Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Getting quotes

We have secured our financing for the upstairs renovation. We close next week- now all we have to do is get permits and get the tenants out-ha-ha.

Seriously, we aren't sure what we will do about the tenants. I've started writing on the calender every night that they disturb our sleep. Yes, it's getting that bad folks. We are going to get some area rugs and put them in the bedroom above ours. I wrote them a long emphatic note that I gave them on Saturday also. We also consulted a real estate attorney about what we would need to do to get them out legally.

Some here have suggested bribing them to leave, but I think that it would take more than one month's rent and then the apartment isn't rentable in it's current state. We may just have to "go zen" and deal with them for a while. I really need to grow more spiritually anyway- you know?

We are getting quotes now for the upstairs work and we will be commencing getting the permits. I'm sure I'll have a story or two about that. Dealing with the City of Chicago buerocracy should be interesting. We've just seen way too many "Stop Work Order" signs around here to even risk not getting permits.

We know someone in our neighborhood who completely gutted their frame home and she drew all her own plans and got it approved. We are going to talk with her and a few others before submitting our plans. Permits must be issued for the electrical, plumbing, and heating and we have to hire licensed contractors for these trades.

Anyway, I haven't really posted about the whole upstairs project much, but we've been working on it quite a bit.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Big Reveal

Well, it isn't a reveal for the readers of this blog because you've seen our kitchen. But this weekend was the big reveal for Steve's parents, sister & niece and my sister and her husband, who hadn't seen our kitchen for over a year.

Steve's parents are the best audience for our work- I love when they come. They notice every little detail and they like our taste. It's probably because they are do-ers and do-it-yourselfers themselves and they know what goes into doing the work that they appreciate it so much. Plus, they are among the select few that have seen this place before anything was done to improve it. They saw it in its raw state needing of much TLC. Steve said when his Mom came here and saw this place, she said "You paid way too much for this place!" They thought he was crazy and they prayed for him to get a girlfriend. Then, I came along and signed up for the work camp and the rest is history.

We all had Thanksgiving dinner at my Mom's house. It was definitely a group effort as far as the cooking goes. After Wednesday night, which I spent peeling and chopping more root vegetables than I care to count, I had the realization that somewhere in the 3rd circle of hell people are peeling acorn sqaush. But the dinner was great and it gave me a very warm feeling to have both Steve's family and mine together and having a good time.

Alot to be grateful for really!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The report

Well, our Field Trip to the Student Sale at the Art Institute was a success. The prices are unbelievable and there is alot of great work. Next year we will definitely pay the $50 for the Preview Night as we were told by many students that 30% of the work sells on that night. I am happy that we've found a solution to Steve's "only original works of art may adorn our walls" aesthetic.

Above is a monoprint we purchased for $30. We also bought a small oil study of a seated nude for $30 and an ink line drawing for about $15. It was really nice to interact with these young artists too. You get the feeling this is their first time selling their work or at least one of the first times and they feel good that people want it. Maybe I'm just reading into it, but I'd imagine that's how I would feel if people wanted to buy things I made.

Last night we hung some pictures in our bedroom, including the oil painting. Steve is going to make frames for all three pieces, which will save alot of money. Framing is quite costly we have found. I like the look of a full wall of small framed works and am starting to realize how costly that can be if professionally framed.

Of course, once we hung all the pictures, I thought how nice a long table would look along that wall and then we could put some small lamps on it and store books on the shelves underneath the table. It's amazing the way one project just leads to another and then another. Times like this, I wish I could make it stop and just be satisfied. I feel fated for being featured in a magazine like "Renovation Style" or something, with a storyline like this, "Jocelyn and Steve have been painstakingly restoring their Chicago 2-flat for about 10 years..." The fact that I think this way proves that I am truly doomed!

Today we are going back to Jan's Antiques to help my Mom find some hardware for a headboard she bought at a yard sale. And we are going to pick up some old screws because we never have enough. I'll bring my camera and take a few photos of Jan's place. It's pretty amazing.

Above is the "picture-hanging" we did last night in our bedroom.

You can see the oil painting we bought on the left.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Field Trip!

Today we're going on a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago. Our main objective is not to visit the museum itself though. Rather, we are continuing our ongoing quest for artwork and checking out their student art sale.

When you aren't made of money, you have to get creative. Who knows? Maybe one of these students will get famous and then we'll have one of their earliest works.

But really we just want some inspiring art for our walls. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Curb Appeal

As long as I have lived in our home, I've wanted to clean up the front entry and front door. This year we really made some headway in this area.

This weekend, we put in the new glass to replace the cracked piece and the afore-mentioned jimmy-rigged sidelights. The new glass is so clear that from inside it looks like there is no glass.

We used silicone caulk to weather-proof each panel.

I also finished painting the interior doors in the vestibule and touched up the outside door for the winter.

Steve had to go up on the roof and finish winterizing. Between that and installing the glass, no trim was installed.

Even though we are still missing alot of trim work, the room is cleaning up well. It's such a small room, it's very hard to get good photos, but here's a shot that shows the now matching doorways.

I can't wait to see it with all the woodwork.

Here's a few before shots to give the full effect:

I'm waiting till the end of the project to clean the floor, but I will post some info on that project since a few people have asked. Not much else to report, just many things on our to do list as usual!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Yep, it's fall alright

My next door neighbor Mark's red bud is showing spectacularily this year.

And our Japanese stewartia is no slouch either.

and our pal Scrappy is getting ready of course...

Catching up on houseblogs the past few days, I read about alot of folks glazing and and prepping windows , lining a chimney, planting bare root plants, and getting ready to hunker down for the winter with new furniture or a snazzed-up kitchen.

Winter is definitely a slower pace at our house. All stripping of woodwork comes to a halt. Maybe this year, I'll strip a few doors in the basement. We'll see. I just can't do a heat gun indoors with no ventilation- it feels too risky.
And forget about using chemicals inside with fumes.

The upside is by Spring I am raring to go.

What do you guys plan to do this winter?
Here's our list:
(for fall & winter)
Finish installing trim in entry
Finish painting in entry
Install new front door lock/door strikes
Install replacement glass in entry & curtains
Adjust hinges on swing door so we can prop open with hardware we bought
Put in thresholds in bedroom & dining room
Misc. wood patching in door jambs

Oh, yes and then there's the pantry, which will be pretty big project.

This and the holidays should keep us occupied.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Scary Basement photos

Thank God for our basement. It's where we keep all our "building materials", tools, and items that can't be put away because our pantry isn't done yet. It also houses many boxes of my books, which await the construction of a wall of bookcases in our den.

This is a picture of the basement after I "tidied" it up this afternoon. Yes, this is "tidy."

Here lies the pile of oak for our pantry shelving:

Yes, those pipes are coated with asbestos- we had it tested.
Someday, we'll have all the pipes re-routed for the basement dig out/conversion and have abestos abatement done at that time.

This is only one part of our basement actually. The other side is Steve's office and it's quite a bit more finished than this side.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Back in the saddle

I guess I'm back on track with the blogging. Truth be told, I like our little community here quite a bit. You guys understand me and my life, while so many others do not!

The appraiser is coming Saturday so I was tidying up a bit tonight for that. And we signed the paperwork- lots of signatures. I'm glad Steve likes handling all that paperwork, because I do so much of that stuff at work by the time I get home I'm over it.

I am very excited about some of the things we are going to do with the loan money. Perhaps most exciting is restoring the French (sorry Gary) doors on the 2nd floor. We aren't getting real French doors though. We have been looking at Anderson sliding glass doors made out of wood the 400 series. We believe these will be more energy efficient than true doors. They would have muttons on them to match our existing windows so they'd have a more authentic look, but be modern in function.

We are also planning to have a decorative iron balcony outside the window. Something that reflects our aesthetic.

I wish we could live upstairs, but we like easy access to the yard and basement for projects etc... Maybe someday we can have the whole building to ourselves...(evil maniacal laughter echoing)

Other things on the agenda: tuckpointing, new roof, gut rehab upstairs etc... One big ticket item that probably won't make it is a new back porch. I've said it before, but this particular project is even more $$$ in Chicago after the porch collapse scandal.

Everyone please pray that Steve will work on trim this weekend and not be chained to his desk working the day job!

On a side note, it's pitch dark now at 5:30pm when I leave work. But today was like 70 degrees- very neat.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

the 2nd floor (present & future)

I mentioned in my previous post that our tenants had a little "soiree" this past weekend that kept me up till 2am. I was all psyched about getting some extra zzz's from daylight savings, but they ruined those plans. I gave them until 1:30am and then I called them. In brief, the conversation went like this:

Me: "Thadeus, I cannot sleep and I want you to break up this party. The music is not loud but people are walking around in hard shoes and up and down the back stairs and I need my sleep etc..!"

Thadeus: "Jocelyn, I can't do that- these people came from far away. And I can't tell them not to walk around the apartment."

Me: "I have lived in many apartments and this (meaning disturbing other tenants at all hours) is not allowed. If it doesn't quiet down, Steve will be calling the police."

To add insult to injury after I hung up the phone, someone upstairs stomped all around the apartment- a very low blow I'd say- childish, which is how their guests tend to behave and doesn't incline me to be more tolerant.

Funnily enough, it wasn't any loud music that kept me up, just a dozen or so people walking around constantly in hard soled shoes- even high heels. Steve and I have decided we will profile future tenants by their choice of footwear.

Seriously though, we are plotting how to get them out early. We are right now securing our financing to have work done up there. The appraiser is coming this weekend.

Something you strippers might find interesting. We have been pricing out the cost of getting woodwork stripped. We were quoted $1.00/per linear foot and that was the cheap price. The higher price was $3.00/per linear foot. And we got another quote tpday that was $8/per foot. Who knew? We have to measure all the trim and figure out the price of this now.

The difference in price is the difference between "dip" stripping and hand stripping (preferable). As we all know, hand stripping takes a bit more time than throwing some boards in a vat and letting the paint slide off. Some say dip stripping damages the wood and I'm sure it could if the wood is left too long. Guess which one we can afford?

Getting there- weekend by weekend

This weekend I sanded the remaining entry door and then painted 2 of the 3 doors. We also ordered the replacement glass, which will be ready this week. Next weekend we can put in the new glass, finish painting the remaining trim and front door, and then Steve can work on finishing the trim.

A dear friend of mine from my old job who moved to St. Louis may come by Saturday. It will be her first time seeing our work in person. I hope you come Jen!

Steve was working up on the roof doing damage control. He does this every Fall. He also weatherstripped the 2nd floor back door for those ungrateful sots that live up there (sorry they kept me awake until 2am on Saturday- they are on the BAD list right now).

Above is a tight shot of one of the painted doors with cleaned up hardware and stained trim minus door jambs.

The plate is original and like all the other hardware (window, hinges etc...) in the house has a copper-color finish. It's a bit worn. I suppose some day when we have nothing else to do we could get these replated. Any opinions on that? I am certain it is not cheap, but what do you think about "the look"? I don't mind age and patina and even some wear, but what do you think?

The black knobs ( I have a pair) came from the frame house my Dad sold several years ago. Before he sold it, we grabbed a few doors for our house and these knobs.

I wish I could work on the house more, but with my demanding job, it's hard. But at least I know working every weekend we continue to make progress.