Sunday, October 19, 2014


I'm a city girl. I'm accustomed to falling asleep to the sound of cars driving by with stereos blasting, people talking, wind blowing, planes flying overhead (damn you MSP) and the occasional siren in the distance.

So, I found myself a bit surprised at just how much my new storm windows deaden the noise.

For the past couple of weeks now, I have laid awake in bed at night listening to the sound of my heart beat. And nothing else.

It has taken some getting used to. On the third night of new storms, I actually had to get up and turn on my air purifier just to get some noise to fall asleep to. I've also been having super vivid dreams.

I'm slowly getting used to it and have started to limit my use of the air purifier. It's crazy how one small change can have such an effect.

Let's hope those same qualities that are stopping the noise, will also have a huge impact on my heating bill. I suspect they will.

Friday, October 10, 2014


So, I had the upstairs old storm windows down. What to do next?

I have some wood storms and screen sets that are original to my house. I change those out seasonally.

I have three new wood storms and screen sets in my upstairs dormer that I change out seasonally.

I have two new wood storms in the front of my house that I leave in year round.

I have two vintage screens salvaged from a neighbor who was preparing to toss them that are currently in windows while I decide what I want to do there.

And I have looked at the Marvin combination storms.

I waffled on what to do for a while, but cold weather is coming so I knew I had to make a decision.  I knew I did not want to change out those second floor storms, so a traditional set of wood storms and screens was out.  I refused to put in a new metal storm window; it had to be wood. I was also hoping for the option to have full screen in the summer not that my restored double hung sashes open both on the top and bottom.

There is a shop locally that I knew made wood framed storms with a combination window inset. So, I decided to pay them a visit.

The storms they make are quite expensive, but pretty impressive. The owner even showed me how to remove the top glass panel and replace it with a screen insert leaving the storm with a full screen for summer use. I swooned a little.

I bit the bullet and bought two of them. They came primed, so all I had to do was paint them and install.

I love them.

Reminder of what I started with.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Why I Panic

Here is the reason why I panic anytime a smaller house goes up for sale near me.

Notice the scale of these houses compared to those surrounding it. What I wasn't able to capture in the photos is that these houses run solidly all the way back on the lot. There is virtually no yard. Any light their neighbors once had shining through windows or in their back yard is gone once one of these goes up.

I suppose I should be relived that these developers have finally figured out this neighborhood is 1920 (bungalows and tudors) and they have moved on from their fake Victorians to at least the right era of design.

Again, who buys this?

Fake craftsman. Towers over the rest of the block. I wish I could have taken this photo straight on.

There are two tear down replacement houses side by side here on the right. This photo doesn't really capture their footprint. This entire block is overshadowed by these houses. They run all the way back on the lot. It makes me laugh a little because they are mere feet from each other. I suspect their windows look directly in each other.

The two tear down houses you see dwarf two smaller vintage houses that have the misfortune of being located between them. You can't hardly see the smaller engulfed houses because these new houses are pulled closer to the curb to get more footage back.

Fake craftsman in all of it's vinyl glory.

A box. Totally devoid of any style. Pure square footage.

Catch the house to the left - the little green one there. It's about the same size as the house down the block from me that I was worried about. The one on the right is just a little larger. I also love these developers' idea of "craftsman".

A side view. They build them to cover ever inch of the lot solid back to the alley.

As this one was completed, the adorable, little, vintage house next door to it put up a "for sale" sign (just off the photo to the right). The house that was torn down to put up this plain jane was an cute two story with a double dormer.

My nomination for the ugliest tear down replacement house. And what is up with that pine? It is currently for sale. Any takers?

By far one of the worst example. This picture doesn't do justice to the disproportion. If you look down this block sideways all you can see if the roof of this house and trees. The garage is equally monstrous.
Or why not just add a second floor? Tudor? What tudor?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


When I left for work this morning, I was fairly certain I was going to come home to a pile of rubble down the block. There were many trucks parked in the street and much activity. I was not holding out hope. That said, I did notice one odd thing. The front porch light was on.

I thought to myself as I drove to work. Would the electrical still be hooked up if they were going to tear it down?

I just got home and held my breath as I turned the corner into my block. The house is still there.

There have been a few promising events.  In addition to the bulldozer (sign of a tear down), there is now a back hoe (sign of utility work).

Fingers crossed they are replacing the sewer (although that is serious equipment overkill). I'm not convinced, but am currently bargaining with God.

If this turns out to be whole scale utility replacement (some of the houses still have old sewers and non-copper gas lines), these will be my favorite new neighbors at the next block party and we will all laugh about how I thought they were going to tear down their house. I hope.

This coming weekend, I'm going to take my camera out on a bike ride and take some photos of this tear-down phenomenon in my neighborhood. You need to see the sheer horror of it all and why I panic whenever a small, vintage house goes on the market.

Then I promise I will pick up where I left off on the exterior work. I picked up a very cool purchase last weekend.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Tear Down

I'm sitting here feeling nauseous.

I was going to write a whole other post on a whole other topic today.

A cute little bungalow down the block sold last month. This house is circa 1920.

Towards the end of last week I noticed that the utilities had been marked on the street. Today I came home to a bulldozer parked in front of it.

Unless I am totally misreading the clues, I believe a developer bought the house and is about to tear it down and build a fake "craftsman" McMansion in it's place.

I'm literally sick to my stomach and my head is pounding.

It has recently become the trend in Minneapolis. A developer, without regard to the neighborhood, will come in and buy up a smaller house, tear it down, slap up a big replacement, sell it, take their money and leave. My neighborhood had been pretty much left alone because the houses and lots are relatively small and the neighborhood is "up and coming."  These big houses just look obnoxious. They totally change the character of an entire block and, for that matter, the city.

However, developers wanting to make a fast buck must be running out of new lots and have moved like predators into my little part of town. As a neighboring homeowner you are helpless as they can change the entire value and livability of your house and ruin the character of a neighborhood.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why these dopes don't buy lots on North Minneapolis that are empty or houses that were damaged beyond repair during the tornadoes of 2011. Those neighborhoods could use their help.

Seriously. Who comes into a vintage neighborhood and buys this shit?

I need to make up yard signs that say "Developers: We Don't Want Your Tear Downs."

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!

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