Monday, August 19, 2013

Easy molding and wall treatment

We live in an early 20th century home, which has a lot of great architectural details. We have beautiful molding in the dining room and interesting plaster work in other rooms, but our staircase was boring. Bland. Bare.

So, bring on the molding.

All it took was a little patience and an angle finder to create this wall. You are creating the illusion of a paneled wall that appears to look like one elaborate wall treatment.

The key: Getting a balanced design, and paying special attention to how you space out the boxes and molding. Keep it simple and use the angle finder for the miters. Finish it off with wood filler or spackling to get a more precise finish with the miters. And then paint the wall.

Although I was real tempted to leave the wall tan and the molding white as I know I would never be able to paint trim that well.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The 2003 Blackout and the bathroom redo

The finished bathroom in our first house
You know that feeling you get when you’re thisclose to finishing something? The feeling when you’re ready to power down – in this case, power down the power tools – and step back and savor a job well done? Yeah, that was exactly what I was getting ready to do one day in August 2003. I had just broken out all of the tile in my 1940s-style bathroom. The room was covered in dust. I was covered in dust. There was wire mesh bulging from the walls. The last of the broken tiles strewn in boxes and ready to go into the Dumpster.

And then the power went out. 

August 14, 2003. Power was out across much of the Midwest in arguably the most memorable power outage in our lifetime. So there I stood in my bathroom, surrounded by mounds of broken tile and holding a circular saw that just stopped working as I was cutting some replacement wall studs. I thought I had pulled the plug out of the wall when I realized it was the power.
The bathroom project had to be put on hold. We spent time with the neighbors sitting around a campfire and listened to the radio, it was like a block party.
In the end the bathroom got finished. I became more passionate about home improvement. Several other projects followed in that house…until, of course, we moved. And then we started the DIY projects all over again.
And that's what I was doing when the Blackout hit in 2003.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Keep the raccoons away

OK, so it’s bad enough trying to keep up with the honey-do list but add to it going head-to-head with the animal kingdom, and I’m at my limit. The raccoon, feisty and persistent nighttime renegade has to be outsmarted with some good old common sense. We have raccoons in our area that continually look for food and shelter by way of our roof and any food left out.

We’ve had our roof fixed twice in the last three years because of these raccoons who have torn away shingles and dug into the wood, and we are starting to outsmart them.

Here are some preventative measures.

1. Keep trees such as evergreens and bushes that are right next to the house trimmed below the roof line. Yes they can crawl up the wall but it’s not as easy as climbing the tree and it’s an easy fix. (Well, as easy as can be expected with a two-story house.)

 2. Place a light in the location they are trying to use as a pathway or trying to inhabit. (I'm not sure this helps all that much, but something is better than nothing.)

3. Place mothballs in the attic. (In my research online, some people have said the mothballs are too strong a smell and they had to retrieve them one by one in the attic to get rid of the smell.) We put them in a couple large cloth bags with a rope tied to the bag so we could easily retrieve them if the smell was too strong.

4. Check the roof for damage. I couldn’t see the one side of our roof without getting on a ladder and I didn’t have a long enough ladder and, I really don’t like heights. So I attached a small video camera to a tripod and then attached that to an extension poll. (See video below.)

By all means call a professional if they keep coming back or if they are getting into the house. Keep in mind they can be dangerous, so don't go out and confront them. Good luck and I will keep you posted on our progress with the critters.