Moving Forward

Finally, another post. It's hard to chronicle daily life, shit, weekly is just as tough and I am now into bi-yearly I think. Too busy living the life, I suppose.

So here we are, together again. Me writing about the trials and tribulations. Okay, people in poor countries around the world might disagree that rehabbing a second house in America is not really a trial or a tribulation or even a minor annoyance, but there we are.

Before we dive right back in, let me post a pic of my wife's new bathroom. Because why renovate a farmhouse when you have a perfectly good apartment at home to destroy. First World problems, right?(I will be providing more on this recent renovation in a future blog if you really care.)

Beautiful isn't it? My contractors Piotr Dach and Bartek Kluzik did an awesome job with some really challenging pieces, including a some beautiful San Francisco BART tile from Heritage Tile of Oak Park ( and a persnickety art director that just "had to have things his way!" If you like what you see and are looking for good people to work with drop me a line and I'll relay their info to you.

Once more unto the breach.

Our story begins with a short 90 minute commute or as Sam likes to call it, the "worst traveling Karaoke truck" in the  midwest, from downtown Chicago to Baroda, Michigan. Nestled along the Western Michigan Wine trail sits our lovely money pit!

And a cartoon! Our friends Robert and Jeanne provided us with a wonderful reminder of what we've actually gotten ourselves into and "how" with an, oh so fitting, New Yorker cartoon. 

The caption has the woman saying, "I'm bored---let's buy a house in the country with a lot of problems." 

I'm not sure which one of us said something similar to this, so I will blame on our friend Dave Camp. He was instrumental in bringing us our latest project. Need a real estate agent in Illinois or Michigan? He's your guy. Look at me plugging all my friends! Sign up now to find your name in the next post!

A perfect discovery! Kudos Robert! And kudos Dave!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The Kitchen.

It's time to renew this old kitchen. I started with the removal of the old cabinets. There weren't many, it's a small space. A guy down the road who has become a friend, Mark Shutke (sp?), who used to live in the house told me they were hand built by his Uncle. It's tough to see in the picture, but the grain in the wood matches from drawer to drawer and door to drawer. Quality work from another time. The other interesting piece is the "green formica" wall coverings? I'm replacing that with drywall. Fashions do change. 

It's interesting what you can find when renovating an old house. This tasty tidbit was beneath the far right end of the cabinets. Another friend remembered this as a candy he enjoyed once as a child. He is over 50.

Apparently, parental mice don't want their kids filling up on candy. I decided not to have it carbon dated and both Sam and I passed on giving it a taste, but it did look yummy. This joint is in the country and mice are a reality. A reality I will battle like Charlemagne in the Saxon wars, but a reality nonetheless I am told.  So far none have been discovered in the house. We found the remains of an old nest, but nothing fresh to date (fingers crossed). Maybe they were on vacation. Or hiding from my awful writing and singing?

Now that the cabinets have been removed (and hauled away by my friend Mark for an upcoming bonfire he will be having) I added some sublflooring and vapor barrier for underneath the cabinets to further seal the basement from upstairs. Did I mention there's a basement? Small, but serviceable. More on that project in an upcoming episode.

Now, about that wall.

Ah, the wall in between the kitchen and the living area. Well, we decided that that should go away. This will open up the kitchen to the dining room giving the house a more open and airy feel. I also have an idea for "separating" the bathrooms and "master?" bedroom from the kitchen and this will help.

Hey look at that, old wallpaper! A pretty jungle pattern that my contractor thinks is from the 40's. 
A fun find, almost as fun as the candy. Yes, I brought in a contractor for this heavy lifting. A man has got to know his limits.

Ah, freedom.

And so we now have greater access to the kitchen! Dining problems solved. Okay, still a ways to go, but these guys did a great job of opening up the wall. All I had to do next was create another wall to hide the fridge and separate the bathroom and "master bedroom" from the kitchen. I also figured I'd add anoither door to the master giving greater separation to the bath. I haven't framed out a door in a while, but, eh, this'll do.

Now for some finishing touches. Countertops, sink, cabinets. All from Ikea, which, in a future post will surely take a beating for how they make larger cabinet doors and their return policies.


HOLY CRAP! I haven't hung a door in approximatley 30 years, but apparently I've still got it. I was really surprised this worked out. How about a  little video?

Now onto what most of my friends think is my biggest problem.....TV.



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