Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back from Jamaica Mon!

Sorry for the lack of recent posts - we've been in Jamaica celebrating a friend's wedding! Stay tuned this week for the big reveal of our front exterior... it's absolutely fabulous!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Notes From My Awesome Dad to a Girl In Over Her Head

Whitney here, with a blog post entirely in honor of my dad, John.

When it comes to remodeling, I'd describe myself as a prenovice. Despite my "adorable little tool box" (Rob's words), I have no clue when it comes to tools, construction or home repairs. The condo I recently sold was a model unit, with brand new appliances and every upgrade in the book. I purchased a condo because - at the time - I preferred to pay association dues instead of worrying about maintenance.

I wish I had a photo of my parents' faces when they first saw Our Care-free Home. We're so impressed that you have a vision! It wouldn't be our choice, but good that you can see beyond [insert major home flaw here]. After all, my parents knew then what I know now - I was in wayyyy over my head. Add to that my recent major surgery, newly-launched side business and upcoming wedding... whaaaat was I thinking???

Fortunately, my dad (who, in partnership with his wife Karen, has completely transformed his hobby farm over the past decade+) is retired and has been helping pick up my slack. At times, given I work a 9-to-5 job, we are like two ships passing in the night - he the battle ship that accomplishes great feats during the day, me the puddle jumper that feels proud to simply get from Point A to B without breaking down.

Yesterday, after a weeklong doctor-required break from manual labor, I returned to the house and discovered a treasure trove of fatherly advice... left in the form of short notes, similar to those my dad has left me throughout my life. I'm lucky to have a dad that will give me good advice rather than bark angry orders when my painting technique is clearly terrible or I ruin yet another $15 paint brush. (Not to mention a future husband that doesn't freak out when I purchase more than $100 in custom paint in the wrong finish, but this blog post is not about you, dear).

So this post, dad, is in honor of you. Thanks for all the great advice, for your help and encouragement, and for bestowing upon me DNA that could see an architectural gem through the dirt and code violations . I love you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Found - Gift House Stamps and Four Pennies

Our treasure trove from the kitchen demo.
While demolishing parts of our nasty kitchen in preparation for our awesome new floors, countertop and cabinets, Rob stumbled upon a treasure trove... Twenty Gift House Stamps and four pennies.

They're adorable and oh so retro - but what the heck are those stamps with a "cash value of 1 mill?"

In the 1960s, Gift House Stamps was among the leaders of the multi-million dollar stamp industry in the US. As people purchased items from retailers, they often earned one stamp per evert 10 cents of the sale price. Consumers would paste the stamps in to booklets, and trade the full booklets in at redemption centers for household items or appliances.

Who knew - the previous owners were stamp collectors!

The stamps were such a cool find, I had to do a little more research. After a little Googling, I uncovered the photo below photo from the Minnesota Historical Society website. Dated January 27, 1959, it shows a Gift House Stamp Redemption center in Saint Louis Park - not far from where our house is. Very cool!

Photo credit: Minnesota Historical Society

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Considering New Shrubs and Trees

Here are some great finds that we uncovered during a recent trip to Bachman's. Which will we choose? Even we aren't sure yet... but I guarantee you they'll be featured in the big exterior reveal. Which is only a few weeks away!

Mint Julep Ponpon Juniper - grows 4'-6' with attractive mint green foliage. It's trained as a ponpon and can stay a manageable size as long as you tend to it over the course of the year.

Dwarf Scotch Pine - our current favorite, and of course the most expensive. Has rich blue-green needles and an attractive reddish bark. You can maintain the present size and shape with pruning, which is a bonus.

Mugho Dwarf Pine - grows 6'-8' tall and up to 10' wide. It's got a mounded shape with dark green foliage. It needs to be pruned to maintain its shape.
Morel-red Pine - a dwarf form of Red Pine that grows up to 6' high. It maintains a dense, rounded form with long, light green needles.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Checking Out Rock Choices

Yep, we have four tons of wet landscape
rock sitting next to the house. We're those people.
Hedberg Landscape & Masonry Supplies totally rocks. Pun intended.

We stopped by their Plymouth location to check out landscape rock for the front of the house. We're going to pull up the cheap plastic edging, move the garden border closer to the house, create a rain garden, and cover the edge of the house in rock.

Add this to the painting and staining of the exterior, and it's getting easier to imagine our little eyesore becoming a thing of beauty once again!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Painting the Master Bedroom

Prep really is the worst part of painting...
The big project in the master bedroom has been the walls.  The original grass cloth wallpaper was in very rough shape…stained, ripped and generally showing at least 50 years of wear. 

Although it was an original feature of the home, we decided to remove the wallpaper and add some color to the room with paint.  Removing wallpaper is never fun, but with a careful approach we were able to get a great finished result.

Removing the grass cloth was actually fairly easily.  All we needed was a spray-bottle with warm water, a good paint scraper, a ladder and plenty of drop cloths.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Testing Out Exterior Stain

Three test strips of stain cover the current rust-colored wood.
We're staining the exterior wood a color that we feel will complement the purple aluminum siding - which we're keeping purple (but repainting), much to many people's surprise!

We've tried out three different colors, and think we've made a decision... but I'll keep it a surprise for the reveal!

The stains we're working with have completely covered the red using only one coat, without any preparation. A great sign, as we'll be able to save a significant amount of time by skipping the bulk of the prep and getting right to staining!

There are some parts of the wood exterior that will need to be replaced, but unfortunately we're going to have to identify those areas and replace the wood as we go. It seems as though every time we focus more on the house, we find more damage. Arg!

But taking time to enjoy the cosmetic choices we're making does help us to get through the more frustrating projects.

Here's a closer look at the exterior stains we're considering. Any opinions out there?

Option 1: Gray Cloud
Option 2: Harbor Gray
Option 3: Stonehedge

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Prepping Aluminum Siding for Painting

Hello little panels - soon you will be painted and we will
stop hating you and laughing behind your back.
The purple aluminum siding that covers most of the exterior of our home has been oxidized and faded beyond recognition. You would never know that, one day more than 50 years ago, it was a beautiful, rich, deep purple! We plan to repaint the aluminum and honor the original color... just as soon as we get a hundred panels off the side of the house.