Saturday, September 20, 2014

Up High

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I have been slowly pulling down the existing aluminum storm windows and replacing them with vintage or vintage-style wood frame storms. Some of them I switch out with screens seasonally. In some windows, like the front of my house, I currently leave the glass storms in all season. 

In prepping for my house to be painted, I had to address two upstairs windows. Each had their lovely aluminum storms windows. I have totally refinished the double hung window sashes on one of those windows and one has yet to be restored.

It was clear the aluminum storms needed to come down as they were nailed to the face of the exterior wood window trim. So, happily down they came. You could almost hear the house breath another sigh of relief.

I have a fun solution for the missing storms. I'm going to pick them up this afternoon and will post again soon.

Lovely, isn't it?

Removing the aluminum storm and some remaining hardware that points to the fact that there probably were canvas awning on the house at one time. Food for thought.

Here is the south window. The double hung sash on the window has been restored. After removing the storm, I had to prop a screen in the open window for fear of a bird flying in the house.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

More Mellow

A somewhat more realistic picture of the color of the paint. This paint is crazy. If there is any sun outside when I take the pic, it looks bright yellow.

I'm sure at this point my neighbors are wondering about this love affair I seem to be having with my house that causes me to be out there daily taking photos of it.

As mentioned in my previous post, the gap to the left of the boxwood bushes is what remains of a black cherry tree. I'm thinking a rhododendron might look cute there.  Also, note the hydrangeas which are so top heavy this year that they can't hold themselves up.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A New Color

Okay, so here is the house painted.  The color, if you can believe it, is Benjamin Moore "Barley." It is a wheaty color that somehow comes off as bright yellow in the sun and some photos.  Note the rafter tails that were previously repaired.

I used Varsity Painters and they did a crazy good job of removing all of the old paint, including this bizarre cement/paint combo that was sprayed over the entire house back in the 1950's (you have heard about this in past posts and it will be featured in future stucco posts). Anyone that has read this blog for a while knows I am p-i-c-k-y- about paint removal. I have been know to use a dental pick out there removing paint.

I asked them to use Peel Bond as the primer and then Benjamin Moore for the two top coats. They did all of the fascia, the underside of all the eaves, and the two upstairs window frames.

I completed the front entryway a while ago and I have been working my way around the bottom windows (and replacing the aluminum storms). So, that work on the lower windows frames will continue....

Below is a photo of the just painted rafter tails and underside of the eaves that I included as a "before" in my last post.

Of course now that the wood is painted, it highlights to work to be done in the stucco....and the black cherry bush next to the boxwood that had to be seriously cut back when a main branch died.

I have some serious upstairs windows updates coming shortly.....

You can't see mush painting in this photo  (the painters did not do the window frames), but you can see the newly exposes rafter tails. I'm leaving the gutters down this winter and will decide what to do gutterwise in the Spring. I'm thinking half-round at this point. That may change.
You can see the stucco issues in this photo (along with the new paint). The line on the stucco marks where the old aluminum soffit used to hit the house. So, what you see there is a combo of dirty stucco and the bizarre cement/paint job.
Here's a photo taken earlier in the day that shows the paint very yellow.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


I took last Friday off of work. I woke up early in the morning, fixed myself an iced coffee and went out to wait for the guy from Excel Energy.  He was coming to turn off the power to my house, so I could remove the gutters just below the power line.

The guy arrived promptly at 8am.  He was making small talk while he unhooked the wires and asked me what project was going to take place on the house. I told him I was going to take down the gutters.

He looked at me and I could see his mind working.  He was trying to politely let me know he had doubts I could do it. He asked if I was getting new gutters. I told him I was. Eventually. He said "doesn't the company you are buying the new gutters from usually take the old ones down?  These are usually really nailed in here well."  I smiled.  He told me I had to call the arrange a reconnect by 3pm or I'd have to last the night without juice. He left me a dubious "good luck."

So, the electric guy left. I hauled my ladder over to the house and reviewed the situation. I started by working the straps that went under the shingles free. That was pretty easy. I then started to use my trusty pry-bar to pull the actual gutter free from the board behind it. So, everything was moving along smoothly until I realized that the entire length of the gutter was one piece. I stood up on that ladder for a long time holding once loose end while I tried to figure out what to do. I started to think the electrical guy was right. There was no way I was going to be able to get this down.

The the old house gods gave me an idea. I have a sawzall. I have a sawsall in the basement.  I have a sawzall in the basement with a metal blade. Ha. I hauled out that little used sawzall and cut that gutter into three smaller sections. It came down like a dream.  I then pried the unpainted back board loose from the rafter tails.

Of course, I stepped on the obligatory nail. But have no fear, I am up-to-date on my tetanus.

I then piled the aluminum in a neat pile and called the electric company to send the guy back out to hook my house up again. All before noon.

I'm pretty sure there was a tiny bit of a smug look on my face when he arrived and I'm also pretty certain I saw a glimmer of respect on his face when he noted my gutterless house and neatly piled aluminum.

Why are my gutters coming down? Because I FINALLY hired painters to scrape and paint the wood trim on my house and I want the rafter tails to be exposed. And this has set in motion a series of related projects.

I'm guessing these photos are going to look very alarming to anyone with a new house. Trust me. Old houses usually need to get uglier before they get pretty. Really. Really.

This saga will continue.....

(If you want the full story on what brought us to this point, click on the "alumacide" label below)

The fear of the electrical wire leaves me that small forest every year.


Gutters down

I think this is the photo that may freak out new house owners and non-restorers.

Ah, rafter tails!

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Yesterday I was out-and-about in Minneapolis and noticed as I drove by that Junket was having a sale, so I swerved into a parking place and went to see what treasures they had.

The place has expanded since the last time I was there. It is now two full rooms upstairs and a basement.

I found two nice, solid pairs of scissors ($7 each which is expensive, but I liked them). I bought three red faucet handles to make into hanging hooks (I just noticed now that I have two of one design and the third is an oddball).  And then in the basement I spotted this small medicine cabinet for $22.  Quite a deal.

I have been planning to eventually put a powder room into my upstairs. It will be a tiny room and I think this will fit perfectly. Yet another stripping project.

Watch for a longer post soon. I have been *very* busy this past week on the house and have much to tell.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hardware Boil

Til the day I die, I will never understand why people paint over hardware. How hard is it to just remove the hardware, paint your window and then replace the hardware? Not hard at all.

That said, almost every piece of window hardware in my house was painted. I had been removing the paint as I restored each window.  But a few weeks ago I got all ambitious and had a great hardware boil. I boil the hardware in water and baking soda in an old pot. I fish out the hardware while it is still hot and finish peeling off the hot paint. The water breaks the seal between the paint and the hardware. I polish the metal with steel wool and then apply a coating of oil.

So, with the exception of one casement window hinge, all of the window hardware in my house is now paint free.  I replaced the hardware on the unrestored windows, and once I get to that window at least the hardware will be done.

When I finish stripping the windows and repainting it, the hardware looks very crisp against the new paint.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I stopped into a local junk store a few weeks ago and spotted these wood valances. I talked myself out of them only to get home and decide I really did need them. I called the store and asked them to hold them for me until I could get back in and pick them up.

The plan is for them to go on the windows in one of my guest rooms. Odd thing is that the blue color matches almost exactly the shade of blue in a pair of curtains I bought on a trip to Finland a couple of years ago. There is a little groove on the top shelf to hold picture frames, etc. Fate.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Advice Needed

I'd like to buy a fire pit for my back yard. One that I can move to storage during the winter and is solid enough to last more than one season. I live in the city, so it would be for burning small pieces of wood.  No bonfires.

Tips on what to look for?

Ideas on where I might find a good deal?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Screening

I had a window screen that fell apart last winter when I was pulling out the screens and replacing them with the storm windows. I put it down in the basement with the other screens and completely forgot about it until I started to pull out the storm windows again this Spring.

The cool thing about vintage houses is that most of the items in the house were meant to be repaired rather than replaced when they broke.  The only trick now-a-days it to find the proper materials.  I ran down to the local big box store and immediately found replacement screen. Finding the three bead wood screen trim took a little more searching, but I eventually found a stash.

I pulled off the broken trim and the old screen just crumbled in my hands. I was surprised to see that under the screen the wood had not been primed (you can see remnants of the green color the storms were once painted). So, I sanded down the wood and treated it with some borate. Once that dried, I primed the entire face, added the new screen, and topped it off with the new trim.

Very easy with the exception of using my damned electric brad nailer. I use this nailer when short brads are needed. It has a finicky "safety feature" on the tip.  You need to push down as hard as possible on the gun, pull the trigger and then just hold it. Sometimes is shoots out a nail, sometimes it doesn't. It's a lesson in patience.

I then painted the whole thing. Good as new.

The best paint brushes on planet earth for cutting in paint.

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