Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I can't go in the attic

A bit of history. I am very allergic to rats and sheep.

I know about the rat allergy because I had a pet rat, that nearly killed me. As my allergy worsened, I actually stopped breathing one day when I tried to play with her.

I know about the sheep allergy because I spent 2 weeks on a sheep farm in Wales while I was an undergrad. I also know about the sheep allergy because I also react to wool, cashmere, merino, etc. (I even swell if lamb meat or mutton touches my bare skin.)
If I come too close to either rats or wool, I tend to get very red, my face swells a bit, and I wheeze.

I made an attempt to go up into our attic, and all of these things happened.

So this tells us that there is either wool, or rats in the attic.

It could be wool insulation. I wouldn't be surprised if the insulation was never touched up there.

But then again, when we came to look at the house the first time, our friend poked his head up into the attic and saw a raccoon (who has since moved into the attic of the house next door), so a rat could have moved in.

Either one is not good.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why wooden windows?

I love the windows in this house. They are old, and some don't open, but I love wood, and wood work, so I couldn't imagine removing them for vinyl replacements.

We are itching to get started on the bathroom remodel, despite still being neck deep in the kitchen. (today was wiring electric to the cooktop, stove and dishwasher, and measuring for the countertops). The bathroom rehab has to wait until until the window is removed, stripped, repaired, and reinstalled, since once the marble tiling we have planned is up, we won't be able to remove the window.This will be a lot of work. The bottom pane is separated from the wood, and does not match the textured glass in the upper pane. Paint is thick on the upper textured glass pane, there is definitely some wood rot.

Everyone I talk to keeps telling me I am crazy to want to keep the wood. They tell me I will spend an arm and a leg, with little return on my investment. I really don;t want to believe that. Please, anyone who reads this, and has rehabbed wooden windows, please tell me it is worth it. I really want to believe that it is worth it. Even if I can only do one window every few months, I want to think it is worth it. Let me know what you think?

Update: John from "Just Sashes" called me back today, and is coming to look at our windows next Wednesday. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Kitchen from H*ll

Our kitchen was a nightmare when we bought this house.

The pictures do not even begin to relate all of the nastiness.
The countertops, shelves and all of the cabinet surfaces were sticky with some unknown substance.
The walls were covered in this awful panelling that was little more than cardboard, and hideous. There were grease stains seeped into the walls, and the plaster behind the panelling was just dust. We gutted the kitchen down to the lath. We wanted to plaster to keep the original character of the house, but plastering seems to be a dying art. Plastering all 4 walls and ceiling was almost $12,000!!! Drywalling was less than 1/10th that amount. So we had to bite the bullet and drywall.

We chose a light yellow color for the walls.We bought new cabinets in knotty alder, to keep a bit of the rustic feel of the house. We got white appliances second-hand. We thought stainless steel would be too modern, but we can't afford to go with period appliances, and our we couldn't survive without a dishwasher.
We are in the process of hanging the cabinets, and will keep you posted.

Our Stained Glass Window

We didn't know the house had a stained glass window until we were at the closing. The seller had boarded it from the outside, and had put up black plastic covering it on the inside.

When we removed the boards, we were quite impressed. It was a 2' x 3' window. That is pretty nice for a house our size. It was broken in several spots and had a few panes missing. We thought it was one of the nicest things about the home though, so we made it a priority to fix it.

We had Richard Diens from Goodwood Studios fix the window. We are delighted with the result. We discussed preserving as much of the original glass as possible, even if it meant filling a crack or 2 with silicone and leaving it there. What had to be replaced, he replaced with the most exact matches he could, and we love the result.

I wish we had remembered to take a "before" picture, because the transformation is pretty striking.

Richard explained to us that our window is in the Art Noveau style, and a bit of the history of the MacIntosh Roses in the corners. He is fairly sure this window is original, which is exciting.

A bit of history

Robert and I have been married for 6 years. We just bought this house February 12th, 2008. This is our first house. We also have 2 dogs and 3 cats. The cats are staying with my parents for now, until we buy screens.

We bought this house, in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood of Chicago, because we wanted to be in the city, but we wanted to have a yard for the dogs, and because rent with 5 pets is much more expensive than just buying outright.

We have so far found out that our house was built in 1916. The Architect was Andrew F. Hughes. The construction company is listed as Berglund. There is a Berglund Construction still in Chicago, and I would be willing to bet they are one and the same.

This house has been very neglected, and has fallen into serious disrepair. We hope to restore it to as much of its former glory as we can.

Wish us luck!