Sunday, May 31, 2015

Painted Shut

Here is a warning to you. If you dare to paint the upper sash of your windows closed, each and every owner of the house that follows you will curse your name. Probably multiple times. And the owner that finally decides to get that sash open again, will curse you double.

I was that double cursing owner.  I long ago stripped and refinished the bottom sash in my bathroom window.  The upper sash was firmly painted closed, so I put off dealing with it for years.  Well, this was the weekend where I decided that that sash would open. My bathroom does not have a fan, so air flow is pretty important.

I ask you.....who doesn't want their top sash to open?  This baffles me.

It took me a couple of hours of work to finally get the sash to pull down (a pox on the owner that painted it shut). Sadly, this is a common situation and they even make a special tool for it.

I was a tiny but surprised to see that the top edge is bare wood.  I've had a vague suspicion that some of the sashes in my house are replacements.  Either that or this sash has been painted shut longer than I suspected.

Anywho. It's open now.

Monday, May 25, 2015

In The Ground

Gardening has been my focus for the past few weekends.

For my birthday my parents bought me a rhododendron to replace an ornamental tree (I'm drawing a blank on the name as I type)  that was planted on the side of my front door when I moved in. To be honest it was never my favorite and no tears were shed when it did not survive the winter.  Tears were, however, just about shed digging up the damn roots of said tree.

The dead plant's roots. Ugh.

Long story short, I now have a new, pretty flowering rhododendron just outside my front door.

I also picked up a mock orange bush. I am a sucker for anything that flowers with a pretty scent. This plant has it in spades.  The plan was to plant the new bush outside some of my piano windows, so when I opened them in the Spring, the smell of orange blossoms will waft in my house.

The spot where I initially thought the mock orange would go.

Where it ended up going.
Next, there is my vegetable garden. In past years my garden has been all about tomatoes. But, for the past two years my tomatoes have struggled. So, I decided a change was in order. This year my garden will be all about beans, radishes, basil, dill and cilantro.

Yes, my lawn needs to be mowed.
Then there is the little plant stand on the side of my house where I plant some of my herbs. This year it will be filled with basil.

And finally, there is the front window box. Every year I try out a different flower combination. This year I decided to go old school with a mix of colored geraniums. I also planted some parsley in between the flowers. It make a nice filler and is convenient to snip for use in the kitchen.

Props to my pink Zoya nail polish that lasted through all the plants unscathed.

You may note that the index finger is the one I just about chopped off a few years ago with my hedge trimmer.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


I found this little chalkboard in a junk shop. I love how the wood stain matches that of the doors in my house. I hung it at the bottom of my stairwell so I can make notes to myself that I will see each morning.

The pictures above it are little Hummel prints from my Grandmother.  I've hung family photos on the landing above this wall and will continue to work my way in both directions to fill the wall with pictures eventually....

Saturday, March 21, 2015


The weather is warming up and I'm itching to get out and start stripping some window trim paint.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


I've been slowly plugging away at restoring my upstairs double hung window sashes. The bottom sash has been moving along steadily it has been stripped, treated with borate, primed and partially painted. 

The top sash has been stripped, but I ran into a bit of an issue. The top rail of the top sash was very warped. For whatever reason, the top rail had warped up leaving a significant gap between the rail and one of the muntin.  There was approximately a 3/4" gap. The rail was, however, solidly attached to both side stiles. I can't quite figure out what caused it, but it doesn't appear as if that window ever had a sash lock on it that would have held the two sashes solidly in place.

I was thinking that I needed to apply pressure to the rail to see if I could train the wood back into place.  I treated the frame with borate and then tried to use a couple of bungee cords to pull the rail back into place.

The bungee cords didn't apply enough pressure, so I was left to find another route. I was thinking about it one day and all of a sudden I had an idea. I have a set to trailer straps for a motorcycle or ATV...and they have a ratcheting mechanism. That would work, right?!

So, I hunted down the straps and wrapped one around the window and used the ratchet to pull the wood together. It worked.

The sash has been sitting in my basement like this for a few weeks.  (There was a Christmas cookie making break in there).  It seems as if I will have to leave the sash under pressure for a while, but I'm not sure how long.  I suppose I could really leave it there until Spring. The 3M plastic that is currently covering the window is working fine.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Retro Doorbell Idea

How cool is this? If I didn't already have a restored vintage doorbell to install, I'd be all over this. I'm kind of tempted anyways.

Thanks to @RetroRenovation for the link

Saturday, December 06, 2014


Random. I had my grandfather's typewriter restored to working condition. Word has it he purchased it from a small newspaper office in southern Minnesota. I was an English major, so it seemed like a logical thing to do.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


I wrote a few weeks ago about buying and installing new, wood framed storm windows in two of my upstairs windows.  In order to keep that post relatively focused and short, I skipped over a bit of a challenge I ran into in getting the storms in.

The windows are up high, so I wanted to install the storms from the inside. I had previously restored the double hung window on one side.  That window slid up easily and I was able to maneuver the new storm out the window opening and then pull it into place on the exterior and screw it in place.

The other window was another story.  I tried sliding the bottom window sash up and it got stuck on on the many layers of old paint. So, I tried sliding the top sash down and that also got stuck. Then I couldn't move either sash up or down. Both were stuck in the middle. I pushed and pulled for a while, took a break, bargained with God, applied some paste wax in the channel, and swore. None of it helped.

I finally came to the realization that, like it or not, I was going to have to pull out the double hung window sashes before I could get the wood frame storm window into place. ...And if I had the double hung sashes out, it only made sense to restore them before replacing them in the window. Crap.

So, out they came.

I now have the double hung sashes stripped, treated with borate and primed. I have the old glass out and cleaned. Next I need to paint the interior side of the sashes and then replace the glass, putty, paint the frame exterior, replace the rope and put it all back in the window opening.

In the meantime it is cold here in Minnesota, so I have the wood frame storm window in and that 3M weatherproofing plastic on the interior. It's surprisingly wind tight.

I tried to take a lot of photos while I was pulling out the double hungs.  So, here is the photo dump. I'm not sure they are very helpful though.

It's honestly very easy but can seem a little complicated. First you pull off the interior trim (the photos below are after I pulled off the crappy trim).  Then you tilt in the bottom window sash and hold on to the rope. The end of the rope has a knot and is nestled in a little groove in the side of the window sash. You pull the window sash loose and set it aside.

You don't need to, but I then tie the rope to a paint stir stick. There is a weight on the other end of this rope in the side of the window opening. The paint stick keeps the weight from dropping down inside the wall cavity. If you know how deep the wall cavity is, it is just as easy to cut the rope and let the weight fall.

One thing I have learned though, is that you want to keep all pieces of the old rope to give you an idea of how long you need to cut the new replacement rope (or chain).

Once you have the bottom window sashes out, there is a little piece of wood that now holds the top window sash in place (and separates the two double hung sashes). It's called the "parting bead."  In order to get out the top sash, you need to pull out the parting bead. These are usually nailed in with a few brads. I use a pliers to pull it out far enough to then use a small pry bar to coax it out. They sell these pieces of wood in almost every big box store, so don't lose your mind if you end up breaking it as you pull it out.

Once the parting bead is out, you remove the top of the double hung in the same was as the bottom.

Once the sashes are out, I remove the old putty and pull out the glass and then strip the frames. I did a series of posts a while back on the details, so I'll spare you the retelling in this post.

This was easily the window in the worst overall condition in my house (more on this in my next post). That said, once it is fully restored it should look virtually new.

interior trim has been removed.

So, the top window frame should be able to slide down and the bottom frame slide up. Here the top one came down about 4 inches and then got stuck.

The end of the rope nestled in the little groove.

The painters painted in the top double hung frame channel. Ugh.

You can see a little panel cut. Once you pry off that little door, the weight is behind there.

Here is the parting bead coming out.

The parting bead is now gone and you can see the empty groove where it once was.

Here is my new storm window in, with the double hung out.


Where the old hardware was.


I don't paint the sides of the window frame. I paint the inside and outside faces and the top and bottom, but not sides.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin