Shopping Spree

I’m writing this post from the beach at Martha’s Vineyard. Nick is at home holding down the fort (um, what’s left of it after all that demo) and taking care of the pugs while I’m off to exotic places for a Bachelorette Party. Don’t think because I’m not there house stuff has come to a halt! While I will bitch up a storm if things don’t move quickly, Nick is the driving force behind this operation. It’s more than likely when he’s out of town that I will NOT get as much done as him…if anything.

Anyway, while I’ve been away, Nick has been in sort of a shopping spree. I’ve been receiving texts/pictures of what he’s been buying. And there are some awesome deals. Shall we play show and tell?

First purchase – Brazillian Cherry frosted interior doors. These are solid doors that Nick for for $45/each, and he bought 6 doors. He looked up all the info on these and they average $1500-1800/each. If we go on the high end, that’s ~$11k retail in doors for $280 total.


Second purchase – a Kohler Purist Line vanity sink and vanity. The sink alone is $847.40 retail. Nick got this whole thing for $320.

Location: DuPage Restore

Then I started getting frantic texts while taking the bus from Boston to the MV Ferry about some cabinets. I was texting back, my phone wasn’t working – it was a whole thing. Luckily, I was able to use a friend’s phone to call Nick and let him know to buy ’em! These cabinets set him back $3000 for approx 32 brand new cabinets, the decorative panels, and a bunch of granite slabs (for the bathrooms). Nick found a label on the back of one of the cabinets that tells us all sorts of info – manufacturer, store, etc. These are made (and current model still available on the website) by Downsview Kitchens and sold through NuHouse in the Chicagoland area. NuHouse is only in the Merchandise Mart at this time, so we estimate the cabinets come in at somewhere around $30-50K in retail value!





He also bought some new windows (omg – more windows) for the house and a French door for the back of the house. I don’t have costs or pictures of those things, but it seems like it was an expensive week for him. I’ll just sit back and have another cider while he continues to hold down the fort!


Demolition Weekend Recap

This last weekend was our Demo Party. We had quite a good turnout on Saturday. We had 19 people show up ready to work! We had backyard people, inside people, and floaters. And every single person was a Rockstar! Seriously, we asked a lot of our friends and family and they responded. I’m not sure how many felt like they were hit by a bus the next day, but they rocked it Saturday.

Outside we had Grandma and Grandpa Jacob manning the fire. Remember all that “landscaping” we pulled out a while back? Well, it needed to be disposed and it couldn’t go into the dumpster. So we burned it. Only wood – no garbage. We burned through that entire pile of foliage plus a bunch more that got chopped down during the day by my dad. It’s actually starting to look like a yard and not a forest preserve!

Inside was just as amazing. Our friends were tasked with taking every wall down. If it’s a wall, it’s coming down. And they freaking delivered! By the end of Sunday we had most of the wallboard (I’m not sure we ever figured out what that stuff really is) down except for a few pieces in some corners.

We also have all the ceilings down and cleaned up except for the dining/living room ceiling. And that’s mostly because we ran out of room in the dumpster. Looks like we’ll be getting dumpster #3 very soon.

Nick is in Atlanta for work and he said he was excited to have a couple days away from Frankie. Sad isn’t it? We can’t wait to go to work so there is a break from the house work!

Recap on Demo Party:

  • 19 people came to help
  • 40 yards of garbage tossed
  • 20+ walls gone
  • 4 ceilings gone
  • 50+ hotdogs consumed
  • Tons of foliage/trees burned
  • 150 outlets and miles of electrical wire removed from the basement
  • Not one major injury!

…and tons of work accomplished.


Some in-process Pictures

Walls coming down in Living Room and Master Bedroom

Angel of the Dumpster

The Dying Fire

Walls down – Ceiling on the Floor

Walls / Ceiling down – laundry room, second bedroom

Dr. Seuss Conduit, 150 electrical outlets, miles of wire

 End of the Weekend Pictures
(Please pardon the dust!)

From Living Room to Bedroom/Bathroom

From Living Room to Bedroom/Bathroom

From Laundry Room to Bedroom/Basement Stairs

From Laundry Room to Bedroom/Basement Stairs

From Master Bedroom to Hall/Other Bedroom

From Master Bedroom to Hall/Other Bedroom

From Living Room to Master Bedroom

From Living Room to Master Bedroom

From Living/Dining Room to Hall/Bathroom/Bedrooms

From Living/Dining Room to Hall/Bathroom/Bedrooms

From Dining/Living Room to Kitchen

From Dining/Living Room to Kitchen

Looking from Den to Kitchen

Looking from Den to Kitchen


Happy Anniversary

Nick and I celebrate our first wedding anniversary over the weekend. How did we celebrate? Well, the dictator made me shovel insulation.

We I have been creating quite the mess in the house by tearing down plaster board/dry wall covered in plaster/some sort of weird material we’ve never seen on the exterior walls so that we can reframe them and add insulation. I created organized piles of mess while Nick created mess when he decided he wanted to “help.”  We have since decided that we will take down all the walls and replace with drywall. Anyway, we needed to get rid of the mess before the big Demo Party we are having next weekend. So we got a dumpster. It was big. And we filled it.

We’ll be getting out second dumpster for the party so that we can get rid of all that garbage. But until then, let me do a little show and tell with where we are now.


Living Room – Before the Dumpster


Hallway – Before the Dumpster


Hall/Bath/Bedroom – Before the Dumpster


Bath/Bedroom – Before the Dumpster


Kitchen/Dining Room – Before the Dumpster



Den/Kitchen/Dining/Living Room – After the Dumpster

We don’t have a lot of pictures of the after, but if you can tell how clean it looks just paint that image to the rest of the rooms. We are standing at the end of the original house and can see all the way to the other side of the house. We got a lot done!


More Windows and a Water Feature

Nick somehow managed to get another great deal on more windows at the Restore. This somehow was an even batter deal, even with Habby Hour. So, I guess he spun a 15% and then had the 10% from the club (and don’t forget it gets totaled together) so that’s a grand total of 25% off. While he was there, they were putting out new Anderson double casement windows (retail ~$389/each) marked at $55/each. He bought all of them – 13 windows. He also bought one more large double hung window that I’m not even going to add into the savings here. Mostly because I have no idea what he paid for it…

Anyway, the total for all the windows came out to somewhere around $550. These windows retail for close to $5057 without tax! We basically paid 10% of Retail. Love that!

But then we had to get them home. Nick had called his dad and asked him to meet us at the Restore to take the windows back to our house. When he got there, Nick’s mom and brother were also in tow. His mom thought she would just ride in our car back to the house, but it was packed to the gills with stuff already. Sorry!

Nick’s brother is also working on a house, so he found a light fixture and some trim he wanted to buy…I guess no one realized how many windows Nick actually bought. That poor truck!

Nick is all about safety as he secured everything on the truck (sarcasm). We are hug fans of ratchet straps. Not only  did we use all the ones that are carried in the truck, but we pulled out the ones we keep in the car. They really are useful in this kind of application..

Nick securing the light fixture


Danny is happy


action shot

Nick’s mom was freaking out a bit on the way to the house. She was afraid something was going to come off the truck, but it didn’t. Everything stayed right where it needed to be!

So what is this water feature business? Well, we opened the ceiling in the kitchen when the cabinets came down. It wasn’t intentional, but it happened. And not the whole ceiling, just a small part of it. This part is however right where the roof it leaking. We put a garbage can under it, but there was still water going everywhere. To try to contain where the water went, we attached a tarp to the ceiling to catch all the water and drain it into the bucket. It actually works really well!!


More Demo

We have a demo party scheduled for the weekend of June 6 & 7, so we plan on gutting this thing fairly quickly. If you were not invited through Facebook, please feel free to come on over. In the meantime, we started taking down walls in the house. Actually, I started it. Nick kind of came in and took over… Story of my life!

Anyway, I started in the living room/dining room. We aren’t 100% sure of which interior walls we want to take down to redo, so I started on exterior walls. We totally want to take those down to re-frame them and insulate, insulate, insulate.

I went from this: 
To this:

To this:

Fairly quickly. I had controlled piles and messes so when the dumpster is dropped we can get rid of the mess easily. We also are really impressed with the materials used in 1959, so we are trying to nicely take off the trim to possibly reuse it. It’s some good thick pine – nothing you would see today. I had a pile for that.

I had a system.

Then Nick happened.

He decided he wanted the wall down between the kitchen and living room/dining room. It took him approx 2 minutes to go from this 

To this 

View of (missing) wall from kitchen

Notice the mess? Ugh! I just stared at him from under my face mask, eye protection and ear muffs. Eyes of Death.

So I am sure you are noticing the top part of the walls are still there. While the rest of the walls were made of some sort of plaster board, the decorative cove around the room was all plaster with metal lathe. Nick tackled that with the air hammer on Sunday. It’s only partially done because it’s a pretty thick area. And we don’t want to damage the ceiling as it’s fine in the living room. The kitchen ceiling is a different story… One for another day.


Top Plaster Removed



We got a bit more destructive

The paneling is down on one wall. The cabinets in the kitchen are down. What can we break next? 

We started really ripping the kitchen apart!! Nick wants to get all the galvanized pipe out if the house. To do that, some walls will need to sacrificed. Actually, at some point most of the walls will be sacrificed for one reason or another. So he started ripping the back wall down in the kitchen. 

We were surprised to find plaster on top of drywall. We expected to find plaster and lathe. How excited are we that it’s not?! Pretty damn excited. So he got to do the fun part while I watched. And then the ceiling came down! 

The wood is so wet that once the vibrations started, the soffit couldn’t handle it. It just collapsed on itself. Here is the mess Nick created.  

King of the Garbage

 He’s like a goat on top of his mountain of garbage. Guess what I got to do. No guess. I got to clean this mess up! I’m such a lucky girl!!

Here is what it looked like when I got done with it:


Kitchen Destruction

I also finished ripping up the underlayment that was still there and hammered in the staples. Then I wanted to get to rip stuff apart so I attacked the carpet in the new part of the house. 



And Done!

On a side note. Does anyone else see the weird things in the last picture? Orbs or dust? Let me know what you think in the comments.   


Curiosity Killed the Paneling

FrankenhouseInProgress001So, Nick and I wanted to start breaking some stuff in the house. You know, make it look like we actually did something. Unfortunately for the den and the paneling it became the focus of our destruction. There really was some reason behind the ripping down of the paneling – we wanted to see what was behind it. The focus is trying to make the house as efficient as possible.

What did we find? Cinder block. This house is built like a brick shithouse. Seriously built very well. Ok, the original house is. No comment on the new part at this time. However, we did not find any insulation. None. Which means we need to frame and insulate anything that is still on the outside. Bonus: the paneling is 3/4″ thick pine. We will be reusing this wood for a project yet to be determined in the future.

In the midst of all this destruction, we had a revelation about the layout of the house. Right now the new part doesn’t flow very well into the old part of the house. We realized that if we took out one window that was still in the den, put a door into the bedroom and closed off the original door, we would have a master suit of sorts. Other than taking out some of the cinder block, there is not too much work to make the flow much, much better.

Door In Den

Yellow Outline Indicates New Door Position


New Layout of House (click to enlarge)


Of course, we had a bit of fun this day and installed a “Glory Hole” while trying to figure out placement. If you don’t have a sense of humor during this kind of remodel, you won’t last long.

Gotta Have a Sense of Humor

Gotta Have a Sense of Humor



What the F- is that?!

Saturday brought us rain. But it also brought us the task of picking up items Nick has purchased the day before at Habitat for Humanity’s Restore. This particular store does Habby Hour on Fridays. You spin the wheel to get a chance for a % off your purchase. Nick spun a 40%. He’s also a member at that store and gets an additional 10% off all purchases. So this was huge! He bought some pool stuff for my sister, an airjet tub, windows, a medicine cabinet for his brother, and other assorted items. Needless to say, the tub and windows would not fit in my car no matter how much he tried.

So, Saturday we met his parents with the pickup truck at Restore to transport our purchases to the house. While we were there we found a bunch more new windows at $75 each. We looked it up and found these Anderson 400 Casement windows sell for $259-$279 depending on the size. We got around $3500 in windows for less than $600! That’s a good deal. Needless to say, we needed to get more in that little Ranger.


Packed Ranger

While we were loading everything (and we still had to put 2 windows in the car), Nick’s mom says to me, “And you haven’t even seen what’s in the backyard. There is a surprise that Nick bought.” Wait, what?!

I knew she wasn’t supposed to say anything, so I called him out on it. He tried to keep a straight face, but he couldn’t lie. Ugh!

When we got to the house, I went directly to the back yard. Nick was not happy that his mom gave away the secret, but she didn’t give it all away! I rounded the corner and saw this:

What the F-?!

I knew it was some sort of conveyer belt, but I had no idea what we would be using to do. After I asked in a not-so-calm way what it’s for, Nick explained that we would be adding a shaker box to it.

To help everyone else understand, we have A LOT of pea gravel in the yards. At some point we’ll actually want grass to grow, so we will need to get rid of the gravel to get to dirt. Also, in the spirit of reuse, we can use the pea gravel for drain tile or something else.

Makes sense, right?

And that is how I ended up with a 30′ conveyer belt in my backyard.


The Demise of the Kitchen

Kitchen-1Here I am like a hunter with her kill – the upper kitchen cabinets! My tools of choice are a hammer and crow bar. I also used a screwdriver…Yes, I used manual force!

This weekend I ripped apart the old kitchen. I removed all the old cabinets and underlayment that was under the vinyl tile that was there when we closed on the house. Nick has decided that he wants to keep the lower cabinets for his workshop to keep tools. I think he’s planning on getting some cheap counter top to put on there. The rest will be going to the garbage pile.

While I did most of this myself, I did need some Nick brute force for a few things. This Delicate Flower (I refer to myself this way) just did not have the power to rip some of this apart with her bare (gloved) hands. I wish I would have gotten a video of the first half of the counter he ripped out. It was much more violent!

Here are the before & afters:

Before - Kitchen

Before – Kitchen

Kitchen - After

Kitchen – After


Kitchen - Before

Kitchen – Before

Kitchen - After

Kitchen – After

That big cabinet in the middle of the shot is being modified to become smaller since we ripped part of it into useless when taking everything apart. It’s off the wall and sitting in the middle of the kitchen until it can be finished being modified (the right side looking at it is done). Then it will move to the original garage as a staging area.

Since I also ripped out the underlayment, I had tons of staples sticking out of the floor boards. I tried pulling a couple out, but I think they were so old they just broke off. Instead I played wack-a-mole on the floor with my hammer. My right side is feeling it this morning…

Once I can get to the pipes, I’ll be cutting those apart to remove all the galvanized pipe to make way for copper. I’m sure I’ll need a nose plug because the water that came out of the pvc under the sink was rank!


A Bit of Yard Work

Sorry, folks for not updating A LOT sooner. Nick and I took a vacation and got to work when we got back. So where are we?

We have been working on some small stuff here and there while making a plan. We also had been waiting for the weather to get nicer so that we can get out the tenants we did not realize were living in the house – raccoons. Yes, I said racoons…ugh! This is not my first time dealing with racoons living in an attic, so I know what a pain it can be to remove them. Not only that, these guys seem to have been living there for YEARS. We have set some traps and will be relocating what we find. Nick actually saw one yesterday and said it was about 40-50 lbs. I had no idea they could get that big!

In the meantime, there has been some visible progress: yard work. Our yard is a disaster. And there were thorn bushes around the house. I think it’s a weed that got out of control because I can’t see a thorn bush being landscaping! What did we do? We pulled it all out!! Nick’s brother came over with his truck and helped us pull out all the dead, thorny, and random foliage that was taking over the front and the side of the house. We captured some of the action in videos:




 And here are some before and after pics. It’s not super awesome, yet, but it looks a hell of a lot better!


Before Brush Removal

Before Brush Removal

After Brush Removal

After Brush Removal


Before Brush Removal

Before Brush Removal

After Brush Removal

After Brush Removal