Update #3: The Bedroom

Oh man, it’s been a minute, hasn’t it.

Fun reminder–as I discovered while working on the living room–with a house like this, you don’t really get to go room by room, but you kind of work on all of them at once and nothing ever gets finished and everything gets dirtier and more covered with plaster dust, hahah.

But that’s okay! As we approach our August 29th moving date (yikes), we finally have a couple finished rooms, and I get to share one of them now: the bedroom! Yes, that’s right, when we move in at the end of this week we will have a place to sleep. Thank god.

Compared to some of the other rooms in the house, this one really wasn’t so bad to start with. Like it wasn’t great, and don’t get me wrong, it was full of old dirt and peeling walls, but you know, it wasn’t actively rotting or anything. So it wasn’t so bad.

Rio still had some walls to patch, though! Here’s some fun progression photos.

Look at this nasty peeling wall!
Never fear–Rio re-plastered the holes and primed it for us.
Had to deal with this peeling paint as well.
And gotta do SO MUCH window detail work. I am so tired.

Naturally, like all older houses, the room had a weird “3-different-shades-of-off-white” issue, so we went with ONE shade of off-white in the re-paint and added green accents because we already had green paint from the living room downstairs.

This changed the room a lot, I think! And also…. I had to draw attention to that view out the window. So dreamy.

You can see the variety of whites here.
And, although this isn’t the best lighting, (sunset), you can see the change post-repaint.

I love the difference between these last two photos! The green walls and white accents were my idea (and a calculated risk), but I think it brings a lot more life to the room.

When my brother came to visit, he let me know immediately that he is *not* a fan of the color, hahaha, but I kinda like it. It’s sage not slime. Oooor perhaps it is a slime green and Rio and I just happen to like slime.

Ever one to have a sense of humor, Rio has included some emojis to express his feelings about the wall before and after.

We also had to fix the sloped part of the wall. Here’s the plaster patches.
Here it is primed and ready to paint.
And here’s the final product!

And with that, we’re ready to move in (to this room)! Our final step today was to get a rug, because unfortunately, this floor is…. not very pretty. But we have to move in now so we figured … let’s just cover it up.

Oh, and we got a window AC unit because…. MA summer, haha. Gotta keep at least one room from being a wretched swamp hell.

As always, thanks for tuning in (and for still bothering to check in on us, since we update, like, monthly).

Mini Update: A FINISHED Floor!

Hi everyone, and welcome to our shortest update yet.

I think my last post pretty much explained everything that needs to be known about the living room, but I had to share the final before/after photos of the living room, because after 2 days and 3 coats of floor finish, we have preserved the old floorboards AND created a room where I feel safe walking barefoot. Woo! Celebration time!

The ONLY things we have left to do in here is match the ceiling beam color to the floorboards and some window touch ups, and this room is ready to be lived in!

The before…. and the after! –>

Update #2: Living Room Walls and Floors!

Hi everyone! Sorry for the looooong delay–I wanted to save posts for once we’d actually FINISHED a project, but everything is taking longer than expected. (Well…. okay, longer than *I* expected. According to Rio’s much more experienced timeline, we’re doing just fine.)

Really, the issue is that it turns out that when you’re working on an ongoing project like a house restoration, you end up starting several projects at the same time and working on them simultaneously. Each one gets a little closer to finished, but none of them have a neat satisfying ending that allows us to move on to the next project.

To explain: the first part of the house we decided to tackle is living room. This took half of May and the entire month of June! Ultimately, the whole living room required a series of lengthy tasks (as explained by Rio in a previous post), but I tried to divide today’s explication into floors, ceiling, and then walls.

Here’s the living room as it looked on my first tour. To put it nicely…. it’s a cave.

But also, this is an old, old house, so the floor has decades (if not a whole century) of wear on it, so we decided that the first thing we should do is sand the fading varnish off the floor.

The added bonus for this is that we can stain it a lighter color, since this dark greatly contributes to the cave-like vibe of the room.

Sure the focus is supposed to be on the floor, but $10 says nobody hates these paint colors more than I do.

So, we rented a power sander, got suited up in our plastic work suits, and got to work!

In addition to keeping in all of your body heat, these suits are also incredibly flattering!

But look at how well that sander works!

Honestly, sanding the floor was the quickest task. We had a four hour rental, and we sanded that whole floor in 3 and a half hours. It still needs some hand sanding in a few hard-to-reach places, and we’ll still have to re-stain and varnish it, but before that, we moved onto the painting.

As I’ve mentioned (and will mention again and again) the living room was a bit of a nightmare. In addition to an incredibly ugly paint job, we also had to address some lead paint, a peeling ceiling, and a giant rotting section of the wall under the window.

I’ll let Rio write about the window repair since that was his project. The painting, however, we handled together.

Part #1: The Ceiling.

My parents were visiting, so naturally, instead of doing fun things like going to the beach, we spent at least three days scraping several decades of peeling paint off the ceiling.

Also, shout out to Mom & Dad–they were VERY thorough. The worst part of about this old paint is that you can technically chip away at it forever, but eventually we had to move on.

Here’s where we landed. SO MUCH PAINT scraped off the ceiling!!

Next up, we needed to coat the walls with a lead-blocker/sealant primer.

We would have needed to prime anyway to cover the horrible dark olive pain on the trim and cabinets, but the lead-blocker helps us feel a lot more confident about, you know, not getting lead poisoning.

We also painted the sealing with a different sealant that basically just glued the chipping paint in place.

Here’s the priming process:

I love all the photos we have of me working on stuff. It makes it looks like I’m working WAY harder than I actually am, haha.

Following the several-days-long priming process, we got to work on the actual painting.

Rio started a number additional projects during this time because it took us, ugh, several weeks to choose our paint colors. We wanted a semi-traditional looking sage color and in the process of fining one we didn’t outright hate, we collected 30 paint strips and tried a good 5 samples. Do I 100% love the color we ended up with? Uh…… it’s fine. It looks nice. Ultimately we just had to move on.

Also once the paint actually gets on the wall, you kind of like it just because at least SOMETHING is there.

We *almost* didn’t choose this nice shade of white because the creep who named the paint color called it “mayonnaise” which totally nauseated us both, but it’s the only warm white we could find so we went with it anyway.

So, with that, here’s the part of the blog everyone is waiting for: comparison photos!

Before…
After!
Sorry about the construction mess–I’m still detailing the windows.

Before…
After!

And that’s the living room–for now.

Next up, we have some work to do in the kitchen and bathroom, but then we’ll make our way back into the living room to stain and varnish the floor, fix the wooden ceiling beams, and figure out the best place for a standing lamp.

In the meantime, thanks again for tuning in!

Hope to be back in the next two weeks with more exciting ghost house updates!

Update #1: Garden Plots

Hey hey team, welcome back!

One thing I’m particularly excited about is that the PB House sits on six acres of land. Sure, most of it is some kind of conservation land that is totally impassable once the wetland plant life grows up over the summer, BUT there is still plenty of space for us to play around–and that means gardening!

The historical section of the house has a series of gorgeous garden beds in the front yard, so Rio’s only responsibility over there is mowing the lawn.

The gardens are cool though!! They’re a traditional herb and dye garden maintained by the North Andover Garden Club. I’m excited to see what they look like, and if you’re interested, you can see more about them here.

The back of the house (where we’ll live) technically had two garden plots set up, but…. they were not in great shape. So that’s been my first project since we got the keys.

The first plot is located down the hill a way from the house and it was only recognizable as a garden plot because it wasn’t covered by grass.

I’ve seen worse (the other garden plot, for example), but it wasn’t a quick fix.

I got to rake up at least one season worth of leaves, tear out A TON of weeds (including a truly horrific thorny one that burrowed into the ground with its branches?), and then excavate and pull out all the rotting boards to replace them with new ones. By the end of the first day, it *was* looking better, but … still not ideal.

Once I’d removed the leaves, I got to get rid of this stuff.
The boards probably *could* have lasted another season before returning to the earth, but I thought it would be nice to start with something new.

The next day we hit up Home Depot for some 2 x 4s and soil, and we went back to work fixing up Plot #1. This meant taking out the black ground cover and adding a layer of top soil while Rio cut and nailed the boards together.

It all came together surprisingly quickly, so I got to celebrate by planting a few early weather seeds, too! Hopefully we’ll have something to show for that in a few weeks once they make their way out of the ground again.

End of Day 1: feat. free onion!
Day 2: Look at that handsome builder!
End of Day 2: Tah-dah!
Here’s a check in from today (about a week later).

So that brings us to Plot #2, which was even more of a hopeless pile than the first plot. This one was located right up against the house and seems to have come with some free, yet unidentified shrubs.

If the first plot had more than one season of leaves covering it, this one had more than four. The more I raked, the more leaves turned up! It got kinda gross.

Also, the degraded black ground material in this garden was also under the soil, so most of it is probably still under there, but I tore out a lot of it.

Next I tore out a plastic garden border that had been mostly consumed by shrubs.

Our historical society supervisor pointed out that he hadn’t even realized this was supposed to be a garden. I completely understand why.

Post leaves/plastic/actual garbage removal, we put in some new boards to line the plot, and then added a layer of top soil.

…So more raking. Yaaaay. But it turned out pretty well!

We’re still missing a little bit of the border (actually, really what we’re missing is a second step to the door), but Rio thinks he can get a nice piece of scrap wood to finish outlining the garden plot.

As you can see, there are 5 mystery shrubs which are starting to bloom. I’m kind of looking forward to figuring out what those are.

And once the weather is a little more predictable (did I mention that it SNOWED on Friday? April SIXTEENTH), I can plant some herb starters here, so we’ll have a small herb garden right outside our kitchen.

And there you have it! One project down… some 15… 20(?)… or so to go.

An Introductory Post about Messes and Meeting the Neighbors

Hi friends! Hello and welcome!

We got the keys about two weeks ago, and Rio’s been making regular visits and check ups on the property. Already there are several big details that need work.

The first is that the whole property is in kind of a gulch where all the neighborhood trash gets blown on a windy day, so somebody (Rio) has to pick it up. And unfortunately for said person (Rio), we have had a lot of windy days this winter.

The second is that the house is full of squirrels! Turns out if any dwelling around here is empty for longer than a month, somebody else is going to move in.If you know me, though, you know that this is my cue to get excited about this project.

My first real visit to the house was to aid in the capture and release of this charming neighbor:

Look at this guy! What a cutie, right?

He was SO MAD. Also, we came by on foot that day (our current apartment is only a few blocks away), so we had to carry him for two miles before releasing him into the woods surrounding an old cemetery.

The odds of him coming back are actually pretty good, but squirrels are really smart, so we’re hoping his night in squirrel jail taught him a thing or two about trespassing.

That said, Rio pointed out that one wall of the house is a massive walnut storage area, so we’re going to be packing that with steel wool shortly.

I’m actually really impressed with the house itself. It’s got three bedrooms, one-and-a-half bathrooms, and some decent light throughout the day. And, I mean, okay, it’s FILTHY, like, horrifically filthy–as in, the walls are covered in stains and the ceiling is peeling–but that’s okay, because our move in date isn’t until July. So we have some time!!

A few friends have already given me the “oh whoa, are you SURE about this, bud?” talk, but honestly I think once it gets cleaned out everything is manageable. (Um. I think. Like I’ve said, it’s an adventure.)

Rio went and got a push broom right away and shoved a pile of dirt the size of a small child out of the house last week, and we’re looking at the pros and cons of just hiring a cleaning service to deal with the accumulated scunge across the house (like, in the corners of cabinets and embedded in the windowsills).

But some of the cleaning is fun!

There are two partially built garden plots that need to be cleared out–my main focus this week–and I’ll get to paint a bunch of rooms. We’re looking at kind of a colonial inspired style to match the front part of the house, so if you wanna flip through my pinterest board (I know what I sound like-and I hate it) here are some ideas for colors and looks:

In the mean time, I figure it might help to add a few additional photos, so here are some I took myself (my phone is really old, so these aren’t great).

Also, keep in mind, spring hasn’t really hit here yet, so I’m imagining that the yard and everything will be much prettier once the trees aren’t, you know, all dead and snaggled and once the grass comes back.

With that, thanks for tuning in! Our next update *should* be about gardening, and I’m really looking forward to it!

Here’s the side of the house where we’ll live.
Honestly I think it’s more charming than the older side! But don’t tell the family of ghost residents that.
Here’s the view of the property from the front door. There’s so much open space, and (huge benefit) no nearby neighbors with floodlights so it might actually be dark at night on this street.