The Wallpaper has to Go!

August 13, 2007



This is a close up of the “lovely” wallpaper in bedroom #2.


Wallpaper Removal Tools!

August 13, 2007



At our local Lowes, we found this product for wallpaper removal from the Zinsser people. Actually, it is a multi-step process after you remove window coverings, switch plate covers and picture hangers, etc.:
1. Use the special wallpaper scoring tool. This tool is rubbed over the wallpaper to make tiny perforations in it that will allow the liquid goop to seep under the wallpaper and loosen it.
2. Roll on, sponge on, or spray on the removal goop.
3. Wait a few minutes.
4. Start scraping!

This process worked well for me on bedroom #3, so now I will see how it does in this room. Wish me luck!


Wallpaper Removal Day!

August 13, 2007




OK. Today is wallpaper removal day! Here is the “before” shot of bedroom # 2 in our rehab house project.

I am having flashbacks to the old Victorian house I grew up in on Olive Street. My amazing mother scraped wallpaper from 10′ walls in room after room, replacing the tired coverings with fresh peach paint in my bedroom. I remember the tall ladder she bravely mounted and the labor required to remove layer after layer of the hideous stuff.

I am lucky. I beleive there is only one layer in this room with standard 8′ ceilings. Still… seems daunting… but here we go!


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.


demo day one

August 3, 2007



Here is a picture looking into the kitchen from the den. Our rehabbing always gets scary after demo day one. You think…”I just spent a pile of money to purchase this home and now we have torn it apart.” Something about it must get worse before it can get better!


dumpster day

August 3, 2007



The day the dumster was delivered I knew we were nearing demo day. Out with the old and in with the new. I wonder what the neighbors think or how the old owners feel when they drive by and see this 22′ long hunk of steel parked in the drive.

I hate thinking about the debris to go to the land fill but I tell myself it is better to throw out an old kitchen than the whole house. So we will forge ahead in our attempt to recycle this home.

When demo started we filled this metal cavern in two short days with old kitchen cabinetry, rusty filing cabinets, the jade shag carpet from downstairs, and old flooring and paneling from the kitchen.

Time to start anew.


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.