Tag Archives: cleaning

Closing Out the Irish Labor

I bit the bullet and hired the Irishman twice more. Here’s what I have to show for it.

The oak counter next to the stove is in! I plan to sand off the old finish and oil it. (Also, the kitchen is getting tidier)


The missing chip of wood on the banister has been patched. He then used a fair bit of wood filler while doing the final carving but it should even out with stain.


The bathroom door has its marble threshold.


The vestibule door is in! He extended the bottom because the gap was big and he thought it looked stupid. And this door has beveled glass so the photos don’t do it justice.


The panel sticking on the stairway wall is cut and pushed in place.


This last one was unexpectedly hard because the saw doesn’t cut the super tight angles we needed. So he clamped blocks of wood to the saw fence.


And, I no longer need to use a sneaker and a can of paint to keep my bedroom door shut!


He promised me that on top of all this, he’ll come back an evening and shoot in (meaning use the pneumatic nailer) the panel sticking, finish off the roller ball catch on the linen closet door, and put up the permanent stop moldings on the bedroom, bathroom, and linen closet doors.

So yay! That’s a lot! And I got some things done too but not nearly as much.

I got fed up with the condition of this rocker. I wasn’t 100% sure I’d be keeping it forever but decided it makes sense to get it re-caned regardless.


So I found a couple that canes chairs from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. They wanted $240! My PTSD is almost gone. I started to plan out a DIY project to rig it with an upholstered seat. But then the low bid came in at $83, and here it is. And that puts it on the short list of most expensive furniture and décor items in the house. Many thanks to my grandmother for having good enough taste that I can be happy with her stuff.


Then I’ve been doing a fair bit of organizing things now that space is carved out for them. One drawer in the kitchen had more contents than space, but the chest by the front door had room for the reusable shopping bags and that fixed everything. I picked up a few more drawer dividers for the kitchen. It’s the little things right?

And another day of sweeping up sawdust. I thought we were done with that.


So organizing is a priority right now. So is just basic house work. I’ve been good about the washing my clothes thing but not so much folding them. The wash stand got a new purpose consistent with its name as I stacked the clean unfolded wash ever higher every week.


So… little things are the new order of business. Cleaning, organizing, prepping to paint everything I didn’t get to before. And painting all the things I left undone. And things that don’t cost anything are all I can afford to do for the next 2 months anyway. That means the blog will be straying off-topic for a while. And the next time you see the Crooked House, it should look a good bit more polished off!

Oh, and I’m excited about the off-topic posts.


Queen For A Day

This reminded my mom of that terrible old show where women would tell their tale of woe and the one with the saddest story would win stuff. Can you guess why? It’s not because my life is impressively sad.


No, it has something to do with my washer and dryer. And the big priority was getting something that fits. Remember how narrow my stairwell is? (It’s not this dirty anymore.)


The only place to go for this is a Mom and Pop South Philly appliance store. Somewhere under that siding is a Victorian building, but we’ll rant about that kind of thing later.


Usually in my family buying appliances is complicated, but not here. They told me that I can get the fancy Speed Queen top load washer with the digital controls or the plain one with a knob that was $100 cheaper. And my mom said that’s what they gave to the women on the show.

They also told me that the the breakdown guy was going on vacation and so I got them delivered the very next day! Eep, so weird to go fast! And what do I mean by the breakdown guy? The one who does this.


I guess that very expensive paneled wall was worth it now.


And then was what may have been a reality TV level tale of woe. The new plumber had some staffing issues and backed out of coming a couple times this week. So when he finally showed up yesterday it was super exciting. I may be done with Phase 1 contractors now!


And you remember what my basement used to look like? Here, I’ll remind you.


After the stuff went away only the dirt remained. I used 15 gallons of water. First tried scrubbing normally but it wasn’t working. The procedure that did work was pour water out from the bucket, scrub, vacuum up, repeat. Most of it needed to be done 3 times. Behind the boiler was worse. The floor at the bottom right in this photo used to be black and now it’s clean enough that you can see where the paint is peeling! Yay!


And this little halfassed shelf I built above the shut off valves – I’m getting too happy over little things. And using the gas line as a clothes bar is totally fine, right?


So there we are! The house is 100% functional! My roommate had to use a laundromat once (and got a discount on the rent accordingly) and then was so out of her clothes I did her laundry – 3 loads between the 2 of us. But this too was exciting.


And then some more odds and ends – I had 4 mystery bins in the basement. Going through them made the house messy all over again. I took a lot of random crap and then when my grandmother went to assisted living I got better crap. This one was the most ridiculous – mostly scrap metal. But I found corner braces and 12 pair of scissors, pulled out the flatware to sell, and put out the rest for scrap. My roommate donated some furniture to Habitat and I sent some more stuff off with them.


And I finally unpacked the china! Because every civilized home needs a celery and salt dish set. I’ll eventually paint this cabinet blue and stand plates up in the back.


And the roomie and I came out of Aldi with a 2 foot long receipt. And with this I think it’s a fully functional house!




About those 3 deadlines

I think I’m giving up on the non-mandatory ones. Which doesn’t mean I got nothing done. First of all, this is the only memory left of that crap I couldn’t get rid of. Now kindly tell the IRS that it’s worth my entire income and I don’t owe any tax this year.


But at this point it looks like it may be a strain to get the baseboards painted in a week. Which doesn’t mean nothing happened this week. I just decided to make the front bedroom actually clean and empty the closet. To accomplish this, put a shelving unit in the basement for all the paint stuff.


This is not a joke. I filled an entire shelving unit with paint. I also put my old kitchen cabinets next to the stationary tub. The entire cabinet to the left with all the drawers is now filled with screws, nails, and drill bits. The whole thing.


But this is a huge step forward. I had a lot of boxes filled with a mix of random crap and nothing. And now, 2 out of my 4 closets are empty!


So doing that organizing wasn’t part of the plan. Neither was repairing the radiator pipes. Several of them have been cut and I don’t remember why. It’s an easy fix at least.

For now, all my woodwork is back in the basement. But the pile is getting smaller. And the basement somehow has more (useful) stuff in it and looks saner at the same time. The living room is empty again. My floor guy is coming tomorrow because there are drips in the poly. Hopefully third time’s a charm.

And not only is its closet empty and clean, but the front bedroom is clean and sorta furnished!


And the bathroom is partially cleaned up. Now it looks like something normal slobs would use.


So the old plan was that the baseboards would be prepped to paint this weekend. Now it’s pretty obvious that I’m running behind and so I don’t think I want my grandmother’s big super heavy maple sideboard in my back bedroom just yet. Which is all the better because my dad has it full of his stuff.

buffet and rug

The couch is still coming next weekend. And I’m hoping to get started with the painting. But now I want the front bedroom and linen closets all painted, too. I want some door strikes and stops installed. I want the house to actually start functioning like a house, at least upstairs. Can I get the heat on in 1 extra week, by the 13th? Or am I still delusional?

Casing the Joint

The DIY trim installation is off to a good start. First, those baseboards on solid brick walls that sagged before the glue dried? Well I figured out a solution. Bro, do you even lift? (Yes, I lifted those weights up the stairs and leaned them against my baseboards.)


The down side is that the glue is taking several days to dry so I didn’t get back into this room to finish the job. But it’s not like I was short on things to do. Meanwhile, the back bedroom was ready to go. So I had a scary adventure scribing base cap with the coping saw. My first try wasn’t so great – I ended up redoing this cut – but the second try I got pretty decent at it. Had to do some filing and will still have to caulk a little.


But here’s how it looks installed!


And the wall with the doors!


I mostly did trim work the whole time while my parents cleaned like crazy. My dad returned the basement to sanity, though not yet to cleanliness. This is important because I want to store tools and stuff down here soon.


And he took out the bags of sawdust and stuff the floor guys left out back and swept up the pile of brick debris from when the Irishman put in the kitchen exhaust fan in September. Yes I left it there that long. And do any contractors take their trash with them ever?

Meanwhile, I think I’m done using saws upstairs. Forever! OK, maybe for the rest of Phase 1. So my mom vacuumed with glee. First the floors, then everything else that could possibly catch dust. And she was INTO IT.


“Don’t take photos of me in this goofy sweater!”

Then she wiped down the doors. Which brought us the line of the year.

“What did you finish these doors with? They’re silky smooth! I love cleaning them!”

(Answer, if you didn’t read it before: General Finishes High Performance acrylic topcoat. And no, they didn’t pay me to write this. But I am totally willing to take money if they want to give it to me.)

She wiped down the metal bed frame after a year in the basement. And civility began to creep in. My mom asked if I had a second green pillow case.


“Oh, if you’re going to the bathroom, let me get this before we go.” That’s right, she just can’t stop vacuuming.


And then we loaded up the (borrowed) truck with random crap to get rid of. 3 surplus doors, the boob lights, and a hand-me-down bed that my mom took for me but I won’t be using.


And on my triumphant lap through the metro area to get rid of this stuff, I struck out. The ReStore was closed and Philadelphia Salvage has too much stuff and doesn’t want mine. It looks like my old oak floors are getting burned, and everything else is back in my living room. Which is annoying because I don’t like moving backwards. But it should be gone for real soon.

Taking one for the team

It’s been a while since I’ve written. But I’m finally done with those doors! They’re now stacked up in a closet upstairs again. For new progress, I’ve moved on to getting ready to spray paint. It might seem like I’m jumping around for no good reason, but (and I’m not going to name names) someone went on a long trip to Ireland and messed up everything. Changing gears isn’t so bad though. It meant that I had to finish that God-forsaken job of stripping the doors and move on to the even worse job of stripping a radiator. But now all that is done! In the end I gave up on the radiator and decided to turn it around and leave the residue of partially stripped paint facing the wall. And just like magic, look how clean it is!


Totally paint grade at least. And. I got 80 bucks for those bricks! Sold them to a guy up in the Northeast who wants to cut them down and use the faces to veneer a wall, and then mix up special mortar with horse hair in it and figure out a technique to make it look like mine. And of course mine looks the way it does just because I didn’t work to hard to get my bricks clean.


I’d love to see how that turns out. Sounds like a fun project So then, I power washed the living daylights out of my back yard and went to a yard sale and bought a whole bunch of flower pots.


This sounds crazy, but it’s not as bad as it sounds because I needed to make it nice before I bring in my grandmother’s wrought iron patio furniture. It’s supposed to go to my sister, but she’s going to have trouble getting it up to Boston. And I love her so much that I said I’ll keep it as long as she needs me to. So tomorrow into the city it comes. Sigh, I guess I can handle it.


And that means that for the time being, that cute oak bench is going back to the attic from whence it came. Much like my house, it needs way more work than I thought it did at first glance. So good riddance. I’ll pull it out in a year or two when I can stand to think about extra projects.

And… my neighbor gave me his vestibule door! I had a kinda decent one, but this one is acutally old, drilled for a mortise lock, and fitted with beveled glass!


But it gives me a dilemma. I have a set of cool art deco hardware that came with my house.


And I have 3 of these, enough for my entire first floor if I use something else in the basement stairwell. But… I could also keep this other knob that came from the house across the street if I want. And I think it’s even nicer. At least quality wise. But I only have 2 of these back plates.


So I should be back with talk of things I can stand soon. Plus some more jobs I can’t. In the meantime, what do you say about my hardware dilemma?