Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Tile

I got new tile today...from Roma Tile in Watertown.  The other tile store wouldn't
take back the other floor tile because it was "special order."  That was news to me.
And there's nothing on their invoice to state a special order could not be exchanged
or returned.  I may pursue it but thankfully the cost isn't a huge deal in the scheme
of things.  I'll probably donate it to a charity when I donate my kitchen appliances.

The people at Roma were much more helpful and gave me samples so
I could see everything in my house which makes all the difference in the world.

The new floor tile is Sant'Agostino Ferro, a ceramic tile from Italy.
The color is called black but it's a dark gray with subtle striations of lighter
gray and a tiny but of rust.  I got it in 6-inch by 24-inch pieces which I'll
stack in a grid pattern.  And it was a very reasonable $8.95 per square foot.

Although it could lean to a very modern setting...

...I think it has very traditional soapstone associations.  

I actually also see it as foundation of gray flannel.
The white subway tile will be a crisp white cotton shirt. 
And with a Greek key belt.

I'm much more comfortable with this choice.

The plumbing and electrical work have begun and I hope to have
the inspections completed next week so we can start closing up the walls.

I thought the beams in the ceiling just outside the bathroom were worth showing.
Not only are they gorgeous but there's some markings carved into them.
I'm not exactly sure what they mean but I think it's some method of keeping
track of which beams go where or some kind of checks-and-balances system to
ensure that all joists were pegged in to the main beams.  There are very 
few of these big major beams and as much as I love them, their placement
just didn't make sense leaving them exposed.

And, finally, thank you all for your well wishes for Angus!
He just had his follow-up visit to the ophthalmologist and he's
healed very well.  The surgery cost about the same as a 
Shaw sink and Rohl bridge faucet but it was well worth it.

Here's the happy boy this morning.  He's one handsome dude.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Around Here

All photos from my Instagram

It's almost summertime.  When the warm and humid
air meets the cold ocean air, we can get really foggy mornings.
And a 75 degree day can suddenly turn to 55 degrees when
the sea breeze backs in.  It's hard to judge what to wear.

But it's planting time.  All the garden centers and
nurseries are packed with urban gardeners looking for
something new to plant in their little plots of earth.

All the lilacs, Lily of the Valley and tulips
have yielded to Spirea...

...and allium...


...and bearded iris.

I had in my dining room?

I'm happy to see it thriving outside.

What I'm not happy about is my bathroom floor tile.

It looked beautiful in the store.  I even took a little piece of
floor that had been taken up from the hallway so I could match the color.
I think I was just so impressed with how real it looked.

But when I have the tile juxtaposed against the real wood floor,
it looks...well, really fake.

I'd say it's a faux bois faux pas.  But better to figure it out before it's installed.

I'm hoping to pay a restocking fee and get something different.

Finally, it's been a really challenging week.

Angus, one of my three cats, has had a problem with his eyes that's
gotten progressively worse.  It's called entropion which is a turning
in of the eyelids.  Can you imagine what it would feel like having all of
eyelashes growing in your eyes.  It seemed to have gotten significantly
worse over the past few weeks so he finally had his surgery last Thursday.

When I went to pick him up on Thursday night, he got his e-collar off and
immediately rubbed his eye against the carrier and ripped out a stitch.  
I decided to readmit him and pick him up the next day after the eye
doctor had a chance to look at him.

This is what he looked like when he got home.
It was a tough few days with an upset, hurting little boy
that could get his cone off in a second and didn't want to sleep.
The pain meds seemed to make him only more agitated.
It's hard when they don't understand what's going on.

But I'm happy to say that after five days, he's healed very quickly
and as the swelling goes down his big almond eyes are coming back.

He still wears the cone at night and while he's unattended but
he's able to enjoy a few moments without it when I can watch him constantly.
He seems much happier and hopefully this will be the end of the problem.

That's what's going on around here.

* * * * *

Thoughts and prayers to the people of Oklahoma!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Silent Paint Remover

Two Christmases ago, I asked Santa for a new toy:  a Silent Paint Remover.

It's an infrared lamp that heats up old paint allowing it to be scraped off.  I have a
lot of old doors and trim and although it's a pretty expensive toy, I thought it would
be a good investment especially since it was on Santa's dime. 

I decided to start with the salvaged door I bought for the bathroom.  I had already
taken off the little lock and stripped it so it's all set to go back on the finished door.

The lamp gets really hot so I set myself up on the back porch where
I could set the lamp down on the old mill stone table.  I don't know what
the manufacturer recommends doing with the hot lamp.  I put the instructions
in a safe place and as soon as I can remember where that is, I'll let you know.

The tool with the red handle is a three-sided scraper that comes with the kit.

You hold the lamp up to the painted surface and in 20 to 60 seconds, the
paint bubbles up.  It does emit some smoke so I'd probably work outside if at
all possible.  If you had to work indoors you could certainly set a good
ventilation system with a few fans directing the smoke to and out a window.

Once the paint bubbles up, you just scrape it off.  I counted five layers
of paint in this side of the door and the majority of it came off with one scrape...

...right to the bare wood for the most part.
You can reheat an area if all the paint doesn't come off but you
do risk scorching the bare wood.  You can see a little scorched area on
this panel but I think it's pretty superficial and it should sand out.

You can also see I had a little trouble with the panel moldings.  The basic
kit only comes with a straight edged scraper so I didn't really have a good
tool to get into the curves.  The company does sell curved and oval
scrapers and I'll probably buy a few to see if those help.

Initially, I wasn't sure what to do with the paint scrapings.
I have to assume that there's lead in any paint in my house and
I wanted to properly dispose of the waste.  We have a pretty good recycling
system so I contacted the city to explain what I was doing and
they said that I could bag up the shavings and bring them in to the recycling
center on one of the hazardous waste days.  Perfect!  So I put
down a plastic tarp so I could easily gather them up. 

This side of the door took about two hours' work which
I think is pretty fast.  With more practice and better scrapers, I'm
sure I'll get better it.  And it's definitely faster than using chemical strippers.
And a lot less mess.  Its $395 price tag isn't for the faint of wallet
but the only local salvage place that still does chemical
dipping and stripping charges $100 to strip a door so
it should pay off in the end.

I just don't think there's any easy way to tackle this job
but if you have a lot of stripping that doesn't involve detailed
carvings, and you have some way of safely disposing of the shavings,
I would recommend the Silent Paint Remover.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

The past few weeks have provided the most stunning
spring flowers we've seen around here in a long time.

I thought I'd send a few Instagram flowers
your way for Mother's Day.

According to Saipua, this is a quince called Cameo.

Tulips at the Boston Marathon Memorial.

I didn't think you'd mind a little chocolate.

White lilacs grew outside just between our
back door and my grandmother's house.

They're always special.


After a heavy overnight rain, the lilacs
were hanging like clusters of grapes.

And the maple and cherry flowers were left
in colorful puddles on my neighbor's driveway.

A massive white Wisteria.

And my my favorite nostalgic Mother's Day flower.

No matter where I am, the scent turns me into a 7-year-old
playing outside my grandmother's house. 

Happy Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Changing Plans and a Pillow Winner!

It's been almost five years since I first hired architects to make a renovation plan
for me.  A lot has changed since then.  I wasn't really looking at magazines, blogs
or Pinterest--there WAS no Pinterest!--to assemble my vision for the house.  

The architects, who have since closed up shop, applied their own "cottage" vision
to the plans.  They chose beadboard which was certainly one of the details I talked about
in our discussions and they applied a double chair rail.  I'm not sure if this is one
of their signature details but I was never really excited by it.

When I saw this bathroom with the horizontal planking, I thought it was perfect.
But how do I deal with the faucet on the wall?  It seems like the chair rail would
hit right at the same place.

This sink that has the faucet on the wall uses a "bump up" in
planking and chair rail to incorporate the faucet.  It's a great idea and
a rather nice detail but since my sink will be in a corner,
I thought the bump up would lose its impact.

So, spreadsheet geek that I am, I whipped out my favorite design tool,
Microsoft Excel, and set up the cells into a grid of squares
and started to lay everything out to see what it would look like.

I thought if I made the bump up smaller and integrated the
mirror into it with details to make it look like a vintage medicine cabinet
 it would all look like one custom built-in unit. 

I should probably find a better design tool but it was a great way to
communicate this change in the architect's plan to my contractor.  

* * * * *

At 6:00 tonight, I had 121 comments for the 6 Wilson pillow giveaway.
Carol had left the first comment so I ran a random number generator
for 2 through 121 and got the number 76.

Comment #76 came from Webb.   Congratulations, Webb!

Carol will contact you to choose your pillow and it will soon be on its way.

Thank you everyone for your comments!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Moving Day

Saturday was moving day.  Well, sort of.

I rented a U-Haul to make the rounds and pick up everything for the bathroom.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen some of these photos.
The warehouse for the plumbing supplies is in a really industrial area
alongside the Mass. Turnpike in a wonky building that seems held together
only by the 100 layers of paint.

Inside, you're taken to another time and location...
a place you might go to buy plumbing supplies if you lived
in "The Secret Life of Bees."  May might have hidden her
notes in the cracks of this old knotty pine wall.


It even had the girly calendar.  Who knew they still made them?!
I packed up my toilet, and sink, and faucets and lights...

...and was off to Darby Road to pick up my vanity table
where I admired the details of this beautiful pine chest.
And then buzzed back into Boston to look for a salvaged door
for the bathroom at Olde Bostonian.  It's not nearly as large as
Old House Parts in Maine but you might get lucky and
the prices are much better. I found the perfect door
with the perfect little lock for the bathroom.
And I drove home with my new bathroom packed in the van
and unloaded it into my dining room.
I couldn't wait to set the sink up on the table to see
what it might look like when it's done.
The wooden top will come off to make a lower shelf for
a basket or two of towels and I'll have a new top made out
of marble.  I still need to go look for a remnant.
(The sink will sit flat on the surface but there's a drain that's
holding it right now.)

And remember the toilet I chose with the clipped corners?
This is the top of the toilet tank that shows that detail matches the clipped
corners on the vanity table.  I'll have that replicated on the new stone top as well.
It's either utter genius or complete overkill.  I'm not sure which.
If you haven't already don't forget to leave a comment for the 6 Wilson pillow giveaway.
We will pick a winner at 6:00 Sunday Eastern time and will announce a winner Sunday evening.