The Ups and Downs of Wallpaper Removal

August 13, 2007



Apparently the wallpaper in bedroom #3 was a single ply paper that came of easily. Different situation in bedroom #2! This shiny embossed paper is two ply!

I found that I could scrape off the first layer easily, but under neath I found a thick backing that required a repeat of the entire process. Ole well… it got done!

And as it came off I uncovered the lively avocado green that was original to this 60’s rancher. I kind of like it!

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dark kitchen

August 3, 2007



Our “before” kitchen was quite the 60’s/70’s charmer. The avocado green built in can opener was our favorite feature!

Seriously, the room is a good size and the basic layout of the appliances is the perfect triangle. But the room still seems dark since the only natural light source is through a cut-out over the sink adjacent to den’s glass doors.

The first day I stood in this room I could see the difference opening up this room would make.  I envisioned the cut-out expanded and the entire left wall above the bottom cabinetry removed. I could imagine slicing cucmbers at my sunny kitchen counter while bird watching through to the lush, rear courtyard.

Within the first few days of ownership we knew we would be spending half of our renovation budget on the 600 sf. kitchen and den areas. It is the heart of the home and the area in most need of updating.

Here’s what needs to be done in these rooms:

1. Demolition of kitchen cabinets, old flooring, paneled walls.  This involves calling the plumber and electrician to disconnect what ever we can not unhook!

2. Build new staircase to lower level and remove impractical and unnecessary spiral.

3. Prepare floors to receive 3/4″ hardwood flooring.

4. Install support header beams where needed.

5. Have plumber Chris and electrician Jamie come back in to update, reconnect, run new lines, etc.

6. Sheetrock on walls and over popcorn ceilings. Sand and paint.

7.  Order and install cabinetry from Kitchen Floyd.

8.  New appliances, countertop, backslash, and fixtures.

9.  Hardwood flooring.

Not particularly in that order… but you get the idea. Total overhaul. It’s OK. I can see the results, smell the food cooking, feel the revived energy of the home’s spirit.

Our project kitchen will be “starting over” too.


Our New Renovation Project

July 27, 2007



Our new renovation project is pictured here. We don’t know yet whether it will be our new home or a flipper, but here are the beginning stats:

About 1700 square feet on ground level with another 1700 square feet in the basement. Currently, three smallish bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths. This home was built in the 60’s and owned by the same couple for over 35 years which is pretty obvious from the jade shag carpet in the basement and the Michelob sconces in the den. However, this brick rancher has solid bones and palacial grounds.

My very wise father always told me that you make money in real estate when you purchase it not when you sell it. With this in mind, we negotiated on this property for over 6 months, walking away from it several times.

Since the market stinks, most buyers are skiddish right now, and the house needed renovating, we had little competion for the property. We just waited and the sellers finally accepted our offer. Original list price: $275,000 last year. It was re-priced to $219,900 this Spring. We picked it up for $172K in July.

Since most of the homes in this neighborhood are valued at $225 to $400K, we are pretty confident that we accomplished buying the worst house in the hood (also one of Dad’s lessons).

Anyway, the house has multiple personalities. We hope to return it to it’s mid-century modern self with clean unfussy lines and updated finishes. But now it has colonial touches like brass eagles, victorian wallpapers and light fixtures, lovely but inappropriate turn-of-the-century wooden fireplace mantles, an ornate but added-on fireplace gas stove, and traditional and abstract stained glass inserts closing off the kitchen.

The master bath came right out of Hollywood! The huge mirror is surrounded by a dozen bright, round, bare lightbulbs. One sink is a 40’s pedestal that I understand came out of an old school, while the other “modern” sink is beige with swirls of gold flakes. All fixtures are “gold”, even the frames around the mirrored closet doors.

The main defect to the property is definitely the spiral staircase which is the only interior access to the lower level. The lovely but totally impractical stairs came out of the Elizabethton Fire Station we were told. This history does not elliminate the fact that they are impossible to navigate with a basket of laundry on your hip. And since the lower level will house the laundry, a huge family room, and a new bedroom suite, we know this metal monster has to be replaced with traditional and comfortable steps.

We also know that the staircase is the main reason why this property had not sold. Young families with small children are not going to be happy with the spiral. Older folks or people with trouble getting around are not going to be happy with this only access to half of the house. We are going to remove the spiral and replace it with a traditional starcase in the original place in the home.

I love the gardens and Liza loves the big 2 car garage. We are both going to hate the wall paper removal process. But so far we have changed the locks, removed grease from garage floors, arranged for delivery of dumpster and helpers to start demo on Monday.

Did I mention the sixties bomb sheltor in the basement? Soon to be a stocked wine cellar! More about “Fairfield Manor” soon.

Warm wishes.


1968

July 9, 2007



My only neice just had her 13th birthday. What an important and special time of life. It made me start thinking about when I was 13… in umm, umm 1968!

The sixties was an amazing yet turbulent time in history. And being 13, I was just starting to pay attention to the world around me. Kids slightly older than me were dying in Vietnam and I did not know why. Teenagers across America were involved in politics, having sit-ins, burning bras, enjoying “free love”. I remember thinking it was all so overwhelming for me. But I knew the power of our generation.

Time has proven that the baby boomer teenagers had a huge and long lasting impact on American politics and culture.

My memory of 1968, a freshman in high school, includes an English teacher, Ms. Rutherford (possibly the first Ms. I had ever known). She was the first to encourage the writer in me.

I remember the North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive, a turning point in the Vietnam War. Lyndon Johnson was president and he announced he would not seek or accept presidential nomination. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader, was slain in Memphis. James Earl Ray, indicted in the King murder, was sentenced to 99 years. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was shot and critically wounded in a Los Angeles hotel after winning the California primary and died on June 6th. Richard Nixon was voted in as President.

Record of the Year was “Up, Up and Away,” by the 5th Dimension. Album of the Year was (and still is) a favorite: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, by The Beatles. The rock musical Hair opened on Broadway in 1968.

Music was amazing then! I guess every generation thinks that their music is the best, but how does one argue with this list:
The Beatles, “Hey Jude” b/w “Revolution”
Marvin Gaye, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”
The Rolling Stones, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
Otis Redding, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay”
Steppenwolf, “Born to Be Wild”
Archie Bell and the Drells, “Tighten Up”
The Temptations, “I Wish It Would Rain”
Tommy James and the Shondells, “Mony Mony”
Diana Ross and the Supremes, “Love Child”
Jimi Hendrix, “All Along The Watchtower”.

And others like:
“Judy In Disguise” … John Fred & His Playboy Band
“Green Tambourine” … Lemon Pipers
“Love Is Blue” … Paul Mauriat
“Honey” … Bobby Goldsboro
“Mrs. Robinson” … Simon and Garfunkel
“This Guy’s in Love With You” … Herb Alpert
“Grazing in the Grass” … Hugh Masekela
“Hello, I Love You” … The Doors.

Not to mention: “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” by Glen Campbell, Jose Feliciano’s, “Light My Fire” and Dionne Warwick’s, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose”.

Top Movies of 1968
1. The Graduate
2. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
3. Gone With the Wind (reissue)
4. The Valley of the Dolls
5. The Odd Couple
6. Planet of the Apes
7. Rosemary’s Baby
8. The Jungle Book
9. Yours, Mine and Ours
10. The Green Berets
(They just don’t make ’em like they used to!!!)

Yes 1968 was an important year… the year that the successful flight of Apollo 8 made Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders the first people to orbit the moon.

Johnny Cash recorded “Live at Folsom Prison”.

The Boeing 747 makes its maiden flight.

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

Helen Keller died in her Easton, Connecticut home, just 26 days before her 88th birthday.

Valerie Solanas shoots Andy Warhol as he enters his studio, wounding him.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closes above 100 for the first time, closing at 100.38.

Pope Paul VI publishes the encyclical entitled Humanae Vitae, condemning birth control.

Saddam Hussein becomes Vice Chairman of the Revolutionary Council in Iraq after a coup d’état.

The Prague Spring of political liberalization ends, as 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops and 5,000 tanks invade Czechoslovakia.

The Medal of Honor is posthumously awarded to James Anderson, Jr. — he is the first African American U.S. Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Police clash with antiwar protesters in Chicago, Illinois outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which nominates Hubert Humphrey for U.S. President, and Edmund Muskie for Vice President.

The Games of the XIX Olympiad are held in Mexico City, Mexico.

The United States Department of Defense announced that the United States Army and United States Marines would send about 24,000 troops back to Vietnam for involuntary second tours.

Aristotle Onassis and Jacqueline Kennedy marry on the Greek island of Skorpios.

The White Album is released by The Beatles.

1968, when I was 13. The year itself has helped make me who I am. Peace.