Winter Update #2 Panel Begone!

Just as we were struck with the curiosity of what was under the kitchen paneling when we first moved in, the long winter led us to wonder the same about the living room panel that we painted over.

ImagePulling it off the wall revealed an awesome 60s throwback color of Avocado.

ImageBut alas it didn’t go with the decor of the room, so we decided to remove all the paneling and sand and patch the gritty surface and found an even more exciting paint color.


So we painted it using Behr Ultra’s Sage Grey.

ImageWhat we were left with was a great looking accent wall:

ImageNext on the painting list: The Bedroom!

Post by Lanny

The Wall

We haven’t been very good at house progress posts lately.  In reality, for the past number of weeks, we haven’t really done a whole lot by way of improving the house.  But there is a lot of progress we just haven’t posted about.

The most obvious thing that comes to mind is the kitchen wall madness that we started attacking mere hours after the house was ours, and completed within a matter of weeks.

Oh, the wall.  The printed panel wall.  Here’s what it looked like when we bought the place:

Again, this is a photo from the listing (i.e. THOSE UGLY THINGS ARE NOT OURS).

As if regular crappy wood paneling wasn’t enough, this paneling actually had a floral & stripe pattern printed right onto it.  That’s right: combo perma-wallpaper and crappy paneling (CPWCP).  YIKES.

After busting through the door for the first time after closing, we went straight to ripping up the carpet (as you probably remember).  Once we were assured that there actually were hardwood floors in the living room, office, and hallway, Lanny started hacking at the wall.  He revealed this nightmare lurking behind the CPWCP:

Which means we went straight from CPWCP (below, right) to the heaven-help-us-crazy-kitschy-actual-wallpaper (below, left).

Coffee carafes, coffee grinders, tea cups, baskets of fruit, flower arrangements, single pieces of assorted fruits, decorative bowls, pots of honey, radishes, MY GOD WHAT WASN’T ON THAT WALLPAPER?  Lanny was temporarily rendered insane by the wallpaper and wanted to keep it.  Some of our friends were infected by that awful virus as well.  And while I can find this type of kitschy crap charming sometimes, this wall in my house in my kitchen that already has nasty linoleum floors that need to be replaced, outdated honey oak cabinets, blue?green?grey? formica countertops, and old appliances is just not the place for it.

My parents and sister came for a visit shortly after we moved in, and thank goodness for that.  Aside from some major landscaping accomplishments (post on that yet to come) and various other projects, they helped us tackle that wall.  One wall.  So much work.  So Much Worth It.

Late one night, I reached my limit with the darn thing, and just started ripping off the paper.  (anyone ever read The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman? Yeah.)  Mom joined me.

Photo Credit: Rebekah Zimmerman

GREAT NEWS! It started coming off really easily just by ripping it off without any treatment!  Photo Credit: Rebekah Zimmerman

ZEN MOMENT                                                                                                                                               Photo Credit: Rebekah Zimmerman

We just kept ripping and ripping and ripping. I was on large duty. Mom was on detail.               Photo Credit: Rebekah Zimmerman

Considering the horror stories I had read online about wallpaper removal, I guess we had it pretty easy.  But.  It was a pain, for sure.  And once we were done removing all the little bits of paper, we were left with a pretty sad wall.  And this is where it really pays off to have a Won’t Stop Until It’s Perfect Dad.  My dad sanded and spackled the heck outta that wall.  If it were up to Lanny and me, we would’ve done minimal prepping and painted the wall just to get it over with already.  But my Dad didn’t stop until that sucker was smooth as  glass.  It was an amazing feat of patience I will never know personally.

AND SO ANYWAY.  Then we could paint.  And here it is now, in all of its non-CPWCP and de-kitschified glory.

Color: Behr, Fashion Grey

I like to arrange little vignettes on the table that nod to the wall’s previous manifestations (you know, in a pretty–not nightmarish–way).

The End.

Post by Amanda

Just a Simple Workbench: a Lesson in Home Renovation

What I originally thought would be a 30 minute project actually transformed into a 2 week long venture in the basement.  Thus illustrating the point: when you start a home project, be prepared to get more than you bargained for.

I received a vise to use for woodworking projects and set about to attach it to the countertop of the already existing workbench in the basement.  I quickly realized the countertop was actually a thin piece of particle board attached to a solid frame and would not stand up to the stress of long term use.

The before view of our shop.

The answer seemed simple enough.  Go down to the local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, and purchase an appropriately sized board that would be far more durable.  I found an old slab of butcher block that was a bit larger than needed, but I thought I could simply cut it down to size.  When I came home, I began to remove the old wood surface but then realized I would need to also remove the back pegboard to get to the last nails holding the surface down.  So, I was prying the pegboard back when mouse droppings began to roll out from behind it.  I opened it up to reveal this:


It seemed the little fella passed away some time ago, so I wasn’t worried about an ongoing problem, but I still had to clean it all out.  Buried under the rubbish was also an x-rated 8mm film reel and a flyer for it, a relic from the early 70s it seemed.  It too was discarded among all the other mouse droppings and nest scraps.  But not before Amanda ran upstairs to get us these “sanitation masks.”

Dad supervised.

Once I had swept up the area, it was clear that some deeper sanitation was required.  I cut and threw away sections of the old wood frame and applied vinegar and KilZ to areas that were obviously nasty.

At this point, it was clear to me that the frame would have to be rebuilt as well.  After a long dismantling period, I salvaged the bulk of the wood and nails from the existing bench.  At this point, I decided to rebuild the frame larger to accomodate the larger sized butcher block surface. But not before accidentally breaking a light bulb, adding broken glass to the list of clean up duties.

Exactly like the old frame only slightly bigger

The completed bench minus the vise

So, all of this over two weeks was for this:

And that’s why when you start a simple thirty minute project, don’t be shocked when two weeks of your life fly by before it’s finished.

Post by Lanny

Unfinished Projects

Basements seem to be the universal place for bizarre doings.  Some of our homeowner friends discovered odd things in their basements (my favorite is the fold-out-of-the-wall toy train track), and we found all sorts of odd things in most of the basements during our house hunting.  Here is the first interesting relic we found in our basement (another post to come on more basement “treasures”).

We’re not quite sure what it is, but my best guess is that it was intended to be a fireplace facade.  However, it seems that after the base was laid, the project was abandoned.  And what was under that big brown lid?  A giant pile of rubbish which the sellers were kind enough to leave for us. It was mostly mortar and bricks, but I also found a toy car, marbles, cigarette butts, and broken bits of plastic.

After several bags of garbage swept out from the inside…

I was left with an empty, awkward brick box in the middle of the basement floor.

 Now we have to figure out what to do with it.  I’m considering just taking a sledge hammer to it, but I’m willing to take suggestions on repurposing ideas.  Leave your vote in the comments!

Posted by Lanny 

Birthday, Family, Food, Friends & Dirt

Our little Lanny turned the big 3-0 last Tuesday.

Blueberry pie!

His parents came from Nebraska for a lovely visit.  They were oh-so-very helpful with home progress (especially with outside things) (more on that later), but we also took time to enjoy the weather and our time together.  They brought Lanny’s beloved croquet set to us now that we finally have a yard to play it in!

Willa begging for popcorn (who could blame her?).

After their departure, brother Aaron & Hannah came for the weekend to celebrate with more fun & food.  Like these delicious cheesecake bites that Hannah & I concocted (shortbread, honey chevre, & homemade garden rhubarb-strawberry sauce)!

And spring rolls, of course.

We threw our first party and could finally comfortably fit a big group of friends in our house (I was having so much fun, I only took a couple of pictures!).  It feels amazing to actually have the space to do this kind of thing.

And my big gift to Lanny to commemorate this landmark birthday?  His very first tumbling composter!  I mean really, how cool is my partner?  No fancy watches or e-readers for this guy!  Just a big bin to transform decomposing kitchen scraps and garden waste into magical nutrient-rich dirt!

We have been wanting to compost for years, and just haven’t done it yet.  Especially since the bulk of our diet comes from fresh produce, we always feel awful sending away all those great scraps to the landfill when it could be breaking down and feeding our plants instead.  There really is no excuse to not compost.  It’s something that can be done on a tiny scale or a huge scale, and there are so many methods and options that really– we all ought to be doing this.  Even if you’re not a gardener, just reducing the amount of waste you send to the landfill is reason enough.  And pretty much everyone knows someone who is a gardener or who has indoor plants or who uses chemical fertilizer.  Compost can be used in place of icky chemical fertilizers and is so so good for both indoor and outdoor plants.

ANYWAY.  Once we really get cranking with composting, we’ll post our findings and progress.  For now, here are some fun pictures of our first experience with the tumbler.

Step one: open lid.

Step two: add scraps.

Step three: make sure to add brown (carbon) and green (nitrogen) materials in roughly equal parts. Hannah helped us find dead leaves around the premises to add to our kitchen scraps to ensure we had both types of materials.

Since we don’t have much on the brown list (dry leaves, twigs, hay, etc.), we shredded some paper bags to even out all of the kitchen scraps and flowers.

Step four: shut the lid.

Step five: give it a tumble!

I hope the next 30 years are even better for my dear, and that he makes the most delicious dirt our plants have ever known!

Post by Amanda

Living Room Transformation, Part 1 of Many

Ahh, the living room.  The gathering room.  The conversations.  The movies.  The winter snuggling.  The reading.  The playing.  With so many good memories about to be made in this room, we placed a lot of our initial energy on whipping it into shape. 

It really wasn’t a pretty sight at the beginning.  I mean, you saw the horrific before photo of the living room, right?  Here’s a refresher if you missed it:

EEGADS, am I right?  (Again, please remember, this photo is from the listing of our house–that is not our furniture or stuff!!)

One of the things on our required list (we really should post that full list sometime!) was wood floors in most of the house.  The listing for our house boasted wood floors throughout the main floor (except kitchen & bathroom); however, the living room, hallway, and one bedroom were covered in hideous carpet when we were looking at the house.  And we couldn’t pull it back to check out the condition of the floors, so we were really anxious to do just that once the place was ours.  (Side note: this stressed me out to no end.  I had nightmares of pulling back the carpet only to find no floor at all– just a deep hellish pit). 

Immediately after closing on the house, we went to our apartment to scoop up Ms. Willa and then drove her to her new house for the first time.  After enjoying her first run in the yard (video of that rompus event here), we went inside and started thrashing at the carpet (aka the scourge of our 1960’s ranch).  I mean, my heavens.  Look again at that carpet.  You have to wonder.

Mr. hubby had bought me a prybar weeks prior to get me pumped about ripping up the scourge, and boy did we whip that sucker out right away!  And…we found….



The only real problem was, for goodness sake, the installers of the carpet went way overboard with stapling the carpet pad STRAIGHT INTO THE FLOOR.  First of all, I’ve never even seen staples in the pad like that.  The weight of the carpet which is secured by the tack strips around the perimeter of the room ought to suffice, right?  And if you would want a little more reinforcement, I could understand putting one modest staple in each corner or something.  Maybe even a few sporadic staples.  But these people?  They stapled just about every inch all the way around the perimeter AND down the middle of the floor wherever they had strips of pad.  Did I mention they stapled right into the floor?

Please note Willa’s look of shock and horror.

It really was hard work.  Lanny pulled up the tack strips with the prybar and hammer as I yanked out the staples with a flathead screwdriver and pliers.  Word to the wise: if you ever face the task of ripping out tack strips, do take the time to put something (cardboard, wood, rubber) under the prybar or whatever you’re using to protect the floor from dents when leveraging.  As for the staples, my preferred method was grabbing on with the pliers and pulling up.  You’ll find a rhythm to the madness.  Also, I think technically it’s advised to pull out the carpet and pad entirely before getting into the hard work, but we just rolled it back as we went. 

Lunchy break.

The good news is, when there is the promise of hardwood floors, you really can’t keep the ZH fam down, so we powered through until every last blasted staple was pulled and all the tacks were trashed. With blistered hands and excitement, we took some moments to revel in the fruits of our labor.

Mmm…wood floors.

Do my muscles look bigger?

The end result is definitely less impressive than the initial corner we had pulled back as there are scratches and dull spots basically everywhere.  But, we polished ‘er up with some olive oil and lemon juice, and she’ll do just fine until we can refinish it later on (way, way later on).  Even with all the scratches, I will never understand why anyone would’ve covered up that floor.  Incomprehensible.

Now, moving along, let me call your attention to the second bane of the living room’s existence.  AKA, these guys:

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Those, in fact, are blue seashell blinds.  I know!!

I swear to you, these shook me to my core so deeply that, again, nightmares ensued.  And as it turns out, getting decent blinds custom fitted is pricey.  And so are curtains.  As I am wont to do, I agonized over the decision for weeks, but, finally mostly out of desperation, we together decided to go for curtains for now.  After having lived in the house for 2 months with those blinds, I think I may have been even more excited about getting rid of them than the carpet. 

This post is getting long, so without further ado, let me show you where we’re at today with the living room.  We’ll do a full post on hanging curtains, our paint colors, and other designy things at some point as well, but I wanted to get an “after” pic (which is actually an “in progress” pic) up since it’s been requested.

An honest picture of where we’re currently at with the living room (complete with clutter on the surfaces!).

Enjoy!  We’re still not finished, but at least the nightmares about floor pits and armies of devious seashells have stopped!  And really, can you believe that is the same room?  More pictures & tales to come!

Post by Amanda