Category Archives: House and home

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.

My buddy Bryan brings his drone

Bryan and Ken hang out together, but not on purpose.My long time buddy (closer than a brother) called me last night. I am totally envious of him because he has three grandchildren with a fourth due on August 1. Mari and Brian, Bryan’s daughter and son-in-law broke down in Chehalis on the way to a Birthday party for their nephew up in Bellingham. They were in the Walmart parking lot waiting for Bryan to arrive to bring another car. Bryan told me they were planning to get a hotel and wondered if they could park the broken down car at our house.

Of course, we went down and picked them up to stay with us overnight (how many times have the Joyce families bailed me out and/or had me stick around for dinner? The number is too high to count). We are so grateful they could stay with us and we took them down for the normal massive breakfast at Country Cousin in the morning. Then Bryan arrived, we got all the car stuff sorted out, and I was saying goodbye to everyone when Bryan had a thought.

He said, “Hey, Ken. This would be a great spot to take some drone pictures.”

Lorena had already headed off to Ikea in Renton go buy some beds–we were a little bit embarrassed about our lack of accommodations so we decided it was time to try to fix that a little, so she would never know I was not completing my honey-do’s.

I said, “Yeah, that would be great.”

So we did. the pictures are below. The first picture is a view of the house looking toward the West. The property boundary is just this side of the workshop at the top of the image and runs down to the very end of the cul-de-sac. The South boundary is the trees and the North boundary is the road that ends in the cul-de-sac. There are several more pictures if you click on the “Continue reading…” below.

Thanks Bryan! Again.

House looking toward the West

Continue reading My buddy Bryan brings his drone

Breaking down and buying binoculars

Nikon D90 in bonus roomWe found the power cable to the charger for Christian’s Nikon D90 Camera. We set it up to take pictures of stuff going on in the yard, the area just above the Chehalis river, the town behind it, the hills behind that, and finally Mount Rainier behind that. We cannot see the river, but that draws a ton of wildlife so we absolutely benefit from its presence. We kind of have not figured out the camera yet, but eventually I will find the time to figure it out and start to take some photos.

We had a long talk with Christian about which zoom lens we should get.

He said, “What do you want to do with it?”

We said, “We want to take pictures of the mountain, stuff like deer, flowers, and birds in the yard, and birds like the bald eagle that was on the tree by the river yesterday morning.”

We got it all figured out, but we cannot afford it all for awhile, so in the meantime, I bought some binoculars with image and video capture capability. I am sure they are not great, but they are much better than what we have now and we can just use them as binoculars. Here is what we are getting. I will leave you with one more deer picture we took at dinnertime out on the deck this afternoon.

Deer in the back yard

Luis’ and Mine’s paintings

Luis paints us a pictureOur dear friends Luis and Mine who are also Lorena’s brother Rigo’s father and mother-in-law each painted us a painting for our new house when we moved to North Carolina. It was so kind of them to paint these for us and we love them a lot. Now we have found a great home for both of them in our new house.Mine paints us a picture Mine’s painting is perfect for a kitchen setting. We found a tripod for it and keep it on the counter. The colors are just perfect, too.

Luis’ painting is amazing. It is a street scene that is very, very Mexican in style. One of the bathrooms in the house has a patently Mexican motif and the colors match remarkably well. We would have had a hard time finding a painting better than the one Luis painted for us.

We are grateful to them both.

Kitchen remodel: We have water and all the faucets

Pot filler and vegetable sink faucetsThis morning, the plumber and his son showed up at 8:00 AM on the dot to plumb all the faucets and the dishwasher. We were very pleased with the work. Right now it seems like the work is proceeding inch by inch. After the plumber left, the granite guy came back to drill another hole in the granite for the sprayer beside the vegetable sink faucet. He was an hour later than scheduled, but we enjoyed the visit very much. He did a great job. We spoke Spanish the whole time he was here (a Puerto Rican guy who married a Mexican girl from Michoacán).

Every time someone comes to fix something, one or two more things are uncovered. This time it was the attachment of the dishwasher (I will eventually put up a picture of that) to the granite. It requires another piece of metal no one had yet considered, but Mark P. promised he will install. In addition to that, we could install the vegetable sink sprayer, but we could not hook it up to water because the plumbing guys were already gone. Mark P. is going to deal with all of that after he gets back from vacation at Crescent Lake in Oregon after the Fourth of July. I will not get to see it until the week after that though because I am spending the fourth of July in China.

P.S. We have water to the faucets and drains in the sink so we actually have an operational kitchen. It will not be completely operational until we have our hood and the replacement for the second oven door, but we are getting very close now.