Our Current House
Don’t you love a good forced pun on a Wednesday morning?
Ever since we shared a bunch of doorknob options last week (and ordered the ones we liked the most), we’ve been waiting for
youuuuuu them so that our upstairs doors could finally have some closure. Literally, we couldn’t close any of the doors. So when the box landed on our porch, we got right on installing them.
Like many DIY projects, adding the new knobs was a bit more complicated than we anticipated. The latch assembly was bigger than the existing holes in our doors, so I had to use a drill to carve them out a bit wider. I tried a file at first (as the knob instructions suggested) but it took a lot more time and effort than using the spinning drill bit to chip away at it, so that became my preferred method.
I had to do that on every single door (all eleven of them), so it definitely added to the timeline (and mess) of the project. On five of the doors I also had to chisel out this notch a bit deeper because it wasn’t allowing the latch to stick far enough into the hole where it had to line up with the knobs.
So, what I thought might be an hour of work turned into a four hour drilling and chiseling marathon (oh DIY, you unpredictable beast, you). But in the end, it was time well spent.
I didn’t really realize how unfinished the upstairs hallway looked with all of the naked doors staring at us. Although I’m sure Clara will miss peeking through the open knob holes and making faces.
This is the best I could do to get all of the doors into one shot (the master bedroom – seen above – is behind me). Taking this shot was actually the first time we’ve ever been able to close them all since moving in, which has been especially nice for rooms like Clara’s (no more propping the door shut with a floor pillow for naps) and the bathroom (for, well, obvious reasons).
We’re really happy that we went with the knobs with the big back plate too. They’re a nice traditional touch without looking overly ornate. Sherry says they’re like little exclamation points on every door, which is pretty accurate I think. They sort of quietly make a statement without being crazy and compete-y if that makes sense.
And as mentioned in last week’s post, we opted to put versions without the back plate on the closets and bathrooms to save a bit of dough (they were $10 less). We ended up putting a plated version on the hall bathroom too, just so that it didn’t stick out among the other doorways in the hallway when you get to the top of the stairs. So the plate-less version ended up going on the attic door, since it’s tucked away beyond the laundry area.
There’s also a two-doored linen closet in the hallway (you can see half of it in the fourth picture), but we thought two of the plated doorknobs right next to each other would be too much for that, so it got the basic closet ones on it as well as all of the other closets, which is nice. It blends since everything is the same finish, and it’s sort of a subtle reminder that the doors with the back plates are rooms, whereas any door with a regular knob is just a closet (or the attic storage room).
Last week some folks wondered if/how these doors locked, so we snapped these detail pics. On the inside there’s a little button behind the knob that you can push to lock it, and it unlocks when you turn the knob from the inside. We like having locks around so Clara’s exposed to them and can learn about them (we worry she’d lock herself into her friend’s room or a hotel bathroom or something if she never learned what they were and not to touch them). And it’s nice to know that if Clara were ever to lock herself in, there’s a keyhole on the other side that pops it right open with a flat silver key (see that small hole in the photo on the right below?). We’ve stuck the keys in our junk-drawer for easy grabbing, but so far we have lived with the doorknobs for a few days and Clara has heeded our “please don’t touch that part” requests. Update: Thanks for the tips to put the keys on top of each door! We did that in our houses growing up, but these keys are larger and flat (sort of like a hinge) so they wouldn’t balance on the door frame.
Which is good because we don’t want any funny business going on behind closed doors around here. We already caught Burger playing with Clara’s old play mat. Sneaky chihuahua…
So we’re glad that we don’t have a bunch of holey doors giving us the stink eye, but when it comes to furniture placement, window treatments, closet organization, and paint picks for the walls… let’s just say that we’ve lived here for two weeks and it looks like we moved in two weeks ago. There are still chairs and boxes in weird places, bare walls and mostly bare windows, and a whole lot to be done. But planning is the fun part for us. We’ve been brainstorming late into the night until one of us stops talking and we realize they’re asleep and we’re talking to nobody.
When we bought our house, there were two big issues we knew that we needed to deal with right away:
- the ancient furnace for the first floor was so poorly maintained we weren’t sure it would run
- the 32 year old roof was at the end of it’s life and there was a hole in it (it was actively leaking into the attic every time it rained)
Thankfully we knew about both of these issues when we bid on the house, and we were able to negotiate thousands of dollars back at closing to go towards those updates (since a new roof and a new furnace are hardly cheap fixes). Then it was just a matter of getting them repaired as soon as possible. So while we were on our book tour, picture us playing phone tag with furnace folks and roofers in order to get those things straight while bouncing around the country. And by some miracle, we were able to get the furnace cleaned and running along with a completely new 50 year dimensional shingle roof within a few weeks of owning the house.
It was crazy to see how much rot there was (in some cases, the entire roof, including the plywood underneath, had to be removed and replaced).
It definitely got a little worse looking before it got better…
… but Clara didn’t seem fazed by the 2′ piles of old roofing stuff around the house. Atta girl.
Ahh, much better.
Oh and as for how we chose the roofer, we used them on our first house and loved them (they’re a a fully insured family owned local business who’ve been in the roofing game for nearly 60 years). We still got three roofing estimates again, just to be sure, but they came in at the best price plus they were folks we had used already – so it was a nice easy choice.
When it came to choosing the type of roof, we looked around at homes in our neighborhood and noticed that the brick colonials that we loved the most had this type of roof (it’s a 50 year dimensional shingle roof that has nice big slate-like shapes going on, which seemed more to scale with the house) so we pulled the trigger. You can see them best on the lower roof on the left of the house (that’s over the garage) in this picture:
You get more of the slate-like look when you get closer. Here’s a photo of a smaller awning on the back of the house that shows how beefy and square-ish the tiles are. The brand is GAF Camelot 2, and the color is Antique Slate. It actually has a lifetime warranty, so although it’s occasionally known as a 50 year roof, it could hold up longer (knock on wood). Plus it has the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, which is nice, but I always wish there was an actual seal (you know, with a ball on his nose) in the logo. Missed opportunity.
But while the new roof felt like a nice long-term fix (which was especially comforting after we confirmed that there was no long-term damage or mold from that leak) we continued to have issues with the furnace. So that initial fix felt like a band-aid while the new roof was a nice solid improvement. Apparently the furnace was original to the house (32 years old) and had never been cleaned. Never! They didn’t even think the filter had been changed once. So yeah. It was, in the words of Rob Lowe on Parks & Rec, LITERALLY a hot mess.
And since it was so old and has never really been serviced or maintained, it was incredibly hard to find parts. So finally after our 5th service call or so (we were smelling gas in the garage, which was SCARY and we worried there was some sort of leak or carbon monoxide issue) we got a pretty amazing call from our home warranty folks. We were getting a brand new Goodman furnace (which comes with an awesome warranty). On the house! As in, it was going to be free thanks to the 1 year home warranty that we got when we bought our house (we paid about $500 for it at closing because we knew if anything major broke in that time, it would be covered, and that peace of mind seemed worth it to us). Let me tell you, when they pulled into our driveway with a new 5K furnace (which included free installation and some new duct work)… that $500 was the best money we ever spent!
So those are two updates that we did way back when we got the house, just because they couldn’t wait. Sorry it took so long for us to share them, we had to clear out some moving chaos that we had amassed in the garage to get that breathtakingly gorgeous after shot of the furnace that you see above.
On one hand it felt really nice to check two major things off the list so early (especially since one was free from the home warranty company and one was paid for with money that we got back at closing), but it was also a nice early lesson that juggling two houses was a lot more overwhelming than one. In fact John’s parents had to meet the service folks at our new house for an emergency furnace appointment once because we were on a plane coming back from a tour stop in Palo Alto.
So we got these two big important things taken care of as quickly as we could and immediately clicked back into “current house mode” in the hopes of avoiding immediate brain combustion (that’s a thing, right?). Then once we wrapped up the tour, the holidays, and the rest of the projects we wanted to complete at our last house, we finally allowed ourselves to switch gears back into “new house mode.” Which was so exciting it made me want to write one word 3,000 letter posts like this:
While doing this dance.
So there’s gotta be a lesson in here somewhere, right? Maybe it’s “seriously consider the $500 home warranty, just for the peace of mind!” And I think there’s something to our roof-picking method (we literally just drove all over our neighborhood staring at the ones we liked best and tried to analyze why we liked them). Did you do a “neighborhood crawl” like we did? Have you ever gotten anything for free within the first year of home ownership thanks to a home warranty?
Update: It has been really interesting to read everyone’s experiences in the comment section. While a bunch of folks have scored new items thanks to a home warranty (and some people renew them every year since they find them to be so worth it) others haven’t been as happy with theirs and have terrible stories of frustration and disappointment. It seems to really depend on the region, warranty company, and each individual situation.
This is the story of removing the sliding shower doors in our master bathroom. It was one of those can’t-do-this-soon-enough tasks that was at the top of our list.
Not only did they enclose the tub in a way that a soft white fabric curtain wouldn’t, they had seen better days. So there were lines of rust around them…
… and pretty impressive amounts of caulk that seemed to be holding them together.
Plus their height was oddly low, so John hit his head (not once but twice) while climbing in. Fool him once, shame on the shower doors – fool him twice, shame on John. Here’s a good ol’ fashioned fully-clothed reenactment for you.
Anyway, the first scene to Get Those Dastardly Doors Down (the movie) involved swinging them out at the bottom so they could be lifted away from the track that held them in place at the top.
The top frame actually lifted right off after we did that, and then it came down to removing a few screws on each of the side frames to free them from the wall.
At least that’s what we thought. And then we remembered all that caulk. So we needed to score (and score and score) those wads of silicone to get those frames free.
When they came off it kind of looked like they were coated with icing. Except substantially less appetizing.
Here’s the gross part. WARNING. Stop eating. Or stop reading this entirely if you’re especially squeamish.
Second warning. Seriously, stop it with the pop tart. Put it down.
Last warning. There’s no button to un-see this.
We then discovered this thick layer of scum that was living under the frame on the bottom of the tub, which wasn’t screwed in. So it just lifted off to reveal this tasty sight of 3D mildew and general nastiness. I used a flat razor to scrape the scum (check out my veiny hands – I think they bulge when I’m trying not to gag).
Then the tub looked like this, which is nice and open from afar.
Even the spots where the frame was screwed in were pretty small (so a dab of silicone caulk in each one sealed them off, and once we hung the shower curtain we knew they’d be obscured even more).
But if you got a little closer, the issue was the caulk around the tub.
Many areas were missing caulk completely, and some had pink-ish mildew or even old rotted brown spots (don’t even know what caused those) but one thing was clear: we needed to strip off the old caulk and re-caulk the entire perimeter of the tub and even down the sides and along the base at the floor. So we used a combination of a box cutter and this little plastic tool that we grabbed at Home Depot for a few bucks (it has a razor in the middle of the V to help slice while it pulls the caulk away from the wall).
That tool didn’t work along the bottom of the tub (couldn’t really grab the caulk there along the floor) so out came the box cutter again.
About an hour later (took a while, but it was pretty satisfying work) we had this caulk collection going on.
Then it was time to get some fresh stuff down. Be sure to use something silicone that’s meant for a tub/shower (we like the white colored stuff over clear caulk since it blends with the tub). Oh and we taped off the top edge so all we had to do was smooth it with our finger and then peel off the tape while it was still wet for a nice clean line against that dark tile.
Much better, eh?
Then after it all dried we hung our extra long shower curtain with a tension rod from Home Depot and it finally felt clean and airy. The to-the-ceiling-height always adds some nice “head-room” so it feels a lot less cramped to us (and it’s never dark in there since light passes through white fabric really easily).
Our 95″ waffle weave curtain originally came from amazon (but we hear target.com occasionally sells them too). We got it years ago at our first house and it has held up nicely since it’s 100% cotton and can be tossed in the wash (we have an extra long white fabric liner from Bed Bath & Beyond that hangs on the inside of the tub to block spray). As for why it came with us, shower curtains don’t stay like regular curtains when a house sells down here – probably because they can be pretty decor-specific and are universal in size – so they work in your next house in a way that certain height curtains or certain width blinds wouldn’t.
One thing’s for sure: a little caulk and a new curtain can definitely made a big difference.
As for the fate of this bathroom, there’s some tile damage around the toilet and sink as well as at the top corners of the shower and of course that wallpaper’s days are numbered, but we plan to live with the tile for a while and then eventually expand the bathroom’s footprint into the sink nook area so we have one big space instead of two smaller choppy ones (having one sink in the bathroom and one right outside of it instead of one big bathroom with a double sink just isn’t our preference). This post with a floor plan might help you visualize things.
So it should be fun to reconfigure this room down the line and retile/add a double sink/etc. But we like living with a space for a nice long time before doing dramatic reno (who knows, we might completely change our mind and go a different direction after thinking it through). In the meantime, I sort of love the blue hex tile, so we’re going steady for now. I’d insert some joke about how it sees me naked all the time, but my mom might text me about it (yes, she texts now, which is hilarious and awesome).