Category Archives: House and home

Now the office is painted

Work in the home office has been somewhat chaotic over the last week. Lorena painted the whole thing “underneath” me. We shoved the furniture to the center as she went. Hopefully, we are only a few weeks from replacing all the dated carpet with hardwood and laminate flooring. In the mean time Kiwi continues to insert herself into the middle of everything. Notice her perched on my ever decreasing belly (Down 16 pounds now!) looking over my left shoulder. In a few minutes we are off to celebrate Lorena’s birthday.

Weight, travel, hobbies, and home improvement

Life is getting back to normal in the Chapman household. I guess I should make the caveat that it is about as normal as is possible based on adherence to the recently adopted New Year’s resolution to which I hope to stick. Lorena does not really have that first of the year resolution life modification thing because she sticks to what she is doing through thick and thin. Nevertheless, after one pretty big fall from the wagon and a brief smaller one, both due to visits and special circumstances, I am back in the game and hit a new “this diet” low in my quest to lose over sixty pounds.

My work is back in full swing with a trip to Canada and tentative trips to China and North Carolina in the works. I work on stuff that is of great interest to me and that is a gift. It is enough of a gift that I actually work on it as a hobby, too. Hopefully, within the next few months, I will be able to write about the hobby project some more because it is something that could have a fairly high level of interest for those in certain small businesses and maybe even for those with serious coffee snobbery. More on that when we (my buddy Gene and I) have more to show.

In the meantime, we continue with our home improvement projects. The entry to the house now looks less like an overgrown vacant lot, but only a little bit less like that. This month there is some good chance we will have all the new floors installed in our house, but that will depend on how often I have to travel and/or am stuck at home by myself while Lorena visits her mom in Mexico.

Back to normal after the holidays

Life is returning to normal now after the holidays. I am back on my diet–still 5 pounds over my pre-holiday high, there is too much work to do, company is coming for the weekend, Lorena returns to FINALLY finish up on the surgical work that started in North Carolina almost three years ago–after this she only returns to check on how it is all holding up, several short trips are planned after that, and we continue to work on getting the house fixed up. There are still four major remodel projects that I will try to post here. In the mean time, whenever I sit down to get a little reading, Kiwi lays on the arm I use to hold up my phone to read my book so I can move it until it finally starts going numb. When I finally move she is very disgusted with me and I deserve it.

The sun is shining in Western Washington

They say it is unusual for the sun to shine during the rainy season in Western Washington. It may be unusual, but it is not that unusual. For instance: today. The air is crisp, clean, and clear. You can see forever. It is a great day to be alive. It would even be better if I were not chained to a desk although I have to admit that I do not mind that.

Lots of people have asked us, incredulously, why we moved to Centralia, Washington. We tell them, besides the really nice people and a worldview (relatively speaking) common to our own, why would anyone not want to live in a temperate climate with a view like this. There are lots of other reasons, but these, by themselves, are enough.

We hope that it will even get better. Our gardener came to the house today to talk about some intermediate term plans to clean up the yard and to prune the fruit trees. If we have all of the above and home grown apples from the Apple State, people should really stop asking us that question. Next I will have to get one of those apple picker poles like Bob has. It is really hard to keep up with Bob and Gena.

Finishing the library on the landing

Lorena only has a little bit of touch up and some ceiling left before she completes the painting of the library on the upstairs landing. She did a great job and it looks a lot better. She plans to paint my upstairs office next so we will be ready for the new floor to go in sometime in mid January.The picture above shows what the landing looked like when she started.  The vision for what we want to do before we call the remodel “complete” (scare quotes because these things are never really complete) is now starting to form. God willing and I stay gainfully employed, we hope to put in new flooring on the first and third floors and in the master bedroom on the first floor, paint the first floor, paint the exterior, put a kitchen in the first floor, put on a new roof,  and rework the landscape (not extensively). Lots to do, but nothing crazy and, especially, nothing crazy expensive.

Lorena painted the guest bedroom

Lorena finishes painting the guest bedroomLorena picked colors we really like, even after she did the painting in the upstairs. She did the preparation and painting all by herself. She is now an expert at taking doors from their hinges and hanging them back up again. We are quite pleased with how it came out. Here are the colors:

  • Ceiling: Ceiling White
  • Walls: Light Pewter
  • Windows: Chantilly Lace White

She did a good job on furnishing the place, too. We got the bed at Walmart.com. We like it so much we bought a second one for the downstairs bedroom. She got two side tables for the bed from Goodwill. She bought and refinished a desk that was really nasty for $8 and refinished that. She actually had a great time doing it all.

Next comes the “library” that is the upstairs landing between the guest bedroom and our office. She has already primed it all and has half of it painted so that should go pretty quick. After that, it is going to start getting painful because it will be time to move me out of my office so she can work there. The hard part is that we have to move downstairs because, when the paint is done, we hope to be able to tear out the carpet and put in some LVT flooring. We are feeling pretty ambitious right now, but will have to wait and see how far our resources take us before we have to start taking a breather.

New heaters for the second guest room

Lots of visitorsThe remodel continues at a good pace as we prepare for visitors, lots of visitors. To that end, we have to get the house in to a more operable state at the same time we need to continue work on the remodel. Easier said than done. People will understand a little bit of disorder, but we want to make sure the guest bedrooms work OK–the two goals often working at cross purposes with each other. We decided the number one goal is to have two working guest bedrooms by the weekend, After that, we can go back to painting.

The first guest bedroom is in pretty good shape. It is newly painted with all the furniture it needs. All it needs is a little organization. The bed for the second one is scheduled to arrive sometime today. It needs to be assembled, a couple of tables, a chair, a heater we got from Walmart.com (again, at a significant savings over Amazon), and a lamp or two need to be added. Then that room will be good to go (short term) as soon as the carpet needs to be cleaned.

New furniture realities

My new parking placeWe enjoyed getting some new furniture yesterday. It was quite a task getting it into the house, but we have a (kind of) system now so it will be easier next time. The picture right below this text shows how it all appeared when we put it in place. the picture way down at the bottom shows what I think it will look like for all but those rare times when we have company and Kiwi the remaining twin cat sister is in hiding and unable to scratch the new furniture. We are not sure these pieces will stay where they are, but until we finish remodeling and buy some more, they are in a good place.The new furnitureThe cat coverings

New furniture — Bob and Gena’s fault

A BarcaLounger for the remodeled living roomBob and Gena invited us over to their house a couple of days after we arrived in Washington. Ever since then, Lorena has had sofa envy. Well, we are trying to remedy all that, but I am not sure if it will ever be enough! The good news, is that in addition to the sofa, we got a BarcaLounger. That was what we called Grandpa Milo’s chair when we were growing up and boy did he love it. Looking forward to putting this to great use.

Lorena finishes her $8 desk

Lorena's refinished $8 desk (plus paint)Lorena put the final coat on her $8 desk project last night, then reattached the draw pulls this morning. The desk is for the guest bedroom, so she can not move it there yet because she is in the middle of repainting it. After that, she is going to try her hand at putting in Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT). We watched a video and it appears possible to install without even using a saw, but a utility knife with an LVT blade. She has had several passes at the window frames in the bedroom with primer, putty, and lots of sanding. She is now busily pulling the closet and entry door off. She is going to paint them, too.

Refinishing projects: Finished dining room table

First chairs in the living roomRefinished dining room tableLorena finished her first refinish project–the dining room table, then went out and bought some rugs for the under the table and for the first two chairs in the living room. We have a long, long way to go, but now we at least have a little bit of a plan in place. The big epiphany we had this weekend is that Lorena really thinks she wants to put in the LVT flooring in the first bedroom all by herself. We watched some videos and she really thinks she can do it. I am excited to see what happens next.

Kitchen remodel: Officially complete*

Mark left for home just a few minutes ago. He is officially complete. We are grateful for all his  hard, hard work, the many edifying conversations we had while he was here. He is truly a stand-up guy and made the process fun, interesting and with a better result than if we would have been left to our own devices. If anyone ever wants to get a kitchen done and can talk Mark into doing it, their lives, not to mention their kitchen will be the better for it.

The big thing that was completed in this pass was the addition of the ceiling light fixture rings marked in red in the picture. There were several other items that are not really visible like the fixing of the dishwasher to the counter and stuff like that. The reality is there are several minor things left to complete, only one of them on Mark’s agenda (a small step for the back porch he can do better in his shop). Lorena and I need to change a few light fixtures and add some furniture, then we will take a few pictures for posterity to bring this second kitchen remodel series to an end.

*There will be one more post with pictures after this one.

Kelly moves to better digs

Kelly moves to a new apartmentKelly, with massive help from Mama Lore, moved out of her apartment today. They have a really cool moving service in Seattle where you can have a couple of guys pick up your stuff from your apartment and store it for a month for under $100. That seems to be a really good price, especially for Seattle. Lorena is really glad to be moving out of a house of a bunch of girls to an apartment closer to her work and closer to downtown with one roommate. I am sure she will be sad she was not there to see the hunky guys pick up her stuff–Lorena handled that because Kelly was at work.

Now, Kelly is headed off to Mexico to see family and friends for a week or two with her friend Eliza. Of course we are all envious and would love to be in Monterrey eating tamales and mangoes with her über-hip uncles, but someone has to stay home and work.

Refinishing projects: Staining for the first time in a long time

Second time refinish of the dining room tableLorena found some stain, tried it, did not like it, bought some more stain, decided to do the dining room table top, too, and here we are. She saw the desk at Goodwill a couple of weeks back, texted me a picture of it and said she did not want to buy that piece of junk because it had some pretty deep scratches in it. I told her to buy it and we can use it in the garage because it only cos $8.99. NOW, however, it was a brilliant idea she had to buy the thing because she could sand out those scratches with her brand new Walmart sander.

And yes this is the sander Aunt Jean bought for me when she came to visit in Corvallis in about 1983. We refinished it one time before when we lived in South Florida in the early 90’sStaring on the Goodwill desk. It was due for another pass. I must say, it is looking great. I view this as a very positive turn of events. I am going to have and excuse now to just say, “Why don’t you pick up something at Goodwill and refinish it? We really do not need something from Ethan Allen.” We have everything we need for the guest bedroom upstairs. When she finishes this, she wants to paint and put in an LVT “hardwood-look” floor.

We are deciding (that is the royal “we” because, actually, Lorena does all this kind of deciding) which room to do next. I am hoping it is the upstairs office, but I think she might be leaning toward the upstairs landing/library.

Refinishing projects: The Goodwill desk and the dining room table.

The refinishing desk (and dining room table)The painter is coming to start work this afternoon. Maybe that is what got Lorena inspired to start sanding stuff with her new Walmart sander (she LOVES it). She has the desk fairly close to being ready and from what I see in the bottom left of the image she texted me, it looks like she is getting close to refinishing the dining room table. She just needs to do one more pass with a finer grit and she will be ready to paint.

Kitchen remodel: Semigloss hardwood floor

Retouch of floor -- matte to semi-gloss and defect repairWork inches forward on the remodel. We found some pretty serious defects in the floor, so the floor guy came back, fixed the defects, did something called “refill” and then put a coat of semi-gloss finish. Lorena was ecstatic with the finish. She liked the previous matte, but likes this much better. Next week we hope to have the stove hood in place, glass in the kitchen cabinets, and the painting mostly complete. The hood was planned for this week, so things have stretched out a little.

Room remodel: Buying cheap stuff to refurbish

Green Goodwill nightstand with a dingLorena spent $52.99 yesterday at Goodwill and a thrift store Bob and I stepped into when we first got to Washington a few months back. She bought stuff with an actual purpose:

  • The nightstand in the photo to the right ($24) for our upstairs guest bedroom that now has a really nice Walmart bed. It needs a gouge filled and some paint.
  • A beat up but sturdy desk ($8.99) for the upstairs guest bedroom. It is pretty dinged up and will require some pretty serious elbow grease to get into shape, but Lorena is going to use that as an excuse to get a hand sander. If it looks interesting, we will probably post about it here.
  • Two small (hard to know what to call them) nightstandish kind of thing that has baskets in them ($10 each) for the basement bedroom when we get around to it–probably going to use them as a stopgap organization tool to get the master bedroom closet under control until we can figure something else out. This needs a couple of screws to be tightened or replaced, but other than that, they are good.

We have decided to not try to take on too much at a time after spending the last four months on the kitchen/living room remodels. We have three pretty big interior upgrades: the upstairs, the basement apartment, and the carpet replacement, probably with LVT.  The first step is to finish the upstairs guest bedroom. We have decided we will take them in order and do a little bit at a time as we can afford it. There is also a ton of exterior stuff, but that is another story.

Kitchen remodel: Mark does lots of little things

New hardwood floor vents (the double)

Brazilian cherry floor vent in living roomOur contractor, Mark P. came today and got a lot of finish work done. He looked at a couple of issues with the floor, installed the floor vents, and decided to bring the floor guy back for about a half days work. The floor vents are beautiful. In addition, Mark adjusted all the cabinet doors so they were aligned properly, installed all the cabinet door pulls (but not the drawer pulls), installed the remaining under-cabinet LED lights, installed the missing three overhead lights, and installed the replacement oven door for the one that was broken. I will put up pictures of all that other stuff tomorrow.

The really good news, though, is that he has agreed to help us put a gas fireplace in the kitchen/dining room. We came up with a great plan that he says he should be able to complete before the end of the fall so we will have it this winter. We hope he will be able to draw us a plan, but it is not so complicated, so that may not be necessary. At any rate, we think it will be a great addition to what Mark has already done and we appreciate his willingness to come back here because we know it is a major effort for him to do it.