Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy Summer!

I know I'm being a sub par houseblogger this summer. I have to admit we've been distracted this year.

After last year, I vowed this would be "the summer of fun," and we are keeping to that promise. Not that house projects are not fun- because they most certainly can be. And sometimes, you need a break.
Here we are at the Silver Lake Dunes in Michigan. We rented 400cc ATVs for a few hours and acted like bad-asses. No, I have never done this before, but it was a blast.

We were in Ludington visiting Steve's family for a week. Here's a shot of Lost Lake, where we spent a quiet afternoon.

It's important to let a dog really be a dog sometimes if you know what I mean.

I promise we'll be back posting about some projects. I need to post the awnings, which are now up and look great. And the pantry is on the horizon.

But in the meantime, everyone make sure and take a little time to swing in that porch swing, have a glass of lemonade, and get a little sunburn on your nose.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Old House Chores

For those of us living in older homes without cooling systems, this time of year brings the dreaded task of installing the window unit air conditioners. It's not one of my most favorite tasks and I don't really like having windows obstructed by them. Plus, they don't blend well with old house decor really. But then again, maybe they do in a way...

Adding to the awkwardness of the task is the fact that we have new (not better!) vinyl windows that are not as sturdy as wood windows. For example, we don't really want to drill holes in the vinyl. Nor do we want the weight of a larger a/c resting on mere vinyl.

We've also found that the companies that sell air conditioners do not really address these issues. It's pretty much up to the homeowner to figure it out. And perhaps that's why you see huge units hanging precariously overhead propped up by a few bricks or boards.

After grappling with this issue for the past few years, we have finally found a solution that is less unsightly and also very secure, which is an issue living on the first floor.

This is one of those mundane tasks that we old house people face. It's one of those things I would think of no interest, but then a commenter asked to see our system and yet again, I realize that these are the types of solutions worth sharing.

First: Steve glued up boards to make the proper thickness, 1/4" above the vinyl window frame. This piece will be on the inside window sill supporting the a/c.

Note: Air conditioners should lean outward so that any condensation drips outside and not on your inside sill.

Here are the boards for each window glued up and ready to be cut to size with the table saw.

Next we removed the window stops.

Here you see the stained ledge in place after being cut to size without the window stop.

And with the trimmed windows stops and firmly in place. As Steve said, "This ain't goin' nowhere!"

The larger air conditioner is screwed into the board making it very secure and stable. We will probably add angle irons for further security.

The a/c unit does not touch the vinyl.

As you can see it's a pretty clean look. I just dislike looking at 2x4s on my window sill or books piled up or whatever.

This is a solution we can live with and best of all, it's permanent. All we have to is pop the a/c in or out as the seasons pass. Like us, the support ledge is there to stay.

Happy Summer!

Monday, June 04, 2007

These things take time

As you well know, a project done right takes way longer than the latter. If we just slapped some paint on our front door and called it a day, we'd have been done weeks ago. Instead, we are doing a "This Old House" quality repair and it's taking a bit longer.

At left you can see the trim has been primed and painted with two coats of Sherwin Williams oil-based Bunglehouse Blue. We reserve the option to add a third coat. On Saturday I scraped all the excess paint off the glass and cleaned the windows. I like the new color.

Also, on Saturday I tackled repairing the buckling veneer on the front door. I used a razor knife and cut out the failing and rotting areas and then using contact cement, glued 2-3 layers of oak veneer into place. Here you see everything clamped up to dry. I also sanded the door and filled any holes or dings with wood filler.

We decided to get a new unlacquered solid brass kickplate, which is going to run us about $82.00. This proving my theory that projects we undertake always go overbudget because we always seem to find a way to add something else. But it will look really nice, last virtually forever, and fit the door better.

I know I could go searching for the right one on ebay or salvage, but we have too many other projects to get going on so we are paying for convenience this time.

What did Steve do while I was working on the front door? Install a 18000 BTU air conditioner in our tenants apartment. He made a custom ledge out of oak stained to match the trimwork that raises the a/c above the vinyl window frame. It is a thing of beauty. No a/c eyesores in our building.

Incidentally, our tenants seem to be working out pretty well. On Saturday one of them told me how much she loves the apartment and how her friends are all jealous. They are quite sweet and considerate so far.