Friday, June 29, 2007

Goodbye Sulgrave Manor

At 6 PM last night I had the final walkthrough of my apartment at Connecticut and Nebraska, and dropped off the keys. So I say goodbye to my home of nearly nine months and begin again in Columbia Heights.

I guess it's time to change the banner on this blog, which is part of the facade of that apartment building. I'll think of something...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Before and After

Here are a few pictures of the progress so far. You can click on the pictures to show a much bigger version.

Downstairs hallway. It's hard to tell just how nasty that old carpet was from the picture, but my friends who had the misfortune of seeing the house before it was banished will attest to it's horrificness. It also had the effect of making the entire place smell like a hookah bar, since apparently the previous tenants liked to burn some rather pungent incense. I probably should have been wearing a hazmat suit while I ripped it up, but so far I haven't contracted any incurable infections from having done the work.

The black marks are the reside from the glue that was used to install the tiles over this wood floor. It will probably come up with a light sanding. Overall the floor is in great shape and appears to be unfinished - it seems that someone actually sanded the floor, perhaps with the intention of refinishing it, but instead decided to put those tiles down. Whatever the reason, it's great for me since I just need to do a light sanding and throw down some polyurethane.

Staircase. You can see how the stairs are pretty worn as I described before. We'll see what happens with some sanding.

Upstairs Hallway. The floor is in pretty good shape, but has some kind of brown stain or paint on it. Shouldn't be too hard to sand it off.

Electrical Panel. Not much explanation needed here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Got the power upgraded today. My ancient 60 amp panel, with 8 breakers, has been replaced with a giant 200 amp panel, which should satisfy my need to consume energy. I'll take some pictures and post later. This will open the door to such services as central air conditioning, a dryer, plasma television, and (before I get central air installed) running more than one window unit A/C at a time. Woo hoo!!

In other news: during the course of the last week, I tore out all the carpets in the house. I had no idea what to expect, really. I had looked briefly before, and saw wood floors under some, and some kind of formica tiling under the front hallway carpet. That was somewhat concerning because those things are usually cemented with really nasty glue. I might have been looking at a lot of work to save whatever floor was underneath them. As it happens, I got incredibly lucky on the floors -- the tiles were "floated" on a backer on some kind, and only glued to the backer. I was able to rip them all off the floor in about a half-hour and scrape up just a little bit of residue that remained. There are a few places that are stained with the black cement, but I'm guessing it will sand out. Other than that, the floor in the front hallway is in great shape and unstained.

Upstairs, the floor is in slightly worse condition, and is stained dark brown. But overall, still a pleasant surprise to find hidden beneath a despicable carpet that's been there for at least 40 years. The stain should sand off without too much trouble and with some very minor repairs the floor there should also look great.

The stairway, which had not one but TWO runner carpets nailed to it, is the most problematic. There is significant wear on the edges of all the treads, and some of them have a good amount "rippling" on the surface of the treads, which is probably a result of the carpet backing rubbing against them for years and years as people used the stairs. Only one stair had a broken tread, though, and that should be repairable.

I still think I am going to save it, though. Even though they won't look perfect or even well preserved, I think with some sanding they will be fine, or good enough, at least. In the long run, when all the interior work is done, I'll have all the floors sanded professionally anyway - so I can decide then after living with them whether I want to do anything else. So for now, they stay.

Pictures soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Old Kitchen

Well, I have a functioning sink now. You are looking at my "temporary" kitchen... the "old" kitchen, soon to be the new kitchen, is through the door. I'll have a fridge sometime soon, really. In my last post I said I was going to salvage the old sink temporarily. After mucking with it for a little while I decided that it was just too nasty to live with even for a couple months. So I checked on Craig's List, hoping to find a cheap cabinet & sink I could use for a while, maybe from someone else's kitchen remodel or something. No luck. But Noah pointed me to the The Loading Dock in Baltimore, a non-profit organization that "recycles" used building materials. Their target audience is low-income homeowners and builders, but anyone can join. A really cool place - and they had exactly what I needed. The cabinet, chunk of counter and completely functional stainless steel sink with Delta fixture set me back the princely sum of $70. Don't be surprised to see it become a wet bar in the basement when the real kitchen's finished...

The original kitchen for this house was actually in the same spot as this temporary sink and base cabinet. You can see discoloration on the wood floor where the old counters used to sit, and the water pipes were simply rerouted through the wall - they still protrude through the floor in this room. So, for a little while anyway, the kitchen has been restored to it's original location.

The old kitchen... sink used to be under those cabinets. The PVC pipes next to the doorway is new plumbing and goes to my "temporary" kitchen, on the other side of that wall. That is also most likely temporary as the sink is probably going to be in a different place when the kitchen is reconstructed. Unfortunately the existing stack there was steel and was so rotted out, I couldn't save it even for a couple months.

Back door of my house from kitchen.

That's the original stove. The thing leaning against it was the sink counter.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Day 1 - Dawn of Demolition

Thank god I bought this house, since I've been having such a hard time coming up with anything interesting to write about. It's not that my life is really that boring, rather, it's been so strange that I am afraid of future repercussions should I actually spill everything in this public forum. But I've said enough already.

Instead of baring the frightening machinery of my soul here for a while, I'm going to use this space to memorialize the renovation of my house. It began Sunday. Matt, in from Seattle for the weekend, came over for a couple hours to check the place out, and we couldn't resist getting into it with the hammers and pry bars. Before too long we'd torn down half a wall in the kitchen. I use the term "kitchen" loosely. It's really a room that contains a sink, a couple cabinets, and a stove, none of which are functioning properly. The stove has since been banished to the backyard. The sink is going to be salvaged temporarily though -- I am going to create a temporary kitchen in the next room, what will be my dining room. Actually, this room is where the kitchen originally was in this house -- the current "kitchen" is in an addition on the bacl. The dining room has a floor-to-ceiling built-in cabinet with glass doors, and you can see discoloring on the wood floor against the back wall, a legacy of the original counter. The water pipes still poke through the floor at the back of the dining room - when the kitchen addition was built, they just elbowed them through the wall, leaving about 8 inches still sticking up from the dining room floor. So it's back to the roots for a little while as the new kitchen is built.

That project begins tonight. Pictures tomorrow.

Friday, June 1, 2007


It's been almost a month since I last posted. What a month it has been. I don't have time to give every last detail here today, but suffice it to say that I am once again a homeowner. I closed yesterday on a 1913 row house in Columbia Heights, about three blocks from the Petworth metro. According to Wikipedia the northern boundary of Columbia Heights is Spring Road, and the eastern is Sherman Street, so that puts me in the far northeastern corner of the neighborhood, a mere three blocks from the Petworth metro. I like to think of it as the quiet, suburban corner of Columbia Heights - far away from the riff-raff near the Giant, future Target, and Ruby Tuesday's (yes, really) on 14th Street. It's a pretty well kept block, seems pretty quiet, and everyone I've met so far has been very friendly.

The house has some really cool architectural features but (true to my nature) it needs a lot of work. While this isn't unfamiliar territory for me, this is a little more than usual... this one doesn't just need work, it needs a whole kitchen. So I'll be living out of a microwave oven for a while as the work progresses. No matter - it'll be worth it to be back in my own space.

Anyway, lots to do. Here's a couple pics for now.