Tag Archives: planning

Planning… Stucco?

So I’ve had a pattern. Do project, burn out, take time off, start 2 new projects. I was around that point in the cycle 2 weeks ago and, well, it was pretty obvious that sooner or later I need to finish painting the kitchen cabinets, get the knobs on, and get glass in the doors. So I took down the ones that the Irishman never painted on the back sides. Incidentally, he skipped all the ones that are the hardest to pop on and off.


And he convinced me that I need to stucco around the patio door this year. I’ve had plywood sheathing exposed to the elements (under an overhang at least) for 2 years now. So after lining one side of the dining area with cabinet doors I filled  the other with stucco materials. Also PVC trim boards for casing around the patio door.


And then I got food poisoning. (And I don’t know what from but I probably cooked it myself.)

So here’s the plan. First off, the old plan was to have the whole rear of the house stuccoed at once. The new plan is to defer the air shaft area indefinitely…


And do it like everyone else did and just redo the part that I can see for now. As in, new stucco on the plywood and the stucco that got this lovely green paint.


Now, stucco terrifies me. Because there are some stucco houses I love.


But there are others that are McMansions. Also, modern stucco is supposed to have ugly control joints so it doesn’t crack. I’m definitely going to need a couple because the stucco around the back door will be installed as a veneer over paint and plywood while the rest of the house (to be stuccoed later) can get it right onto the masonry, the old fashioned way.

So here’s what I’m thinking. I’ll install the new stucco with one horizontal control joint right around the top of the first floor. And I’ll wrap the corner and put the control joint right behind the downspout where you can’t see it. Because inside corners are bad, this means that when I go back and stucco the rest there will be a really long skinny strip of stucco that wraps the corner from the siding (the trim is PVC) to behind the downspout. Then the rest of the back inside the air shaft can hopefully get one seamless coat. Back to this photo again, the little bit of brick that’s showing behind the downspout is where the joint will be. (Note: I’m pretty sure the back of these houses are all a low grade of brick that needs to be stuccoed.)


Then there’s the small matter of texture. What I’ve noticed about old stucco is that it’s not as perfectly flat and often has a heavier texture than new stucco. That house I showed above? The walls seem to have heft. New stucco more often than not looks like a card house.


But the Crooked House is not Tudor. It’s not Cotswold Revival, Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, or arts and crafts. It’s a very modest late Victorian, a period when I don’t think stucco was particularly popular. And the back has no architectural style at all really. I’m going to do the walls in a fairly smooth sand finish. That’s basically the plainest stucco finish and it was popular before my house was built and after. It’s also the easiest to do. And I’m skipping the corner bead. I’ll chip off some of the old bad repairs to let the wall be semi-flat, then I’ll just let the corners be a bit rounded off.



The last kitchen cabinet plan?

Maybe the last you’ll hear if the uppers anyway. For like 2 days I could walk around my living room. It was so great. Then I cleaned up the basement and that went away. So I want to burn through a lot of the crap that’s sitting out everywhere by (1) installing all the cabinets and shelves and then (2) putting tools in said cabinets and shelves. So I’m doing the top half of my kitchen. I don’t own the rest yet.

Looks wise, I’m emphatic that the kitchen is a work room and if form and function are in conflict, function wins. I want to work and store things in here. But once those are taken care if, of course looks matter.

You might remember this rough sketch of my wall cabinets on the stove/fridge side. I’m putting in 4 foot tall wall cabinets to get as much storage as possible, putting a deeper cabinet over the fridge, and installing an over-the-range microwave. The first plan was to stack small cabinets over big ones, which I think is normally the more attractive way to do it, but I was never sure if I liked the cabinet doors bouncing up and down like this.

Elevation Stove Side

It’s not that bad. Not like the advertisements granite fabricators put in Clipper Magazine showing kitchens that look like casino lobbies with horrors like carved corbels, Corinthian columns, and elaborate ogee countertop edges. It doesn’t have apothecaey drawers or wine racks or staggered caninets that look like a Chichen Itza that wants to be a hutch. Over the range microwaves aren’t pretty, but they aren’t pretending to be 18th Century mantles like some range hood covers do.

But it’s not as plain as I wanted. Something is still off. So when Ross (a reader with an amazing blog of his own) suggested flipping this and putting the 30 inch cabinets on top instead, I was thrilled to see a defiantly plain, orderly row of wall cabinets that still accommodates the practical things I want. And most importantly, it won’t cost me a penny more.

Kitchen Cabinets Without Up Down

The other side of the kitchen is going to get the same treatment with cabinets flanking the window. I am not fond of disrupting the shapes of rooms with pipe/duct chases or closets, but I did have to have one visible chase in the kitchen. But on the bright side, the chase centered the window!


You can see that my 1930’s reproduction woodwork is up. The Irishman had his co-worker make a custom knife to match the old trim and then mill all this out of scrap wood for a scandalously low price. I’ve already committed to custom doors on my wall cabinets because IKEA doesn’t make all the cabinet sizes I wanted, so I’m going to cut the cabinets on this wall down to whatever width I think gives the awesome trim enough breathing space. I’ll have big cabinets stacked over little again, but I could consider having 4 foot tall doors made and scrapping the stacked look. I have options.

The plan for Year 3? Finishing Phase 1!

I’ve decided that this round of heavy-handed repairs that took over the whole house should be called Phase 1. Phase 2 will be a bunch of smaller projects that can be done independently of each other… after I take a good long break. Anyways, if I want to make this sound fast and easy, I have 4 jobs to do. Painting, installing trim, sanding the floors, and putting in a Phase 1 part of the kitchen.

The big hurdle here is floor finishing, the last time I have to clear the house and hand it over to contractors. This means that in classic Crooked House fashion, I’ll be dividing all the work between things to do before and after floor finishing.

The first thing I want done, really done, is the bathroom. Paint the walls so and I can bring the bathroom sink and toilet tank back upstairs and install them for good (until I get my Phase 2 sinks). It’ll be nice to not have to dump buckets of water into the toilet bowl anymore.


But why stop there? I can have A BATHROOM DOOR! And it’ll be a lot of fun to see woodwork in this room. Not only is this an important step towards making the house civilized, but I would like to shut the door and let the bathroom be a safe, clean place for my stuff while the floors are being sanded. Though I guess I could do that with plastic.

And I decided that yes, I’m keeping most of my new-old interior doors stained. I bought them at Philadelphia Salvage peeling, splattered with odd colored paint, and full of gouges and nail holes. The plan was to strip them, fill the damage, and paint them, but when I stripped them, the wood looked so good I decided to keep it. All that damage morphed into patina.


Needless to say I won’t be using paint stripper in my living room after the floors are finished. So these will have to be stripped (and possibly stained and varnished) before the floors are done.

The old plan was to spray paint and install the door casings and what not before the floors are finished, but the Irishman corrected me that I’d be nuts to install anything that goes to the floors before they get sanded. So instead I will be doing some windows and closet shelving and putting up all the woodwork in the bathroom, but the rest of the woodwork is gonna have to get stored in the basement.

Then there are thresholds and other flooring transitions to make. Radiators and other furniture to spray. Stripping the railings? Sealing brick? touching up mortar around my brick walls? I’ll be busy for a while.

And after the floors are done… Woodwork! Furniture! A kitchen! I should be able to properly store clothes there as soon as the floors are done. There’s not much doubt that I’ll get there, but how long will it take? Your guess is as good as mine.