Tag Archives: grandmother

Throwback Thursday Condo Post 3 – Living Spaces

There’s not much room for surprises in a high-rise condo with concrete ceilings, is there? Not much, but there’s some. Remember how I said the carpeting was beat and grimy? It turns out that the padding under it had also hardened into some strange mealy substance that was stuck to the floors and had to be scraped off and bagged up. And there were vinyl baseboards coming unglued throughout the place. We naturally wanted to replace them with wood, but it turned out to be kind of complicated to attach them into the steel studs. And it didn’t help that the walls were 3/8″ drywall (1/2″ is standard) and the studs were 24″ apart (16″ is standard). It took a lot of trim head screws but we got it done. Mostly my dad. (This is the only before pic we have but you can kinda see what I mean).


But the biggest challenge with this project was Nana herself. She was always into decorating but this time around she was 87 and couldn’t process all the decisions that go into a project of this size anymore. They would talk about colors, then my mom would pick them and give Nana a few options. She picked the lightest option every time. We tried and failed to get her to go darker in the living room, then she didn’t like the color either. I wanted to paint it again but my mom said no  way. And when it was all done and the grimy woodwork was painted over, it looked fine.

Living Room 2.jpg

While we’re in the living room I’ll show you the rest. A friend of the family had a swag and jabot valence that was about 8 inches short for the huge window in the living room. Nana didn’t want it because she thought plaid was too informal but my aunt forced her to take it. We lengthened it by taking the jabots off, splicing wood onto either end, and stapling them back on. That was surprisingly easy. The hard part was hanging it. The ceiling is some kind of insane precast concrete and my dad’s power nailer wouldn’t go through it. I’m talking about a tool made by Remington that shoots 22 caliber charges, not an air compressor. But anyways, we got it up.

Living Room.jpg

And my mom gave her a bit of that separate dining room she wanted with a different wall color in the alcove. Putting up the chair rail was not fun.

Dining Room.JPG

Then there were the closet doors. Originally the place had floor to ceiling metal bifold doors with louvers that looked like lockers. And they stuck and made horrible noises when you tried to open and close them. My mom has an aversion to flat doors and was gonna get hollow paneled ones. I talked her out of it. The plan had been to add trim to all the doors and make them look like 2-paneled doors. That never happened. And in her bedroom there was a narrow hallway with closet doors on one side and a door to the bathroom on the other. Instead of replacing the closet doors, we left them open and walled off the whole hallway. Unfortunately, I have no photos of this. But here’s a look at the room.

nana's bedroom.jpg

And the den, because yes, she needed a den separate from her formal living room. Here’s a look at her old one. There’s a small chance I’m looking for an exuse to get this awesome picture in this post.


Squaring off the room with bookcases was my idea. And I guess ignore the sheet on the couch. She was very dissatisfied with this furniture but still insisted on keeping it protected.

den sofas.jpg

And we put up a shelf with old things on it like she had before. But a lot fewer old things. Her TV show is a perfect match too!


And I guess we can play “Count the things Chad took” again.


Beating Back all the Clutter

Would you believe that my parents had a normal looking basement in the beginning of May 2010? But we were already losing the battle against clutter. My grandmother and I both moved that month. But we were already losing because for over a year before that my grandmother fought tooth and nail to keep things. But most of her stuff went into storage. Then the next year my sister took a bunch of furniture and the rest went to my parents’ basement.

The basement was a cluttered but usable. Next she had to go to assisted living. We’re now in December 2014, the Crooked House is nowhere near habitable, and half her remaining possessions wind up in that poor basement.


It’s about a full year later, November 2015, that I got the floors done. And in came the furniture without delay. Before it made sense even. But now she’s moved again, to a smaller room (hopefully with better care). And it got just as bad all over again.

So I started listing things on Craigslist. I feel pretty good about my writing but the real star of the show here is the old rug my dad pulled out of the garage to style the photos.

stereo cabinet.jpg

And everything sold within a week except the chairs! So 2 things about that: Shameless plug. Buy them, please! And I’m using my grandmother’s table with different, smaller but less sturdy chairs and we’ve decided not to feel guilty about breaking up the set.


Now do we sound like saints? Because yes, we are taking care of her and diligently dealing with all of her things. But my mom and I also picked what she was going to part with by taking what we liked best first. I got this lamp.


For years now we’ve discussed a fall yard sale, then a spring yard sale, then fall, then spring, and so on. Now one of my parents’ neighbors has one scheduled of September 17 so the date is set. The basement is cleared out enough (thanks to selling 3 bookcases and a set of tables) to be a sorting station. But a lot of what we’re selling is antiques and we’re trying to get higher than yard sale prices, so there will probably be another round of Craigslist listings soon.


There’s a lot of this stuff. More than we know what to do with. But I still sometimes feel guilty about getting rid of it. After all, my wash stand is bare (now that I’m not using it for long-term storage of unfolded laundry) and this set has been in the family for generations. So we’ve been pulling things out here and there. But mostly we’re keeping things we’ll actually use.

And we’ve left my grandmother with only the books about her 2 favorite things, opera and Obama. It’s all for the best, but… tell my mom she’s not allowed to keep the 1968 World Books. (I already put the good books on her shelves.)