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The Struggle is Real. Remodeling a Home is Hard Right Now.

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Well hello there everyone. Sorry I didn’t update you on our progress last week.

Last week was a bit of a challenge. Well actually this whole project has seemed a little rougher than anything else we have done. That is saying a lot for a couple of serial DIY-ers. It seems we, along with the rest of the country, are in a home improvement boom. According to these articles by NPR, and CNBC the pandemic is only partially responsible. The data below is from the two articles linked and a Forbes article on the rising cost of lumber.

  • Deck construction is up 275% ( We built a deck so I guess we were part of the crowd.)
  • Fence construction installation is at 144% compared to 2019
  • Home Depot, sales for the second quarter of 2020 were $38.1 billion, up 23.4%
  • Lowe’s reported $27.3 billion in sales for the second quarter, compared with $21.0 billion for the same period in 2019
  • Houzz, an online home remodeling platform, reported a 58% annual increase in project leads for home professionals in June.
  • Kitchen and bath remodels saw a 40% jump in demand in June compared with a year ago.
  • The Lone Star State added nearly 374,000 residents between July 1, 2019 and the same day in 2020, according to the Census Bureau’s December 22, 2020 report
  • Conroe, our nearest large city, has consistently been one of the top ten fastest growing cities in Texas since 2017. People are moving here. Conroe’s population has doubled since 2000 and continues to grow at record speed.
  • Lumber prices have increased 171% since COVID started.

All that information plus the great Texas freeze means finding construction materials and manpower in our neck of the woods is harder and more expensive than a year ago. It makes the whole building process more complicated and stressful. There have been times on this project where we looked more like Building Alaska than the happy couple on Fixer Upper. We scoured every barn on our property for left over lumber and removed nails and reused lumber removed during the remodel, checked all storage areas for screws, nuts, lock rings… all because getting materials for construction is like shopping Black Friday or looking for bottled water or generators before a hurricane.

All that said, and that is a lot, we are making big progress. Most of the insulation is up, all the interior wiring is done, all the hot and cold water Pex pipe is in along with the drain pipes, and we have cleaned around the house.

We have found a contractor that we really like and his crew is working hard in spite of the electricity to the building going out and rain. I am so grateful for their good attitude and work ethic. Because we have help we now have most of the house covered in siding. They have also started planking the eaves of the main house.

We have had about nine inches of rain in a week, a blowout on our trailer, our washing machine line stopped up, and a friend had to help Mr. Math replace the underground electric line to the shop and guest house. I have to wonder what lessons I am supposed to be learning!

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In spite of all our little problems, we have so very much to be grateful for. We are healthy, we have friends and family that love us, and in spite of everything, we are still moving forward.

We love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

Why I Changed my Mind About Board and Batten

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When we started the Guest House I was dead set on board and batten siding. You can see my vision board below.

It is a very popular look right now and liked it because it is a clean look and is something that is commonly seen on old farm cottages around our area. But I won’t be using it for our guest house. While I love the look, and think it would be beautiful, it isn’t for us because of red wasps. Yep, a bug is changing my mind. They love, love, love our guest house which is conveniently located next to our garden where they have a food source- all those bugs that want to eat our hard work.

The view from the guest house looking at the garden.

Every open space in the walls, and there were a lot- like a whole lot- has either wasp nests or spider eggs jammed in. I cannot describe the condition and won’t bore or disgust you with the details, but the picture below is a wasp apartment complex we found included five connected nests. We found over fifty nests in the corrugated exterior.

Now I know this sounds crazy, but I don’t want all wasps eliminated from our property, in fact I am glad to see them in our garden where we don’t use pesticides, I just don’t want them living with us. They are aggressive when protecting the nest and they sting. I want them to keep eating the aphids and other bugs that eat our garden, but living in the wooded area behind the garden so we need to make it more difficult for them to move in.

Board and batten leaves a void between every board that is covered by a smaller board called a batten, and that will be difficult to totally seal up. Those wasps find the tiniest little crack to get in so I want something more solid.

We are going with our contractor Thursday to look at options. It is going to be something that is a solid panel that can be caulked and sealed. I want it to look like 12 inch planks and he assures me there are options I will like. Fingers crossed.

Also I learned a term from our daughter and used that term this last week. Project creep. It is the “While you are here, could you also…” sentence that apparently happens a lot.

We are adding on the aluminum siding removal around our house and adding new siding to the eaves and soffits. We started the project with the carport, deck and porches but this will finish off the house. I am so excited! We could do it ourselves but it would mean days on a ladder.

Woo hoo! I am so excited to get this projects done. They will be painting the house and guest house too which has me giddy.

Great things are ahead.

We love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

Weekly Update on the Guest House

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Three things before I start so I can be all sunshine and roses for the rest of this post.

  • I just want one space on the building to be finished, no matter how small. Just one.
  • I believe weather folks use magic 8 balls for their weather forecasts and the one they use for our area is broken.
  • Putting up blue tarps every evening is no fun. Especially in 25 mile an hour winds, and with an inner ear infection. (This coming from the chick on the ground-not the ladder.)

Thank you all for indulging me as I complain. I feel so much better. My husband is a saint. He has put up with me, less than epic weather, me, contractor stuff, me. DIY building isn’t for the faint of heart particularly rebuilding an existing building that was used for a totally different purpose. Dealing with me for more than 40 years is no picnic either. So glad he has stuck around.

My goal is once a week to give an update on where we are on this 464 square foot future guest house. Hopefully there will be more ups than downs. Renovation is rewarding but also very frustrating.

We did have some wins this week. First of all, we now have pitched metal roof! That is a big deal folks. In spite of contractors and weather the roof is on and it makes the place feel so much bigger.

It makes me so happy to see the roof.
It has come a long way!

Another win is that we got the front door in. I will have better photos soon but the front porch was too much of a mess to get a good shot. Soon, I promise.

I made progress on the upper kitchen cabinets. They have now been cleaned, nails removed, holes filled, primed, and mostly painted. I also bought the hardware for it.

Additionally , the north wall is now covered in OSB and the windows were removed. It is ready for wall wrap and siding. There aren’t going to be any windows on this wall because there is going to be a closet on the wall and the bed headboard. We decided that was best because the north wall gets a lot of wind and rain in the winter and the view that direction isn’t great unless you like looking at our rv storage.

My final bit of good news is that we have found a contractor who is able to fit us in next week for the siding to be put up! Hooray! My superstar husband and a neighbor have put up the OSB sheathing but the siding is more than he wants to tackle. I don’t blame him one bit.

We are so grateful to be able to take on a project like this and that we get to live where we do.

Blessings,

Karen

Progress (Sort of)

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We are making slow but steady progress on the guest shed and I have to keep reminding myself that. We. Are. Making. Progress.

Mr. Math, in true Mr. M fashion wants to do as much as he absolutely can on his own. He removed the foam insulation panels, the acoustic tiles, the hardboard wall panels, a ton of wasp nests, roach poop, and the cabinet with a sink in it. The man has had days where he limped from spending the day on a ladder but he didn’t quit. He is such a hard worker. After contacting several contractors- two never showed up- and another was backed up with Texas freeze work, we did hire someone to put the new roof on and had it scheduled to begin this past Monday. Sunday was stressful. We dodged rain and high winds to get the corrugated metal roofing off and our great neighbor helped get the last of the heavy furniture out and tarped the building.

Monday came, the sky was clear, and the weather was perfect to work on the building. The builders didn’t show. They didn’t answer texts or calls. It was radio silence. I cried a bit. Finally in the evening we got a text saying they went out of town and were very sorry but would be there first thing in the morning. First thing in the morning meant they arrived at 2:06 p.m. By that time the weather was changing with rain expected so Mr. Math didn’t want the tarp removed only to have to put it up again in an hour or so. The lumber got dropped off and that was that.

Wednesday …well Wednesday it rained followed by near gale force winds. Here the building sits. So frustrating because had it been started on time it would be totally dried in and we wouldn’t be worried about the rains.

I have to remind myself that we have made progress on the project. The front wall has been reworked, the door frame resized and moved, the wall over the area that will be the kitchenette resized and a new window installed, the window space cut in the bathroom wall, the bathroom has been framed up and covered with a house wrap. Mr. Math also got all rotted wood replaced and has everything firmed up. I can’t wait for the tarps to be off to show you the front wall.

We did take a shopping trip to pick out metal roof color, windows which was ordered and picked up Wednesday morning before the rain came, we also picked up 2 pocket door kits, an exterior door kit, and I found a 24 inch vintage door on marketplace for the closet. I have cleaned the antique kitchen cupboard, and removed the loose paint. As soon as it is dryer I will get it outside so it can be safely sanded (lead paint) then get it all painted.

I have also got three coats of Spar varnish on the front door. I am keeping it dry in the greenhouse. I love this door. I still need to do some work on it but it is going to be so pretty when it is in place.

As I work on my attitude about things I can’t control, I have to add that I channeled some of my frustration into painting the master bathroom which was the last room in the house that was the peachy-beige. I don’t love the almond colored counter and shower but I am going to make it work. I do plan on stripping the paint off the vanity and staining it weathered oak. The wall color is called historic gray. It is a green-gray that goes with the yellow tones well.

We have so much to be grateful for and I guess I needed a few days to work on my attitude.

This morning the sun is up and we are hopeful.

We love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

The Guest Shed

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One of the reasons we bought this beautiful property we live on is so that we can share it with our families and friends. We have done what we could with our home to allow for more overnight guests.  We have a sleeper sofa, a Murphy bed in the craft room, a queen bed and a a crib in the guest room.  The house holds a lot of folks.  More than once it has held 20 + young men.  (We stayed with friends those weekends… that was too much of a good thing.)

As our family and friends have come to visit we have realized that we need a separate space for visitors.  I even see us heading out to the guest house when our friends with a lot of kids or when both of our kids come with their families because we are early risers and noisy.  We also have an early riser dog. She is noisier than we are.

 This is my idea for a guest house:

I call her the guest shed.  I have dreamed about redoing her since 2015 although the colors have changed, I still want that mid century vibe.

The previous owner used this space as his woodworking shop and “man cave”.  He installed a sink, hardwood flooring reclaimed from a gymnasium, and cabinets.  He also built a wood burning stove that is the craziest looking thing ever.  


It needs a good coat of high heat paint. ( Can you tell he was a welder? )

 We are going to add a bathroom to the space, move the sink location, set up a kitchenette.   More on the bathroom later.

The vibe is going to be mid century-kitsch. The walls are going to be a really pale turquoise, there will be plenty of red and white.  Think light, bright and airy.  


I have collected some fun mid century furniture and a mint condition chrome UFO light.  The light was still in the original box, unopened.  I am smitten.  When it is on the pin holes look like UFO lights- yay for mid century atomic.  That bulb thing on the light is a pulley to adjust the height of the light.  There is a frosted glass light diffuser that attaches to the bottom of the light. 

I picked the light and two mid century walnut framed low slung chairs up at a garage sale for $2.00 each. No lie.  $6.00 dollars total.   ( Here is the post about the finds at the garage sale.)


At that same garage sale I got a porcelain cast iron sink to use in the kitchen.  ($5.00). The sink is stained and there are a few worn places but overall it is in great shape.  It is getting a coat or three of epoxy.


 I also have picked up a vintage kitchen upper cabinet set that are getting painted white. 


Before I can get started we need to replace the shop board along the back wall that is all full of holes for tools and paint the walls then install a drop ceiling. 


 This is what we are planning to use.


After the dropped ceiling is in, I am going to use the same stuff we used on our garage apartment to restore the floor without making it look brand new.

I have a double modified to be a queen sized iron bed going in along with the funky dresser and a chrome 1950’s table and chairs that are currently kicking my hiney.  Mr. Math did a much better job than me, but the back of them still isn’t done. Soon I will share what we learned from this process.  There were lessons learned!


I am so excited about this fun, funky, kitschy, bright space we plan on working on this summer.   It is going to make me happy to just walk in.  As soon as it is all finished I think we are thinking putting it on air bnb when we don’t need it for guests.  With the huge Houston area Boy Scouts camp going in down the road I think there will be a need for parents who want to stay nearby. 

Summer Pojects

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Here it is spring break and already I am thinking about our summer projects.

We have three big projects to get done this summer.

1.  We are going to redo our kitchen.  Not a total gut, but repainting the cabinets, replacing the backsplash, new counter top, new farmhouse sink, new light fixture, and wall paint.


The picture above shows the kitchen the day we decided to buy the house.  No more ceiling fan,  a different peninsula light, recessed lighting installed, and a gas stove installed are the only structural changes that have occurred since we bought it.

  • The cabinets are going to be white and we are going to add a shaker style to them by adding to the cabinet faces.

Source: Home Depot

  • I think that the backsplash is going to large subway tile.  I think.  Not sure yet.
  • The counter tops are for sure going to be quartz that looks like marble.

Source: Home Depot

I think we are looking at something like santa margherita lyskamm

  • Once I decide on the backsplash I can get the wall paint color picked out.
  • The sink is going to be a white farmhouse sink.  I am thinking about this one from Home Depot.

  • I haven’t decided for sure about the kitchen light but it is NOT going to be a huge fluorescent fixture.  I really like this one from Home Depot.


2.  We are going to get the guest shed started.  This summer we are going to get the dropped ceiling in, fix the walls, get the plumbing moved and hopefully get the bathroom concrete poured.  I really want it finished this summer but the reality is that if we get that far, we can work on the interior of the building a project at a time.  We may have to have someone do our bathroom.  I am not sure how time will work for us but I want us to have a space for family and friends to come and stay.  I cannot wait for you to see my vision for the guest shed.

The Guest Shed

3.  This project shouldn’t take long, but we really need an outdoor kitchen.  Not want, we need one.  I am not a germophobe but I cannot stand raw fish in my house.  Ever. Like never.  I really don’t love raw chicken in the house, either.  If it is going to get grilled outside, it may as well get prepped outside, too.  This is frankly the first project that needs to get done, so I have a sink to wash dishes in and food prep area when the inside kitchen is under construction. ( Just say no to washing dishes in the bathtub ever again.)

  • A sink station with a stainless  steel sink and faucet out of our hoard. The top needs to be tile topped to make it more weather resistant.

Source: Studio C

We have electricity and water at the corner of the space so adding the sink right outside the deck and cabinets along the wall makes sense.

  • Counter space with cabinets underneath and around the grill. One set of wall cabinets for things like grill spray, oven mitts, and BBQ tools.  We are going to use treated lumber for a shell, then clad it all in reclaimed cedar and tin.
  • Open the deck rail and extend the deck so that it is more comfortable for guests and has the smoker readily available. Also replace the wood parts on the smoker.


I didn’t make the deck look nice for pictures today.  Mr. Math was on the tractor today but has promised to get it all cleaned up for our next get together so soon enough it will get power washed, scrubbed down and organized.

The projects sound daunting but we can do it.  We also aren’t afraid to get help it it is too much.  We are going to hire out the quartz counter tops and may have to hire help to get the decking done.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Storage Building 

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Do you remember when I wrote about this amazing house in December?  It is a historic home that had sat vacant for years before a very nice man bought it and started bringing it back to life.

updated home Boat launch house

Saturday morning we got up and loaded the truck with my cedar lumber.  It was another bittersweet moment.  I now know I won’t be making anything else in the Garagemahal from scratch.  My projects will have to wait until we get the house sold and move into the place we are planning to buy.

cedar natural edge cedar log ends cedar wormy close up

As we headed toward our storage unit, we rounded the corner and low and behold, the house I sort of have a crush on was having a clean out the barn sale. There were old windows stacked four feet thick. Of course we stopped. The homeowner’s sweet mom was there to greet us. When I asked how much the windows were, she said $2.00! I almost swooned. I couldn’t just grab them up and go because I couldn’t live with myself. I told her the windows were too cheap. She said her son told her nothing over $5.00 because he wanted it gone and me buying them was better than a burn pile. She explained that the windows along with the other items were in the barn, not the house, and probably belonged to the dentist who lived there from the mid-fifties until the early eighties. He must have been a character. He had his dental practice in an office on the property and was known as a bit of a collector and frequent visitor at garage sales. I ended up getting 20 windows,

vintage windows

a vintage door,

(no photo because it got put directly into the storage facility and I did not have my phone or my camera.)

a cast iron sink,

Google Link to sink.

I don’t have an actual photo of this one either for the same reason, but, I did find an exact replica on Pinterest according to the site it is a 1926 rolled front farmhouse sink.  I am going to have to have mine reglazed but it is in great shape and going to be a stunner.

6 Art Deco light covers,

1-IMG_0833 1-IMG_0832

(By the way, have any of you ever seen the light on the left?  I can’t find it on the internet.  I know it is 1940-ish Art Deco, but nothing else.)

3 mid century Danish lounge chairs,

Once again.. no pictures but I did find examples of the chairs on Design Addict.

I believe they are teak but they could be walnut.  They have leather strapping in the bottom that needs to be replaced and they need to be stripped and refinished.  I am going to look for some wild outdoor fabric for them.

a section of vintage adjustable scaffolding platform,

(Boring but it will a huge help when we are working on the porch addition.)

two really old crutches,  (No photos or no idea what I will do with two mismatched handmade crutches but they were cool and I could not pass them up.)

and finally I picked up a cool chrome retractable light that was purchased in 1959 but never installed. According to the internet it is a atomic era UFO ceiling light (This thing even has little holes that let a row of pinhole light out through the edge of the light and a diffuser at the bottom of the light.

ufo ceiling light retractable light light diffuser 1959 newspaper

UFO Atomic Light from 1959.  New In box.

Here is a link to the light on EBay.  I could only find the copper version online.  UFO Light

Folks, I racked up. The whole load was $100.00. The windows are definitely old. I would love to know their history. I am going to keep some of the windows for my crafts, but I will probably sell many of them.

All this treasure really helped me to decide what I am going to do with the guest shed should we get our property.  ( Fingers crossed.  The lake house is being shown regularly.)

1-IMG_9669

The guest shed doesn’t look like much from the outside but that puppy has cabinets, sheetrock walls, reclaimed hardwood flooring from a gym, a wood burning stove, and it is going to have a bathroom and a kitchenette (insert today’s cast iron farmhouse sink here).

My plan for the guest shed will be to finally have a space that has my mid century aesthetic.  Hubby doesn’t love mid century but I do.  The cool UFO light is going to go over the game/dining table.  The Art Deco lights are going in the bathroom and over the amazing farmhouse sink.

The chairs will go in the space and can sit out on the porch when needed.

I happen to have a mid century headboard just waiting for the space along with an atomic era end table and burled walnut atomic era light.

I am almost there… but only in my mind right now.  Oh how I want this property to work out for us.  I would love to hear from you.

Blessings,

Karen