Saturday, April 26, 2008

fireplace reveal

It took a while to get around to it, but we finally got the original fireplace exposed. It's pretty drastic the difference in style. Honestly it looks a little more classical revival than prairie or arts & crafts, but I love it. Any opinions on the style? There's some trim missing at the bottom & top that we got to figure out how to replace/replicate. Part of the hearth has been ripped out too. We had it checked out by a fireplace guy & he said it was originally coal-burning. There isn't an access door for the ash on the side of the house so maybe he's right.

Updated pics here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

replicating trim

I think a big part of bringing back that old house charm with the project house, to the top floor at least, is replicating all the wood trim that had previously been removed. Luckily our carpenter was able to hit these spot on. So good in fact, that after painting it's hard to tell what's original and what's new.

Check out some updated pics here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

incremental landscaping, pt2

The first part of this series showed some of the minor improvements I had planned for the front yard. This time it's the back yard, which needs the most help by far. This huge pile of fine landscaping rock called screening is my arch nemesis. It's about 4ft tall by 10ft wide. I absolutely hate this stuff. In the overview pic above you can kind of see a rough outline I'm trying to carve out of the screening. This will be filled in with new sod and a new patio will be built along the rear wall.

And here's my pride & joy. It doesn't look like much right now, but someday this shumard oak will tower over my house and provide invaluable shade during the hot summer months. If you'll recall, the west texas sun can be brutal and the rear windows took a beating before I restored them. It's going to take more than a few years, but I think it will be so worth it. There's nothing classier than an oak tree -- this variety is said to be drought resistant and loves full sun. It's perfect!

Monday, April 21, 2008

incremental landscaping

On my path towards getting my landscaping to a respectable state, I brought home some stuff from the local nursery. I've mentioned in the past my dislike for the amount of xeriscaping here, so now I'm finally doing something about it. I forget the names of what I brought home, but they're native and they fall in line with a landscaping master plan I had approved by historic review. It doesn't look like much right now, but the ground cover grows like weeds, so I'm sure I'm going to be hacking it back in 6 months.. :) The problem with landscaping your home in nothing but rock is that all that stone acts like a massive heat sink, transferring all the heat to your home. And out here in far west texas, we can definitely appreciate keeping cool.



Sunday, April 20, 2008

demo done, rehab begins

And so begins this house's second lease on life. The basic idea for rehabbing the upstairs was to move a wall back to its rightful place, restore most of the wood trim, repair the walls, & fix the rear porch. The bathroom was a major focus too. It's coming along nicely. Slowly I can see it turning from something that was mostly unappealing to a real gem. It's exciting going over at the end of the day to see the progress that's been made.

Some more in-progress pics here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

nice view, eh?

Continuing on with the demo phase of the project house -- here's a few pics of sunlight hitting the sleeping porch. I'm sure it's been many years. As is representative of my neighborhood, there are a mix of architectural styles ranging from victorian, classical revival, arts & crafts. Even a sprinkling of postwar homes that somehow got tossed into the mix. I love the beadboard detail in this porch. It is going to look awesome when we're done with it.. :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

heating & cooling done

Well we finally got this little side project done. The old AC unit is no more and we got a new furnace. Unfortunately, I didn't read my estimate closely enough to notice that replacing the ducting in the basement wasn't included. Ouch. Lesson learned.. We'll probably do it eventually, I'm hoping sometime in the fall before it gets cold. The condenser at ground level is huge -- it's a little distracting. Fortunately it's towards the rear of the property. :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

heating & cooling upgrade

I've been waiting to upgrade this contraption for some time now. For the uninitiated, this is called an evaporative AC unit (a swamp cooler). You see these used in dry environments with little humidity. It works by running water over a fibrous element and blowing this cooled air into the house. Think of it working like how the body uses sweat to produce a cooling effect on the skin. Ok, regional AC lesson over. Since this home was retrofitted with AC later on in its life, the upstairs would only ever feel any cool air during summertime. The ducting for this unit runs through the attic with ceiling vents carved out in the four rooms upstairs (that's also on the to-do list). Meaning there was no AC on the 1st floor.. When it got hot enough, the old unit didn't work very well so this will be a welcome upgrade. We're finally ripping this thing out for good.

The plan is to upgrade the furnace to a modern unit and replace the old AC with refrigerated air. Since I hate getting on my roof for any maintenance, the condenser is getting placed at ground level. Yay! Here's what the old furnace looked like. It wasn't the original, although it probably dates back to the 60s.

When we first bought this house more than 2 years ago, the ducting was absolute crap. The first floor would get marginally warm and the upstairs was always cold. The basement felt like an inferno. Over the course of each winter I've tried to tighten up the ducting and replace the actual duct tape with the stuff you're actually supposed to use (I forget the name). I insulated some of the worst sections too. This helped out tremendously and lowered our gas bill in the process too. But alas, the novelty of my patch job must come to an end. This is all getting replaced with brand new insulated ducting that should be energy efficient for some time to come. Following are some more pics of the tentacle-like ducts that branch out in all directions in the basement.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

demo week bedrooms

There wasn't too much to demo in the bedrooms aside from the dropped ceilings, but the differences are noticeable. There's just something about 10 ft ceilings.. :)