Homeowner Adventures: June in Review

I can’t seem to keep up with all of my house projects adventures as well as my husband, Felix does on a daily basis.  For me, I think it’s much more manageable to give big recaps instead of many small snippets.  Hence me starting a ‘review’ of the month’s activities for you all.

State of my house as of June 31st, 2014

The Attic:

Late Spring, Felix took the hit decided he was going to start cleaning out all of our insulation from the attic.  The previous owners had been something of hoarders and they threw many empty boxes full of packing peanuts in the attic.  You may recall my mom and I went up there once, but we vowed never again.  Felix graciously offered to go work up there instead, which I continue to be thankful for. atticCleaning_8_4_19_2014

Packing peanuts on top of gross, old insulation.


We ran out of Tyvek protection suits.  Luckily, I’d saved an old Halloween costume of Felix’s and he went in the attic dressed like this.  Good thing he didn’t venture outside…  The neighbors might have gotten a bit suspicious.


We have active squirrels in our attic, unfortunately.  They’ve made a mess of things.  All insulation is being removed and once we lock them out, we’ll replace it with nice, warm & fresh insulation.


This is the only light we have in the attic.  Poor Felix… This is a bad job to have.  He was a trooper throughout it.


The Kitchen:

You may remember this picture from when we first bought the house; how I loved my cute little 40’s kitchen cabinets.

Blackstone Kitchen

After finding a leak in the wall, 2 ceilings (one on top of the other) improperly put in, icky floors, rotten ceiling joist from water damage and plywood cabinet bases not worth keeping – everything just had to go.  While I did save all of the cabinet doors, I probably will just start from scratch as my dad will be building me a set of new cabinets in this very style.  All is not lost…

My kitchen now.  This is looking into the right corner, in the pre-image above.


Everything has been removed down to the joist spaces.


During demolition:


Finally cleaned of all nails and debris:


Random things I found in the walls during one of my demo sessions.


Old tile, pipe, shard of light bulb glass, saws-all blade, and the coolest… old leather bathroom tile.  Yes, you heard me right leather!  Did you know back in the day, people used leather as tile?  Ours has a hunter green and mustard-ish color scheme.

Felix and I are demo pros at this point.  But this kitchen… it took us a whole whopping month to demo it.  There was just so much crap in the walls & ceiling and everwhere.  It was a beast.  But we’re now starting fresh in this room and it feels great.  Instead of demoing more out of the kitchen it will soon be the time of building it back up again!  :D

The Basement:

Our house was built pre-plumbing, in 1885.  This means that all plumbing in the house was installed after the house was built (even on top of old plaster walls as we found in the second floor).  And much of the waste lines are original.  (This is all getting removed) and has been our July project so far.

Prepping for the plumbing work that is now, on-going; we had to remove all of the old waste lines that are buried underneath the concrete floor.  Jack-hammering & shoveling sand has been the name of the game.

Looking thru the kitchen floor to the basement below:


Trying my hand at jack hammering (aka demo hammer since it’s smaller than a true jackhammer):


Removing the busted up concrete in buckets (carted up & dumped outside in our backyard):


Then digging out the sand/soil about 18″ down to expose all of the pipes underneath the floor.


Having some fun in the midst of work:


My Route 66 shirt has been my trusty work shirt throughout all of this work.  I actually stitched up a cute 40’s work shirt that I’m supposed to be wearing.  But it’s so cute I don’t want to wreck it.  LoL

The Yard:

As the weather has been getting lovely, I’ve been less inclined to be indoors (stripping woodwork) and have ventured outside to do some yard work instead.

Early in the Spring, we had to have various trees removed from our backyard.  Many were in the way of power lines & the one mega tree was getting ill and was going to eventually fall on our neighbor’s condo building.  So that had to go…  :(


My yard has quickly gone from this:


To this:


To this:


And this:


You can barely see where that bird bath is anymore.

In the backyard, I’ve been slowly hacking away at the day lilies & ferns.  I don’t really have a ‘plan’ yet for the back or the front.  So far, I’m just going to put sod down to clean it up and then will get fancy with the plants as I’m able to next year or so.

My mom and I did go to town removing the day lilies from our front yard and cleaned it up a bit.


At the end of the day we got to this:


It’s just refreshing to see dark soil instead of overgrown/crazy day lilies.

We had to haul away lots of dirt from the front yard (dumped it in a pile in the back).  All of the decomposition of plants & leaves over the years had left us with very rich, but mounding soil.  It’s a good problem to have, technically.  Just more work to dig and haul out one’s soil.


That’s kinda it, in a nutshell.  Lots of activity & the weekends have been leaving Felix and I pretty pooped out come Monday morning.  I’m hoping to schedule a weekend or two away from the house for mini vacations in the next few months.  We need some recharging time, obviously.

What’s happening now:

Plumbing!  Lots of plumbing.

I’ll do another recap at the end of each month – in part to not bombard you all with my crazy house project, but I also don’t have a computer set up at my house yet.  It was the compromise I had to make so that I have a sewing space instead.  I’m sure you all would agree that was the right decision.  :D

P.S.  All images courtesy of Felix.  Isn’t he so nice to share?!  :)

In: House Adventures

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Comments (18)

  1. llynnda July 15, 2014 — 8:40 AM

    All I can really say is OMG !

    1. Liz July 15, 2014 — 11:01 AM


  2. Tasha July 15, 2014 — 9:22 AM

    You guys are astounding. Here we are feeling proud of painting two rooms and you’ve been demoing your entire house for months. lol I can’t wait to see the kitchen in particular, once it’s all complete!!

    1. Liz July 15, 2014 — 11:03 AM

      I can’t wait to make my house pretty. Envious that you’re painting your home as I have to look at bare plaster walls or icky flat cream colored ones – where I haven’t pulled back to the raw plaster yet.

      I love that light blue you choose for your living room. So fresh.

  3. Suzanne July 15, 2014 — 9:25 AM

    Wow. Just wow. You are building that home practically from scratch!

  4. Amy July 15, 2014 — 9:30 AM

    Wow! So many thing going on at once! I wish we had family nearby that had the time to help like your parents have. My brother is just a couple blocks away, and he’s an architect and builder by trade, but he’s so busy with work, his young family, and his own home projects that we talk about helping each other but then end up mostly working on projects independently. And, since I’m wrangling a six-month-old girl, I’m not often able to get into the demo since we don’t want her around it. But, I’m still not sure we’d be able to tackle the attic, the kitchen, the basement, and the yard all in one month! You guys sound like pros!

    1. Liz July 15, 2014 — 11:05 AM

      I totally hear you, Amy. While it does seem like we’ve gotten a lot done, my dad is really only able to help 1 day a week as he has a full time job, side jobs, and a house of his own to refurbish. I’m just so glad we have his expertise whenever we can get him.

      My buns haven’t even seen my new house yet – they’ve been at the bun sitters. I don’t know what all that dust would do to their delicate little lungs. Better safe than sorry.

  5. Gina July 15, 2014 — 10:21 AM

    You guys are amazing. We thought we were hardcore because we put a roof on our house, but we never had to jackhammer anything! And you’re so upbeat about everything. When we had to put that roof on, I was ready to blow up our house, haha! I can’t wait to see how everything turns out!

    1. Liz July 15, 2014 — 11:06 AM

      The roof is the ONE thing we luckily don’t have to tackle. It was put on in 2009, so hopefully it will last a while. :)

      That is hardcore doing it yourself, as I don’t think we would. My husband is not keen on heights.

  6. WOW. I’ve been following along with Felix’s posts, but to see everything consecutively like this really shows how far things have come! You are so close to the rebuilding portion of your project! It’s amazing to think that you get to customize EVERYTHING in your kitchen. I know it’s a long process to get to that point, but gosh, it’s going to be worth it!

    1. Liz July 15, 2014 — 11:07 AM

      Yes! I can’t wait till we get to rebuild. We’re still a ways off from that though as we have some more stuffing to do ie insulation and electrical work before we put in the walls. And we have to move a door & window also. Every step is progress though. :D

  7. K-Line July 15, 2014 — 11:27 AM

    I know I say the same thing every time you post about this house but, wow. You are doing an intense amount of restoration and I can’t imagine how stressful it must be. But this place is going to be awesome when it’s done. A labour of love. So keep on!

    1. Liz July 16, 2014 — 9:00 AM

      So far… it actually hasn’t been stressful. Felix and I got into the mindset that we’d be “camping indoors” before we moved in. So we’ve come to embrace disorder…. or I have… a little. But boy am I looking forward to having at least 1 finished room! :D

  8. MarrieB July 15, 2014 — 12:57 PM

    I’m so impressed with all the work you are doing on your house!

    1. Liz July 16, 2014 — 9:01 AM

      Thanks Marrie; it sure is a lot of hard work. I’m often pooped out at the end of the weekend – I think I could use a vacation soon.

  9. Elisha July 16, 2014 — 12:10 AM

    You have a HUGE yard.

    I have to confess to just kinda scrolling without reading (this is what I do with most blogs! it’s not your post) past the bloodied Felix picture, and doing a double take!

    1. Liz July 16, 2014 — 8:57 AM

      No worries about scrolling through. There are so many blogs out there to keep up with; I oftentimes do the same.

      So… that actually is only 1/2 mine. In my neighborhood there are/were a lot of shared yards between neighbors. So the right side is mine and the left half is my neighbor’s yard. I’ll have to put up a fence eventually just so their wilderness doesn’t come into my cleaned up yard – whenever that happens.

  10. Felix July 18, 2014 — 6:51 AM

    Ah, the old Tidy Serial Killer Halloween costume. Glad we kept that pair of coveralls for 3 years in a closet, as we really got our money’s worth there.

    I have to say – I was present at all of these photos (I took them all), and seeing the before/after comparisons is incredibly stunning to me. I think we’re so into the day to day progress, it’s hard to remember just how much has changed these past few months. Seeing this is amazing to me, and I was there for all of it!

    Also: Bob is a godsend. I don’t know where we’d be without his patience, his boundless energy, his expertise, and most of all his generosity. We are beyond lucky.

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