September 16, 2010

A blonde walks into a strip joint...

I have mentioned before that there is a blog I like to read written by Greg about his home known as the "the Petch House". I like his writing style and the things in his home he tackles with abandoned fear.
But now I have a bone to pick with him! He has a posting dated August 14, titled "Tips For Strippers"
where he speaks to his process of stripping shellac off of antique woodwork. Nice entry with his advice on products and methods for the cleanest removal of old shellac. I read merrily along until I came to this passage...

From "the Petch House" on

"Finally, and this really is the most important tip for would-be strippers. I don’t care what professional strippers tell you, do not do this job in a G-string and pasties. I found this tip on several professional stripper sites. Let me tell you, I tried it and it is not good. However, after seeing many of the woman who do wear this sort of attire while doing this job, the next time I will be hiring this work out."

Ok Greg... now we have a problem! I am the witty, sarcastic, irreverent house blogger, and you have overstepped your bounds!        Hee Hee... more comedy Greg, please!

So, I guess I must treat my entry about paint stripping very simple and straight forward. No mention of pasties and thongs, although I think we all would have a lot more readers if we posted photos of stripping while wearing a thong. So I am going to get Phillip to pose for us next time and I will then challenge Greg at the Petch House to do likewise. A "stripping in thong" pic off could be quite entertaining! So everyone head to your local hardware store and then to your favorite "underwear of questionable decorum" shop, and get to stripping. Send us your pictures and I will post them all here for everyone to vote on!

Now... no more stripper comedy, I promise...

The walls continue to close in

The cabinets are up and we have turned our attention to the breakfast room. We decided to repurpose some beadboard from the nasty old section of the house that was tore down, torn down, teared down... arg! dismantled. The beadboard formerly resided in the only semi working bathroom in the very back of the house, and that is putting it nicely. It was rotting, damp, moldy, and down right filthy. But the beadboard is three quarter inch, absolutely clear redwood, and just too good to pass up.

That is the beadboard on the walls in this photograph from two years ago.

This is how it looked a week ago

Cut to size and ready for the wood planer and stripping, 
dollar bills in the "cracks only" please!

An electric wood planer made fast work of cutting the ancient paint off of the surface. We connected the planer to a vacuum cleaner and all of the dust and residue ("OMG, is that lead paint? what about my children?") was sucked away as the surface was cleaned. A good chemical stripping of the edges and the v groove down the center of each board, followed by a thorough scrubbing and washing left us with beautiful, one hundred year old beadboard for a half wainscot on the walls of the breakfast room .

Piece by piece I coaxed the old lumber into position...

Add a bit of serious sanding, followed by some lovely blue board above, and we have... well, yet another unfinished room, but at least there is an end in sight! Now its time to prime that fresh wood.

September 02, 2010

The Day after the night before

Yesterday was a wonderful day! Quiet business as usual. We both work at home, yesterday Phillip was on the phone with the New York City office for hours and I on a project I am working on for the Music Center of Los Angeles. Phone calls came in from happy well wishers and emails and (that thing I am beginning to despise) "facebook". We went to the big house at six pm to begin our evening of work as usual. Phillip on insulation and I on a little side project of creating a cabinet for the stemware storage near the living room. At seven a couple of friends stopped by to say happy birthday, they brought a bottle of Champagne. Table saws and Champagne, great combination! About seven fifteen a couple of other friends were walking by and also stopped  in. Shortly thereafter another, and then another, and yet more friends just happen to be walking by. Well call me Einstein, I finally caught on and soon the friends, the wine, and the food were flowing. The lovely Ariel Ross arrived with a carload of her amazing cuisine, and a table was cobbled together out of two saw horses and a sheet of one inch thick plywood. A table cloth came out of a hidden sack, along with plates, napkins, forks, and knives all courtesy of the dollar store. Ever heard of a bring your own chair dinner? That is what it was and soon our very first dinner party was underway in the ruins.

I want to thank everyone for the kind words and extra thanks to all who were present last night and those that wanted to be. But mostly I want to share my love and thanks to my husband who put this together. A wonderful evening of great friends and Loved ones.

September 01, 2010

Special days all the way around

Today is September first... A day of special note for two reasons. First, it happens to be my birthday. Second, two years ago I received the best birthday present I could have ever wished for, Phillip and I were legally married September First 2008. Prop 8ers can stick that up there butts and shove it!

Ooops, did I say that out loud? I am sure that was inside voice.

We are striding toward moving in. A few rooms, but moving in we will. The past few weeks have been all about things we have never done before, and we started by turning our focus to the kitchen. Blocks between studs were first. Blocks for the bottom edge and top edge of the upper cabinets. Blocks for wainscot in the breakfast room and powder room. Blocks for baseboard, blocks, blocks, and more blocks, I was dreaming about two by four blocks night after night. The blocks for baseboards are the worst of the group as they are twelve inches off the floor and must be nailed really tight. Crawling around on hands and knees dragging the nail gun behind me was not my idea of a really spectacular time, especially when it dawned on me that this has to be done through out the entire house, every room, every wall. Do we really need them?... well,.... I have seen all too many baseboards applied to old uneven walls and only nailed where the studs happen to be. Holes and gaps, and lots of hunting for the two by four studs is what you are left with. With the addition of a continuous nailing rail we can have really tall baseboards that conform to the shape of every wall.

Kitchen and breakfast room getting a sprinkling of 2 x 4 blocks

And then the Pink stuff. I do wonder why it is that insulation materials just happen to come in a myriad of Pepto Bismal pinks? But pink it is! Pink and lavender. Two inch rigid foam in a lovely shade of lavender is applied to all soffit openings and then sealed around the edges with spray foam. This is to create an envelope around our living space that keeps the cool air in and the warm air out in the summer, and the opposite in the winter. This is so exciting. I am sure that as you read this you are on the edge of your seat! Well hang on and buckle in, cause it gits better!

Garry was with us again for a week and hand cut the foam to fit exactly in its new home.


There is yet again another rumor running around Healdsburg that a delivery of plaster board was made to 227 North Street. We rushed over, with our camera in tow, just in time to witness the truth unfolding before our very eyes. The rumor is true! Below is a photograph of the first piece of blue board being lifted into its place as part of the kitchen ceiling.

And drywall we did. After days of carefully cutting and applying insulation to the wall cavities our first piece of plaster board made its way into the kitchen. We really had no idea how long these processes took. We really thought that insulation was really quick and easy, and that drywall would go up in the blink of an eye. An entire twelve hour day for two of us was devoted to insulating just the kitchen. Perhaps we are too anal (hee hee, I said "anal") about fitting the insulation, but its our home and not a contractor special and it will pay off in the end. Remember a moment ago when I said that drywall would go up in the blink of an eye? ok, two and a half days worth of blinking to be precise, and that was just one room... 16 spaces to go... arrrg!

And then it happened.... months of planning and drawing, researching and thinking, considering and reconsidering, came to a head. In they marched, box after box of custom made cabinets. There was no fooling us this time, we knew this was  going to be a big, and painfully slow job. Go ahead, I dare you, put a marble on any one of them and that marble will stay perfectly in place! The cabinets are more level than gravity itself.

Crown molding and three surface molding yet to come, but the reality of the kitchen dream is amazing


Far from finished, but the space feels exactly as we wanted it to. Open and modern, yet classic with a historic feel. The cabinets will all be painted in a pale tone on tone treatment with white trim and finished off on the bottoms with tall baseboards. The counter tops will be honed white marble and the farmhouse table in the photo is our version of an island, it was built by the same cabinet maker who did the wall units and now waits for the same marble as the counters to grace its top.


Many of the blogs that I read and follow speak of the cost of things and how to reduce the dollar amounts involved. I quite often forget to mention that we are so out of money for our home and we are huge Suzy Savers! Take our Kitchen for example... All custom made by a very high profile and respected cabinet maker to our specifications. How could you possibly save money there? Well, you convince the cabinet maker that you are qualified to do the finishing (painting in our case) and the installation. "of course we know what we are doing!"... Not! But like everything else involved in our home, if we don't know how to do it we hit the books and ask every trade professional we come across lots of questions, and they do love to talk about themselves and what they do. I estimate we saved roughly forty percent on the cost of the cabinets, and we have a very nervous cabinet maker who has never, and I mean never, not installed a kitchen he created.