Sunday, October 22, 2017

October 22, 2017: Presenting FALL, 2017

Today, the Reno Queens are setting progress reports aside and giving Mother Nature center stage.

The back yard views of Chateau de Joie never cease to amaze regardless of the season.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

June-August, 2017:  Joie & Marilyn are totally floored!
Well, maybe not totally, but they're about halfway now.
The old, permanently stained, strangely odiferous carpet, the gooey, rubber padding beneath the carpet, and the tile glued onto the concrete foundation below the pad were responsible for filling at least a quarter of the rented construction dumpster. The removal of the three layers turned out to be one of the toughest jobs Marilyn took on this past summer, so taking a short nap whenever and wherever she could was completely justified.

Luckily, beneath all that gross material, it was discovered that the original owners had had the concrete leveled and smoothed for a basement party room when they had the house built (very hip thing to have in the sixties).

Although the Reno Queens had initially planned to install planking themselves, there was a legitimate concern that the end result in the large living area could be disastrous if the planks weren't laid perfectly straight or with the right combination of lengths. Also, with the cabinetry and vanities installed first (as required), the multiple, special cuts needed for the planking to look perfectly finished convinced the gals to hire a local pro. After watching the "pros" sent by the local flooring store, they were certain they could have done it, and undoubtedly in less time, especially since one of the first statements out of the main guy's mouth was that he'd never worked with this product before. But there were so many other things demanding Joie's & Marilyn's attention, they were ultimately glad of their decision to sub out the planking install.

Getting closer to the finish line every week...

For the entire common area (kitchen, living room, hallway to 2 bedrooms, and both bathrooms), the Campbell gals had chosen a water- and scuff-resistant wood composite, floating planks in a blend of light gray tones. For all three bedrooms, they had selected a low-pile, easy-care carpet in a mix of black, grays and white.

Happily, the delivered products looked exactly as they had in the showroom and the final effect of the combination was as harmonious as Marilyn & Joie had hoped it would be.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

July-September, 2017: Crashing a kitchen isn't for kids...but if a sledge hammer, a Hackzall and a sense of humor are involved, it can be fun--and stress-relieving--for adults!

On any given day this past summer, demolition was going on in some part of the downstairs apartment, but for the sake of continuity rather than precise chronology, Marilyn and Joie have posted blogs based on each area's start-to-finish.

The first hours of fun for Joie & Marilyn involved coming up with the overall layout for the new kitchen. This was made easier once it was decided to extend the kitchen into the living room, truly making the entire area a Great Room. Following that was the selection of appliances, cabinetry, hardware and accessories that would result in a modern, truly functional kitchen that could be comfortably shared by three non-related individuals.

Ordering a new fridge, stove and above-range microwave and having them delivered to the downstairs apartment was relatively problem-free.

But gutting the kitchen proved to have just as many challenges as the bathroom had, except for there being a lot more room to swing the tools. Removal of the cabinet doors was the only part that could be called "easy" or "danger-free."

The "built-in" cabinets had to be dismantled one board and an inexplicable number of 6" nails at a time. More than a few times, Joie had to resort to sawing one piece to get to another, only to discover that a random piece of wood was screwed to both pieces...and sometimes into the concrete foundation wall.

An exasperated "WHY?" has become a mantra at Chateau de Joie!

With plenty of space, Marilyn was finally given permission to wield the sledge hammer to crash some of the more stubborn sections of homespun cabinetry.

Sheer persistence got every piece of wood removed...just in time for delivery of all the new cabinetry.

Contractor Ryan Regan-Ladd had been supervising the gals and lending his strength and expertise all along but installation of the cabinets was one job he preferred to do himself. But, of course, Joie was usually standing close by to observe, learn and, on a regular basis, applaud his progress.

Ta-dah! 3 X as much storage space

Lower corner cabinet contains lazy-susan-style shelving and the upper was designed in 3 sections to allow easy access to the entire corner.

 Ready for the granite!

The countertop was made exceptionally heavy because of the extra 6" depth (necessary due to the foundation wall) PLUS the addition of a peninsula with an extended ledge to provide counter-seating. Note the one cabinet in the peninsula was intentionally installed in reverse so as not to waste a single inch of corner space and provide a storage unit for the living room area.
Securing the granite to the cabinets took fire
Our super Bussiere electricians, Serge and Vitale,  completed all the electrical work, Pickering plumbers returned to hook up the new sink, Ryan installed the new above-range microwave with exhaust and attached all the new (modern) cabinet pulls.

Meanwhile, Joie & Marilyn lined cabinet shelves, installed the under sink pull-out trash cans, filled holes, touched up paint, put all new (matching) dishes, glassware, cookware, etc. into cabinets (part of the plan to make the space fully turn-key for future short-term guests), added two benches for counter seating and a mail bin over the cabinet next to the fridge (not visible in other pics).

(New flooring and windows are covered in separate posts since those two items went throughout the apartment.)

As a reminder of the transition this kitchen has gone through, here's the original "Before" pic, which exhibits the hodge-podge of carts and mini-appliances but fails to show just how damaged the cabinets and floor actually were.

There are still a few unfinished items such as a bit of trim work, installing a glass back-splash and constructing a corner dinette with built-in bench seating, but since those items are going to take a while longer, we wanted to share the (almost) "After" pics in order to move our posts along.

The Reno Queens feel they've earned a loud hoot & holler on this one!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

June-September, 2017: How does one improve a breathtaking view? Replace the windows! And thus, it was done... not by Joie & Marilyn, who know better than to take on projects of such magnitude and fragility, but by their trusted contractor, Ryan Regan-Ladd. Windows are by Marvin/Integrity & purchased through Cowls Building Supply (family owned & in the same location since 1741!)

One of the best things about the downstairs living space is that it already had 7 medium-sized windows and one, large, 3-part picture window. Two of the drafty entry doors had already been replaced with solid new doors equipped with fixed, double-paned, tempered-glass windows, but the rest of the cloudy old windows and rotten wood frames were finally destined for the dumpster.

The Reno Queens' assignment on this project was to remove the multiple layers of wood framing and window sills on the inside, which sounds simple enough, but removing the gazillion nails took considerable time and persistence, along with several new tools.

Eventually, there were lots of big holes in the walls just waiting to be filled with new, crystal clear glass & a lot less wood framing.
Now that's a living room with a view!

Living room picture window is now an easy-open glider

Suite and 2 kitchen windows now have clear views to the outback

Although the exterior framing must wait for the new siding installation, the interiors are all finished now.

Pics of windows from inside for living room, kitchen and suite will be part of separate crash & finish posts coming up.

Bedroom 3 new larger window replaces 2 small ones
Bedroom 2
Bedroom 2 also got a much larger rear window
Replacement of the upstairs windows must necessarily wait until next summer but, based on the changes and selections already decided up, it will be well worth the wait!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

August, 2017: Hip Hip Hurray & Hallelujah!

Joie & Mama Marilyn have been trying unsuccessfully to deal with an extremely (and literally) "weighty" problem since they moved in 3 years ago. Although they'd extracted every one of 18 steel poles embedded in tons of concrete, they had not found a way to get them off the property.

(See 9/3/15 post for the excruciating & comedic details of that particularly challenging task.)

Finally, contractor friend, Ryan Regan-Ladd took pity on them and separated the poles from the concrete using one of his magical tools, then hauled the poles away to be recycled.

Though the Campbell gals failed to get a photo of the nearly superhuman task, family visitors--Joie's dad, John, and brother, Jake--used their combined might to get all the concrete onto the dumpster while it still had "floor space" available.   However, evidence of their subsequent exhaustion was preserved for posterity.

The next several posts are all back to the reno of the house itself, which resulted in filling the remainder of the dumpster before it was returned. 

Sweetie inspects the newly cleared area for possibilities.

Monday, September 25, 2017

July-August, 2017: Chainsaws, Tractors, Elevating Lifts, a Giant Chipper and an impressive amount of manpower were needed for the major outdoor job done this summer. Three old (and unfortunately very sick) trees had to come down (they threatened the roof of the house) and several decades of thorny bramble and overgrown weeds really needed to be cleared away. Since this was all well beyond Joie's and Marilyn's skills, they continued working on interior renovations and hired pros. 

Up, up and away!

Only way to get some limbs
Steve Morse and his crew from New England Greenscape spent several very long days cutting, climbing, clearing, chipping and, on occasion, battling hives of stinging insects and chasing off non-poisonous but very, very large snakes.

Side clearing being done after maple down
Golden maple and crab apple trunk sections

But they cheerfully complied with Joie's request to be able to keep a slice or two to make a table. The 2 smaller pieces are from the scraggly crab apple tree hanging over the pool...NOT the best place for a leafy, flowering tree.

Hill behind pool before clearing

More men in trees

Watch for falling trees
Apple tree 1 down

A second crab apple tree at the front south corner had to be taken down as well, but this one was done by Team Campbell with our fave contractor Ryan Regan-Ladd in control of the chainsaw.

Some of the less dangerous tasks, like hauling the cut branches to the dumpster (at right), trimming lower tree limbs and pulling weeds, were managed with the generous help of Joie's dad, John, and brother, Jake, who came for a visit despite the warning that they would be put to work. (Not sure they expected it to be as strenuous as it was but they were troopers.)

Marilyn voted to leave the trunk in place as an art piece, but she lost to Joie's insistence that they were eliminating dead things on the property, not memorializing them.
Ready for reno

There was one area we had unsuccessfully tried to get cleared for three years. The "area" was a tangle of wild mini-rose bushes and a plethora of other weeds and saplings. Unbeknownst to Marilyn or Joie (who is lethally allergic), it was also home to a giant hornets' nest. Since it was very close to the grand willow (the dark green clump to the left in the photo), it was not easy to tell how big the thorny stand was until one got close enough to see that it was about 20 feet in diameter and at least that high.

It was also impossible to see that there was a small pond behind it where ducks and geese stopped for a rest.

It took the Greenscape team about three days, but they achieved what others could not.

 Ta-dah! Not only can we see the pond but a strong sumac tree was unveiled.

Although there is still plenty planned for the outside property, it will have to wait until next summer. After all, winter is coming ...