10.24.2014 / Millie: Week 9

I hope you enjoy these weekly updates as I learn to navigate through the business of flipping houses.  This flip, Millie is the most challenging and most exciting yet! You can find more about this house and about my 3 previous flip houses here.

Despite the wet wet weather we’ve had here in MA the past few days, the house painters were able to get a bit of work done early in the week.  It’s looking so much better than the previous gray box already!!


This is take 2 on the house color.  Take 1 was a shade lighter and not good.  Not good at all.  I sucked it up, had them buy a new color of paint and I’m still not 100% on it.  I think I’m officially crazy.  Take 1 was Ben Moore Wythe Blue HC-143 and looked super beachy.  Take 2 here is HC-142, Stratton Blue.  In the interest of full disclosure here, if I could go back again I’d pick a grayer, darker color.  But it is what it is at this point and it doesn’t offend me.  I’m hoping that a little touch of a darker accent color will really make this color pop.


At the beginning of the week, I also rushed to beat mother nature and get the rest of my new grass seed spread before the wet week.  Last week’s previous patio pit

Is now on it’s way to being a nice front-ish lawn.


The bricks in the front and going across the lawn are only temporary borders until grass grows and I can mulch.  The brick line going across in the middle of the lawn is where the new fence will be going up.  Hopefully today- fingers crossed!

And with the wet weather, I went inside and got more smashing done.  I’m getting very sick of the demo in this house.  It’s been 2 months already!  I’m beyond ready to start the interior rebuilding!! *rant over*

My demo this week focused on where the plumber would need access to replumb the existing bathroom and plumb for the new bathroom.

millie-w9-bathroom millie-w9-wall

Demoing part of the ceiling in the basement was a particularly terrible task.  Not only is it above you so all the debris is falling ON you…. there’s no power or functional windows down there so I had to demo this guy with just a headlamp and a prayer.  It’ll be worth it once the new master bath gets installed above.


I have decided, however, next time….. I’m throwing money at demo.  As fun as it is to swing a sledge hammer, the novelty wears off in about a week.  Can someone remind me of this on the next house?

I did squeeze one fun thing in this week, though: bringing life back into the claw foot tub.  So far it has received a coat of rusty metal primer (just to be safe) and one coat of Rustoleum Gloss White.  Today, it’ll get sanded smooth and coat 2. I have a feeling it’ll take several coats for the desired finish, but she’s gonna be a beaut.


The feet are just waiting to be reattached after getting completely stripped and repainted themselves (and no longer look like Jar-Jar).


I’m hoping I can get all my contractors in line this coming week and get marching on the inside!  Plumbing, electrical, and asbestos removal all need to happen before I can have my REAL fun of putting the house back together.  I’m already anticipating seeing each room near completion.  That’s what’s keeping me motivated right now.  Keep your eye on the prize, Karen!

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10.22.2014 / If Walls Could Talk

I’m always fascinated by the items that I find hidden in houses or old furniture.  In past flip houses it’s been very minimal since they’ve been pretty young houses in my opinion (60 years?  that’s nothin.  Talk to me when the house is 100+ years old and still standing.)  This house, Millie, however is 100 years old and I can tell it’s just busting at the seams to tell its stories if you’ll listen.

Last week, as I demoed the closets behind the kitchen wall to allow for the future master closet, it was like cracking open a time capsule.

The earliest treasure you might have caught a glimpse of on instagram- a Worcester Telegram newspaper from May 12th, 1915.  As I tried to unfold the paper, however, it disintegrated in my hands.  Apparently above the ceiling of a closet isn’t the ideal location for the archival of newspapers.  Who knew?  I gently tried to unfold a few pages to show you the headlines from 99 years ago.

Worcester Daily Telegraph- May 12, 1915

“Two Philadelphia Boys Among Victims on Ill-Fated Cunard Liner Lusitania”

Worcester Daily Telegraph- May 12, 1915

This headline was the most interesting in my opinion.  The Lucitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat on May 7th, 1915, less than a week prior to this paper, so this was probably still breaking news.

On a lighter note, can I interest you in purchasing a horse or bull within the city?

Worcester Daily Telegraph- May 12, 1915

“Submarine Wrecks Unidentified Ship” which was apparently still burning in Amsterdam at the time of publication according to the article

Worcester Daily Telegraph- May 12, 1915

The next stop on our timeline from the ‘time capsule’ was from inside the wall.  A 1934 postcard offering a special test drive of the NEW Nash 5- Passenger Broughan to Miss D. A. Scott.

Nash Brougham 1934 test drive post card

Good news!  The car sports ‘built-in fender lamps’ and a ‘gracefully designed built-in trunk.’  I’ll take it!  I blurred out the street address, but I love how it just says “City.”  I also love that its addressed to Miss Scott.  It was probably a rarity in those days for women to drive cars, let alone purchase them, so I dig it.  I wish I knew if she ever went on the test drive.

Nash Brougham 1934 test drive post card

One step further in our timeline takes us to the later 30s onto the Queen Mary Ship.  This poster wasn’t hiding per se, but it was on the wall down to the basement.  As you can see, it’s suffered some water damage over the years an had to be taken down.

Queen Mary poster

Friends of mine actually had their wedding on this ship just a few years ago, so that adds to the cool factor here.

Queen Mary poster

Lastly in today’s time capsule, we reach the late 60s, early 70s.  Hidden inside the wall behind the kitchen was this collection of small child’s items.  Lincoln Logs, a plastic cowboy hat, a plastic screw driver, a christmas bulb, and a quarter from 1967.  There was a small plastic teacup too, but it got lost in the demo debris (pout).  Nothing particularly notable or unique about the items themselves, but I love how they found their way into the wall….

Tinker toys inside wall

I present their entrance.  The perfect, Lincoln Log-sized hole behind where the stove previously lived.

Kitchen wall hole/time capsule

Inside the walls of one small closet, the treasures spanned from 1915 to 1967 and that only includes the items that I discovered.  Who knows what else might be hiding behind these walls or what other stories this house might share with me before I finish the project and resell it.

THIS is why I love old houses.  The generations that have existed within the same walls…. the monumental historical moments that this home has stood through… and the deeply personal meaning this house has had to so many people for so many years.  How can new construction hold a candle to that?



10.17.2014 / Millie: Week 8

I hope you enjoy these weekly updates as I learn to navigate through the business of flipping houses.  This flip, Millie is the most challenging and most exciting yet! You can find more about this house and about my 3 previous flip houses here.

8 Weeks in and I’m finally shifting my full focus inside.  The only outside work that I did this week was finish pulling up the patio that I showed you last week.


I still have to move all those pavers, mix up the soil, level it out a bit and plant more grass.  But check out how the grass is coming in at the top of the pic on the top of the sidewalk!  It was dormant most of the week and I was starting to get crabby that I’m unable to grow grass, but 2 wet days in a row have reinvigorated the growing.

Other than that patio, I sequestered myself inside this week so I wouldn’t be in the painters ways.  I’m pleased to say that this house is starting to get a bit of contrast!  Only on the upper trim and eaves so far, but it’s a huge step in the right direction.


They still have quite a bit to do before the body paint goes on, but it’s going to be along the line of the greenish they were testing out here:


Inwards, I put my blinders on and only dealt with one area at a time.  First up was the future master closet.  Formerly, it was 2 smaller closets back to back just behind the kitchen.  Because it’s the narrow area under the stairs, it’s tough to photograph, but it took lots of smashy smashy to get to this


Once I’m done, it’ll be a generous master closet.  My apologies for the wonky lighting.  All the windows are covered for painting, it’s been a dreary few days, and all the overhead lighting has been pulled to rewire, leaving me with only one lamp as my light source.  While demoing this room, my demo extended into the area by the back door.  I realized that at some point in history (whoever painted the murals in the basement) they had made the doorway to the back door smaller and put a door and frame in to the basement that prevented the back door from opening all the way.  So I peeled back the layers of renovations to find the original opening.  I don’t have any before pics of this area, but it’s much less claustrophobic now.  Isn’t that yellow delightful?


For reference, the future master closet is right there on the left and I’ll be closing it off with a wall just about where the sledge hammer sits.

The kitchen got even more selective demo.  Much like I had to peel back the layers in the back stairwell, in the kitchen I need to peel back the layers of years of renovation to get to something that I can work with.  I feel that’s my mission with this house.  Peel back the 100 years of mini renovations to really allow the house to shine again.


I started to get choppy with the cabinets too.  Can’t have a stove just hanging out in the middle of a wall like it was previously.  After a bit more careful cabinet demo, the stove will find a new home here:


I also discovered wallpaper pattern #14 behind some paneling.  I was actually quite relieved to realize that the paneling that I was so viciously ripping out wasn’t original.  One original thing that I did mess with more was the future home of the fridge.  I do wish that I could have left this cabinet be, but there was no other logical place for the fridge.


I’m still trying to decide if I can leave it as is or if I’ll need to box the fridge out more since any fridge will stick out of the opening by at least 10 inches.  I’ll figure it out when the time comes.

Mr. Craigslist is also being a great help with this house.  Meet the future vanity for the master bedroom


It’ll be getting a nice gray/blue paint, marble top with wall-mounted faucet, and it’s feet chopped down by about 4″.  I probably spent a little more on this piece than I could have, but I made up for it with another deal.  The ReStore is getting in on the action.  Yesterday I purchased from there a perfect, unused undermount porcelain sink complete with original template for the paltry sum of $20.  Now I just need to work on getting my counterop guys down on the price for the marble top.  I think I should coerce them into a deal like buy 3 houses of granite kitchen counters, get the 4th house free.  Plausible, don’t you think?


I’m just about to the part of being able to start some rebuilding.  Almost.  Gotta finish filling the latest dumpster first.

On next week’s agenda?

Hopefully plumbing the new master bath will start, fences will be repaired/rebuilt, more grass will be planted, the majority of the house exterior will be painted, and I’ll get cranking on spackling and skim coating these walls.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

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