Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Will the plaster ever end?

So we are back into the routine. After work we went home and changed into grubbies and went to the house. Today's task was to eliminate more of the remaining plaster. Eric took out the stuff on the stairway to the 2nd floor. I knocked out a patch over the chimney w/o a fireplace. That was interesting in that I removed a really heavy patch of plaster which ended up to be cementing in an old stovepipe cap. Not anymore - you can now peer into the chimney (assuming you are 8 feet tall). Then the "t" of plaster over the front window and door beckoned. Others had avoided that patch due to windows and the spiderweb of wiring that hooks up the front porch light (and we know how the wiring in this house looks). I took it down without cracking windows or causing any wiring sparks to fly. The plaster even neatly cracked off around the wires. I also stripped a little more drywall and tileboard from the bathroom while Eric was cleaning up the avalanche of plaster on the steps. We are postponing doing the rest of the bathroom until we get the plumbing capped off so as not to create a foutain in there when we (inevitably) knock over the pipes as we remove the tub, shower and knock down the dropped ceiling.

Monday, January 29, 2007

We returned from helping Mom and Dad Mac in Cleveland get their house ready for sale. Our task there was to paint the hallway on the stairs and the second floor. We are ace painters so that was no problem. We were rewarded for our labor with dinner at the Mint Cafe, a little Thai place on Coventry. We got home mid-day Monday, Eric went to the office for a few hours and Mary went to the house. First task, I dragged the electric stove onto the back porch for eventual removal...although if YOU want it, go get it. Hmmm it feels kinda chilly inside. Check the thermometer hanging in the dining room and learn it's 35 degrees inside. BRRRRR...Next task, replace the thermostat. Get the same model at Lowe's and hook it up (again- though Mr. M did it the last time). Then on to the "real" work! There was a weird green cardboard-y wall on the steps to the second floor (between the bonus room) that more or less crumbled when we tried to take it off, but was not easily removed. It turns out it was nailed about every 4", so I came up with a method of using a prybar t0 take it out 4" at a time. That left quite the mess to clean up all over the stairs along with the plaster from the demo party, but they are now clear (just don't smack them or a cloud of dust results). Then I started cleaning up the various piles of rubble left from the party around the walls. Back at the office Eric took possession of the pair of pedestal sinks we ordered from Home Depot. We're planning twin pedestals in the master bath and these "petite" profile seemed to fit the bill perfectly: http://www.kitchenandpantry.com/Product.asp?ItemID=11016
After work, Eric joined me at the house and removed more of the bathroom surround and framing around the window. That cleared the plaster and lathe for removal behind the adjacent pocket door...DOWN! The Shop Vac came out and sucked up lots of plaster dust at the base of the walls and under the carpet. Working on my parent's house this weekend we got "stair envy" as they had lovely hardwood treads. For fun we decided to see what lurks under the brown shag on ours. Eric pried up a strip at the landing...so far it looks pretty decent...maybe even hardwood (though painted)! We called it quits at 8PM and went home for Heroes and Studio 60.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Wreckin' the second floor!

We spent a few hours on Saturday morning "finishing" the second floor. Mary ripped out what little remained of the insulation (read raccoon bedding) in the "bonus room" then took down the framing for the walls. Eric ripped up the carpeting in the room at the top of the stairs. He was delighted to discover hardwood wide plank flooring that we're hoping to save. Mary was not so fortunate with the bonus room which has only plywood, but carpet, padding and the gazillion carpet strips all came up and made their way to the dumpster.

4th Dumpster FILLED; 3rd Thermostat KILLED!

Dumpster #4:

Drywall, insullation and carpet from 2nd Floor. We filled it to the top on Friday night, then came back Saturday morning and fed it some more. We get our money's worth out of these things. Mary is happy to claim no responsibility for the demise of our third thermostat. Our engineering and construction pal, Milt came by for a tour and to offer his advice on Friday night. While I was a witness to the thermostat crashing to the concrete floor, I was across the room when it happened.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

So much for privacy in the loo!

Monday night we tore down the wall between the middle room and the bathroom. First we took the plastic "tile" sheeting off the wall, then kicked in the drywall (complete with kung-fu posturing), then hammered the studs out with trusty mini-mallet, "Thor!" While we were at it we took out the (cough) attractive swan shower door (first dibs on this if you want it- it's sitting on the back porch). Then we removed half of the plastic shower surround (note E looking mighty) and PRESTO! There's the window that's been hidden for who knows how many years! Ironically, that also makes it the only window on the first floor that is not completely painted shut. It's even painted in a shade of green similar to the one we are contemplating for the exterior window woodwork...how about that? They obviously spared no expense on this bathroom, note the shampoo dispenser on the wall in the shower and they left us a toilet plunger in the tub....let's hope it's not because it was necessary to have it that close at hand! For the shy, we did leave the wall immediately next to the toilet up and will rig a curtain for a little privacy while you go about your bidness.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Meet "Skeeter." We set the Havahart trap on Saturday night with peanut butter crackers. When we came back Sunday morning, this little guy was in the trap. Not exactly what we expected cuz we were hoping for a raccoon. But as the raccoon has not been seen (thankfully), we're hoping he figured out that it was time to find a new residence. We set this little guy back out in the yard where he will provide ample entertainment for Wiley sometime in the future.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tear It Up!

Enjoy this latest video, complete with soundtrack, showing our demo of the house.
Shot and edited by Golden Glob award wining cinemtographer Duhg Cur Ann.

Also, if you missed them, check out his earlier films from the 539 series.
Plant "Life" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6hGNXLyxcM
Master Martineau http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jwnySflSlI

Duct tape really can fix anything!

Note the heaps of drywall and debris that resulted from our afternoon of heavy labor. Since "Russell" was no where to be found, we returned to remove more of the remaining drywall from the second floor. While tossing debris onto the discard piles, I bent down and heard an awkward splitting sound. Huh, I wonder what that was? No matter, must continue to toss debris...Wait, what is that odd draft I'm feeling? Reach around and feel pocket dangling..."Hey, honey do these jeans make my butt look big?!" E to the rescue with the roll of duct tape previously used to seal the bucket, mend the hose, and now to keep M's dignity intact!

Eric makes a new friend

Witness E removing drywall from the "bonus room" on the second floor. You know, the one without any windows and the plywood door that locks from the outside. As he was ardently attacking the wall with his prybar Saturday morning, a little masked head peeked over the top to see what all the racket was. E was, apparently, ruining Mr. Raccoon's peaceful slumber in the nest of cozy insulation he'd created in the rafter behind the drywall (second pic). We'll spare you the images of the other rooms he created, like -ewwww- his bathroom. After giving E a disgusted look, he went right back down and curled up in his nest. E attempted to take a photo with his cell phone and it came out looking like a black raccoon at the bottom of a black hole..in the dark. (Drat! We never have the right camera when we really need it!) We've named him "Russell" after ("in honor of" is not really appropriate here) another character we were more or less forced to live in uncomfortably close proximity to against our will. Upon discovery of our inhabitatant, E took a break and came directly to M's work to report his findings. A fortuitous action as our friends Johnny and Trish were there and graciously loaned us their Havahart metal trap. We returned when I finished work, but Russell appears to have abandoned his lair. After working the rest of the afternoon, we equipped the trap with wheat thins and peanut butter (what creature could resist that?) and will see what is lured out of our home and into the trap! Addendum to story: The PO's listing realtor FINALLY showed up late that afternoon to pick up her sign. She let herself in (the back door was totally open) and made her way up to the second floor where E and I were hard at work. She is quite the talker...She bent E's ear for the better part of twenty minutes while I just continued working. In addition to soliciting legal advice from my husband, she mused over the fact that we were working on the house ourselves AND gave away some interesting news. Turns out the PO totally KNEW HE HAD A RACCOON PROBLEM! "That's why he put on a new roof" according to his realtor. Looks like that worked, NOT!

Does this look like it meets code?

Our house is chock full of ancient, cloth-wrapped wire. Knob and tube run rampant in the basement. Neither one scares me that much as they seem pretty intact. This stuff is the "modern" wiring that the PO installed (perhaps himself, perhaps with the help of a primate) when he "remodelled" the second floor. We are incredulous that there have been no incidents as a result of this haphazard assembly of wires...are those copper ones supposed to be grounding that mess?!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sorry for the work lapse, we'll get on it today!

After knocking the %$#@* out of the house last weekend, we (read Mary) took a little hiatus. In fact, I (Mary) spent the entirety of last Monday and most of the following Tuesday (after dutifully opening the Market and having 2 meetings) in bed with an awful chest cold. As I continued sneezing, wheezing and hacking coughing through the week, it made it very difficult to work up the enthusiasm to head over to the dust bin, er, house and get anything done. I DID take a stained glass class (part 2 of a series of 4) on Wednesday night. I have high hopes of one day adorning a multitude of our smaller and more interesting windows & transoms with little pieces of glass artwork. Thursday we dropped in to install a new (the 3rd) thermostat. (I say "we" in the royal sense as I dutifully accompanied E to Lowe's to pick one out and did my part by pulling the wires through to the basement. Why would anyone want to set up their thermostat in the basement? Did I mention that it's the 3rd (including the one original to the house)? Yours truly is a bit of a klutz. In tearing down the wall I obliterated the first one. As it was 50 degrees a few weeks ago it wasn't a big deal, but we replaced it and balanced the new one on a nail in the side of a stud. I probably tripped over those attached wires no less than three times causing the thing to come crashing to the ground. We also performed much dusty work then so that may have contributed to its demise (I say to console myself). Anyway, when it decided to actually turn into winter here in Ohio...what, in mid-January? A thermostat became required to keep the house at a work-able temperature...and oh, prevent the pipes from freezing. E checked in on it and it's working just fine...I guess it's time to get back to work!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Brick and Beams

Here are shots of the progress as of January 15, 2007. We are down to brick in the dining room, the living room and the middle room. Still have to remove the plaster in the guest bedroom as well as hit the drywall, studs and plaster in the kitchen and bathroom. With the help on Saturday and our Sunday attack on the Living Room ceiling, we had almost filled the bigger dumpster we had delivered on Friday. With the extra space we pitched the rotten doors stored in the "wine cellar" room (the last photo is the now-empty room).

Our special find on Sunday was a formal portrait. Not much to go on, but we will compare it with the past owners and try to place it by style. Any guesses?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

We'll get by with a little help from our friends!

Wow. We've got GREAT friends! Seven of them showed up to help us with demolition today. Let's start with the first arrival. Kathy Burd gets "Best Realtor EVER" award from the Martineaus. She arrived with her own tool belt AND photocopies of the documents she researched at the library about our house. Charles Seeds bought the place in 1904. He was a police officer. She created a list of every resident of the place through present time. She also produced ads for the Paradise Confectionery Company - the source of our cute copper tongs. They were a 1906-era business owned by one of the first Greek families to settle in Columbus! Then Kathy and I set about clearing the rest of the plaster in the front room. Jon T arrived and went to work on the second floor and neighbor Brue got there and went up to help him. The first room on the second floor is now bare rafters thanks to their efforts. They seemed to have fun heaving construction debris out the second story window onto the ground below for "easier" hauling to the dumpser! Doug C - our videographer extraordinaire caught some images of the carnage on film and then set about making "the closet to nowhere" completely disappear with the help of Kathy! It is now entirely brick with a cool old header beam! Brian B came in and annihilated 90% of the plaster in the living room with Doug's aid. We now have brick, brick, brick walls everywhere! Bryan H and Johnny G were the aces who helped us haul it all into the dumpster! Eric removed the entire ceiling in the guest bedroom and Brue tore out the plaster and lathe on the stairwell. All-in-all, we got a week's worth of work done in a day thanks to our friends! We had a few beers on the back porch and then sent everyone home to hit the showers. All were invited to Surly Girl for a "thank you" dinner. We were pleasantly surprised upon arrival to discover that Liz and Carmen (the awesome proprietresses of the establishment) had reserved a table for our party in the back! Many thanks to all of you who helped us out!

Doug in pre-closet demolition mode!

It was a lovely 50 degrees today, so that ain't snow. It's plaster dust and we created a lot of it!

Best Realtor EVER!

She'll help you buy a house and then knock down it's walls if that's what you want to do with it!

Brue's that masked man!

Hacking off plaster and panelling at the top of the stairs!

Jon T surveys his work

This morning there were walls next to those steps...and a ceiling above them!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Look what Brian did!

B-boy must have had some pent-up aggression, because he attacked those walls with a VENGEANCE! No plaster was safe from his prybar.

How do I a-door thee?

Let me count the ways. Right now 17 plus 2. Mary discovered the magic of Craigslist. Ben from Findlay posted that he had 17 doors that he rescued from a farmhouse that was going to be demolished in Celina, Ohio. It belonged to the parents of one of his co-workers. He went in and saved them. He wanted $35 each for them, but would give somebody a "really good deal" if they took them all. So we did. We drove up to his house in Findlay on a Friday night in a rainstorm, loaded them into the van and brought them home. He even threw in 2 long five-panel cabinet doors as a "bonus". This guy was great, he saved the hinges, hardware, everything down to the screws attaching them! Most of the doors have their original hardware that looks like brass. A few have black enamel knobs. When we bought the house we had four doors: front and back exterior, bathroom and basement. None of them is remotely worth saving. As we are creating bedrooms and bathrooms and studies and such, we're going to have a need for doors and we wanted something that looks or is historically appropriate. We think these are just the thing! Some are painted, most are stained, they'll all probably require a little TLC. And they come in a variety of sizes, but our ace architects said that since we're creating all of the spaces, we can have our carpenter frame in whatever size we need! Check them out!

Lots of doors!

We've got great knobs! (Huh-huh, I said knobs!)

Bonus Doors!

Yes, Ben added these for "free!" I think his wife wanted them out of the garage with the rest!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Back at it!

We were away from the house for two days and it seemed like FOREVER!
But we went back to it for a solid two hours Thursday night. Eric completed the removal of the remaining ceiling in the entry room and then hit the wall over the "closet to another dimension." (What we hope will be a built-in buffet/china cabinet someday). I was weary of the crap raining down on my head from ceiling removal, so I decided to do something "fun." I removed all of the plaster from the brick wall that divides the back bedroom from the middle room. And a lovely brick wall it is! Too bad it is likely to be removed with the chimney to make more room for the bathroom! But for now it's looking sharp. We spent 25% of our remaining time there yesterday shoveling #@%$! into garbage bags to prepare for DUMPSTER #3 which should arrive sometime Friday morning. Misery loves company as the saying goes, so we've invited all of our friends (and any of you reading this post before Saturday) for a "Demolition Party!" To be held at the house from noon-5 on Saturday, 1/13/07. Anyone putting in at least a couple hours of labor gets dinner on us later that night (after all retreating to our respective homes for a good scrub down) at the Surly Girl Saloon!

A little more wall!

The "center" of this photo (right above the ladder) shows the old wall above "the closet to nowhere". Next to it Eric also exposed more of the brick over the chimney. Can you guess who's itching to make all that plaster go away now that it's half gone anyway?

Eric hits the ceiling

Eric's ceiling work exposed! The bare bulb and half-stripped walls really give it that modern Bosnian feel don't they?

A girl and her brick wall

Have I mentioned in any past posts how much I love exposed brick walls? And this house has a lot of walls that have the potential to be exposed! Take this one, for instance. It's in the MIDDLE of the house! Now maybe, once upon a time, this was the BACK of the house and they put on an addition, but the brick on the back of the house (at least on this room) matches the rest of it! I also have a fondness for warmth, however and will have to investigate the thermal integrity of exposed brick. Eric and I are also avid art collectors and you can't just throw up a picture with ease wherever you want with brick, although it does provide a beautiful background for the art.

Monday, January 8, 2007

And the entry room ceiling falls too!

Eric and I went tag team on the ceiling in the entry room on a fine Monday night. This would be an anomaly for most Columbus residents, who are ALL by default OSU fans as it is the night of "the big game!" (National Championship vs. Florida State). Hey, fear not, we were home and showered by 7:30! That dangerous jagged thing on the left is a piece of lathe with a nail sticking out. Don't bump into that! We filled 3 garbage cans with wood strips in this endeavor. That's the front door (right) and closet (left behind jagged post).

Remove the silly half walls and it's a huge room!

Here's the view from the living room to the entry room now that the old half-wall studs are down. The glowing orb is not a spirit of the house, but the bare lightbulb that Mr. Martineau has rigged to shed a little light on our work!

Old Cement Sacks

I pulled two of these from the wall above the pocket door tracks and Eric found a few more in a wall in the guest bedroom. They were so caked with soot that they were completely illegible, but an extra long soaking in hot water in the washer made them this legible. BTW- do you catch that 94 POUNDS?! These things are about the size of a rice sack. I'm wagering these were from the pre-OSHA era.

Cool copper tongs

I found these in the rubble of the middle room ceiling as well. They appear to be copper (note the verdigris) and are stamped "Paradise -something - Co." Sorry the tarnish obscures the middle word, maybe coffee? And the back side is stamped 215 N. High Street....somebody want to check the city archives on that one for me?

Cool stuff sometimes falls from the ceiling too!

Take this program from the Columbus Police Benevolent Association, for instance. This discovery made my night! It's in awesome (though smudge-y) condition, dated 1903 and has fabulous period photos and information about public officials at the time!

How filthy is this job?

Witness: the footprints in the carpet soot are made in the black sooty dust that is "overspray" from the demo a room away. And a pile of plaster/lathe/wallpaper bits and whatever else fell from the ceiling!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

A Smashing Sunday

So, the pic of Eric in the Darth Vader mask (bottom right) represents his first foray into the fun world of plaster and lathe that I've been delving into since, oh, day two. He tackled the wall in the guest bedroom that hides the stairway to the second floor. The first pic (top left) is the ceiling in the "middle room" that I took down most of Sunday. Did I mention in the previous post what a hideously nasty job this is? Apparently, having 3 chimneys indicates that lots of stuff used to be burned in the house in fireplaces and stoves and such. Black dust is accumulated behind the plaster, especially in the ceilings that we assume is a product of the carbon-inducing burning. SO as I tore out plaster and lathe from above my head, I got a shower of black dust that went down my sweatshirt, up my sleeves and all over me. I had plaster and black dust in places that rarely see sunlight. A few cool things were also found in the ceiling. A pair of old tin tongs that looked like they might have come with sardines or something. And a program from some sort of police function that is dated 1903!!! It is in great condition except for a few black smudges and has photos of important police-people like Police Chief Kelly! Removal of all of the ceiling lathe and that higher up on the walls in the middle room and ceiling then permitted us to remove the old room dividing planks. (After consulting our architects to ensure that is was no load-bearing wall we were removing, naturally). So the top right photo is of the now huge center room that was created when we took down the beams between the entry and middle room. I'd have a better photo (aren't you impressed that we even remembered the camera this time?) Except the battery promptly died after those 3 pics. Better photos will follow, I promise. The remainder of the afternoon was spent cleaning up the chaos that tearing down plaster walls and ceilings creates, and trying to fit it al into our rented dumpster. Task accomplished!

A new dresser for the guest bedroom

This is our Gallery Hop score from Grandview Mercantile's Revue. It is a Victorian-era dresser with a marble top and fabulous (though only 5 of the 6) hardware. We happened upon it at 80% off and decided we'd take it home! The mirror and the whole piece are in fabulous shape and we love it! (The reflection is our Indian tapestry that currently hangs in our dining room!). Not visible in the photo is the craft-carved top of the mirror that you can get a feel for on its side braces. It had a few water spots, but a rub-down with furniture oil has it looking pretty good!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Less panelling in the stairwell

Still more photos of the almost panelling-free stairwell.
There's a bunch on the second floor, but it will take
some extra maneuvering to get that out. I fear one section is actually holding the barely-there window in. The other sections are tucked behind the wild steps into the raised rooms on the second floor. But, just removing this much was progress! While I opened the Market, Eric hit Lowe's to use a "new home buyer" coupon they graciously mailed to our new abode. 10% off up to $500. No problem. One reciprocating saw, spare blades, a double-sided ladder and some heavy plastic sheeting later, he maxed that benefit! After work (well, my work) we went to the house and I took down more plaster while Eric removed the remaining upper beams in the entry room. That means that we could take down the last of the "what the heck?" panelling that was only left ABOVE the dropped ceiling! Done. I got the first look at what a nasty job it's going to be to remove all of the plaster and lathe from the ceilings. It's a virtual shower in dust...black sooty coal dust or something. Eric laughed when I climbed down from the ladder and removed my gear...."You look like a coal miner!" Thanks. Home to shower and off to reward ourselves with some gallery-hopping!

Friday, January 5, 2007

A little backroom and hallway progress

This is the plaster-covered back bedroom.
And the less-panelled stairway to the future master suite. Our second dumpster arrived today (Friday). We already had a ton of stuff to toss into it and it is already over half full!