I’ve got wood!

Well, the kitchen’s got some wood. After doing the countertops, the next project to be done was the backsplash and tiled wall. It was a horrible tan floor tile and was long over due to be ripped down. The tiles came of relatively easily, but a few spots ripped up the drywall behind. leaving it patchy and large areas of thinset still on the wall. They weren’t in horrible shape, but not good either. To get the walls to the point of taking a new tile evenly would definitely be a project in itself.


Originally, I had planned on doing all subway tiles for the backsplash with a dark grout. Classic and clean, much like the kitchens below, which had always been the inspiration for mine, with the dark lower cabinets and the concrete countertop.tumblr_mv4rcwhtKR1qf82imo1_500

tumblr_mtoxkrsqtM1qf82imo1_500 tumblr_n2n5oyQUNF1qf82imo1_500 Since my concrete counters didn’t quiiiiiiiite turn out looking like these, and the whole kitchen was starting to feel a little industrial, which is not really the best fit for a cabin in the woods. The combo of the condition of the walls, and the industrial vibe made me think I needed to go a different direction, which is where the wood idea came in. I figured it would warm things up a bit and it would be easy to install. After some googling for inspiration, I found a few options that I thought would look good.

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My initial thought was salvaged wood. I figured it would be cheap, a bit grayed out to go with the rest of the kitchen, and I liked the varying lengths and widths. The trouble was, where to find all this. I know in upstate NY, there’s a ton of places to get old wood, but the trouble is taking the time to find and clean up enough of it to do the whole backsplash and wall, in total, about 40 sq feet. There’s actually a company called Excelsior just down the road from the Hill House that specializes in reclaimed wood, so I figured this would be perfect. They’re only open monday-friday, which is a bit of a bummer for a weekender, but it just happened to work out that I had a monday off, so I made an appointment to check out the wear house. I found tons of great options, and got an emailed quote the next day. Perhaps I’m totally naive, but I was kind of shocked at the quote I got, which was about $7.50 per square foot. It still would have been only about $300-350 to do the backsplash, but this seemed like a lot of money for what was basically trash. There are literally hundreds of falling down houses, barns, chicken coops, in the area that have tons of exactly what I needed, but again time = money, so I guess that’s why this would have cost that much. The people at Excelsior were super helpful and great to work with, but I’m too stubborn (cheap) to pay that rate for what I could have ripped off of my friends dilapidated garage.

BUT, I’m also lazy and was tired of having the kitchen in shambles and didn’t want to wait until I could source all this shit, so it was time to consider other approaches. I had read on other blogs that people did horizontal paneling, or floors with ripped down sheets of plywood just face nailed to the surface, and thought that this could look okay, it would be much more basic looking but would be easy to install and would add some textural interest at least. A quick trip to Home Depot later, I had my solution, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. In their lumber aisle, I found some really nice pieces of cedar. This cedar wasn’t red like most I had seen before and they all had a really nice grain pattern. They were less than $6 per 8′ 4″x2″ board, which meant it would be less than $90 to do the whole kitchen. I figured that even if I dint end up liking it, I could always paint it white like I had planned, or I could stain it darker or a different brown.

IMG_5017I borrowed a friend’s nail gun (best invention ever!) and used a circular saw to cut the boards into random lengths for a staggered pattern. They all look a bit rough and rustic, with holes from the finishing nails and some gaps where the boards or wall weren’t quite straight, but I don’t mind, it’s a little more like the reclaimed look than a polished finish. They totally give the kitchen a warmer feeling and add a bit of an organic element back in so it’s not industrial feeling. They even some how make the concrete counters look much better to the point where I’m not ready to rip them out and put in some kind of expensive marble. YAY!


For now, the wood is unfinished and I really like the color and matte finish on it. It being a kitchen and messes happening, I’ll probably need to put some kind of finish or sealant on it for protection, but I don’t want the wood turning reddish or going yellow like with a poly. So for now, here’s my naked wood. IMG_5031


Summer Wrap up

Godamnit I suck at blogging regularly. Not a single post since being in Detroit… A whole slew of things happened this summer. Here’s a recap of some of them.

Newest and most exciting is the NEW CAR. Yup. Got a Land Rover LR2. The mom-car ’02 Camry has been retired and upgraded for 4 wheel drive and heated seats. This winter will be a lot more comfortable. So. Excited.

IMG_4485.JPGMost of the changes in the house over the summer have been pretty small. Most of them have taken place in the kitchen, including the new floor, new white sink and new faucet. Still have to get to the counter tops, the back splash and a few touch up spots of paint.IMG_4346.JPG

IMG_3820.JPGFew changes to the outside of the house too. New house numbers and a new light on the front porch. Much better. Lots of landscaping too, but I dont have many pics of that. IMG_4335.JPGA little before and after. I think the old light still had a price tag from a garage sale on it. Gross.IMG_4132.JPGAlso, we’ve got a small angel that likes to hang out on the front porch now. He likes to eat the bird seed left out for him. He takes naps in the sun. Let’s just hope he doesn’t move into the attic for the winter, because then I will have to end him.IMG_4332.JPGThe half bath was finally “finished”. If you remember, there was horrible blue formica surrounding the sink, a huge mirror, horrible light fixture, wall paper etc. This has actually been pretty finished since x-mas, but missing the details like the trim. I also installed a new door so the old plastic accordion door is gone! Will post some pics of that later. IMG_4216.JPGEqual opportunity nudity. Everyone needs a little T&A in a bathroom. IMG_4030.JPGThe brick in the nook got painted. It was really ugly and dirty and is really weird and porus. It’s not nice like the brick on the front of the fireplace. Looks much better now that it’s white. Also added a new (trash-picked!) chair. It’s rattan and has mid-century lines. SOMEONE put a pillow on it. IMG_4509.PNG

Work has been INSANE, which is both great and exhausting. I feel like I missed the whole summer. I didn’t get to a beach once, and I missed a lot of weekends at the house. But someone’s got to pay the billz.

I went to Paris and London. This is my “Hi Mom” pic. *Side note, I really should get that dent on my forehead botoxed out.

IMG_3857.JPGI made it snow in August in Connecticut. IMG_4469.JPGI made friends with a horse named biscuit. IMG_4284.JPG

Other fun things, the Dutchess County Fair happened. And a bear met a bear. IMG_4294.JPG

I just kept thinking about how pretty these cows would be as rugs. That’s horrible right? I bet they’re delicious too. IMG_4303.JPG

On a rare weekend that I was stuck in the city, I saw the Jeff Koons show at the Whitney. It was pretty amazing. Someone I know needs to buy this piece and put it in the middle of a circular driveway in front of their mansion, probably in Miami, but maybe in Bel Air. It would be super cunty, in the most amazing way.

Lindsey, Darin and Marshall came up for a weekend. It was great to see them, and we went on a killer hike with an amazing view.
IMG_4244.JPGBest part of the summer so far has been all the back yard dinners with some pretty amazing people, and some mediocre ones too. IMG_4198-0

Maybe there will be some new posts soon. Who knows!

8 Things You Didn’t Know About The Hill House

1. We have no idea when it was built. All papers say the 1960s but the home inspector said it was probably built in the 1940s. I guess a trip to the county clerk’s office is in order. 20140501-144905.jpg

2. It was originally a brick house. The house was sided with wood at some point. The garage on the other hand, is the opposite – a wooden structure that was covered in brick and made to look like a carriage house. Confused now?20140501-145148.jpg

3. It backs up to this creek. ‘Nuff said.20140501-145338.jpg

4. It once used to be part of St. Ann’s Church.  With the house serving as the rectory (we think). Dilapidated outbuildings dot the property, including an old chicken coop, and cellar built into the hill that used to hold the sacramental wine for the church. Super creepy.20140501-181249.jpg

5. The Master bedroom and kitchen are additions These two rooms were actually porches and turned into the rooms they were today probably around the same time the exterior brick was covered in wood (to match the additions). We think that the original kitchen was either in the small nook ( where there was once a wood stove) or in the area that now serves as the laundry room. Confused again?20140501-182108.jpg

6. It has these beautiful floors. I mean why on earth would someone cover these floors with deep pile baby blue wall to wall carpeting? That’s what we had to rip up. Which means we had to touch it. Yuck. 20140501-182310.jpg

7. The interior windows and doorways are trimmed in Red Oak. Can you say ka-ching?20140501-182120.jpg

8. There’s blue stone everywhere along the property.
The area surrounding the Sawkill Creek was known for its blue stone quarries back in the day. Looking forward to reclaiming as much of the stone as we can for outdoor borders, walkways and raised beds and maybe even a wall – or 6.20140501-182322.jpg


Not So Ugly


The Ugly House is now mine. With some hard, fast work, it’s not looking so ugly anymore. Within the first 2 hours after getting the keys at closing, I had ripped out all of the carpet in the house, with the exception of the master bedroom. My real estate agent knew how much I hated those carpets and gave me a carpet cutter as a gift at closing.

The floors under the carpets were about 100 times better than I had hoped for. They’re not perfect by any means, but they look pretty damn good. (This picture makes them look super nice, they aren’t)


The next piece of annoying bullshit was that there were no less than 100,000 staples in the floor that held the carpet pad down. And by in the floor, I mean, balls deep in the floor. Tiny, little, rusty, staples, like an inch deep into the hardwood, and they snapped off into tiny needles if you tried to grab them with needle nose pliers. I had a bit of a panic moment when I was looking at how many rusty needles were sticking out of the floor. I envisioned what an impossible task it would be to get them all out and be able to get the floor to a point where it wouldn’t cause you to bleed out immediately if you stepped foot on it. Not to mention the two rows of tack strips surrounding every room that would shatter and splinter when you tried to rip them up, causing me to only be able to tear them out in 4 inch segments. Fun.


I took a deep breath, and did what I do best. Google things until I find a solution. A few DIY blogs later, I discovered a suggestion that I use locking vise grips (which I have!)… For the staples that snapped off, I bought a tiny little tool, like an awl to sink the pointy ends of the staples down into the floor so they’re less stabby. I have no idea what this tool is called, but it looks like a pencil, with a long, thick lead. These things, along with a pry bar with rubber mallet, CHANGED MY FUCKING LIFE. Lesson learned: the right tool for the right job… That’s an incomplete thought, sounds like there should be more to that saying, but whatev.

After about 12 hours total of pulling staples and tack strips, the floors are finally done. Maybe some day I’ll sand and strip them, but they’re fine for now. After moving two car loads of stuff, and spending hundreds of dollars at Wal Mart and Ikea, the house is pretty much outfitted with the essentials, and ready for me to move the rest of the furniture in. It’s starting to look like a house and is no longer so ugly. Just getting rid of the old lady shit and the rug has made such a difference.


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It’s so nice to be done with the whole house hunting and buying process. No one ever told me what an emotionally taxing pain in the fucking ass it would all be. But it’s done. I love the house, I love Kingston, and it couldn’t have worked out any better. I guess things really do happen for a reason. On top of all that, my monthly payments and closing costs all came in lower than expected, which removed a lot of my stress and anxieties about being house poor. There’s a lot of work left to do, and lots of projects that I’ve already started. I need to be better about taking pictures of the “before”. I usually end up starting a project and then kicking myself for not taking a before shot. I will also try to be better about blogging. Baby steps.

Being a Real Estate Voyeur

While house hunting, you get to peek inside people’s lives… and people are weirdos. I love going through random homes, and with a small budget, they’re rarely nice, clean, or well decorated. Looking through someone’s stuff brings up all kinds of questions about what kind of freaks live/lived there. Below are some examples of some of the spectacular and horrifying things I’ve seen.

The Brady bunch basement.

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HUGE cat glamour portrait
photo 1 100 years of wall paperphoto 2 A little friend in his natural environmentphoto 5Metallic flamingo wallpaper bathroom. The ceiling was wallpapered too.photo 3There were 50+ dead things in this small cabin, as well as the weapons used to kill them.


And let’s not forget the bug-zapper in the living room from the last post. Seriously, who are these people?? I have so many questions! Are they genius and it’s all a joke, or are they insane? Is this the home of a serial killer and the bodies of 10 women are buried in the crawl space? Would that give me some sort of tax discount? Have they never heard of staging their homes? I swear that I could become a home flipper in upstate NY just by painting and staging a home. I’m sure that most buyers can’t see past a poorly taxidermied coyote to see a home’s potential. I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these trash piles and turn it into something great.