Monday, December 26, 2016

What Did Scott Do On His Winter Break? Or you never know what you might find!

December has been a frightful month in Portland. The first snow arrived three days before our move which, if you're from Chicago is normal. But in Portland it's cause for school closings, six hour traffic delays and ice on the roads (because Portland is notorious for failing to manage snow and ice on all but the main roadways). 

The second storm hit the week following our move. Not really a problem, lots to do inside and Scott was out of town. The weather finally cleared and warmed a bit, and Scott was off work most of late December. So while I was at work at the shop, he spent most of his time outside in the yard. First up - tackle the remains of the climbing Honeysuckle he removed from the side of the house the day before we moved in. It had been sitting in a pile just off the patio.  This was a two day, four yard waste bag job, but he got it done in fine fashion. 

Next up, pine needles! This is a bigger job than one might imagine. There are pine needles everywhere. Scott started before we moved in removing most of the pine needles on the driveway before the first snow. This past week he tackled the pine needles in the gutters and the roof. Thank goodness for his new battery powered leaf blower, which made the job much easier. Still the downspouts and drain systems to clear out, but add five more yard waste bags to the tally! 

And finally, the patio. Scott seemed to be on a mission to get the covered patio cleared, cleaned and set up. This job also entailed removing the English ivy that was attacking the house slowly (but effectively) at the corner of the patio and living room.

English ivy attacking the house slowly, but effectively!
Clearing the ivy was an experience that will likely be repeated on other projects around the house. It goes something like this...remove the first layer revealing something unexpected, remove another layer revealing a complete surprise and so on. In the case of the ivy, the first discoveries were multiple strands of decorative lights - large blue bulbs, small blue twinkle lights and a string of white plastic partridge lights. Then more ivy with wire and string supports and extension cords running through it. And then a concrete and stained glass pedestal fountain? Yes, really! 

But wait, there's more! Digging deeper into the ivy pile Scott found a cast iron frying pan, a large 1/2 barrel planter, another sunken barrel planter, multiple clay pots, and a trellis anchored to the soffit with wire, hooks and two lengths of chain. Apparently the trellis had tried to make a break for it some time ago. Visually the house looks so much lighter and cleaner, I have to believe the house is sighing in relief. Nicely done, Dear!

Anybody want a fountain?


From our home to yours, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

Moving, Discovering and Editing

We've moved!  We actually got all our "stuff" out of the condo and into the house. Here is the list of things we hoped to accomplish:
  • Paint the office
  • Paint the closets in both small bedrooms
  • Replace the light fixtures in the hallway
  • Pull up carpet in the two small bedrooms
  • Clean the living room top to bottom
  • Clean the small bedroom closet shelves and doors
  • Clean everything else
  • Pull up carpet in the living room
  • Move
  • Clean up the condo for the new owners
  • Collapse
Amazingly, we actually did everything on the list! Husband Scott and Son Scott deserve major cudos for painting and tearing up carpet, respectively. Joe worked especially hard Friday preparing much of the house for our arrival - floor to ceiling in the main living rooms and especially when the carpets came up!  Lets take a look at those living room floors - OMG!

Living room before
Living room - with carpet      
Living room-after
Living room - hardwoods!      

After the movers delivered all the big furniture and the bulk of the boxes, we picked up everything in the storage unit and then fragile items we wanted to move ourselves - guitars, artwork, bikes - the important stuff! And that's when I realized it...the living room is about a foot shorter width-wise than I thought it was. And the love seat in the office is about a foot longer and wider than I thought. Scott thought this was hilarious because I always said the rooms in the condo needed to be a foot wider in each direction.

What my realization actually means is 1) I need to edit out furniture in the living room and office, and 2) since the office was painted a color based on the love seat - yep, Scott gets to repaint it...smarty-pants!

Here are a few more before and after pics. Next entry...Contractor Hell or How many contractors does it take to get a quote?

Fireplace - before
Fireplace - before
Fireplace - after Joe
Fireplace - after Joe
Wet bar - before
Wet bar - after Joe, check out the interior light!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Moving day!

It's the calm before the storm, 7:00 am on moving day.  Scott is over at the house putting the second coat of paint on the office. I'm waiting for the movers at the condo.  Minor things to do here yet - disconnect the electronics (TVs, cable boxes, computers stuff and printer), put the sheets in the dryer, and basically move stuff currently on top of things the movers will be moving.

Yesterday was a BIG day.  The living room was cleaned top to bottom - Joe, my new shop vac, while a bit dim-witted did a more than admiral job sucking up anything he was tasked with, the curtains were taken to the cleaners and my son Scott, as opposed to my husband Scott, took out the carpeting in the living room and cleaned that all up. And, as promised, there are the most beautiful honey oak floors underneath!  Lots of other cleaning and carpet removal was accomplished while husband Scott continued painting. Shout out to my son Scott!  We would never have been ready today without his help and muscles - thank you!

So, no pictures today - too much to do, but I'll have bunches to share with you later this weekend!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Meet Joe...

Well, it's official - We closed on 3301 today!  

And now the work begins.  Today, while I was at work, Scott removed a large climbing honeysuckle from the side of the house, put all the pine needles from the driveway out for pickup in the yard waste bin, patched dozens of tiny holes in the two small bedrooms preparing to paint and painted the ceilings in those bedrooms - needless to say, he's bushed tonight!  

We went over to 3301 tonight after I got home from work to check out his progress and take down the living room curtains to have them dry cleaned.  They are in surprisingly good shape for 50-year old curtains.  

And then there's Joe.  Joe is my new shop vacuum, complete with handle, accessory storage bag and big wheels to make it easy to move him from the dining room to the sunken living room, for instance.  

Meet Joe...

I have the feeling that Joe and I will be really best buds over the course of the next few weeks.  Coming up this weekend: 
  • Paint the office
  • Paint the closets in both small bedrooms
  • Replace the light fixtures in the hallway
  • Pull up carpet in the two small bedrooms
  • Clean the living room top to bottom
  • Clean the small bedroom closet shelves and doors
  • Clean everything else
  • Pull up carpet in the living room
  • Move
  • Clean up the condo for the new owners
  • Collapse
Should be fun! Along the way we're taking lots of before pictures.  I can't wait to share them with you!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

New Discovery - Live Better Electrically!

We have keys! Scott and I went over to 3301 and poked around.  Most of the owners things are gone and only clean up left to do.  While we were looking around we discovered a curious bronze medallion on the garage wall near the utility room door. I was not familiar with it, but Scott new what it was right away and was very excited about it!   

Apparently, the Live Better Electrically campaign was a really big thing from the late fifties through the early seventies. The idea, driven by electric appliance manufacturers (especially GE) and electric utilites, was to move more new construction to electricity from coal, oil and wood fire.  The campaign worked, especially as the western half of the country became more populated and the demand for new housing increased.  New electricity generating plants were built and the general consensus was that eventually electricity would become so inexpensive that consumers wouldn't even have to pay for it. Well, that didn't happen. But the campaign, driven by kickbacks to builders, was an incredible success.   

The campaign included commercials, here is one I found very entertaining: 

It's interesting (as a marketer) that the commercials I have found tout improved quality of life as the biggest benefit to living better electrically, not cost savings. The "GE Theater" of the late 50's featured video pieces as well and hosted a video tour of (then actor) Ronald Reagans home. Here is one of their TV spots:   

So what will we do with this really cool piece if history?  Not sure yet, but it will be prominently featured near the front door.  Stay tuned, moving day is next Saturday!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

While We Wait...Teasers 4

Today I thought I'd share some pictures of the bathrooms at 3301. Because of leaks and damage both bathrooms will need to come out. The bathrooms back up to each other so we're going to steal some space from the hall bath to expand the master.  In addition, we'll be adding a 1/2 bath in the utility room for two reasons - first, because Scott wants it; and second, because we're going to need it while the other bathrooms are rebuilt.  
Smallest master bath in recorded history!
And the shower - missing tiles, fixtures, et al. On the bright side, it does has a great window!
Original pink sinks in the hall we're not keeping them. Once we reconfigure the layout there won't be enough room. But don't worry, they'll go to Re-store where someone will be thrilled to find them!
Pink tub, gray tile...yeah that scheme is going away!
Here's a sneek peak of the bathroom counters were having made for both bathrooms. I can't wait to see them in person!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

While We Wait...Teasers 3

Lots of activity this weekend!  We have the go to sign on the sale of our condo.  Now we just need the appraisal to come in on 3301! We should have that by Friday.  Meanwhile here are pics of the patio and back yard.  Lots to do!  
Covered patio, about 16 X 21 feet. First order next spring? Get a BBQ!
Fireplace/grill on the patio...yes, that makes three fireplaces in the house!
Imagine a large pergola, a fire pit and garden in the way back!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

While We Wait...Teasers 2

Second teaser of the built-ins in the dining room and cool stuff in the living room!    
Built in Secretary in the dining room, just begging to be a charging station!
In the dining room. Not sure of the original intent, we'll use it for albums. If you have any ideas let us know!
Wet Bar in the living room. So much fun, think of the parties!
Needs plumbing work, but we'll have it working soon enough!
And my favorite feature so far...this uber cool fireplace and hood. Not sure what it's made of - tin or copper - but it's finished to look like copper.

Friday, November 25, 2016

While We Wait...Teasers

I took some pictures of the interior of 3301 during the inspection, keeps me entertained on rainy evenings and I have been referring to them while working through design ideas.  Since we're waiting to close, I thought I'd share a few of the cool features as you enter the house here.  I'll share more in the coming days.  Enjoy!

Coat closet with center door knob.
Original wallpaper, only a few nicks. We're going to live with it for a while.      

Behind the grid is the original working Thermo-Tone doorbell...sweet! 
Original working doorbell!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Waiting and Waiting and Oops!

We're supposed to get the keys to 3301 on December 8th and just found that due to a glitch in the Fannie Mae system we now need an appraisal (two weeks before close!)  Yikes!

A little background:
The appraisal had originally been waived by the underwriting system - great! One less thing we have to worry about! We've been going merrily along, scheduling the movers, scheduling meetings with contractors for the Monday after we move in, packing up the condo...all the stuff one does three weeks before a move.

Then "BAM!"  We get the news that now we need an appraisal. The problem isn't the appraisal per se, it's getting one done quickly in this market. The bank is falling all over themselves to get it done in time for us to close on our original date, but recording may slip a day. Or (no, no, no) two days or more which would really put us in a bit of a pickle.  

Scott took the news surprisingly well and I know that there are many folks that have had closings delayed for a lot longer. I should probably settle down. I'll just keep telling myself that.

Have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2016

3301 To Do List

Here's the to do list! Well keep adding to the list, especially as we talk to contractors and get more involved in the projects. And I'll mark things Done as we finish them. Updates will appear in the To Do List page.  

Things To Do

  • Repair dry-rotted joist under master bathroom shower
  • Replace inefficient old water heater with tankless water heater
  • Replace old, leaking galvanized water supply pipes
  • Clean out and encapsulate the crawl space
  • Replace inefficient old furnace (cracked heat exchanger)
  • Replace Zinsco electrical panel
  • Add 1/2 bath in the laundry room
  • Remodel master bathroom
  • Remodel hall bathroom
  • Remodel/organize laundry room
  • Remove carpet from front and corner bedrooms
  • Remove carpet from living room
  • New floor in entry/dining room
  • Remove carpet from master bedroom
Interior Paint:
  • Front and corner bedroom ceilings/closets
  • Living room walls/ceilings
  • Other closets
  • Dining room
  • Master bedroom
  • Clear plants/brush that are attached to the house
  • Clean gutters/roof
  • Clear out sewer drains
  • Paint
  • New landscape
  • Reconfigure kitchen cabinets
  • New counters
  • Backsplash
  • Appliances/fixtures
  • Paint

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Welcome to 3301!

My husband, Scott, and I have lived in condos for years, back in the Chicago area and for the last nine and a half years in Portland, Oregon. We were lucky to have the opportunity, even in this real estate market, to purchase a home not even a mile from where we lived.

3301 is a smaller brick ranch in built in 1964.  Some may call it a time capsule house, as it hasn't had any real updates or modifications in its 50+ years. It's not Mid Century Modern, although it has many cool features. We're calling it Mid Century Modest.

Our plan?  Fix the serious structural issues, catch up on all the required maintenance, update the mechanicals and highlight the cool features of our new home.  We did a lot of research on design, period influences and materials. We are influenced by the Mid Century Modest Manifesto penned by Pam Kueber (check it out here) and an article called Mid Mod Remod Dos and Don'ts. Unfortunately the article appears to have been taken down.  After all our research we've settled on the following guiding principles:

1) Try to stay period appropriate whenever possible.
2) Energy and water efficiency over vintage.
3) Use economical, readily available materials.
4) Use materials that will last for another 50+ years.
5) Have fun with the design, the work and the results!

So that's it.  I'll post a page with the to do list and we'll keep adding to it and checking things off as we go.  And there will be pictures, before and after, for every project!