Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pondering Garage Solution

OK, Sharon is still pretty disappointed by the city's permitting rules. They seem to favor contractors and folks who don't care about the rules, but she is still considering our options for how we can proceed with our garage project.

Sharon's first idea is to rotate the roof 90° so the gable faces east-west. Like this.

It isn't nearly as striking as our earlier plan and looks funny in the SketchUp picture because the roof is off center, but it seems the best way to deal with the city's rule that we can't extend out the west eave. Though it will probably bug Sharon every time she sees it for quite a while, it is actually quite difficult to get a good front view of the garage because it is partially blocked by the the house and plants.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Jeff went to the City of Portland today to ask about building the new garage. The City's rules, in our opinion, are pretty irrational. Because the current garage is built one foot away from the property line, we have to request a variance to rebuild it in the same spot. But if we get that variance, it is to build a garage which is solely for parking cars. You can't tell them you're going to use it as a workshop, or the rules are different. It doesn't matter that every other person in Portland uses their garage for lots of purposes besides parking cars, those are the rules...period.

Also, according to the City, we have to pour a new slab or cut down the edges of the current slab and pour footings. And they won't let the eave extend out on the west side of the building. So, this is what it would look like.
Yuck! It looks really stupid with the roof detail chopped off. So, really not a good day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wimping Out

Last month we had a grand plan to rebuild our garage ourselves with some skilled hired help. We checked out all kinds of books on framing to peruse while we designed the building in Google SketchUp so we could submit our plan to the City of Portland.

Mostly final garage plan done in SketchUp
While the design process was fun, it also helped us realize how much we're not up to the task. Even though we were hoping to do this project on the cheap, we also want the garage to be framed and finished correctly. And the carpenter we were talking with also seems to have disappeared; perhaps he's just too busy to pick up his voice mail messages...

So now, with our design in hand, we're looking at Plan B. We've asked a number of contractors to give us estimates for making the project happen. Luckily, we got a pretty good tax refund this month so we were able to bring the budget to a not-entirely-unrealistic number.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Rabbit Child

Because one dog, one parrot and three chickens obviously aren't enough trouble, we brought home a new family member today. It feels almost irresponsible, but the baby bunnies were so cute (especially at 4 weeks!), and we've wanted one for over a year. Today was obviously the day.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Moving Furniture Again

It has become obvious to us that this rain is never going to stop!! Before we shellac the bedroom, we want it to not rain for several days so we can open the room up. If it's not raining, the air will be less humid and the shellac will dry faster, so we're told... And like every other step in this process, it smells bad. It's nice to be able to let in the fresh air.

So we just decided we need to move onto the next paint stripping project: the guest bedroom. So, we need to clear out this room.

Parlor Sort

Unfortunately, we've had a fairly unproductive week this week. We really need the next deadline to find motivation to start the next big project. We did go to look at a couple things listed on craigslist, but didn't end up buying either. Oh well.

We also managed a trip to storage to bring home another load of stuff. Most of the load was stuff to list on craigslist to sell, but we did squeeze in as many boxes of books and dining room stuff as we could fit. So this afternoon, we unpacked several of the boxes. Most of the stuff went into the parlor. It looked rather sloppy when we started.

Sharon has an old glass bank collection that got put into the second colonnade (for now). She collected these about 20 years ago, but once eBay came along it was too easy to find glass banks and the challenge was gone so it was no longer fun.

We also brought home three or four boxes of old family books. Since they're nicely bound in leather, they made our modern paperback books look trashy. So, Sharon got the crazy idea that the modern books would look much better if they were sorted by color.

She spent a couple hours this afternoon shifting books. It probably will be harder to find the books we're looking for as they're not as well sorted by topic, but they look so much better! =)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Latest Batch of Ornaments

Sharon continues to seek productivity in front of the TV so she has managed to make several more ornaments.

This first one was made from wool scraps using the ornament pattern provided here: How To: Vintage Felt Baubles. Sharon skipped the ric rac step because she doesn't like the stuff!

This next batch of ornaments was made from folded fabric and was quite fun to make. There are great directions at a couple of different blogs. The square shape ornaments are actually folded from circles and the tutorial is found here: Triangle Tree Tutorial.

The triangle-shaped ornaments were made from hexagons and the tutorial is found here:
Fabric Ornament Number Two.

The funky hexagon-shaped ornament (far left) was actually a mistake, but Sharon liked it well enough to go ahead and finish it with a button. It was made from a triangle, but the original triangle wasn't large enough to fold for the second step. The tutorial is found here:  Fabric Ornament Number One. She'll have to give this one another try with a larger triangle.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Craftsman Mag Stencil Designs

A while back Sharon went through the online Craftsman Magazines page by page. She grabbed images that caught her eye; among them were articles and designs for stencils. After this effort, she thought she should take an opportunity to share some of her favorite stencils here.

Craftsman Magazine showed a series of stencils in their new "Our Home Department" section in the November 1905 edition. Here are most of them. (Many of these pre-cut stencils can be purchased from Michael Simmons Decorative Arts here.)
Craftsman Magazine, Nov 1905
Craftsman Magazine, Nov 1905
Craftsman Magazine, Nov 1905
(BTW, both these following spot stencils can be purchased from Trimbelle River here.)
Craftsman Magazine, Nov 1905

Sunday, April 15, 2012

House Task List Update

Last October, Sharon put together our "winter" to-do list. Once she wrote everything down, it became obvious it was way more than we could accomplish during the winter, but it did help keep us on track. We have made some good progress since October, thanks in part to the Kitchen Tour deadline.
  1. Buy woodworking tools (started—bought compound miter saw)
  2. Finish planting rain gardens
  3. Plan and build pergola at back patio
  4. Clean bricks and install back patio
  5. Finish priming/painting/staining basement bathroom
  6. Install flooring/fixtures in basement bathroom
  7. Plan and build raccoon-safe chicken coop
  8. Buy/Make 2 curtains for dining room (in progress—just need stencilling)
  9. Replace exterior door locks
  10. Plan and build side fence
  11. Clean bricks and install front walk
  12. Clean up painted hardware; re-plate/replace if necessary
  13. Uninstall broken leaded glass panels
  14. Make 2 kitchen leaded glass panels
  15. Make 2 dining room leaded glass panels
  16. Make 6 parlor leaded glass panels
  17. Buy/Make 4 curtains for living room
  18. Stain/Shellac master bedroom woodwork
  19. Repaint master bedroom and closets
  20. Refinish master bedroom floors
  21. Plan/Install master bedroom closet interiors
  22. Plan/Install kitchen pantry interior
  23. Buy/Make 3 shades/curtains for parlor
  24. Stain/Varnish inside of side exterior door
  25. Strip woodwork in guest bedroom
  26. Stain/Shellac woodwork in guest bedroom
  27. Repaint walls/ceiling in guest bedroom
  28. Refinish floor in guest bedroom
  29. Strip woodwork in sewing room
  30. Stain/Shellac woodwork in sewing room
  31. Repaint walls/ceiling in sewing room
  32. Refinish floor in sewing room
Apparently the garage rebuild wasn't even on the radar last October. It's moved up to the top of the list and what we'll be working on the next few weeks. We really need the workshop space for all these woodworking and smelly staining projects. Right now, we're trying to get the packet ready to file with the City of Portland so we can get a permit. There's a pretty steep learning curve, though.

Also, now that the weather is nicer, we want to get back to work on the master bedroom. Sharon so wants to finish shellacking that room so we can move back in!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tired Feet

We had a really great tour today. We got SO MANY nice comments about our restoration efforts, it felt really good to have had this experience.

Sharon wore her camera all day because she had been planning to take pictures of the house full of people, but she just never thought about doing it. She, and Jeff, spent most of the 6 hours standing on their feet extolling the wonderfulness of our restoration project. It felt really good when folks were so surprised that our house started out painted white and was brought to this amazing stained look. Hopefully others will realize what is possible...

It was also super nice to meet three of our regular blog followers today!  Yeah!! We're hoping we got some new old house junky friends to talk restoration with and also to go see their old houses, if they have them.

We have tired feet now, so we're going to take a short rest and then get to work cooking. We're having a house warming / open house tomorrow because the house is about as clean and finished as it's going to get for now.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Kitchen Tour Pre-Tour

Today was a good day. We cleaned up the front porch and Jeff worked on cleaning up the front yard most of the day. We also got to continue staging the interior of the house; it was looking pretty good, considering. Our friend Storm dropped by this morning with her better camera and between her and our camera, we took like 300 pictures today! =)

Tonight the Architectural Heritage Center had a pre-tour for all the homeowners and volunteers. There were some wonderful kitchens. Sharon's favorite, besides our own of course, was Carol's kitchen styled after an 1898 Victorian kitchen with antique stand-alone fixtures, including an antique ice box. So awesome!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Leaded Glass is Done!!

All the leaded glass panels are finished and installed. And with a whole day to spare before the tour. We are extremely excited!! We've been straightening up for days and we also had a cleaning service in this afternoon, so things are looking pretty nice right now.

We're just so happy to be done! Now maybe we can get back to our previously scheduled projects: the garage and shellacking the master bedroom.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Leaded Glass Panels Cemented!

Jeff spent a fairly unpleasant week cementing leaded glass panels. While the process isn't particularly difficult, it is messy and smells awful! Again, we're not going to presume to give a tutorial as there are far better resources available elsewhere:

Cementing: How to Weatherproof and Strengthen Leaded Glass Panels
How to Cement Leaded Glass Windows

Jeff's finally finished all 10 panels and the last two are drying. He has also started installing the panels in the cabinet doors. It is a fairly slow process because the mouldings and nails are so tiny, and he's working right next to the glass. He has to be very careful.

The kitchen is done!! It's difficult to get a good picture of this glass because there is a ceiling height cabinet facing it. But now that there's finally glass to prevent dust, we've cleaned out the cabinet and commenced sprucing it up!

Upholstery Fabric Shopping

Sharon dropped by a couple more upholstery fabric stores this week. At Whole 9 Yards, she found Craftsman reproduction fabrics! OMG, too bad she didn't find this fabric before we ordered the living room furniture last fall!

It's beautiful fabric but it costs $84/yard!! (You can buy it here online.) Despite the cost, it would have been pretty tempting last fall because it is SO wonderful!

If only she had found them before she had ordered her new furniture... She is resisting the impulse to buy it to replace the current fabric; it would be impractical to recover all these cushions at this point. At least the color palettes blend well.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Small Projects

As the tour deadline approaches, we have been spending time trying to actually finish projects. All the way. Done.

Today, Jeff started cutting the tiny mouldings for the leaded glass panels. These tiny pieces are very difficult to work with, but hopefully we'll finish the pieces tomorrow.

While he was working on that project, Sharon installed the little metal pulls at the bottom of the shades.

She had Jeff drill holes into the center of the wood strips. Then she inserted them into the shade casing to locate the proper place to put the hole in the fabric.

She used an awl to spread apart the fabric fibers without cutting them so, in theory, they won't fray around those holes.

Then she removed the wood strip and pushed in a larger awl to make the hole a bit larger than the screw hole.

Then she reinserted the wood strip and inserted the screw into the hole and attached the brass ring. Though, the screw is a bit long, so we'll have to locate some shorter screws eventually.

(It took her a while to locate these small, affordable brass ring pulls at

Today, we also stopped by Fabric Depot to look for fabric to reupholster the new morris chair. The fabrics are awful right now; it feels like the 70s are back. We're definitely going to have to expand our search area.

Though, on the bright side, we discovered Fabric Depot carries Toweling. It's been difficult to find attractive glass cloths for the kitchen that aren't stupid expensive. So, we purchased the remainder of what Fabric Depot had in stock in Sharon's favorite print to give it a try. Though, it's odd they sell the fabric in yards, rather than panels, because you end up getting wasted fabric on each end that doesn't sew up into a proper towel with the borders on the bottom edge. Maybe they think that sewers won't care where the borders are placed.

Sharon already washed it up and hemmed up the three towels she could get out of the piece.
We had another big Craigslist day today. We bought a nearly new sliding compound miter saw! Now we just need to invest in a table saw and a router and we can probably start some of our outstanding woodworking projects.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Craigslist Binge

When she's not busy with other projects, Sharon has been busy scouring Craigslist for our "forever" pieces of furniture. We've had a number of "temporary" pieces and some we bought that just didn't work out as we hoped. We're slowly finding good pieces and bringing them home and selling off the temporary pieces—often for the same amount that we originally paid. (Have we mentioned how much we LOVE craigslist!!?)

The week started out with this wicker set for the front porch.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Basement Bathroom Cabinet

We originally planned to install a pedestal sink in the basement bathroom. Then, because there is zero storage space down there, we thought we should try and find a salvaged wood cabinet for the bathroom. We've poked around several salvage places but have had a hard time finding something that was the right size; they were never the right width.

Well, this week we caved and ordered a custom-built cabinet. We got a good reference from Skye over at Rose City Bungalow and we decided getting this project done would be a huge relief.
We obviously ordered it unfinished and we'll finish it with the rest of the woodwork in the bathroom. This however is a project for this summer. Rebuilding the garage is a priority this year. We need some shop space to work on projects! Working in the basement just doesn't work very well. It creates dust and odors in the house and would be so much better in a garage.

After much searching around (4 stores!), we finally found a tiny ¼-inch hemlock moulding to use to hold in our leaded glass panels. Though it's almost too small, and we would have preferred fir to match the rest of the wood—we'll take what we can find.

We guess it's time to do some staining!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

We Made Roller Shades!

This project was quite a trial for us! It seemed like everything that could go wrong--did! But, at last, they are done enough to use now. (We still have to add a small brass pull on the bottom and we have to find a secure way to attach the linen to the rod, but they're up and operational.)
DIY Stenciled linen roller shades
DIY Stenciled linen roller shades
We're not going to give a tutorial for how to make roller shades because there are already other excellent websites that do it.
Sewing 101: Roller Blinds

Update way later, because apparently my earlier links no longer work. This was the best description I've been able to find to show the process:
DIY Roller Shade

We will, however, include information about what worked and what didn't. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Parlor Leaded Glass Complete!!

Woohoo! All four panels of the parlor leaded glass panels are assembled. We still need to cement and clean them and more permanently install them, but we're really excited to have managed to get so much progress done on this major project in the last couple of weeks. Though, it will be nice to have time to do something else again...