Hallelujah: A New Fence

Few things brought as much shame to this family than our fence. We live on a corner, and people from the North, the South, the East and the West would utter their judgements under their breath as they walked by. As they should have because it was a horrible abomination.

To the before:



Pieces literally fell off daily.


So it was time to replace it. We had visions of doing it ourselves, but we had been saying that for 6 years with nothing to show for it but a Pinterest board dedicated to fences. So we came across a phenomenal cedar lumber yard and Mark Wyman. And pulled the trigger.

Among the requirements: straighten out the incorrect fence location on the back property line, downplay the large garage behind us, add an additional gate on the side yard, build in a manner so we can replace the fence again without involving concrete 20 years from now.


When digging the new holes for the post brackets, we came across the old, decommissioned oil tank a few feet underground. At this point, we could have moved the proposed fence line. But this would have messed everything up. The fence crew came up with the ingenious idea of cutting the bracket and welding the bottom portion on it’s side. Combined with an oversized footing and the overhead arbor, it should prove to be plenty sturdy. Thanks to my neighbor Bryce for the quick weld.


We are incredibly pleased with the transformation and are looking forward to working in the backyard come spring time. Complete photo gallery here.

Porch Refresh

We have a long-term plan of repainting the exterior of the house. With that said, it’s a long ways out. When we replaced the first floor windows a few years ago, we committed ourselves to the new trim colors. Having enjoyed many a beer on the front porch, I spent too much time seeing old bubbling paint and the trim colors in transition.

So with a lack of planning, I decided to strip the window and door trim and rehab the original remaining window prior to repainting.


With that completed, I turned my attention to the porch ceiling which needed to be brightened up. So cleaning, scraping, priming and painting…


I am currently “in process” on the porch columns. 106 years of paint, weather and trim is hard to restore quickly. But it will look great…come springtime.


Finished pictures to come soon. Entire exterior gallery can be found here.

Exterior Update

It’s only been 6 months since the last update – I’m pathetic. We actually have made some progress around the house since May.

We kicked off the summer by re-roofing the whole house. Some places we had two layers of composition shingles on top of cedar shingles. Other places we just had a couple layers of comp. Either way, we took it all the way down, put on new plywood, and reroofed it. And when I say “we,” I actually mean the roofers we hired. That is a job best left to the professionals in my opinion. They did a great job and I can’t tell you how nice it is to not find any shingles blown off in the yard or worry about a leak here or there.


Once we were done spending money above our heads, we then proceeded to bury it beneath our feet: the joy of a new sewer line and water line. When we bought the house, we found out that our next door neighbor partied into our sewer line. That and our old sewer line curved out across the property line and then back. And had a minor crack in it. So the guys dug a couple deep holes (by hand) and then drilled and pulled a new sewer line in.




I must say I was impressed – the whole process was so much slicker than trenching and laying in a new line. Two holes made it fairly non-invasive and then the fact that they can bend and pull a brand new line in like that was pretty amazing.

We have three street trees: two diseased cherry trees in front and one massive walnut tree on the side. The walnut has been ignored for quite a while so I did a bit of “limbing up.” These pictures were taken half way through but needless to say, the tree is happier for it.


IMG_2467 - Version 2

We spent so much time sitting on the front porch this summer, I eventually got perturbed by the old, bubbling paint on the front window trim. So I stripped the paint down to the original wood and primed it up. And that’s how it will stay until the spring.


I had intended to get the fence replaced but the rain just got here to fast…or I’m just to slow. But I have settled on a design which is the first step. My plan is to hire somebody to set the posts and then I’ll take care of the rest. This is what I plan on doing but with a natural stain color.

I guess that project will have to wait until the spring.

Even a snail makes progress

It’s been quite some time since the last update on the dining room. You may recall that we had painted the dining room, had some new woodwork installed, and scored the ultimate steal/find of a built-in from the house next door. Needless to say, the built-in was a perfect fit. The paint color we had chosen for the walls; however, was not.

So we thought it best to add to our hundreds of sample cans by purchasing a few more and painting swatches all over the place. And the process stalled from indecision. The ceiling needed painting. The boxbeams needed painting. We didn’t want to install more woodwork until we had decided on a final color for the walls (good excuse, right?).

Eventually we settled on what we think is a beautiful color that shows off the woodwork and our art without being distracting or too dark. With that out of the way, it was time to finally tackle the trim and paneling around the windows.

The walls with windows are angled and the trim folds around the window stool and was quite the feat for me to build and fit snugly. So I drank beer and stared at it for months hoping for inspiration. Ultimately I grew impatient and just started building (by the way – I love pocket screws).


There is still quite a bit of work to do in the dining room: installing the actual plate rail and accompanying trim and oiling a ton of wood to start. But we are making a ton of progress. And the before and after’s are impressive to say the least:

And some more detailed photos:

Thanks for being patient!

Trees up. Lights on. Feet up. Beer down.

We got the tree up a couple nights ago and I had to rest and hydrate after the grueling task of stringing bulbs. I was parched.

We stole the tradition I had as a kid and have instituted the ‘two tree policy.’ The tree you see here is the grown up tree. For grown up ornaments. Rules include no climbing, or storing of toys within its branches. There is another tree in the background: this is the kids’ tree. It can be as tall as our oldest son and other than burning it, they can pretty much do whatever they want to it. I think I saw some burpees, legos, a football, and a miniature baby Jesus (vs. the full size baby jesus) displayed as ornaments yesterday. Martha Stewart would be proud.

Built-in Installed

Cut to the before and after pics of the built-in saga: that’s what we all really want to see anyways.

Before any work had been done in the dining room:

Dining room Friday morning:

And this afternoon:

There is still a lot of trim work to do, paneling to build, install, plate rail to install, etc – but…WOW! That has to be one of my best before and after shots I’ve ever had. The full dining room gallery can be found here.

So Lucky: A New (old) Built-In

Sometimes you just get lucky and today would be one of those days. I have been working on the dining room for quite some time and trying to bring it back to it’s original glory. This has meant among other things, building new wood paneling as the originals were removed probably some 50 years ago. I’ve been making quite a bit of progress on that front and will share some more pictures on that later on. But one of the more annoying problems has been the built-in. Or, more correctly, the lack of the original built-in. Back when they removed all the paneling, they also ripped out the built-in and replaced it with this crappy 1950’s model.

1950’s dining room built-in, in a 1910 house. Ugh.

The house next door to us is in the process of being remodeled and flipped. Being the inquisitive (read nosy) neighbor, I’ve asked for a tour or two of the house. On my first tour, I mentioned what a beautiful built-in they had in the dining room and the GC mentioned that he wasn’t sure what their plan for it was as it would most likely have to be removed. Fast forward to this morning. For the 19th time, I mentioned in passing that if they didn’t have a plan for it, I would be more than happy to take it off their hands…

Well, for $100, I have procured a new (old) built-in. And upon close inspection, I have determined that it must be nearly identical to what I used to have. I kid you not – the size, style, trim, paneling, shelves – it is a damn near perfect match.

$100. A HUNDRED DOLLARS! I can’t believe I pulled this off.


The thing is in really good condition. I think it had been painted at some point but somebody did a pretty good job removing it all. There is a bit hidden in a few cracks but nothing I won’t be able to get to. All of the hardwire minus the lock on the lower drawer is still there. No cracks, no nothing. Seriously, what the heck. So after confirming that that beautiful piece of awesomeness was really mine, I returned home and made a big hole in the wall. Actually, I started out by drilling a small hole in the back panel of my 50’s built-in to see what was behind it. And what did I find?

Hmmm. That’s not the back of lath.

That would appear to be nice wood. Knowing that, I then approached the removal with caution.

Well well. That would be the back of the original built-in.

The spots missing stain would be from the missing rails and shelves.

Goodbye 1950’s.

I have since removed that old back and de-nailed it. I believe that’s quarter sawn 3/4″ fir. Needless to say that I will be saving that for something special down the road. I obviously have a ton of work to get this new built-in to fit perfectly and blend in but I still can’t believe it. The construction guys and a few of my neighbors are going to attempt to move it tomorrow morning. It weighs a ton. I’ll be removing the doors, and a few other details so we don’t break them and then it’s just finagling and jiggering it into place.