Bathroom Progress – Plumbing and Electrical!

Bathroom Progress – Plumbing and Electrical!

After demo’ing the main bathroom at Berrybrier I’d been ping ponging between my house and my cousin Kristen’s basement for showers and sleeping. In the midst of all the other chaos going on at Berrybrier: the new roof, electrical work, the extremely invasive floor rehab, and the exterior painting fiasco, the bathroom plumbing was completed! I hired a plumber to do the rough in plumbing only, figuring it couldn’t be all that hard to install the fixtures so I might as well do that part myself. Also, I’m cheap frugal.

The rough in was no small job though! It involved new toilet, sink, and shower locations as well as running new pex lines from the main house inline. He also installed a shower surround which is part of my grand scheme to eventually demo this and flip the location of this shower to the other side, giving me a master bathroom. (There’s a floor plan here if you want to see how that could work.) But that’s a project for years out. For now, My crazytown bathroom seriously needed a new floor plan! See how the wall is recessed starting at the mirror? When they installed a larger bathtub, they stole 10″ of space from the room behind it and moved the plumbing back. There was an electrical fuse box at the top of the wall though, so they left that part in its original location. They didn’t build a proper new wall though, so it was a bit of a nightmare of sistered in framing pieces all crazy. The mirror makes the bump back a little difficult to see, but if you stare hard enough at the below it comes together, especially once you notice the mirror is crooked!

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Before the plumber could install the shower surround I had to rebuild this wall and make it more stable. It wasn’t structural, but I didn’t trust the existing hobnobbed-together framing. I chose to reframe the wall at the original location, removing ten inches from this main bathroom and gaining the original 10 inches in the half bathroom off my bedroom that desperately needed some extra space. I also needed to fur out the wall on the right side of this bathroomto hug in the shower surround which was 48″ wide since bathroom was 52″wide. I psyched myself up about reframing this wall for several days, talked about it a bunch with Erik (my contractor next door neighbor who saves me from my own stupidity), and rented a framing nail gun and air compressor from the local Tool Lending Library.

The electricians had begun working on the house this week and when I got home the night I planned to frame the wall… the electricity was off in the house. Arg! I was mad, because there was no way I could frame a wall in the dark without any electricity. No!! I needed to get the wall built that night so the plumber could install the shower surround onto it the next day! This is why renovation is stressful! You’re juggling about ten different schedules.

I stormed around the outside of the house ripping off the old cable cords the painters had refused to remove and pulling the lattice off the front porch rail. I could see Erik who was working on his house peering out his dining room window at the crazy lady yanking off the lattice in a bit of a rage nextdoor . He knew my plan was to reframe the wall that night.  I finished ripping off the lattice and went inside my house where I’d left my phone. I picked it up and read a text from Erik, “I thought you were building that wall tonight?” Simultaneously I heard a knock on the kitchen door. I opened it and there stool Erik, toolbelt on and drill in hand. “I came to help frame the wall!”

“I don’t have any electricity! I can’t do this in the dark!” I said. He didn’t falter, “Let me go get my battery powered light!” Within a few minutes, the whole bathroom was lit up by a surprisingly small light. But then my rented air compressor didn’t get to a strong enough pressure. Erik went and got his air compressor, but that didn’t work either. Maybe it was the nail gun itself? Or the fact that we were running it off of an extension cord that ran from Erik’s garage, over the fence between our houses, and through my backdoor?

So with that off the table, we turned to screws and his impact driver. But then he said I’d bought the wrong kind of screws and ran over to his house where he had better ones. And then he cut all the 2x4s with his circular saw using his foot as a stand in about 2 seconds. Then after watching me drive in one screw, he said, “Why don’t I do the next one? I’d let you continue, but I think we both want to finish this tonight…” And then my neighbor built me a wall while I stood outside the bathroom and watched. So… he’s a nice guy.

I don’t even have a picture of my newly framed walls because it was crazy dark the night the wall got built and the next day the plumber arrived to install the new water lines and my new shower surround right in front of it. So if you look closely at the picture below you can tell which 2x4s look newer and those are the ones that make the new walls.

Berrybrier | Shower surround.jpg

The plumber even put in blocking for my new sink as well as getting the necessary new pipes for my new plumbing locations. He also reworked the vent pipes and an outside gutter that was draining into my sewer line. I didn’t quite expect butt ends of copper pipe to be the rough-in plumbing, but I put “figuring out how to cut pipe and install water shut off valves” on my list of things to stress about later. Overall, I paid him $1178 to move all this around which was a pretty good deal for this extent of work. I’ve heard of people being charged more than that just to move a toilet! I’m lucky to have basement/crawl space access to all the pipes, allowing for an easier install.Berrybrier | Plumbing Rough In.jpg

You can see in the picture of that the shower pan was full of water too! It had to stay that way until the plumbing inspection, which of course was two weeks out. It got pretty gross!

Berrybrier | Plugged Drain.jpg

And because, literally nothing goes smoothly during renovation, when – two weeks later – the inspector came through, he walked into the house and saw some coats, vacated the house, and failed the inspection. Apparently although the Portland Bureau of Development Services states in numerous places online and in pamphlets that inspectors can review unoccupied residences without a representative of the owner, by “occupied” they really mean is there can be no personal belongings on site. At the time I was living at my cousin Kristen’s, but I hadn’t removed all my personal belongings from the house! I called the Bureau and begged them to reschedule my inspection without a two week wait. Luckily, they understood my interpretation of their rule and rescheduled the inspection for two days later, provided a representative of the owner was on site.

My angel cousin Kristen volunteered to wait at the house for the inspection since she typically worked from home on that day. The inspection sheet was supposed to come out at 8:00 that morning and provide a 3 hour block of time when the inspection would take place. I checked at 8:00am. I wasn’t on the list! I called the Bureau in a panic. Every day I didn’t get an inspection was another day I couldn’t live at my house!

Again, I lucked out and got a very sweet member of the scheduling department who told me my previous help had gone through 4 out of 5 steps to schedule my inspection, but failed to actually schedule it. However, they were able to squeeze me on the existing job list that day! Woohoo! So the inspection happened and it passed on the condition I open a mechanical permit for my new vent fan.

Then the electricians went in and installed the boxes and wires for a new sconce, can light, and vent fan! All of a sudden the room was coming together! I was so excited to be able to take the reins and start knocking out the rest of the work in this room myself!

Berrybrier | Sconce Location.jpg

And with that I was one step closer to having a bathroom! Wouldn’t it be nice to shower in my own house again?

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New Roof For Berrybrier + a Dormer!

New Roof For Berrybrier + a Dormer!

Even before I bought Berrybrier, I knew the house needed a new roof. The listing actually mentioned this and – despite not seeing any leaks after a strong rain during escrow – it clearly needed to go. It was a hot mess of a roof in a city where waterproofed roofs are pretty dang critical. This was no DIY project my friends. It was time to bring in the professionals!Berrybrier | Roof.jpg

Although it’s not currently in vogue, I knew I wanted to replace the roof with another light colored shingle roof. The Portland summer sun is hot, hot, hot! When it bakes down on the house the upper floor becomes an oven of trapped heat. The lower level of the house manages to stay cool if it’s just a single hot day or even two hot days in a row, but any more than that and the house gets sweltering. A light colored roof can do wonders in keeping a house cooler. I picked Owen’s Corning’s Sierra Grey which I knew would go well with the exterior paint color I had in mind.

There was one other thing that I wanted to do when I replaced the roof though: add a dormer. The layout of the upstairs bedrooms with the stairwell made the house a perfect candidate for a dormer right at the top of the stairs. You see, when you walk up the stairs at Berrybrier there’s a large landing between the two bedrooms and across the landing from the stairs is a little door to a storage space. You can see the little crawl space door at the top here.

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Well a simple dormer added at the location of this crawl space could launch a huge amount of potential for Berrybrier. Adding a room in this space with a window would also allow more light into the stairwell. The future potential though is huge. A bathroom at this location would not only add incredible convenience to the upper floor bedrooms, but it would also turn this house into a 3 bedroom 2.5 bathroom house effectively doubling its value from my purchase price. Equity, baby! It’s important!Berrybrier | Crawl Space

I went about interviewing roofers shortly after I bought the house and trying to draw up plans for a dormer to get approved by the city development department. That was stressful! And then there was the whole manner of finding someone who could build the dormer too. A couple weeks into my search I mentioned my need for a roofer to Erik from next door who – of course – had a guy. A few days later Rigo was at my house and he said he could build the dormer too. Woohoo!

After inspecting the roof, Rigo was able to tell me that it had the original cedar shingle roof below two layers of asphalt shingles. This meant, I needed a complete tear off of all three layers of roofing and a new layer of plywood sheathing before the new roof went on. Of course, this is about triple the work of adding a new asphalt single roof and thus about triple the cost. Oh the joys of homeownership!

Berrybrier | Roof Shot

Off to the computer I went drawing up plans for a dormer addition. It took me about a week of a couple hours work after my 9-5 job to complete the plans. I was able to go to the Portland Development Bureau’s homeowners’ night and get my drawings looked at after working hours. It’s a busy Thursday night at homeowners’ night and after waiting two hours I thought I would have to go home without a permit. Luckily, they squeezed me in right at the end and approved my plans quite quickly! Even better, Rigo and his crew were able to start work the same week I finally got permits for the addition of the dormer!

The first thing they did was rip off the entire roof! It was the very bitter end of last September at this point, but 2017 was a hot, dry summer and we managed to avoid any rain. I know, hard to believe it’s Portland, right? They spent about just a couple of days with a crew of 4 or 5 guys to rip off all three layers of roofing. The sheathing then took another couple of days. They layered waterproofing over the sheathing very quickly. They split the roof side by side and did demo, sheathing, and waterproofing on one side before moving to the other. This kept an assurance that just in case it did rain my house wouldn’t end up flooded! I wish I’d gotten a picture of this crazytown Frankenstein roof, but the guys did it so quickly while I was at work a basically blinked and missed it!

They did all of this work on the roof in the existing plane of the roof before on Saturday October 7th in the morning a crew showed up and cut a GINORMOUS hole in my roof! It was amazing to watch them just take a bunch of saws and just go at it! Here’s all the guys smiling once the hole was complete and they were ready to start the next phase of work.

Berrybrier | Whole in the Roof

Within just a few days, they’d built the shell of the dormer and completed the roof! I was amazed that just four days later the dormer went from a dream and a hole to an entire new room! From the outside, it looked like it belonged. I wanted an addition that looked intentional, like it could have existed from the beginning and this one had that vibe. Sure, it was only a shell that first week – just enough to keep the water out – but it felt right!

One thing I wasn’t in love with though? The dark black roof vents on the opposite side of the roof. They looked jarring against the light grey shingles and stood out way too much for my liking. I asked Rigo about them and he was quick to let me know they also made light grey ones (like were on the old roof) and he could switch them out in a couple of weeks. Yay!Berrybrier | Black Vents

Back to the dormer though! A quick couple days later and the dormer was sided and trimmed out to match the house. The guys finished up work on the interior of the dormer, adding appropriate studs and structural elements. The only remaining item was the window… which was on back order until November of course! Brrrrr! The weather was starting to get cold now and there was still a gaping hole in my house! A normal person would have selected a different window that was more readily available. But not me! See those green aluminum exterior wood interior windows? I was duplicating that in the dormer, no matter what!

Berrybrier | Dormer.jpg

This was a long phase of a crazy looking house, but wrapping up the new roof was a huge relief, despite the $12 grand now missing from my bank account, I felt like I’d really gained a sense of security knowing water wasn’t going to start pouring in one way or another. The dormer came in a 4k plus an almost $500 window. Both were huge investments in the house, the dormer obviously was an optional add, but the pricing felt right and the timing was good to ensure everything was waterproofed together.

Waiting on the window proved to be the most difficult thing due to the weather. The house was freezing! I slept in my sleeping bag in order to stay warm. The house felt like a stranger at this point because so much was going on. See that picture above? The windows were all taped off for painting, the new electrical meter and service had been rewired by the city, everything was happening all at once and boy did I have a thousand things to do! More on that soon…

Getting Down to Wood in the Kitchen: A Survival Story

Getting Down to Wood in the Kitchen: A Survival Story

Gosh, when you’re trying to DIY twenty million things around your house it’s certainly difficult to find time to actually live your life, let alone blog about all your projects. Terribly bleated, but let’s get into what I was working on last fall, shall we? I started writing this last October, when this was all fresh in my brain…

So, do you remember what my floors looked like when I moved into the house? Most of the house is the beautiful old fir that’s held up well and looks amazing. It was a huge selling point for me when I first toured Berrybrier. The living and dining rooms showcased some of the best floors I’d seen when touring houses.

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The kitchen and bathrooms however at Berrybrier though? Sheet vinyl.

Berrybrier Kitchen Before | Land of Laurel

And old decaying sheet vinyl at that! See how it’s all torn up in the corner? Here’s a picture a few weeks after I moved in once my mom and cousin Carla had spent an hour tearing off the wallpaper.

Berrybrier | Kitchen Before

The floors get even worse if you take a closer look. Flaking in places and worn away in others, this clearly had to go. This was clearly a health hazard. Luckily, I was pretty sure these floors weren’t asbestos which would have been a whole different ball game to tackle. By looking at the floors I could tell the first layer of flooring had gone in in the 40s or 50s and the second layer on top of the first looked like 1980s. My educated guess that I’d missed the asbestos era (1960s-1970s) was later confirmed by professional testing at a laboratory. If you’re starting a project like this of your own, start with the testing.

Berrybrier | Decaying Vinyl Floors.jpgThe first couple of weeks I had the house I debated what to do. Install sheet linoleum over the sheet vinyl? Install linoleum click flooring over the sheet vinyl? Some people were even rooting heavily for peel and stick vinyl tiles. I try to minimize my exposure to vinyl as it’s a fairly toxic product during all life stages: production, installed, and recycled/trashed. Plus vinyl has some nasty off gassing issues. Basically, I really wanted to avoid vinyl. Linoleum can be expensive, however, and I personally find it difficult to clean vinyl and linoleum since they are softer surfaces. Would linoleum be a good alternative in someone else’s home? Absolutely. I just wanted something else in this kitchen. I wanted tile or… wood. I wanted the transition between the kitchen and living room (below) to be less awkward!

Berrybrier | Flooring Transition.jpg

I turned to the air intake vent above. Under inspection, this vent when lifted showed wood floors running beneath the vinyl. Wood floors that looked to match the ones throughout the rest of the house… was this too good to be true?!

Being absolutely insane, my natural reaction to discovering original fir floors under layers of vinyl was to feel deeply in my soul that I had to rescue these wood floors. No matter what. They had to be saved; it was what was right for this house. Berrybrier deserved to be restored and I really wanted wood floors. Plus, I figured using existing wood floors had to be cheaper right? I started “planning” my project to save the floors. Let’s just say I went into this project completely naively. Like almost idiotically so. I was running on pure determination and a dream of rustic wood kitchen floors. I thought I’d have the project complete in a weekend. I thought I’d be moving on to the next project in just a few days. Boy, was I so very wrong.

My kitchen was functional and decent-ish looking before this project. I’d dressed up one side of the kitchen and I’d bought a used stove for $50 buck from my next door neighbor, Erik. I went out and bought supplies for the first weekend of the kitchen floors mission on a Saturday morning: hazmat suits (such a sexy look), gloves, goggles, air respirators, two hand scrapers in varying sizes, and a lot of plastic to tape off the various doors leading to and from the kitchen. Even though the vinyl wasn’t asbestos, I planned on treating it that way. It was time to transform the kitchen and it had to get uglier before it could get nice.

Berrybrier | Kitchen Function.jpg

My mom was in town to help and we spent the first part of the day taping off the many doors: bedroom door, bathroom door, basement door, stairs door, and the living room opening. That took at least an hour, so it was already past noon when we truly got started, but we had a kill-room worthy of Dexter ready for our plan of attack!

Berrybrier | Mom Hasmat Suit.jpg

We began at the stairs, knocking down that pathetic little banister first (see second picture) and then removing the metal bracing at the stair noses. That was all extremely positive and went very quickly. I was happily surprised to discover there were actual wood stair treads with proper rounded nosing beneath the sheet vinyl! I had been expecting unfinished plywood with flat edges and nosing… That was probably the last happy moment for the next five weeks. But dang, did the site below excite me!

Berrybrier | Stair Noses.jpg

Yes, I said five weeks. Five very long and painful weeks. The floors certainly took longer than a quick weekend. After exposing the stair nosing we spent the rest of that day working slowly with the hand scrapers on the stairs. Progress was extremely slow. Luckily for me, I live next door to another fixer upper! The house next to mine is owned by a contractor working hard on his own big project (and doing a much better and more informed job that I). Erik is kind enough to come over and help me figure out what to do. He must think I am a complete idiot since I always a mess, but still he’s patient enough to lend a hand and point me in the direction of the right tool, which is what he did that first evening.

You guys, there is such a thing as a floor scraper. Somehow, I did not know this. This was a major idiot moment and I am dying a bit inside just remembering it. Erik came over and saw the disaster we’d created and lent me his floor scraper and of course it worked a million times faster than what we were previously doing.

The next day we woke up, fixed our plastic which we’d had to remove to use the bathroom and go to bed, ate a quick breakfast in the dining room turned kitchen, and got to work. Using the floor scraper I was quickly able to remove the entire top layer of sheet vinyl from the floors. Yes, I said top layer. Yes, there was a second layer beneath it. Yes, am cringing as I write this.

Berrybrier | Kitchen Floors.jpg

The second layer of sheet vinyl was much more difficult to remove. The top layer had a thin (and, as we discovered, water based) layer of glue holding it to the lower layer. You could fairly easily pull off this upper layer in strips and sheets. The bottom layer of sheet vinyl was a bitch. A thick layer of black tar based adhesive was holding it to my glorious, original, fir wood floors. In many areas of the kitchen I was able to get the both layers of sheet vinyl off but not the tar adhesive. The floor was still taunting me though, because in a few spots I could get both off exposing the hardwood floors beneath! But, in some I couldn’t remove the bottom layer of sheet vinyl or the adhesive at all.

Berrybrier | Scraping Kitchen Floors.jpgWe picked up the loose bits of vinyl and put it into contractors trash bags in the driveway, taped down huge sheets of black plastic over the still partially tar/vinyl covered floors, and went to bed. Boy, I thought, we made great progress! We’ll be done next weekend for sure! Wrong again!

The next weekend dawned and I woke up at 7 am determined to finish the kitchen. I decided to focus on the area by the bedroom door where I figured I’d be able to get up the sheet vinyl in a few hours. I was wrong… (seeing a trend here?). I worked on that nearly all day and then spent the next day at the tool rental store asking for help with a machine. The tool rental store told me to forget it though. They had nothing that would help remove sheet vinyl and tar based adhesive without destroying the wood floor beneath. In fact, they recommended straight acetone to take up the stubborn tar and remaining vinyl (see that stubborn bit by the sink?).

Berrybrier | Kitchen Floor Part 1.jpg

So, I went to Home Depot and bought acetone. Poured it on the tar and tried scraping and watched it evaporate while doing absolutely nothing to the tar. I’m going to be honest here and let you know how incredibly discouraging this was. I was trying to think of alternate solutions and how I could possibly do something else in the kitchen. Tile? Painted plywood? Something had to be better than this heartbreaking view of tar mastic.

Berrybrier | Tar Mastic.jpg

In my heart though, I knew the original wood floors were the best solution – not the easiest solution, no, but the best one for me, for this house, and for the direction I want to take it. I was determined and ready for the next plan of action. I spent some time googling and found this product at Home Depot. 747 Plus – according to the reviews – basically liquifies tar cutback to the point where you can squeegee it into one spot in the room and scoop it up using absorbent kitty litter. The many reviews were mainly positive. The packaging explicitly stated it was designed to remove tar adhesives. It sounded like a godsend. Like there was light at the end of this tunnel! A wood floor under all this black tar! Spoiler alert: it did not work as advertised. But you’re not surprised are you?

The next weekend (my third in a row dedicated to the kitchen floors). I pulled off all the black plastic covering the floors. This was going to work! I told myself. This is finally the solution! Many of the reviews stated to spray on the 747 Plus and leave for 4-6 hours before trying to scrape. I decided to try this first. I sprayed everything down and left the house to run some errands.

When I returned the tar didn’t look like liquid, but it was shinier on top, almost melted looking. By spreading cat litter and using a handheld scraper I could scrape the shiny, melty layer of the tar off. It was not squeegee type work, it did not come off easily. It was incredibly messy, leaking through the hazmat suit and staining my knees, butt, and arms with tar. Sounds safe right? But the worst part of this? It stunk. It smelled so freaking bad. It was such a strong scent of tar it gave me a powerful headache and the entire house reeked. I left all the windows and doors open to try to air it out.

Berrybrier | Tar Supplies.jpg

Unfortunately, after hours of scraping at the slightly liquidy tar, the floors now looked even worse than when I’d begun that day.  The tar had spread over some of the exposed wood so now everything looked black and depressing. But I wanted to give the 747 Plus another chance. I opened another bottle and followed the directions perfectly, waiting the recommended time between steps. This worked no better. It was a sticky, black, horrific mess. My headache got worse. I made the floors worse! See here how on the picture on the left (from the previous weekend) you can see the wood of the floors but in the picture on the right (after the 747 Plus) the tar actually covers up that whole area too?

I finished what I could and threw in the towel. The tar was everywhere now and I’d gotten it all over the place. I took a bath that night and called my mom on the verge of tears. Luckily, my mom’s response was, “I’ll be back next weekend and we’ll try something else and tackle it together!” Otherwise I would have probably given up completely right then and there. The next weekend, my mom came up and Erik from next door came to the rescue! He brought over two machines: a big round buffer with scraper blades and a drum sander. One of these, he assured me, would save the day.

Berrybrier | Buffer.jpg

First up: the buffer machine. We plugged this guy in and Erik gave me a few minutes tutorial on how to use it. It seemed like with continued pressure in small areas it would scraped up the tar and it looked very, very easy to use. Plus not bending over and scraping would save our backs! Erik left to go work on his own many house projects and I began using the buffer machine. Or should I say, began trying to use the buffer machine. What Erik had made look easy, was in fact, really fucking hard. I literally was not strong enough to use this machine. I would turn it on and the thing would take off across the room, basically dragging me helplessly behind it. It was scary and dangerous and I immediately knew I had no business using that machine.

Not that there was really even much of an option to continue using the machine, because within a few minutes the machine blew a fuse. Yup, the shoddy electrical on the house (which was supposed to be replaced just a few weeks later on the 24th of October) could not handle the load of the buffer machine. My mom and I started trying to figure out if we could go buy and install plywood over the kitchen floors this same weekend.

Erik came back over. Erik saves the day. Again. He decides to run an extension cord from his garage, across his yard, over the fence, past my garage and into my kitchen. “Don’t give up,” he tells us. Erik decides we should try the drum sander on a part of the floor that is less covered in tar. He plugs it in and runs it over a small section a few times. Holy hedgehogs in Hades! IT ACTUALLY EXPOSED WOOD FLOORS!!!

Berrybrier | Drumsander.jpg

At this point, I was basically jumping up and down clapping my hands with glee and my mother was ready to sell me to Erik for a couple of horses and a trading agreement. We found hope! Four weeks of working on the kitchen and there was hope!

Berrybrier | Drumsander Works

Now Erik cautioned against using the drum sander on the super built up areas of tar so we returned to hand scraping what we could and pulling up rogue nails. Luckily it seemed the 747 Plus helped to soften the tar in most areas making it slightly easier to scrape. We worked at it the rest of the day and made decent, but not amazing progress. You can see here the areas I sanded with the drum sander, the areas we scraped, and the areas that were still tar covered.

Berrybrier | Unscraped Scraped Sanded.jpg

Luckily, Erik returned on Sunday and told us to just screw it and use the drum sander on the more built up areas of tar too. We happily accepted his proposal and by the end of Sunday we had this lovely and promising view!!

Berrybrier | Finally Fir Floors.jpg

Then Monday night after I got off work we sanded a little harder on some of the corners and ran the sander over the center again. I am absolutely obsessed with this drum sander by the way. It is SUPER easy to use, really fun, and not super loud or obnoxious. It’s easy to control and gets a hell of a lot done. It’s my new favorite power tool and has a hefty lead over all the other power tools I have had love affairs with.

Anyways, after our second pass things we’re looking even better. It was at this point I realized these floors could look way better than I’d originally thought. A little more work on them and I thought I’d be able to get a pretty stinkin’ close match to the floors in the rest of the house. That makes me unbelievably excited!

Left to do the next weekend (note: this was now the 5th weekend in a row I’d working on these floors) was edging the room and moving to higher grit sandpaper. Erik suggested we purchase a cheap belt sander from Harbor and Freight for this job. I now do everything he says, so of course I did exactly that. The belt sander is smaller and able to get the edges of the rooms, farther beneath the cabinets, and into the corners the belt sander can’t make it. But because there are no perfect endings, this belt sander did not work so well and the tar still wouldn’t come up and grrrr… let’s just all pull our hair out together, okay?

And all of a sudden… I was out of time to work on the floors. It was time for the bathroom to be demo’ed so the electricians could come do their work. The floors were put on pause and left in this mostly okay state… until the end of February. Yes, that’s right folks, I did not have a kitchen from early September 2017 through the first week of March 2018. So before we get back to the bathroom and before I return to this kitchen saga, let me fill you in with all the other things I had on my plate last fall… stay tuned!

Update: check out Part II of this saga here!

Demo Day! Goodbye Bathroom!

Demo Day! Goodbye Bathroom!

We demo’ed the bathroom! It’s all gone now. Actually it’s been all gone for many months and I’ve just been too busy putting it back together to actually blog about it. 🤣 Anyways, I thought I’d give you the run down of the demo days and some excellent after pictures… of my filthy demo face. Overall this was my second time demo’ing a bathroom and I have to say it went vastly better than the previous time as I did not end up in the hospital with a cornea infection. Yup. That happened a few years ago when I helped demo my parents master bathroom and it hurt like a motherf***er! But that was last time and this is this time. Let’s concentrate on Berrybrier today!

Let’s start with how the bathroom started out. Do you remember this magenta madness? The bump out above the mirror floated there like an overly long soffit that just might fall off while you were on the toilet. There were only about 12″ between the sink and the corner of the tub for you to slink by to get to the toilet. The shower head was not operational, but someone had used it previously which is why everything was rotting. Everything was filthy. I can’t even talk about the floors, but I will say someone decided to wrap the flooring vinyl up onto a teensy counter by the sink. That tub was amazingly comfortable and taking baths is my favorite, but this tub was ginormous. WAY too big for such a tiny bathroom.

Demo day got off to a slow start as I was exhausted and slept until 8am; which isn’t really even that late honestly. My mother was still staying here and she had planned to have a visit with our cousin Mary that am. So I slithered out of bed half comatose and made myself some toast and jam and was munching away on that sitting in my bathrobe when Mary arrived. Let me clarify: Mary arrived in work clothes ready to help with demo. Somehow my mom had missed that memo and here I was totally unprepared to start with lots of helping hands. Ofph! 🤭

Once the confusion was sorted out, I threw on some proper clothes and we got to work. First we removed the mirror on the back wall and Mary and my mom tackled the weird wooden tub surround.

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They were removing the decorative molding and flat panels so we could see properly what was going on beneath it. We’d already drilled enough holes in it to know that it was not a clawfoot. Cue the ugly crying. But! This worked out because knowing it was a clawfoot would have caused me to try and save it and this bathroom is just WAY TOO SMALL for a bathtub that large.

Underneath, you can see this tub was barely supported from the upper lib, nothing was supporting it below. We eventually wedged a furniture dolly beneath it in hopes we’d later be able to roll it out of the bathroom that way.

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After that, we moved on to tackling the removal of the sink and toilet. Since none of the water shut off valves in the bathroom actually functioned, this involves turning off the water at the main. Eek! Which in turn meant my house no longer had a functioning shower or a bathroom or even running water in the kitchen. Yay! Also… I had to google how to remove a toilet. Thank god for the internet, it’s basically teaching me everything these days.

The more we removed, the more we found, like this cute swans wallpaper!

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At this point, things were looking… better?

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Seems like a good time for a simple, easy task like removing the little corner Ikea cabinet, right? Well, that came down quick, but we also discovered some gnarly mildew behind the Ikea cabinet! At this point, Mary had to leave, which was extremely understandable. Ha!

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After Mary was on her way, it was time to turn our attention to the elephant in the room: the overly large (but extremely comfortable) bathtub. In order to move that tub anywhere, I had to disconnect the plumbing. Well… the pipes I needed access to were in the wall, so I had to do a little demo in the half bathroom as well! I removed the faux wood paneling from two of the bathroom walls with a mini crowbar and hammer in less than 15 minutes and what to my wondering eyes should appear? A miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer hole already cut into the wall! This is probably why that paneling went up!

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I made the hole bigger with my hammer, grabbed a metal blade for the sawzall, and started cutting. Bing, bang, boom and the tub was no longer connected to the house! Yes that is the toilet in the foreground of the picture below. The half bath is VERY TINY. It’s basically a quarter bath, but don’t that to him, he’ll get all offended.

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Once it was disconnected, it was time to try to get this tub out of the bathroom! With enough prying of the tub with a spare 2×4 we were able to raise the tub high enough off the supports to get the furniture dolly wedged nearly all the way under the tub. Once that was done we were able to a remove the rest of the rotting wood surround and supports and the bathtub was freed! I know this is a terrible photo below, but you get the idea.

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We wheeled the bathtub out of the bathroom, taking out the door frame in the process and left it in the kitchen, because that was as far as two people could move it alone. Now that bathtub stayed in my kitchen until early February when my Aunt Stephanie and Uncle Mike came to visit and helped me conquer a few tasks around the house. The two of them, plus my sister and I were finally able to move it out of the house lifting together! But don’t let me get distracted, back to demo day 1: after the tub was out of the bathroom and into the kitchen, though, it was time to go to sleep. We were exhausted.

The next day was lathe and plaster demo day! We spent the entire Sunday taking out as much of the lathe and plaster as possible. It was crazy town and filled the floor with debris. We filled 7 contractor bags full of lathe and plaster from this little room, despite me keeping a ton of the longer pieces of lathe!

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Seriously, you think that it’s a small room, but oh. my. god. The whole room was 2 feet under lathe and plaster. We filled SO MANY BAGS! All stuffed and weighing a bazillion pounds, full of lathe and plaster!

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Once the lathe came down, we found some not so great things, like exposed knob and tube wiring. And knob and tube wiring that just ended in the plaster after someone removed some sconces… Yeah, not good. Luckily, electricians were scheduled for just a few days later!

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Once the floors were swept clean of all the debris and the little discoveries were made, we were even more tired than the night before and we were absolutely filthy. Oh, and my mom was so ready to fly home he next day to her comfortable bed and house that requires no demo. She was ready to relax!

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I was also filthy, but very much excited for the projects ahead! I knew that this was a huge step, but a super exciting one because soon I’d have a fully functional bathroom and it was going to be so freaking pretty!

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Of course… finishing that bathroom took me about 2 months longer than I thought it would and in my incessant push to finish, I neglected this blog. But don’t worry, y’all. I still took pictures and am here to overshare.

Throwing Some Green At the Bathroom

Throwing Some Green At the Bathroom

When I first toured Berrybrier with my realtor back in the beginning of July I was convinced the bathroom just needed a quick coat of paint and some cleaning. What’s a kind way to say that was really freaking idiotic? However you decide to phrase it, I was stupid and the bathroom needs to be gutted. Doesn’t everyone love an unanticipated multi-thousand dollar side project? Oh joy!

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But let’s be real, this bathroom is BAD. It’s gross and there is a rot problem as things are not properly water proofed. Now I was hoping this was just dirty. It’s not. Enjoy this blurry picture of the wood tub surround. Doesn’t that just make you want to take a leisurely bath? Mmmm mmm good!

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The bathroom is right off the kitchen and is the primary bathroom not only for all three bedrooms to bathe in, but also for visitors to use. Storage in this bathroom is a bit questionable. The previous owners added this IKEA cabinet to the corner here, but it overlaps the door trim and is not really the right style. The bathroom vanity cabinet is a beautiful antiqued mirror, but it’s beat up and gross inside. There is an extension cord running from the light fixture to power two little plugs on either side of the mirror, which seams super safe. Not! Oh! And the best part? The little floating vanity covered in the same sheet vinyl as the floor! On the bright side, this bathroom does have a  wired light fixture and switch!

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So as you can see, pretty much every finish in the space needs to be changed, but more importantly, the layout needs to be changed. See the toilet? To get to that you have to turn sideways and scootch past 12″ of space between the sink and tub. It’s great! The tub – while exceedingly comfortable – is way too big for the small room. The bathroom is only 54″ wide and about 8 feet long. It was actually elongated by about 12″ in order to fit that tub in at some point. Which is why you see the soffit in the first picture above the mirror. The tub is so large you can basically take a poop while showering things are so crammed together!

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So, everything needs to be changed. Let’s start with the layout. The soffit is like that because when they moved the wall, they just cut off the wall. Which doesn’t really work structurally. The wall needs to be reframed at it’s original location reducing the depth of the bathroom by about one foot, but the half bath on the other side will get just a bit wider. The bathing part needs to be rotated 90° and put against the back wall. Because the bathroom is only about 54″ wide, a tub won’t really fit, so I will be putting in a 48″wide shower. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to steal a little bit of the extra room besides the shower for little cubbies to hold rolled towels. The sink and the toilet will be relocated on the same wall as the sink closer to the entry to the room. That will provide a nice circulation path along the exterior wall with the window. I’ll add wood shelves above the toilet for additional storage. Can you envision that? Here, let me help. Excuse the dimensions, I had to get it all on plan to show my plumber.

New Bathroom Layout | Land of Laurel

Now that I’m committed to moving forward, I’ve decided to dive in head and heart. Which means I’m now really excited! What’s a designer’s dream? Getting to do everything they want without any one holding them back. Now, I can’t go crazy, since I do not have unlimited funds. My funds are incredibly limited, but I can use these limited funds to have some fun. I wanted the bathroom to be classic, yet dynamic. In character with the early 1900s house, yet with modern conveniences and style.

If you know me, you know I love green. It’s classic, yet very in right now. Green is a wonderful color that speaks to the nature of the lush surroundings of the Pacific Northwest. My bedding is green and floral, I often wear green, and I’m pretty much planning on painting everything in this house green. So prepare yourselves! Dark green looks amazing with gold and we all know that’s one of my favorite materials too. What can I say? I’m predictable.  Plus, you know I’m going to try to create another bathroom jungle, right?

I was very inspired by Dana’s bathroom and loved the 2″ black hex floor tile. I spent a lot of time thinking that’s what I should do at Berrybrier with black grout that would hide grime. But, my dear cousin Mary very kindly pointed out that black shows soap scum and dirt easily. I started to rethink this plan, though I still think it looks amazing.

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I still wanted to do a hex mosaic though since it’s classic and looks amazing! I found inspiration everywhere I went, like random apartment stoops.

Hex Inspo | Land of Laurel

And then I thought, well, I’m a designer, I should do something ultra designer-y, like this:

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or this:

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Or this:

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Then I realized I have to get this bathroom done before 2020 and I really don’t have a lot of time to wait for custom colored tile nor the time to hand-lay a complicated pattern. So I did some soul searching and decided to go more classic. I found this at Home Depot and placed my order. Simple, classic, black and white daisy.

For the bath fixtures, a coworker let me know we get a lip smacking good designer deal from Delta. I picked out their Cassidy collection for a vintage inspired, modern look in their Champagne Bronze finish (which is gold). A modern white toilet and pedestal sink will be a nice change from the pink throne too! Dark green walls in Benjamin Moore’s 1498 Forest Floor will add drama. Vintage picture frames and dark stained shelves with black brackets will look classic. Pretty soon, my design palette came together and I was ready to go!

Demo starts this weekend and the electrician and plumber come next week! I’ll be showering at my cousin Kristen’s next week. Thank god for local family! The only sad part of the renovation is the bathroom walls will no longer match my toothpaste! 😂

Have you ever renovated a bathroom by yourself? Am I crazy to hope to get it completed in just a couple of weeks?! Wish me luuuck! I will need it!

Let there be light!

Let there be light!

Happy autumn, ya’ll! The recent turning of weather is making me nauseous as I try to figure out how to schedule the exterior painting of my house and finishing up the dormer. So much to do! So little time! Seriously, I’m not ready for winter! I’m still hoping to break out those breezy summer dresses and dig up bricks to lay out a patio in my backyard. BUT, reality sinks in and I realize a lot will need to wait until next spring. The exterior paint, however, needs to get a move on!

While I’m waiting on things the professionals have to take on, I have to keep busy myself. I’ve been working trying to refinish my kitchen floors which is taking about 53 times longer than I anticipated. So this past weekend I looked for a new project. Something quick and dirty I could knock out and actually finish. I turned again to the back of the house but didn’t make it quite so far as the yard.

That horrific deck and the roof covering it? It was coming down! Remember how bad it was? It was a deathtrap waiting to happen! Those stairs ended 4″ from the corner of the garage. Now, luckily, the actual deck roof (can we even classify that monstrosity as a roof?) had come down during the first two weeks I owned Berrybrier. It was a wonderful surprise when I came home from work to see my cousins, John and Carla, and my parents, John and Kate happy in the backyard having spend a couple hours that afternoon demoing the deck roof. They’d knocked it out and boy was it a huge change! It not only looked a thousand times better, but the amount of light that suddenly flooded the kitchen was the best part!


Yes that is a new-to-me stove as well (bought it from the neighbors who are also renovating!). Before the kitchen was so dark since the two windows were under the makeshift roof! Plus that wallpaper doesn’t help. Good thing that’s gone now too! (Add re-drywalling the kitchen to my to-do list as well…)


So when this past weekend came around, I said to my mother, “You know what would be super fun? Taking down the deck!” My mother had her doubts, she was nervous we wouldn’t like what we found. But I had a good feeling about this one. The home inspection report had called out the presence of concrete steps under the deck and a few sessions with a good flashlight and a long stick had given me the impression the steps were in good shape. Plus anything would be better than this, right?

I even convinced my mother a few weeks earlier to sawzall off a board on one side to get better access to the steps in order to take a closer look and sweep a bit with a broom. This proved the steps were in great shape to me, but my mother still had her doubts. I finally convinced her I could just pull off one board from the top and we could get a good look at things there.

Once you pull off one, what’s the harm in another? Or so I convinced my mother… and slowly, but surely we got all the deck boards pried off that first day. Now it would have been a lot easier if we could have used  power tools like a sawzall, but the roofers were over and the electrical on this house isn’t a fan of power tools, let alone multiple power tools. So we worked by hand using hammers and crowbars. (And luckily the electrical is getting updated at the end of the month!) Slowly, but surely, we made progress!

Whew! Easier said than done. The work wasn’t that hard, but between the roofers air compressor and staple/nail guns and the sounds of our own hammers hitting the metal of the crowbars I got a powerful headache and my ears wouldn’t stop ringing. We took a break and I picked up some protective ear muffs at Ace Hardware before heading home. Hallelujah! They are my new favorite protective gear, even beating out hazmat suits!

Boy was it looking a million times better that first day and boy did we learn a lot! That deck, as it turns out, was not in as good of shape as I thought. Sitting on the concrete steps, moisture had filled the wood and when we pressed into it, water would actually squeeze out. It had caused the wood to rot significantly more than I anticipated. Beneath the steps, years of walking over and dust and debris had created mounds of compost that covered the concrete. Actual, really nice compost. We tossed it straight into the garden!

The next morning, my mom broke out her favorite tool: the sawzall and took off the sides of the deck. A few quick bangs with a sledgehammer and everything else was loose. Then it saw just back to the crowbar to remove a few pieces off the house and there they were: the original concrete steps!

The cute star gate used to be in function here, blocking off the backyard from the driveway. You can see the hole in the concrete next to it where the fence post used to be. I am in love with how much better this looks! The kitchen is flooded with light and now you can actually walk between the garage and the house! The best thing though? Not being directed down the stairs and into the corner of the garage! Now the flow from the house is so much more open! It allows you to walk into the garden easily and walk into the house from any side. Truly, it’s a small change, but feels transformative! I mean, the house still looks like crap since it needs paint, but it’s still a big change!

Before this view was crazy! Now it at least makes more sense. A good coat of paint will be the true life saver though.

Plus, the whole project took less than 8 hours. So thank god for that! I need more projects like that and less like my endless kitchen floor rescucitation project. This project leaves me satisfied and happy! Now they stairs will definitely need some tweaking – I’m thinking of painting next spring and trying to skim coat the top stair that’s in a bit rougher shape.

But for now, hopefully the weather will hold out long enough for this house to get painted and then I can stick my red pots on these steps and then they’ll really be popping! It’s one baby step in the right direction!

Winter is Coming

Winter is Coming

Oh my goodnesss! My brain is doing cartwheels, you guys. There is SO MUCH to do and SO MANY things to plan. It’s hectic and insane and oh so much fun. So what’s going on at the moment? Just a few things:

  • A new roof is going on and so is a dormer!
  • The exterior of the house is being prepped for painting.
  • We’re redoing the kitchen floors… slowly, but surely!
  • I’m designing the bathroom and getting ready for demo.
  • The garden is being worked on, weeded, and seeded with clover!
  • Electricians are scheduled and I’m selecting new light fixtures where needed.

Whew! I’m exhausted just recounting this. Each of these things has taken a whole bunch of time and planning, thinking and rethinking. I’m just a tad stressed and just a tad tired and just a tad sore, but most importantly I’m happy. The major stress lately, however, has been getting the exterior of the house in shape as soon as I can. Because winter is coming. And although Portland winters are not nearly as bad or as long as those in Westeros, you may have heard the rumor that it rains here.

Well, the rumors are true my friends, it rains here in Portland! Which means the roof issue needed to be addressed first. I spent weeks thinking up a plan and drawing up construction documents in CAD. Luckily the City of Portland has a Homeowner’s Permit Night where you can bring drawings to review with their structural engineers for tips and information as well as get permits during non-business hours. I spent two consecutive Thursdays in those offices the first talking with a structural engineer about how to best support the dormer and the second evening actually getting the permit. In between those two Thursdays I spent many, many hours working in CAD to get my drawings ready for approval. It was a huge relief when they passed and I was able to get my permit! The most frustrating part of the process was the long hours on the computer when I really wanted to be at Berrybrier sledge hammering something.

After my drawings were done and the permit procured, I had to select a roof color so the roofers could begin, but how to select a color for the roof without selecting a color for the house? Well, let’s go back to the pictures of Berrybrier. It’s a bit difficult to see in pictures, but the windows of the house are dark green. On the plus side, a previous owner updated all the windows to double-paned, vinyl-exterior, wood-interior windows which is *almost* what I would have selected myself. If it was me, I’d have selected wood interior and exterior windows. But, alas, what’s done is done and I don’t have to do it! The decision for dark green, vinyl-exterior windows though is a pretty permanent one. As these windows can not be painted, I had to pick a paint color for the siding that would coordinate with dark green.

Berrybrier Before | Land of Laurel

What goes well with dark green windows? White? Hmm… an all white home with green windows would be classic. White siding paired with white trim is also very popular right now. I found this inspiration photo which shows a house with white trim and siding, the windows are dark brown here, but you can easily imagine them as green. You can barely see the roof here, but it looks to be a dark charcoal.

White house and Trim | Land of Laurel

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As classic and lovely as this is, it is very popular. Would I recommend it to a client? Absolutely. But, for myself, I wanted something a bit more exciting. I wanted something happy. A house that makes you smile just walking by it. What is colorful and happy that goes well with green? Coral! And coral is another name for salmon and salmonberries are delicious and the house is already called Berrybrier, so really, could there be anything more perfect? (Did you see how my brain works there?) So! A salmonberry colored house it was. Luckily, I had the perfect inspiration in mind.

Young House Love, my favorite blog, bought a beach house last year and they painted it coral! Their house is too cute and much more charming than Berrybrier, so it’s the perfect inspiration. Their home is in the final stages of a complete renovation (which is incredibly exciting to follow) and it’s just too cute!

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Luckily, they documented their careful color selection process and I followed their journey from paint swatch to paint swatch. They landed on Sherwin Williams 6324 Mellow Coral. I was determined to take this into consideration, but select something different. I pulled a ton of samples from work. At first I thought I’d go much darker, but eventually I came around.

Coral Colors | Land of Laurel

Bold colors tend to look even brighter on larger surfaces, so it’s important to select ones that go much more grey than you’d originally think. I ended up landing on Sherwin Williams 6611 Jovial. I picked up a color test pot at Lowe’s and popped some swatches on the house. Instantly it was bright, happy, and colorful!

Jovial | Land of Laurel

It looked good by the door, bright and happy. It’s always shady here and since this is the main way you get into the house, it’s an important view. Of course, it would look even better if the trim wasn’t filthy dirty!

SW 6611 Jovial | Land of Laurel

Still, I wasn’t sure. What if it was just a tad too bright? I brought in a back up swatch: Young House Love’s Sherwin Williams 6324 Mellow Coral. You can see below it’s just a little duller and a little more grey/brown in tone.

Paint Swatches | Land of Laurel

So although I had a color selected, I did not have the exact color finalized. I’m still debating endlessly. Mellow Coral is safer, it will clearly look bold on the home. Young House Love’s beach house is happy and absolutely colorful. Jovial is happy, just subtly different from Mellow Coral, and just a tad brighter. But is it too bright? What do you think? Which do you prefer? Which would you choose?

Luckily, although I’m stumped on the color for the siding, the color selection for the trim is easy: SW 7012 Creamy. It’s a happy white with a warmer undertone which will brighten nicely against Portland’s often cool grey skies.

And the roof? Also a quick decision! I’m going with a 40 year roof by Owens Corning in the Sierra Grey colorway.

Sierra Grey | Land of Laurel

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This is a nice light grey shingle with plenty of color variation. As Berrybrier has no air conditioning (and as someone who’s never lived in a house with air conditioning I have no plans to add it) I wanted something lighter that would reflect more heat in the summer. Dark colors absorb heat. It’s a basic scientific fact that almost everyone knows. So although dark roofs look fantastic and are extremely popular, I knew it wouldn’t be for me. Something light, bright, with significantly less heat retention would be most important. This picture also from Owen’s Corning shows a look similar to what I’m hoping for with the Sierra Grey. It’s light, but it’s not white and it has plenty of color variation. Decision made!

Sierra Grey | Land of Laurel

Now if only I could be one hundred percent sure about the siding color! Help! What would you pick? Random strangers walking by my house are being accosted for their opinions on paint color and I need yours too!

Paint Swatches | Land of Laurel

Brighter or more subdued?

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Berrybrier!

Welcome to Berrybrier!

I bought a house! AHHHHHHHHH!! That is the sounds of my brain doing somersaults with my stomach. It’s a lovely feeling. But, truly, this is an incredibly exciting thing I’ve been wanting for a looong time. To have a place of my own feels fantastic! We closed on August 18th and I’ve been up to my ears in dirt, dust, and tools ever since. It’s the best thing ever. I finally feel settled in to my own home and you can bet that I’ll be tearing up DIYing the heck out of this place. In fact, I’ve already gotten started, but before I share that, I’ll give you a look around the place!

This moneypit house is a real fixer-upper and not in a cute Joanna Gains farmhouse-y style. As in, this house needs help. BIG HELP. And I’m here to lend a hand! Pretty much everything needs fixing on this place, and yes I do mean everything. Name something that could need to be repaired on a home and this house needs it. Although to some, that could be completely daunting, I’m just looking forward to many years of projects ahead! Which is excellent considering that’s all I’ll be doing for the next long while.

From the very first moment I saw the first pictures of this house on Redfin, I knew it was my house. I literally gasped aloud and got a strange feeling in my gut. THIS was my house. I knew it. After seven months of looking and putting in offer after offer, I had found the one. It checked all the boxes: pre-1940s, 2+ bedrooms, a big yard, room to grow, good location near shops and restaurants, easy commute, plenty of projects. Y’all are going to think I’m crazy when you get a look at these pictures, but something about this house is just so right. Enough preamble, though! Let’s dive in.

That very first image I ever saw of the house looked something like this one below. Basically, you could tell there was a house and that it was blue, but mostly all you saw was greenery!

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At some point, someone really loved this yard and planted tons of wonderful things like walnut trees, redbuds, hydrangeas, asparagus, mint, dill, parsley, fuschias, roses, etc etc etc. That person has not lived in this house for a loooong time though and in the last many years, this yards have become completely overgrown. It’s a mess! But a glorious mess full of glorious surpises like late blooming Magnolia trees and hidden troves of bricks!

You walk to the front door of the house through the driveway, which isn’t ideal, but I’m unlikely to be able to afford to change that any time soon. So everyone who comes over is greeted by the sight of my lovely garage. Don’t mind the doors. That’s just what they look like when they think they’re “closed.”

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The garage is basically falling down. But don’t worry, it’s not the garage’s fault. The garage has a terrible parasite: poorly planned additions. Yup, that’s right folks, the garage has not one, not two, but three additions! Awww, bless it’s little heart, it is still  hanging in there.

If we walk down the driveway to the back of the house, you get to meet yet another fun add-on: an octagonal deck and it’s multi-material roof. Now this is beauty, ladies and gentleman. Oh and yes, it is also basically falling down.

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Does the above picture confuse  you a little bit? Here, let me help. This should explain things better…

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Still confused? Me too. Let me try to state a few facts to help clarify. The above picture shows two of the garage additions: a workshop and a chicken coop. The structure coming out of the garage is the roof that covers the deck. It’s made of corrugated fiberglass, plywood(??), and a whole lot of screws. The supports for this little DIY roof, descend into the garage and chicken coop roofs, essentially ensuring that all water will collect there and all the things will rot. It’s a fantastic design. Truly, I could not have thought of it myself. The octagonal deck is made of 8 sides of different lengths varying from 15′ to 2′, just because, why not? The stairs of the deck descend into the corner of the garage and end about 4″ from it. As far as I can tell, this is designed specifically so that when you fall down the stairs your skull will crack completely open. That’s just my interpretation though. Also, this deck? Covers seemingly perfect condition original concrete steps. God, I love this house.

On to the backyard. This – and no sarcasm here – is what truly won my heart. This yard is bursting with potential. Potential and a whole lot of berries. On the far right is a huge magnolia tree that provides plenty of shade for a future table and chairs. Beyond that? All berries. Yup that huge mound of greenery is all RASPBERRIES!! AKA the best thing on earth except for chocolate. I spent my time touring this house eating raspberries from the backyard and it was heavenly. I cannot wait until next summer! You can also see a falling down fence, 1940s laundry line, and the huge chicken coop window in this picture. Why your chicken coop needs such a large window is a little beyond me, but I am assuming it’s so your chickens can torture Portland’s raccoons and coyotes.

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Here’s another view of the backyard looking towards the front. Here you see a huge rosemary bush, tons and tons of mint, a redbud tree, some parsley, and plenty of bees & butterflies. It’s really gorgeous if you can get past the flaking paint on the house. Yup the house needs painting. And a roof. Somehow I can afford this? I am surprised too. Luckily the windows are all updated! They’re double-paned which is pretty essential here in the Pacific Northwest. They are dark green vinyl exterior, wood interior windows which although it’s not my first choice, I’m pretty happy to have updated windows. I get to pick a really awesome paint color for the house’s siding to coordinate with the hunter green exterior windows and I can paint the inside any thing I want!

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Let’s go inside shall we? Here is the foyer! I am obsessed with this multi-paneled door. I think it is absolutely gorgeous and just needs to be sanded down and re-stained a darker walnut tone. That will make it look far less orange and 1980s. The foyer is open to the living room. Originally, this part of the house was an exterior porch that was converted into living space in the earlier part of the century. You can see the transition of the flooring. When they enclosed the porch they decided to keep the downward slope of the floor (that all porches have for drainage). That, my friends, is called “character.” The light fixture is kind of hideous, but also weird and beautiful, so I’m keeping it. The opening on the right to the dining room.

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The floors in the house are softwood – fir. They’re gorgeous and miraculously in good shape! The living room is relatively spacious and gets great light through south and west facing windows. The fireplace is an “update” from the 1960s or maybe 1970s. I’ll be completely reworking it down the line, but for now, it’s a functional fireplace! Which means s’mores! And fire! The pyro in me is just too pleased.

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This picture explains some of the flow of the house too. Standing in the corner of the room by the fireplace you can look out of the big front window to the front jungle yard and almost see the front door tucked in the niche in the corner. The dining room opens to the living room and you can almost see it on the right.

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The dining room is a little less bright since it has more northern light, but it’s a great size and fits my round table with room to grow. There is also a closet which we can’t close the door to, because it gets stuck shut. Which it is right now. Stuck shut, I mean. Just add that to my to do list, mmkay, thanks! Shout out to my dad about to walk up the front steps carrying tools though!

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Next you go through this teeny hall that has the basement door on one side and this strange hall to the lower floor bedroom on the other side. This is from the end of the hall looking towards the living room. The ceiling in the hall here drops lower because of the stairs. This lovely accordion door could be closed if you wanted to hide the kitchen from view. But yeah, that door already bit the dust. No thanks, accordion door!

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The weird little hall to the bedroom is kinda gross, but there’s a big closet at the end. This will end up being my closet because there isn’t actually a closet in the lower floor bedroom. PFffft. Closets. Whatever. So last year.

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The lower floor bedroom will end up being my bedroom. The other two I will be renting out. This room has nice high ceilings, picture railing, and northern light (good for sleeping). It also has a 24″ wide door to Portland’s smallest powder room.

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If you ever wanted to wash your hands while peeing, this bathroom is for you. Your knees literally tuck right under the wall mounted sink. In a bathroom this small, you’d better add 1970’s faux-paneling though. That’s the cherry on top. Truly, it’s precious, vct flooring and all. Plus look! The previous owner left us toilet paper.

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Let’s go into the kitchen. Look at these cabinets! The wallpaper! The old cast iron sink! This room is pretty dim from the roof that’s over the back deck, but I have a quick fix for that. It’s called demo. I wanted to try to keep these cabinets, they’re not in bad shape at all! Two weeks into the house, and I’m not positive they’re salvageable though. The flooring in this room though? The exact same as what my Oma had in her kitchen!

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Here’s a shot of the room that helps with layout. I took this standing on the landing of the stairs that lead to the upper level of the house. Look how cute the glass cabinets are though! SO MUCH POTENTIAL!

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This is one of my favorite details of the house. a little paint, a little crown moulding, and these will be cute cute cute!

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But why talk about the cute when we can talk about the ugly? Let’s go into the bathroom! Space planning these bathrooms was an issue. They’re also located in part of the house that was originally the back porch and it’s only about 54″ wide. So clearly you should put a ginormous bathtub in there, slap sheet vinyl on the floor AND the vanity, paint the walls dark magenta, and buy a pink toilet to match. It’s only right!

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Okay, let’s move on. The stairs! They’re not so bad! I mean the railing is black because it’s apparently NEVER been cleaned, but other than that, they’re quite pretty and not super narrow like most added to this era of home.

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The bedrooms on the second level are both under the eaves and just so cute. They both get fantastic light and are super cozy. And by cozy, I mean hot as balls right now, but you get the picture. The plaster is looking not so great on that back wall because someone plastered over wallpaper, because… well I’ve already said it.

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The closets in this room are a little funky, but that’s just vintage. A little rehab-ing and it will be completely adorable. Look at the gorgeous door though! Five panels!!!! I love it, love it, love it. Also the daisy flower heat register? THERE IS NOTHING MORE CHARMING.

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The other bedroom is where I am currently sweating sleeping, because I’ve given the lower floor bedroom to my parents who are helping me jump start the renovations on this place. Yay! Parents! The closet in here is a little more spacious and a little less funky. The room is a sweat sweet blue color that will be great in the fall or whenever Oregon decides to no longer be 100+ degrees. It’s just a tad hot at the moment. But my tried and true method of sleeping with a washcloth full of ice is doing the trick.

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And that’s it! That’s the house! I can’t wait to share all that I’ve been up to in the last few weeks and all that I’ve been dreaming about starting in the months to come. Get ready for oversharing and lots of learning experiences. Like this one for instance: I recently learned that I look like this after spending 3 hours moving bricks in 100° heat.

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I promise, give me a few months and this house will be almost as beautiful as that face. If that’s even possible. And if the spiders I keep finding EVERYWHERE don’t eat me first. Only time will tell!

Oh! And I named the house. Or I named the property. I am a total nerd, but I’ve always loved when people named their homes. This place is officially named Berrybrier. I’ll get into all the reasons later, but a good part of the origin starts with that out of control raspberry bush in the backyard!

So what do you think? Am I totally crazy, in over my head? Probably. Did you buy a fixer upper? Have tips for laying brick patios? What is your house called?