of the garden shed…

chillin’ in the shade

…or hissing at toy shih tzu’s who so thoughtlessly invade her space.

Pres and Tiff square off

Until the skies clear and the ground dries, however, this usually happy-go-lucky feline has but one mood:

happy cat is not so happy

Sheer and utter disdain.

Published in: on August 20, 2007 at 8:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

And the Lord said, “Let there be water…”

…and there was water. And it was good.

 Much has happened over the past two weeks, but the subject of importance for this post is plumbing. As in removing an old sink that was in a very unfunctional location, and moving it to a new, more functional one.

This is exactly what we did last weekend. Quite successfully, I might add. For some, this may not be a feat to jump up and down about. For us, this is the vindication that we can do just about anything in this old house that we want/need/desire to.

 The original kitchen sink (and cabinets and countertop) in the house was in a long hallway; think of a galley kitchen with only one side and no appliances. (The kitchen and stove were in an adjoining room.) This setup made no sense in terms of modern layouts, and one of the first decisions we made was to move the appliances and sink/cabinets to the room that was formerly used as a dining room. There was a downstairs bedroom that we are converting to the future dining room, and the choice of the future kitchen location made sense as it has a large window overlooking the side yard. It is centrally located in the house, and the shape of that room and the placement of the window just made perfect sense for a modern kitchen.

 So, over the past month, Jeremy has wired new 220 outlets for the stove and refrigerator, which were the first components toward building a kitchen. The second: moving the sink.

Original location, before:

 Cabinets, sink and coutertop in hallway location

Original location, after:

A half bath and butler’s pantry will be built in this location.

Old sink drain - plugged and vile smelling

We then had to move the existing cabinets and sink to their new location. The only problem? No existing plumbing.

Before cabinets installed

So, we planned out the sink location, dead center of the double window on the east wall of the old dining room, and drilled holes in the floor for the new water supply lines and drain pipe.

In the basement, we used a pipe cutter to remove about an inch and a half from the main hot and cold copper supply lines right under the new kitchen.

Jeremy using a wheel cutter to cut the pipes

We then attached Tee Joints (the shiny gold fixture above) that seals where we cut the line and has another valve for the new pex supply line that will run upstairs to the sink.

New hot and cold water supply lines

Next came installing the drain pipes for the sink. This involved about 20 feet of PVC pipe, cut and arranged with joints to create a slope of one inch per foot from the bottom of the sink plumbing:

 Sink drain view from the basement

…to the new PVC pipe that leads to the sewer: (note old, stinky, rusted pipe next to it)

New drain next to old

Finally, the puzzle of pipes for under the sink (S-trap, auto vent and faucet supply) were reconstructed from the practice run in the garage to their new home:

New sink plumbing

This whole process took two days. But there are no leaks, everything is level and plumb, and we have a funtional kitchen.

To sum up in pictures, before:

Before cabinets installed

…and after:

Old sink in its new home

Now, I realize this ain’t pretty – especially the makeshift island in the middle. But we are carefully planning out every detail of the layout before the new lighting, cabinets etc. are chosen for the space. The coolest thing about this area, though?

Running water!!

Published in: on August 5, 2007 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

The sky is falling!

When we started the kitchen demo, I was completely unprepared for the apocalyptic fallout that would result. I knew that there would be a mess in the room that we were working on, but I was dumbfounded at what lengths and in what quantities the plaster dust would travel. 

The first thing to go in the new kitchen was the ceiling. The original plaster ceiling was crumbling from old plumbing issues in the bathroom upstairs and rather than fixing or replacing the plaster, this was how the previous owners dealt with the problem:

Let’s just hide it with a dropped ceiling!

So, the first steps were removing the ceiling panels and metal frames. Easy enough. Then came removing the decaying plaster.

(There are no pictures of this process because Jeremy and his dad accomplished it while I was taking a nap upstairs. They had asked for old bed sheets before I dozed off, and I was completely unaware what they were up to. Note to self: no afternoon cocktails resulting in naps when Jeremy’s dad is over, and old bedsheets DO NOT contain the massive amounts of dust that destroying plaster creates.)

Every surrounding room was caked in black dust when they were finished. Here is a plant that was in an adjoining room, supposedly protected from the demo:

Kitty needs a bath

Next came removing the wood lathe strips from the ceiling. I was awake for this process, and a short trip to Home Depot prior ensured we had plastic sheeting in place protecting other rooms from more dust.

Jeremy and Dad contain their mess

And here, the result:

The ceiling is on the floor

After several hours of binding the strips, tossing the smaller peices into a garbage can, and shop-vaccing the remaining plaster bits and dust, viola:

That’s the heating duct to the bathroom

See the old knob and tube electric wiring?

All this happend two weeks ago today, and we’re still tackling the mess that ensued. Volunteers, anyone?

Published in: on August 4, 2007 at 3:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Landscaping Before and After

One of the first, and easiest, improvements we’ve made on the house has been removing the random bushes and sloppy landscaping around the property. As a child and young adult, I hated being outside and getting dirty; today, it is the most satisfying work I’ve done on the house. I love working in the yard.

Katherine getting her hands dirty

While the longest project in the yard included hauling off the old mulch (and rock or wood borders) from the 12 beds in the yard, the most curb-worthy were removing the overgrown shrubs from the front porch…


The bushes that tried to eat the porch


The bushes have been conquered

…and the poorly-placed shrubs next to the driveway that made it impossible to see if anyone was walking/biking/jogging past on the sidewalk as we backed out of the driveway:


Poorly placed, and ugly, too


This dirt will oneday be full of beautiful blooms

I just can’t wait for the spring when we can start growing the English garden we are planning for these spaces.

Published in: on August 3, 2007 at 9:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Meet the Consultant: G. Dale Freeman

Dale enjoying a beer and a smoke, illuminated by a lovely outdoor lamppost

(A.K.A. “Pop,” “Dad” )

While Jeremy and I are doing a swell job completing projects on our own, we could not accomplish everything we have (and will) without the help of friends and family. This is the first in a series of “Meet the Consultant” posts, where I’ll introduce the creative geniuses that are helping us achieve success in this monumental endeavor we’ve taken on.

Hailing from Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Dale is an experienced home renovator, electrician, philosopher, story teller, and proficient jack-of-all-trades. While his most notable accomplishment to date was rearing Jeremy into the wonderful man he is today (in my honest opinion), he also has an uncanny ability to visualize a situation over the phone and explain in detail why something isn’t working properly, what needs to be fixed and how to fix it. Even more impressive is his knowledge and skill in person.

Tiffany Ann, Dale’s right hand

This is Tiff, his vicious attack dog who kept Presley at bay during their last stay. Tiff weighs 3 pounds, tops, and is one third the size of Presley, so say what you will about my ‘fraidy cat. Tiff had a little adventure on her first day in Ohio City when she snuck out of the yard through a fence post gap; she saw the better part of the block before she was retrieved.

On his last trip, Dale and Jeremy completely demolished the kitchen ceiling, ran new electrical for the fridge and plotted out several future electrical and plumbing endeavors.  Oh, and he discovered that the lamp post by our back porch had indeed been converted to electricity (we just assumed it was still gas because, well, we hadn’t looked at it.) THAT was one great discovery in the astethics department.

His help has been invaluable thus far, and I’ll tell you what… this man knows how to instigate his son into making one heck of a mess.

Father and son, dressed alike and covered in dust 

Published in: on August 3, 2007 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Katherine Elizaklutz strikes again

In the past week, I have sustained the first two injuries of our home renovation. Neither of them, naturally, have had to do with projects around the house but rather my inherent tendency to be a complete and utter klutz.

Last Monday, while the plumbers worked on the gas lines in our basement, I was in the garage looking for a still illusive box of drill bits. While closing the garage door, two of my fingers became wedged in between panels of the door. Silent screaming and massive bleeding insued immediately, and I nearly passed out when I got into the house and saw the amount of blood on my clothing and the floor. Touche, graceful Katherine.

Tuesday evening, after an hour of unloading heavy appliances and moving them about the house with Jeremy, I took a break to play a game of tag with our cat, Presley. She is really enjoying her new home and has taken to running up and down the main staircase. (The “thunk-a, thunk-a” sound her paws make beneath her considerable girth on the stairs is both adorable and hysterical. Maybe Ms. Prez will finally shed some of the extra weight she’s been carrying around the past few years.)

While playing with her on the staircase, my left foot slid off of the edge of one of the stairs and I slammed two stairs down onto the landing. The pain was immediate and excruciating. Everything points to a bad sprain at this point and I am relegated to crutches for a few days to keep pressure off it it. This makes things like, cleaning, unpacking, and oh, I don’t know, WALKING UPSTAIRS TO GO TO THE BATHROOM, very unpleasant.

C’est la vie.

Published in: on June 21, 2007 at 10:06 am  Leave a Comment  

First Surprise, First Success

As every homeowner I know rammed down my throat in the weeks before we closed on the house, expect the unexpected. Surprises pop up when you least expect it, especially in old homes.

 Well, duh.

What I didn’t expect, however, was a big, dangerous, expensive surprise to pop up within the first 24 hours of homeownership.  When I called in our first gas reading, I mentioned that I smelled a very faint gas odor that morning – nothing I was worried about, just thought I’d mention it. Thankfully, Jeremy had taken the day off of work and would be home all day to let the gas company in.

Which he did, right before they shut off the gas to the house. Their equipment showed so many leaks in the gas lines that Jeremy said the machine was shrieking almost constantly.

Three days later, I had the day off and spent 3 hours with the world’s nicest plumber. He and his assistant removed 60 feet of unnecessary and dangerous gas line from our basement, and upgraded the remaining pipe. A very expensive, but very necessary endeavor. We now have a safe environment in which to live, and will probably save a ton of money in utility costs.

Oh, and we had our first major success this week, too. For under $10 and in under an hour, Jeremy and I fixed the leaky toilet. (Jeremy did most of the work, I basically stood there in awe of the 100-year-old plumbing in the bathroom floor.)


It was hysterical when he finished- we were both so afraid to flush it to see if the fix had worked that we had a “you do it,” “no, you do it” session for about 5 minutes.

And by Jove, there were no leaks when I hit the lever.  Watch our egos begin to inflate… we can do ANYTHING! Mwah-ah-ah.

Published in: on June 14, 2007 at 1:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Welcome Home

The papers were signed on Wednesday, the keys were dropped off to Jeremy yesterday and today… we entered our house for the first time as its owners.

The experience, in a nutshell, was bizarre. Seeing the naked rooms, overgrown yard and various junk (some usable) left behind, the work that lies ahead of us was blatently apparent. It wasn’t overwhelming, just humbling. We have a lot of work to do.

 But it is ours. We have our own little slice of earth, with the potential to be a grand home once a lot of time, money and effort is put into it. That potential is there and not once did I think, “What did we do??”

Ok, maybe once I said that out loud, but it was with a hearty laugh as I know, deep down, that Jeremy and I are truly insane.

Published in: on June 8, 2007 at 12:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

My Planner, My Love

 The Binder to end all Binders

This is The Binder.

The Binder has professionally labeled tabs, spreadsheets with comprehensive lists and cost formulas, and more thought put into its creation than the entire US occupation of Iraq. The Binder is our plan for renovation success. I had nothing to do with the creation of The Binder.

The Hand that created The Binder

This is the hand of the CFO and Senior Project Manager for the renovation, and creator of The Binder. Here, he is researching more specs to add to The Binder. This, my friends, is the hand (one, of a set of two) of greatness.

Published in: on June 5, 2007 at 9:27 am  Leave a Comment  

Two Signs a Move is Nigh

This is on the treelawn:

Sale Pending

This is a common sight at the apartment:

Presley Not Packing

 As of today, it looks like we won’t be closing on Friday as we hoped. So we lose the weekend for unpacking and planning, and settle for an closing early next week.

We’re sort of depressed, so excuse me while I join Jeremy on the sofa with some ice cream.

Published in: on May 30, 2007 at 6:08 pm  Leave a Comment