Renovating Poker Chairs

Aaron found a couple chairs at Goodwill that he thought we could refinish and resell. I thought we’d be able to use them for our new desk, but it turns out they are a bit short. The original fabric was billiards themed and rather faded. 
Removing the chair cushions wasn’t too hard, aside from digging out the wood plugs. Once the chairs were disassembled, we lightly sanded the frames with stain and poly in one. I hadn’t used this product before, and I’m not sure that I like it. Even though staining and sealing separately takes more time and effort, I think it’s easier to control that this product. At first, I tried to use too much at once – I expected the consistency to be in between stain and poly, but it was nearly as watery as regular stain.
This was also my first fabric recovering job. It was like wrapping an awkward gift with staples. I don’t think it’s that great, but Aaron things I’m being overly critical. Because of how the chairs were constructed, I was advised to just cover the existing fabric instead of removing it. This was probably wise, but I had to scrub them down well before starting. 
The original fabric was heavier, so getting the staples in at some of the corners was tough. I bought three yards of fabric, but used less than two. I think the finished product looks fine, but I think I’d prefer regular desk chairs.

Now Hanging

Cleaning up the rest of the house meant consolidating some of our excess junk into the basement. There’s plenty of space down there, but I’m cautious of storing more than we need. Until we find the time to sort through this stuff, we’ve stacked it on either side of the stairs. This space is completely unused otherwise, but it was still a bit unsightly for the time being.

While cleaning I found a couple gigantic posters from when I worked at a movie theater in college. I hung them on either side for the staircase, in front of the piles of stuff we brought down from upstairs. The posters are actually taller than the basement is deep, but for now they are sufficiently hiding our random, unsorted junk.

Makeshift Office

For the last year, our fourth bedroom was more like a public storage unit for stuff that we didn’t want to deal with. While we were both on staycation, we bought some metal frame shelves and boxes from home depot to get it all tucked away in the basement.

Getting everything sorted and moved out of the room was a bit tedious, but didn’t take too long. Now that we have the room back to a blank slate, we are turning it into a temporary office. The temporary part hinges on us actually turning the room into a master bathroom and closet, which if I’m being honest, may never happen. Maybe that’s why I’m overdoing it a bit for a makeshift office.

We’re going to have a long desk for both of us to work on, a couple bookshelves, and probably a large recliner. I’m thinking the recliner will actually be a secret birthday gift for Aaron next week. I know it doesn’t seem secret if I’m posting it to this blog, but I doubt he’ll read this before then…

Guest Room Clean-Up

Our guest room and fourth bedroom were mostly holding a bunch of random things that had no home. My sister and brother-in-law’s visit gave us the motivation to get ourselves together and get things cleaned up.
I changed the direction of the bed, moved the media bookshelf, brought in a chair from downstairs, and unrolled a rug that use to be under our dining room table.
The things in this room don’t really match right now… but, our guests enjoyed it all the same (and so did Roxas).

One Small Step

Because we live in our home while we renovate, everything tends to get a bit scattered as we take on projects. Every few months, we take a break to deep clean the house and get everything tidy again. Cleaning out the pantry was an easy place to start, and helped get us mentally ready for our new goal of being vegan flexitarians, (which for us means eating about 80% vegan).

 I still intend to strip the paint off of this pantry and the bookcase in the living room and refinish them one day… but for now it’s serving as motivation to tackle bigger organization chores.

Installing Basement Drains

We’ve had lots of small, necessary, mostly boring projects so far. Our first major step towards getting our basement finished was getting the drains installed in the floor, along with a big new well and grinder pump. We needed a total of four drains – one for the kitchen, one for the sink in the bathroom, one for the toilet, and one for the shower.

One of the difficulties in getting the plan right was the number of obstacles in the way. We had to account for the pump and the connection to the sewer (located in the center of the bottom wall), the four windows on that side of the basement, one of the poles holding up the house, and the electrical panel (located on the right wall). We also wanted to create a plan that made it possible to build a master suite in the future if we decide to rent out the home in the future as two apartments.We had many versions of the layout before finally coming up with a workable plan.
Though we do a lot of our renovation work ourselves, this was certainly a job we did not want to tackle. This work was too integral to the basement’s function,and to hard to remedy if incorrect. We took this opportunity to finally join Angie’s List, and hired Olis Construction to do the work.  We picked them because they were fine with just doing one piece of what will be a much larger project, allowing us to decide what to tackle next and when. Other contractors wanted us to do the entirety of the plumbing at once. Additionally, Mark Olis was polite, fast, and reasonably priced.
On day one, Olis and his assistant arrived in an unassuming pickup truck and got to work breaking up concrete. Lots and lots of concrete. The well they put in was 3 feet deep, so they also had to dig out for that. The ditches they cut out were much neater and narrower than I imagined. The jackhammer was exactly as loud as I imagined.

On the second day they laid the drains.

On the third day, they were covering up the ditches. with concrete That was it!

Naturally, this was dusty work and left a bit of a mess. We decided this was as good a time as any to get things cleaned up and organized around home, and save up for the next big project.

Osage Trees

I mentioned I hated yardwork, right? I’m quite ready for the winter and the frosty hibernation it brings to all of nature. Unfortunately, between then and now is fall, and a driveway full of Osage Orange fruit, known as hedgeapples.

What are those? The fruit of the tree of the devil, in my opinion. Some people love them, but I’m unimpressed. The wood from these trees is very strong, making for good fences and bows. I’ve heard from one of our neighbors that the ones lining the west side of our lot are protected, and cannot be cut down. In the spring, all the buds fall off and make a mess of our driveway. I used the blower to clear them off every day, a task that Aaron thought to be futile. In the fall, these trees litter the ground with endless hedgeapples. The squirrels go crazy for them, and will carry many of the early ones off the driveway. They are mostly inedible for humans, but they are known to ward off spiders and other insects if you place them in your window and near doors.

These are the bane of my existence from September to November. When they hit the ground, they usually remain intact, but when they split open they are a slimy mess. If we don’t get them off the driveway, we end up with mounds of goo everywhere. Last year I had an afternoon ritual of removing them from our driveway every day when I got home from work. I kept count of how many I cleared until I got to 200. By then it was just depressing.

One last fun fact about these trees is that when they are first growing, they have thorns like you wouldn’t believe, making clearing out of hundreds of square feet of honeysuckle all the more horrible.