Tuesday, September 24, 2013

House Update, Autumnal Equinox, 2013

It's been a year since I posted a  house update.  We've spent most of that time waiting for the rain to stop.  Global warming has pushed the tropical storms north and the rains that used to blanket the Great Plains south.  Guess where they meet?  In the past year we've had two dry weeks, one at the beginning of summer and one at the end.  It rained the other 50.  The apple and hazelnut trees we planted drowned.  It's played hell with farmers too, so don't be surprised if  you see the prices of food and fabric going up.

We haven't done a lot of gardening, although we did have a small vegetable patch.  We found a pick-your-own blueberry farm this summer and picked about a dozen gallons, so we'll be eating blueberries all winter.  The few dry afternoons we had we sent the 14yo out with the push mower; she's starting to develop an impressive set of shoulders.

We spent the winter and the spring fixing up the sheds.  We insulated them, put inner walls in place where needed, painted said walls, and laid down linoleum.  The previous owner left a collection of old bathroom cabinets behind.  We fixed them up, repaired or replaced their drawers, and replaced their tops.  Now the shop has a lower cabinet and the back shed has a wall-length work desk.  At that point we put locks on the doors and hauled down the first load of tools for the shop and my parents' old china cabinet for the house.  The glass in the china cabinet was broken, and it had sat in storage for years.

As summer started we repaired the glass in the china cabinet.  Some of the trim had been left undone in the den last fall as we weren't sure how we wanted it; we made our decisions and finished everything except the pantry door.  We used the scrap from that project to build a back-of-the-closet bookcase for the girl's bedroom.  I suppose in another family it might have been a shoe rack, but here it's a bookcase.

When our late-summer dry week came, we finished painting the outside of the sheds, then dug and poured a concrete foundation for the chickenhouse.  My husband spent hours truing it up to our immense exasperation because he was "sick and tired of walls that aren't plumb!"  Maybe in another six months we'll get another dry week to work on it some more.

Finally it was time to finish the kitchen.

The "retro" faucet that went with our house's "look" broke and we replaced it with a newer model; apparently they no longer know how to make pieces that both look good and last.  We'd saved the kitchen drawers until last so we'd up our experience with them; now we built the drawer boxes and mounted them on drawer slides.  They don't have facings yet so we can't use them, those are waiting on the countertops to be finished.  The scrap from the drawers became a wall-mounted bookcase for small and regular size cookbooks above the corner cabinet, in a space we couldn't do much else with.  Then we painted the kitchen ceiling, hung the little bookcase on the wall, and prepared to do battle with the countertops.

Back when this project started three years ago we couldn't decide between Corian, marble or butcherblock countertops.  Each had their pros and cons.  Finally we went, "Hell with it", and made up our minds to use all three:  the waterproof Corian for the sink countertop, marble inserts for the baking area and a hot dish "landing zone" next to the oven, and butcherblock everywhere else.  Since we weren't using enough of any one of them to do a whole kitchen, we were able to buy seconds of each of them.  The Corian countertop with the sink went up in the first six months.  The other lower cabinets were finished with a 3/4" plywood countertop underlayer in the next six months, and we've used that as interim countertops.  The butcherblock countertops were ordered in the naive hope that the kitchen would be finished "soon" and stuck in storage right behind my office chair two years ago, where they've been cluttering up things ever since.  On the plus side one of the tops was bowed when it arrived, and the factory sent us a free replacement.  Butcherblock is insanely heavy.  We stored the bowed one underneath the others and in the two years it's laid here it's finally straightened out, so when the back porch finally stops being a covered lumber yard we'll turn the extra top into a porch dining table.

Two years later it was finally time to get the marble inserts.  We tried the local granite and marble countertop companies first, only to quickly conclude they didn't have anything worth buying and didn't know what they were doing.  They couldn't picture how we were going to keep the countertops from falling where they were joined.  They're laying stone countertops directly on top of particleboard cabinets with no underlayer and no support in damp environments like kitchens and bathrooms.  I can imagine what they look like after a year or so, and it ain't pretty.  We ended up going to a mortuary company and buying some of their commercial-grade architectural scrap, which they were happy to polish up nicely for us.

We carefully split the butchblock top that's going to form both ends of the baking counter.  Now we're leveling, sanding, glueing everything in place, and sanding "just a little bit more".  We'll finish it when Mr. "It Ain't Done Unless It's Overdone" runs out of things to overdo to it.

Meanwhile we found a sewing machine repair shop to fix the damage the baby did playing with my sewing machine.  Hopefully I'll have it back in time for Halloween costumes, then I can start making curtains.  We're all getting tired of this project.  Now that there's a place for the tools we're itching to get back to metalwork, especially since the 14yo is starting to show an interest in learning it.

No comments: