Filling In the Blanks

August 28, 2013

Ever look at something and think, "Geeze, something's missing."?  Ever look at something for 16 years and think "Geeze, something's missing."?  I have.  For 16 years now I've been looking at 173 and thinking something was missing.  Actually, we can make that about 13 years because maybe about three years ago it occurred to me what was missing.  But I get ahead of myself...
If you read this blog at all, you've seen many pictures of the exterior of good ol' 173.

Yeah, there's a lot of work yet to be done, but that's still coming!  This post is about those two windows on the second floor.  It just always felt like something was missing, and like I said - I figured it out!

Thaaat's right!  Shutters! I know the black doesn't exactly go with the brown porch, but there's a reason...a reason that'll come to light in the hopefully-not-too-distant future!  And of course, you can't do shutters on just one wall...

So then came the back.  Actually it was the back wall that always made me think something was missing.  Unbelieveable as this may seem, I actually don't have a "before" pic of the back of the house, but probably because I just never liked that vast expanse of white!  I like it sooo much better now!  And again - there's more to come!  In the meantime...

Ya gotta do the side wall too!  Reeeally starting to like the look of 173 now!  And I have to show you this...

Nope! That's not me. Somehow, somewhere along the way, I've lost my nerve with ladders. So I had to recruit my neighbor once again. Thanks a million Paul! Another nice shot:

And a little before and after:

Looking forward to the next stage!

So Long Birch Tree - I Hardly Knew Ye

August 11, 2013

Six or seven years ago a little ranch style house in the neighborhood had a clump of birch trees in their front yard.  I loved the look, so off to Hewitt's I went, about an hour later 173 had a birch tree with three main limbs.

See that little stub of a stump to the right of the two main limbs (or would they be considered trunks?)?  That was the remnant of the third limb.  It had grown way too close to horizontal, so we put in a fence post and tied the limb to it in an effort to get it to grow more vertical.  After a year or more of being supported, the limb was released and it immediately went to its old position - horizontal.  We're pretty aggressive with the plant life around here, so out to the shed, tree saw, and maybe five minutes later we were down to two limbs.  Of course being repurposers, a new use was found for a good length of that limb:
There it is...supporting the bird house behind the bench!  Anyway, I digress.  The point is this...when I put the birch trees in, I had done no research on them.  Sometime last year I heard someone talking about their foundation and that tree roots had destroyed it.  I casually asked, gee - what kind of tree did that?  I thought for sure the answer would be a willow.  After all, who hasn't heard the horrible stories of damaged pipes and foundations caused by the water-seeking willow?  Imagine my chagrin when the answer came back - birch tree!
Notice I said this conversation took place sometime last year. So no, panic didn't set in.  BUT, the research began immediately, and in earnest!  Let me save you the chore of looking at a thousand different websites, they all pretty much say the same thing:
To double in area every year and build the underground web to support rapid top growth, roots have to grow fast. Substantial white birch roots fill the area around the tree and probe cracks in barriers, including concrete. The tree’s aggressive roots seek water, prying open cracks or joints in sewer or irrigation systems. Birch roots, along with willow and poplar, are among the most aggressive -- and destructive -- tree roots.  - SF GATE  
So, nearly a year later, and with great sorrow, the birch trees came down.  And unceremoniously.  Ten minutes and they were gone.  After an hour, all the branches and leaves fit into three yard bags and they were at the curb.  Just like that.
The birches will be missed.  This picture shows that they were just getting to the point where they were providing some nice evening shade:
But it had to be done.  On the upside, the Bradford pear tree on the right in the picture below is beginning to mature and in the next couple years will certainly provide some shade.
The other benefit is that it certainly opens up the yard:
And as the exterior of 173 continues to improve, I guess that'll be okay too!

New House Numbers!

August 10, 2013

Who knew?  I mean really, who knew that some very simple things can be so complicated!  I suppose I knew - I have a tendency to overthink things sometimes, so I suppose it's not really surprising that I actually spent a considerable amount of time studying up on...are you ready for this? ... HOUSE NUMBERS! Thaaat's right ladies and numbers!  In this case though, I did happen to find that it's pretty interesting.  I Googled it, looked at all kinds of designs, shopped online, considered, reconsidered, decided, changed my mind (a few times), and finally, after long last - made a decision.
So here's where it started...ever since buying 173, the house numbers looked like this:
Of course, all those years I figured they were perfectly fine, but after that big porch redo of 2013, I just couldn't bring myself to put the same numbers up.  So I studied.  And I started noticing house and building numbers.  Then I came across the JPD School of Design website and fell in love with a font called Neutra. And in reading this article, came to understand MUCH more about house numbers than I ever thought I'd care to know.
Back to I fell in love with it, then started shopping for it.  Turns out, the least expensive set of number in the Neutra font would have cost about $120...for three digits!!  Now, I'm frugal but not cheap, and I'm willing to pay a price for something if it's something I really want, but really?  $120 for house numbers?  Nope.
Off to Lowes.  And to Home Depot.  Target, Walmart, Lowes again, another Walmart, and finally back to Home Depot.  At Home Depot my eye kept being drawn to:
It's not exactly Neutra, but it had a nice lines and met my other wants:  clean font, the nickel look to match the door hardware, 5" numbers and - not plastic!  The only problem was that they were designed to be "floating" from the house like this:
It's a nice look and all, but the spot over the door isn't thick enough for the bolts so floating numbers were out of the question.  But I really wanted those numbers!  So I got them.  Once home I did the unthinkable and put them in my drill press and made some holes in the numbers.  I dunno...I spent less than $20 and the way I was so nervous about ruining them, you would have thought they were made of gold!
After drilling holes in my brand new numbers, I started overthinking how to put them on the house and have them level and evenly spaced.  Keep in mind now that 173 isn't just the name of this blog, it's the house number!  THREE digits!  And again - I was trying so hard not to make a mistake and end up with some errant screw hole, or uneven and unevenly spaced numbers.  Geeze, it's not like I couldn't readjust if needed! And get this - I even watched two Youtube videos!  The running theme was to make a template.  OK, so I'll make a template...
Good grief!  Cardboard, tape, clamps, more was getting nuts in here!  After about 45 minutes (yes, you read that right) I just grabbed the numbers, a level, a screwdriver, some screws and my awl and headed for the front stoop.  And yes, I did it with that frustrated harrumph one gets when it dawns that things have gotten crazy out of control complicate for such a simple thing.  A couple awl scratches and ten minutes later, 173 had it's new numbers!
Don't panic!  In real time the numbers show up really well, it just seems impossible to capture some things with my camera phone.  One more shot:
Is there a moral here?  Nah...I don't think I'm alone in overthinking and complicating things.  At the end of the day- the numbers are up, I learned a few things, and I had fun doing it!  

At Long Last - Front Porch Reveal!

August 6, 2013

173 is so lucky to have two great closed-in porches!  When we first moved into the house, the front porch was getting a little tired, and needed an update.  A couple years later we gave it a mini-makeover.  Here's a mid-project shot taken lo those many years ago:
Looking at that picture really makes me realize how much a difference a digital camera can make. That old film picture makes the porch look tiny. And how about those chairs? I guess that was about all we could really afford back then. Anyway, the mini re-do left the porch looking like this:
I loved the look of this version, but those windows just had to go!
We were pretty pleased with the result, but as explained in this earlier post, there were some flaws, particularly the windows. In December of 2011, the windows and door were finally replaced. Of course having that much work done exposed the fact that the porch was again beginning to show its age. 
So we finally went all out and got 'er done! Of course it was a lot of work...using the heat gun to remove paint (now THAT seems like an endless task), caulking, priming, painting etc etc etc...

Nothing like stripping paint overhead
After the overhead paint removal was done...
...the floor was sanded, then the lower half was sanded and caulked, cleaned top-to-bottom three times over, and primed with Kilz prime.  I gotta tell ya - that stuff really works!
Then came the painting!
It's hard to capture the colors with my little phone camera, but here's what was used:
  • WINDOW FRAMES:  "Do It Best" Best Look white paint
  • LOWER PORTION OF WALLS:  Valspar Duramax semi-gloss "Sweet Mint"
  • FLOOR: "Do It Best" Porch and Floor in light gray
  • DOOR: (Interior and Exterior) Valspar Duramax semi-gloss in "Goldenrod"
Before I go any further I have to say this...that Do It Best "Best Look" paint is awesome!  Apparently it's made by Sherwin Williams and up to this point it's the best paint I've used! We went with the light gray for the floor so it would be a lighter color than the old brown, be a neutral color, and a bit of a traditional porch color.  And the "Sweet Mint" was light, colorful, and while not an exact match, it hearkened to another traditional porch color!  
After the painting was done, the blinds went in, then it was time to start the decorating.  The decorating part isn't done yet, but that will take a little time.
Here's a few random pics:
There's the inherited chair!
And here's a few shots of my little corner:
I found this old clock/radio in a second hand shop several years ago and have been waiting for this moment!  The radio works great but I had to replace the clock with one of those battery-powered movements.  I wanted an old school look so I went with a simple shelf.  If you know me at all, that's probably not the least bit surprising!
And the "Made at 173" rustic book case:
And finally, just as a point of interest!
So there it is - 173 has a new, brighter front porch!

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