Monday, January 5, 2009

Okay, really need to go to bed now...but just thought I would post a few pictures of where we live (at night at least) to show that the 35 mile commute to the office/house is really worth the drive everyday.

This is a picture of the Wet Mountains taken at 6am from our front deck

Here is a pic of my Mom & Dad's house taken from across our valley

And these strapping lasses wait all day long for us to come home and spoil them rotten!

It is long overdue that I post some pictures of our “new” floors. As I mentioned earlier, we were incredibly lucky to meet the team that did the floors (thanks Dan B). They are based out of Woodland Park just west of Colorado Springs. The company name is “With the Grain” and Tom Grimes, who we dealt with, is the president of the Colorado group. The website takes you to the Minnesota company run by his brothers, but it will give you an inkling of what kind of craftsmen these guys are. I would recommend them unconditionally. They were extremely professional, but still relaxed enough to kid around with and feel comfortable. Tom’s son Tommy no doubt will take over the reins in the future as he shares his dad’s knowledge and love of wood. It is funny, having an old house, some people walk in and think OMG what a drafty old shell, and others are immediately taken by the character and history. I put the second class of folks in my A list (kind of like people who don't like dogs and those who do). The pictures here depict the front room (now my office) and the dining (conference room). The first picture here is a “before.” Even then the floors were beautiful and just knocked you off your feet when you came in from the front hall. But check out the difference after Tom and gang were finished. Of course this picture was taken immediately after the final finish so it is uber shiney; it dried to a nice mellow sheen. Tom felt that the wood for the parquet was probably imported from Europe as wood was not milled to that thickness here in the U.S. Anyhow, just look at the results of this talented team. I can’t let them know enough how much we are impressed with their work and expertise. If you need hardwood flooring experts in southern Colorado, these are your guys.

When given the choice by the experts, I chose the stain on the left. KID was bummed when she saw the picture I brought home as she felt the stain on the right brought out the grain more. But look at the second picture from a different angle and you can see it looks muddy. In the end we all agree the simple "Swedish" look is most appropriate for this piece of art floor (apologies to Englishmen).

And although I love the house that is our real home (mainly because it is full of love, good times, good food, and bad animals) this house has really stolen my heart. Every day I go to work I appreciate the craftmanship and attention to detail that is totally lacking in newer buildings. It is kind of like working in a mini-museum. Now if only I could find 200K hidden between the walls like you read about in the newspaper. A few more shots of craftsmanship below. And...thanks again Tom and Mary!

Happy New Year! Hope it’s a good one, but with the current economic outlook I’m afraid it will be a bumpy ride for many of us:( So sorry for the long lapse, but a lot has been happening. Besides the Holidays, KID finishing up her third semester at university (4 As and a B in French—Oh yes, Dean’s List again!), transportation problems, and actually having to work for a living…we finally moved into the house the second week in November. It was kind of sad to me to have to move Any furniture onto the gorgeous wood floors. But, alas, the reason we did get the house was for offices and to get out of paying exorbitant rent in an office building. IJ and I both agree that as an office, the space is working for us extremely well. I disposed of tons of superfluous stuff accumulated by the previous five years of ever changing support staff (hmm, wonder if he might be hard to work for?) and archived many files. The result is that we now know where everything is and have dedicated areas for compiling reports, accounting, client lists, and our massive need for file storage. The huge maple table (and six chairs) that Mom and Dad gave us looks great in the dining room (what we now call the conference room—although the only meetings we have had there so far have consisted of conferring over Greek sandwiches or MacDonald’s). However, IJ will have the table covered with blueprints today for a current job he is working on. To have everything for a job laid out at once is a luxury he never had before. Of course, there still is a lot of work to be done but the bulk of the major projects are complete. And, it is so nice to be in the house without plumbers, electricians, cable/phone/computer guys tromping in and out (on those wood floors)…sorry guys. I am actually at home today working on a cheery report for IJ on private prisons, so in my spare time I might catch up on some blogging and posting pictures. Oh how I love the multi-tasking of MS Windows!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Office

I will call this room IJs office, as it will be his office (makes sense huh?) IJ is my husband, but I have decided to cloak his name in mystery as I certainly will express many opinions here on MY blog that he will not agree with. I have reminded him that if he does not like it, he is always free to create a blog of his own; that seems to have quelled the debate. I have to think that originally this room was a den, or a library, or a ‘gentlemen’s smoking” room perhaps. It just has a mellow, masculine feel. One of the really great things about this room when we got the house is that it had a really cool Murphy bed. However, after pleas from Dad, it was agreed that the space would function much better as a built-in bookcase. Also, the bed frame was too short to support a conventional mattress, which my husband found out after spending several nights trying to sleep in a contorted position. I now have to agree, and as is shown in subsequent pictures Dad retrofitted original cabinetry removed from the kitchen to build a great bookcase and cabinets for IJ’s business documentation. He even put in recessed lighting which makes it look pretty classy. The real problemo with this room was a significant drop in the flooring that coincided with the entry of the room. Thinking we had to have a flexible surface for our roller-coaster floors, we had initially considered using a flexible laminate to resurface the floors in both the front entryway and IJ’s office. We had met with the flooring guy several times and I even went to his home to look at the product in his historic home; nice but nothing jaw dropping. When he last came over to the house to asses the floors and I pealed back the carpet and saw the beautiful wood floors, he didn’t even comment that they could be saved; just let’s tear everything up and put in my product. This just gave me a bad feeling and I called IJ immediately and voiced my concerns. Luckily he was with a friend who recently had his wood floors refinished and we got a great recommendation for the craftsmen we eventually hired (more on these guys later). Anyway, just look what has transpired in this room! The height differential, caused by a decades old separation of the supporting beam, was repaired, new flooring then put in place and the stain matched. Just absolutely gorgeous…from derelict to stunning and much under the cost to put in a totally “real simulated wood” floor. Hey, don’t ever let any salesman talk you into taking anything original out of your house without checking out the options first. I’m thinking in hindsight, this will probably the most important thing we could have learned in this entire process. As an added note, IJ did the Tuscan finish on the walls and daughter K picked out the Valspar “gaucho” trim color. Dad, of course, built the bookshelves, and I did the rest of the grunt work. (Note to hubby…still need to get a light fixture...J

Sunday, November 2, 2008

In the beginning...

After looking at these pictures taken the first day we saw the house, I now wonder what were we thinking? Actually the debris was due to near competion of a new roof. If not for an interior that was solid and in good shape, for a 105 year old home, I think we would have walked away. These pictures were taken in late March of '08 and since then then the front half of the house has been painted and detailed and, thanks to my Dad, porch railings built and installed and rotten wood torn out and replaced. The ancient wiring to the porch light has been redone (it was originally gas and electric) and awaits us to purchase a new light fixture.

These photos of the front hall were taken early on in the renovation process. Since then we gave up on trying to fix or repair the very damaged plaster and Dad has put up thin wallboard on both the east wall and the ceiling (which suffered badly from a 1970s artistic plastering experiment). The ceiling electric has been moved to the center of the room and the floors will receive their final sanding and finish late next week.

In these pictures the floor is covered with industrial grade thin carpet which was glued to mdf which was screwed into the original floor. When our (wonderful) hardwood flooring experts cut and lifted all, the underlying floor turned out to be maple with a border around the entire room of quartersawn oak. It just has to make you wonder who would glue carpet to such a gem of a floor. I will post pictures when all is completed next week.

The staircase is another example of wondering why the heck someone would paint such a treasure. Unfortunately, life is too short to even contemplate stripping, so it will be cleaned, filled, and repainted. It is, however, solid as a rock and will still be a beauty when all is complete.

At this point, I would love to have suggestions of what has worked for others as a sandable, paintable filler for the dents and gouges in the woodwork.

Friday, October 31, 2008

First Post

Okay, I have been meaning to do this for a long time. I have gleaned so much from reading other house blogs and just want to share our project and hopefully get (and give) some feedback on the pride and pitfalls of renovating an old house. Our house is a 1903 American Foursquare that was purchased with the intent of making the first floor our offices (my husband owns and runs a real estate appraisal company) and eventually turning the second and third floors into rental units for offices or tenants, or us. As I write this my hands are cut from scraping stair risers and I am getting just a tish burned out on painting, tiling, grouting, trash hauling and a lot of other unpleasant plebian tasks. I now am taking Halloween night off to finally create a blog where I hopefully can connect with others in our situation. Hope to talk to you all soon. Halloween is scary?...Try renovating a house!