Off Center Landscaping 

Today started off like any other ordinary day.

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But it wasn’t an ordinary day.

It was LANDSCAPING DEMO DAY!

img_9785When these guys rolled up with a truck loaded up with GIANT rocks…I knew they weren’t screwing around. And I moved my car. 

I took a round of pics around 8 this morning, before Travis and his crew from Stonescapes showed up. Then I took another round of pics after they left. You can scroll through the slideshow below to see the “before” and “after” pics from today.

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Travis said it looked like a bomb went off in our yard.

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Charlie came home from school and said it looked like a war zone.

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I say it looks like progress.

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Inside out

So…we moved.

FullSizeRenderAll My Sons did a great job moving us…and agreed that it would be easier to just carry the trampoline a few blocks than to try to disassemble, move, and reassemble it.  

But just because we unpacked and the blog went silent for a month doesn’t mean the house is “done” (far from it). It just means it’s done…enough.

It also means we went on vacation and stopped thinking about the house for a couple of weeks, which was actually wonderful.

IMG_0453IMG_0350The beach is our happy place.

But now it’s back to reality…

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…and it’s time to get the exterior work across the finish line.

There’s still plenty to do on the interior, but interior construction is over. So everything interior is on the design side at this point. Design will go slowly, and I’m OK with that. I don’t want to rush… I read Marie Kondo’s books this summer and – although Joe thinks I’ve lost my mind – I’ve gone all KonMari on our space. We’ve spent too much time and money to fill this house with things that don’t bring us joy.  And, frankly, we need to wait for the piggy bank to fill back up (side note – I changed jobs this summer and was technically unemployed for a bit).  So I’m actually enjoying a moment of minimalism. But those are all posts for another day…

For now, we’re focused cleaning up the exterior brick, repairing some of the trim and areas around the windows, and painting the trim (the paint work already done on the top right corner of the photo above is a sneak peek of what it will all look like when it’s done).

The trim is metal, so we have a very talented metal worker custom-making new metal pieces to match the old. As those pieces get made, our exterior guy, David, is placing them on the house.

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David has also been here a few days a week prepping, cleaning, repairing, and getting the brick and trim surfaces water-tight and ready for paint. He’s having to fill in a lot of gaps and rebuild some of the stone window sills. It’s slow, tedious work. But it’s coming along.

We’ve also had our gutter guy, Travis, doing his thing with the gutters and downspouts.  Despite having a relatively new roof, there were about 3-4 spots where water was coming in the house. Amazingly, Travis fixed them all (no more downpours in my bedroom!). He also put on some pretty snazzy copper-finish downspouts.

Alan came back to finish out some trim on the windows we had to re-size and replace in the kitchen and downstairs bath. When we were trying to decide what on earth we were going to do with the blank space left at the bottom of the new windows, I came with the idea of using some of the scraps of tin tiles that we pulled off of the upstairs ceiling. Alan did just that, and I think it is going to look really cool when painted. And I love that we were able to keep a little bit of the house’s history.

You can click through the slideshow below to see how he cut and fit the tile pieces in…including a close-up and a pic of the nearly-destroyed ceiling that we pulled the tiles from.

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We’re hoping that the bulk of this work is done in a month or so, then we can move on to getting the yard whipped into shape.

We’ve got our work cut out for us.

Onward!

 

Off Center Anniversary

Exactly one year ago today, Joe and I signed the papers to buy a very old (and VERY abandoned) house on a tiny piece of earth in the middle of the USA.

We might have been a little bit crazy…but we’re not afraid to bite off way more than we can chew.

It’s probably not the most financially sound decision we’ve ever made…but it’s one of the most fun.

To be sure, there have been highs and lows, stress and excitement, weeks of monotony and several unexpected surprises… But I can honestly say I haven’t spent even a second of the last year feeling sorry that we took on this project. And I’m happy to say that we are getting pretty close to the finish line (at least on the inside).

In honor of our very first Off Center Anniversary, I dragged the fam over to the house today to recreate some of the photos that we took during those very first days after it became ours. I created a little “before & after” mosaic below, with all the “before” images in the left column and the “one year later” images in the right column.

As always, you can always click on a photo to open the full image and to to see it larger & in more detail.

That time we found a bone that was WAY too big to belong to a human, but we still kinda worried for a minute…

Because some days, you need to hash out Kindle PINS, kitchen drawers, and unspecified mammal remains…in one text thread.

*Actual text thread posted without edits. Offensive language and PIN numbers have been replaced my the word “AWESOME” to protect the not-so-innocent.

Besides, we could all use a little more awesomeness in our lives, right?

Case closed.

Lights, cabinets, action!

There has been a LOT going on at the Off Center Revival this week…


This shot was taken on Thursday, when we had crews working on cabinets, exterior painting, front porch, trim, wood floors, and electrical. 

The garage is now a gorgeous red with a maple-colored trim, which will match the red & beige trim on the exterior of the house.

All Star Floor Hardwood Flooring delivered the new hardwood so that it can “acclimate” for a week or so before they actually lay it.

This is just part of the wood they brought. Although it took us awhile to accept this fact…the majority of the downstairs floors cannot be saved and will be replaced. So it’s a lot of wood.

Remember the front porch that we uncovered last year? The one that was falling away from the house but we desperately wanted to save?

Happily, it can be saved. They finished shoring it up this week. It will be re-coated with a stucco-like finish, then painted to (hopefully) look like new.

Some poor guy had to spend most of his day in this little space placing and securing these piers about every two feet. Sadly, there was not a suitcase of cash or gold bars under there…but we did think for a minute that we found a human bone. I’ll save that little story for another day… 

Our electrician and his crew have been busy putting together putting up fixtures. I have to say…the night we were able to walk in and flip on a light may have been the biggest “wow” moment in the house so far.


As far as these guys are concerned, having lights in the “haunted mansion” is nothing short of a miracle.

Scroll through the slideshow below for a peek at some of our lighting. They are still working upstairs and there’s one more big fixture that goes in the kitchen, so I’ll post more on lights when they finish.

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Another pretty big “wow” factor this week was cabinet installation.


Jake and his team from Wilson Custom Cabinets are installing kitchen cabinets, as well as the bar cabinet and upstairs master vanity. 

Scroll through the “before” and “after” slideshow below to see the beautiful work they’ve done in the kitchen (minus the master vanity – there still aren’t lights in there so it’s impossible to photograph). The cabinets will be painted, and they still need to install upper open shelving between the back door and window.

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Trim work is in progress, and we have the following folks lined up over the next month or so:

  1. Exterior painting and trim
  2. Hardwood floors
  3. Tile
  4. Plumbing
  5. Landscaping

Don’t look now, but it looks like we may actually get to live in this thing someday!

Roof, brick, electric

This week, it’s been all about the roof, brick, & electric – nothing too sexy, but all pretty important.

First up is the roof. The roof over the kitchen/bathroom bump-out and the south bay window needed to be replaced, so we went with metal with a copper look. In about 5-10 years, the roof on the main part of the house will need to be replaced and we will use the same material.

Looking out onto the kitchen roof, from the middle upstairs bedroom.

Working on the roof over the south bay window.

At the same time, we’ve had another crew working on prepping the interior brick. All of the exterior walls are 14-inch thick solid brick, and we’ve decided to keep most of it exposed. Some of it will be painted, but other walls will simply be sealed. So they are working on cleaning up the brick to get it ready to paint/seal.

South wall of the living room. The fireplace brick will be exposed and sealed, and the remainder will be painted a gray/greige.  We’re thinking about going with Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter.

Just a little pile of mortar dust (is that what you call it?) on the upstairs landing.

Upstairs landing, east wall. This will remained exposed, sealed brick and will carry into the master bedroom.

The big project coming up is electrical, which they’ve been chipping away at for a few weeks, but are going to hit pretty hard this week. They’ve buried the service line in the back yard, and placed the panel in the basement. All of the electrical boxes are set…so this week will be wire-pulling time!

Kitchen ceiling. There will be a chandelier over the island (we’re thinking it will be the Bistro Globe light from RH, but we haven’t purchased yet) and some can lights around the room.

Dining room. There will be two Mia Faceted-Crystal Chandeliers over the dining tables (these have been purchased), and a couple of can lights over the doorways.

Electrical boxes on the wall between the entry & living room. 

After electrical is done (hopefully by middle-end of this week…fingers crossed), we’ll get inspections done, then our sheet rock and hardwood floor repair teams are in the queue. We also met with our cabinet guy on Friday, and basically finalized our design there. He’ll be doing the kitchen cabinets, bar cabinet under the stairs, and our master bathroom vanity.

Slow. And. Steady.

Becoming

It’s not about what it IS, it’s about what it can BECOME. – Dr. Seuss (The Lorax)

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In that spirit, we’ve put together a little slideshow with highlights of what the Off Center Revival has become since June.

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From our family to yours, here’s hoping 2017 becomes your best year yet!

About a door…

So there’s this door.

Actually, two of them.

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We’re pretty sure they are the original doors from when the house was built in 1883.  And they’re gorgeous.

When we bought the house, one door had a clear glass pane and the other was red. We think the red glass was original, and have heard lots of different stories/explanations about the significance of red (or otherwise colorful) glass in Victorian homes.

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BEFORE

The clear glass pane broke when the workers took down the porch, and – although we LOVE the red transom (and decided to keep it), we weren’t in love with red glass in the doors. So our window guy installed some textured glass instead.

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AFTER

We love it.  And we love the potential we see in these doors.

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Can’t wait to get them refinished.

 

To the window, to the wall

So two big things have been going on at the Off Center Revival:

  1. Windows
  2. Walls

(Did the post title give it away?)

Let’s start with the windows…

I’ll admit – I was skeptical about the windows. This is a debate that has raged with Joe and I since we lived in the 100-year-old Craftsman. He insisted on restoration. I insisted on replacing…

Enter Scott.

Scott is a window restoration craftsman who owns his own company, Old Time Window Repair & Restoration (he’s so old-timey he doesn’t have a website; but he did speak at the Old House Expo in KC last spring -which is pretty legit).

Not every window in the house was able to be restored. The upstairs bay had already been replaced. And the windows in the kitchen and downstairs bath will be downsized and replaced. But Scott was able to take the other 14 windows in the house and make them like new again.

Seriously, you guys. These windows seemed like complete garbage. But 133 years later, they open and close like new. Even Bobby is impressed.

The downstairs bay window and upstairs window (above the door). Like new!

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They basically spent an entire evening opening the window, climbing out the window, closing the window, opening the window, climbing in the window, closing the window…

Seriously – once we get the sills and trim painted and refinished…they are going to be beautiful.

I don’t say this often so listen carefully… I’m taking a deep breath…

Joe was right. I was wrong.

Now moving on to the walls…

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Alan (also known as the basement guy and the header guy) is back and working on interior carpentry. They’re pretty much done with the upstairs at this point. And I have to say, it’s really, really, REALLY exciting to see our two-dimensional floor plan come to life.

As usual, it’s really difficult to capture in photographs. But I’ll try to walk you through it (referring back to our floor plans may help)…

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This is the master bedroom. We’ve dropped a wall across the length of the room (about 20 feet) to create a 6 x 8  walk-in closet and a 6 x 12 master bathroom. Here, you see the closet door opening (it will be a pocket door) and the studs for the wall.

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Another look at the doorway to the master closet. Because of the shape of the room, I couldn’t get a good pic showing where the bathroom door will be…

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…but I did get to stand at the far wall and take a picture into what will be the bathroom (foreground) and closet (background). Eventually, my big tiled shower will be sitting right where that saw is.

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This is the existing upstairs bedroom, on the northwest corner of the house. It will be the boys’ bathroom, including a laundry closet. The 3×5 laundry closet is framed in here. The plan is to stack our front loaders, install shelving and perhaps a cabinet/countertop, and bifold doors. Directly to the left will be a 5-foot shower for the boys. Their toilet and double vanity will be on the opposite wall.

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Looking back into the bathroom/laundry, from the middle bedroom.

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The hardest thing to photograph is the boys’ bedroom closets. Basically, we are borrowing about 3 feet from one of the bedrooms to add to the boys’ closets. This will create a small walk-in closet (roughly 5 1/2 feet square) for each bedroom. They are started but not quite complete in this picture.

Now all that’s left to complete, on the interior carpentry side, is the kitchen floor and walls.

Once that’s done, we’ve got HVAC, electric, and plumbing contractors ready to go…

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Stay thirsty, my friends.