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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10.15.2014 / Concrete for the Little

Yesterday, once I finished sealing a bit of Ardex (and my hands in the process) I made a dresser delivery for a special little lady.

Little Miss Lyla, my new niece, is a whopping 4 days old and has cheeks for days.

Lila and Lisa

And she’s the reason that I played with Ardex.

Ardex topped dresser

This is a very unofficial before and after since I clearly ran out of daylight by the time I delivered the dresser and didn’t have my good camera on me.  I’ll give you a quality before and after with more detail and steps very soon but I was dieing to share.

If you remember the dresser that I started with:

lyla dresser before

Very solid with nice detail… except the top.  The top was a product of its age, and although the rest was wood with dovetailed drawers, the top was laminate with plastic edging.  Even if I got it to hold paint, I doubt the paint would hold up in a kid’s room.  Which is what lead me to consider Ardex Feather Finish, like I posted about previously.  If concrete can’t hold up to kids, then I don’t know what would.

Lyla dresser

It was applied directly onto the existing top kind of like icing a cake, so the concrete is only a fraction of an inch thick.  I sealed it with concrete sealer so it will stand strong and be stain resistant.  The jury is still out about the final result.  I probably went a little heavy with my first coat which made it more difficult to get an even edge.  But I don’t hate it! (isn’t that always the goal with projects?  Not to hate it)


I do love the finish that I was able to get on the body of the dresser.  I used my handy dandy Critter Sprayer and the finish looks like it could have been done by a factory.  If the top had been real wood, I would have refinished it and left that wood as a contrast, but alas, so with the Ardex, I just accomplished the contrast in another way.

Lyla dresser

The room color looks a little wonky in this light, but it’s a delightful shade of light yellow that you may have gotten a glimpse of on instagram.

calla lily bm paint

Now that the ball is rolling and Little Miss is leaving the drama at the hospital, hopefully the room will come together quickly!

So, tell me- do you agree with my Mom that I’m nuts to put a concrete topped dresser in a little girls nursery?

Lyla dresser



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10.10.2014 / Millie: Week 7

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.

As each week here ticks past, a nagging little voice in the back of my head reminds me that I flipped Clark in only 12 weeks and we’re already 7 weeks through this one. In order to shut the little nagging voice, I usually have to feed it chocolate and remind myself that Clark was a good baby step into flipping and Millie is a giant leap into the historic flips I hope to continue with.  You can’t compare a mid-century <1,000 sf home with a 100 year old 2,500+ sf home.  Different beasts altogether.  You hear that, nagging voice?? Have some chocolate and leave me to work in peace!

Once again, the most noticeable changes happened outside, but things are chugging along inside too.  After COMPLETELY filling one dumpster, the kitchen is showing it’s true size once again.


That’s quite a decent size kitchen!  Big enough for a small island or table or dance floor….  oh the floor…..Yeah, that floor might end up driving me over the edge.  It’s like a parfait of bad flooring- linoleum on top of plywood on top of peel and stick tiles on top of VCT tiles all trying to distract me from the original hard wood floor below.  The kicker here is that I got the results of my flooring asbestos test in- the tile? perfectly fine.  The adhesive sticking the VCT to the coveted wood floors? asbestos.  BOOOO   Let’s get those remediation quotes rolling in!


In order to continue on with demo in the existing bathroom, my plumber pulled out the leaky, rocking toilet to reveal delightful, squishy, lovely smelling (shudders) original hard wood flooring.


Yeah, not salvageable in any way shape or form, so backer board and tile it is!

And speaking of salvage, I’ve successfully stripped all of the 3+ layers of chipping paint from both the claw feet and the tub itself!  It still needs a scrub down with some mineral spirits, but it’s just about ready for it’s new paint job.


I even have tub #2 lined up but it won’t be in my possession for over a week.  For the right deal, I can be patient (sometimes).

Heading back outside, I think I moved about 5 tons of dirt around this yard in an effort to level it out.  This is what the yard looked like just a few short weeks ago.  Under the brush pile on the right were 10 stumps.


After pulling out a forest of weeds and grinding down the stumps, I was left with a very unlevel disaster of a side yard.  Now level and open, even I’m surprised with the transformation.  It also lead to an epiphany, but I’ll reveal that in a minute.  The back of the yard also got leveled and more grass was planted, but it doesn’t look like much yet.


At long last, the painters have gotten started scraping the chipping paint and I’ve started holding my breath in anticipation.  Aside from the kitchen and bathrooms, the paint will have the most impact.  Technically, this is the view of the front of the house, going by it’s street address, but it’s kind of unremarkable.

My epiphany this week was that the front of the house was originally intended to be on the sidewalk/terrace side.  BAM!


Let’s just flash back to this side of the house a few weeks ago.  Do me a favor?  Every time I lament that progress seems to be going at snails pace, just show me these pictures.  I’ve already forgotten the ‘before’s



And now?


With the deck added on many many decades ago, the pseudo-front of the house lost a little of it’s impact.  My new fence, however, will extend along only the back half of the yard and return into the house where the sunroom and the deck meet.  This will give the yard privacy and keep the spectacular view from the terrace.  Hello gorgeous.

My new fence location does make a little more work for me in pulling out this arbitrary patio smack dab in the middle of the side yard, but here’s where I need to make the curb appeal work for me.  Chances are pretty high that we’ll be selling this house from under snow, so anything I can do to give it presence should pay off.


Before I leave you for the weekend, I want to give a shoutout to Handy Dad who decided to solve the puzzle of a cool old door with a cat door previously butchered into it.  Once the painters paint it, do one will ever know!… except you all since I told you, but shhhh…… this will be our little secret.


And we chug into week 8.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?  The prize at the end will be an amazing antique bungalow and knowing that I was able to bring it back to life.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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