Monday, January 27, 2014

Birthday Treats

So, even though it’s my birthday today I’m going to give YOU a treat.  I promise we have not forgotten about our blog.  As I mentioned in the last post, we are waiting for our new card reader to show up so we can upload the pictures we’ve been taking of the house. 

Here’s your teaser….

After this past weekend.  The door and rest of the window will be white as well so use your imagination for now :)
Stay tuned this week for a full update on what's been going on...fingers crossed for no more snow storms so our package can get here!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Family Flooring 'Fun'

A little blood, a lot of sweat, a few choice words, thankfully no tears  AANNDDDD....WE'VE GOT NEW FLOORS! Holy guacamole, I think I can see the house starting to take shape! 

It's been an endless list of choices since we started this process 3 weeks ago and for the first time we can see some major changes taking place...and trust me people, change is a GOOD. THING. Are you ready for this?....

Aren't they great!?  Joe's parents Perry and Kandi came to help us this past weekend and thank God for them.  The hubster and my father-in-law are the most talented non-professional floor layers this side of the Mississippi.  I am beyond impressed.

As much as I would love to tell you that it was all smooth sailing, that is not EXACTLY the case.  *backstory* The biggest problem we knew we would be facing was the radiators pipes that we would have to puzzle-piece around, and of course the very first piece that had to be laid'll never guess...a pipe in it.

It took literally two hours to get the first row down, but they got it and eventually found a pretty good rhythm and 21 hours later we've got gorgeous floors.

While Joe and Perry were laying our floor, Kandi and I primed and primed and primed some more to get rid of the awful country rust orange color that was plaguing the living room and entryway and staircase.  Even though this is just the primer, look how much brighter and more open the space looks. Love, love, love.
I have much better pictures on my camera they are locked in my camera until my new card reader shows sorry :(  Once that shows up, I'll add them so you can bask in the awesomeness that is our new flooring with me.  It will be epic... promise.
yeah, yeah, spelling error

Until next time,
NoDak Newlyweds

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Color Conundrum

If nothing else comes from all of this we will have learned patience (although I am hoping a beautiful house is another outcome).  All we had been waiting for was the contractor to finish the flooring and some trim work around the walkthrough and the patio door. 

Joe received a phone call from the contractor Tuesday afternoon informing us that he was at the hospital with a herniated disk in his back and wasn't going to be able to make it back this week.  Now, please don't get me wrong,  we both felt really really bad that he was hurting,  but this left us in an extreme pickle.  We have no flooring, unfinished walls, and an extreme urgency to get out of our rental.

Well, in the spirit of true "DIY'ing it" we are now going to be finishing the floors OURSELVES.  I personally am super stoked about taking on this project.  I've watched more YouTube videos and read more blog articles about laying laminate than I care to admit.  Joe on the other hand is a bit leery as he is the one who is actually going to be doing the work, so it's easy for me to be gung-ho about it.  Technically Joe and his dad will be doing it.  His parents are coming this weekend to help us out in the house. Thank the Lord!

But the process is still moving forward, even if it feels like it's at a snail's pace.  The walls of the main floor look like a 4 year old was set free on them with finger-paints.  We are pickin paint colors people.

We are going with a grey and white color palette which is going to completely lighten and open up the house.  You'd think grey and white would be pretty easy to pick out, right? WRONG.  There are just as many whites as there are blues, reds, greens, etc.  Mind-boggling really.  Although I did decide that I'd like to be the person who names the paint when I grow up.  Who comes up with these?! 'Hugs-n-Kisses'....'Likeable Sand'....'Whispering Peach'...and the ever popular 'Nacho Cheese'.

After narrowing down whites from a bazillion about 25 to these, I hung them on the wall.  It only took about 30 minutes of seeing them in the room to realize some of them were awful.
I'm excited to see the finished product down the road, just hopefully not TOO far down.

I really want to paint the front door a color from somewhere in here...
(inspiration coming from this post and this one over at

Joe said 'yes', so I'm going to run with it.

 I'm hoping he said 'yes' to the vibrant door color rather than "Do you think I'm crazy?"......

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wall You Need is Love

Do you see that?! Right there, look…I think it’s …yup, I think it just might look like a dining room!  WE’VE GOT WALLS!

 We were starting to wonder if we had bought a construction zone or a money pit instead of a human dwelling.  I’ll recap what’s been happening the past few days at the house so you can understand what I mean.  When I last wrote, it was the night before the contractor was going to start.


The contractor came Monday around 10am and we were ready and waiting for him (we were able to be there because school was cancelled due to the insta-freeze temperature levels).  He walked around the house for a few minutes, surveying the work that Joe and I had done in preparation of his arrival.  He settled in front of the now-exposed header beam between our living room and dining room. 

He stared…and sighed…and scratched his head…and then lowered the BOOM.  “That header isn’t big enough and really needs to be replaced.”

Uhhhh….come again?!

This was so frustrating because the previous owners had just put that new header in literally 2 months ago!!  The old adage of “If you can’t do it right, don’t do it all” comes to mind here….

Once my tunnel vision subsided and Joe picked his jaw up, the contractor dropped another bomb.  “See that junction box in the insulation right there?  That’s against code and a major fire hazard.  You’re going to need to bring in an electrician and have that rewired.” 

You have got to be kidding me!!  This was just recently done as well!

The picture below is the box I’m talking about.  See how it’s buried in the insulation and the wires are 2 different colors?   When the electrician hack-jobber wired this, they didn’t have a long enough wire to reach from the upstairs bathroom down to the basement, so instead of getting the correct length, they were lazy and ‘connected’ them in the box, buried it in the wall, continued down to the basement, and then covered it up with pine so no one was the wiser.  Nothin like slappin some make-up on a pig and calling it a princess.

I don’t think it all really sank in that in a matter of 5 minutes we had added some significant jobs to the list because I left right away to start the manhunt for an electrician that could come ASAP.  I did find one that could come the next day.

Joe stayed back at the house and got to play Bob the Builder with the contractor that day.  He helped build the temporary walls to hold up the house while they took the old header out and put the new one in. 

(Sidenote:  they used this little jack to hold up the house when the header came out.  That piece right there can jack up 12 TONS!  That is amazing to me.  I am 8 times the size of it and I have trouble carrying the groceries up the steps)

Although this doesn’t look like much, that big ol’ hunk of wood is now securely holding up our house.  In fact the other header was so bad, that when this new one was put in, it jacked up the whole house over an inch!  I’m pretty excited knowing that our house won’t collapse on our guests now…pretty normal feeling I would think.  That would really put a damper on a dinner party wouldn’t it?


Remember when I explained what furring was in the previous post?  Here is what it looks like in reference to our walls.  Thin strips of wood were fixed to the original studs and now the drywall will affix to those and we will have flat even walls; good characteristics of a wall.

 The soffit was also built out to a 90 degree angle instead of the wonky slant that was goin on before.  The electrician also came this day and did his small part in fire-proofing our house


Just in case you forgot what it looked like

I now feel like we’ve left the cabin back in the woods where it belongs.

That’s it! Tomorrow everything will get taped and mudded and then it’s on to flooring! WOOT WOOT!

Clear out your schedule in a few days, there’s painting to be done people.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cold and Chaotic

I'm sitting directly in front our infrared heater as I type this trying to keep my fingers mobile.  It currently feels like 64 degrees BELOW zero where we are in the Frozen Tundra.  School has even been cancelled due to the weather.  I've lived in North Dakota my entire life but these temperatures still blow my mind.  Since we are currently still in our rental before the floors are down in OUR house we are paying to heat 2 houses in some of the coldest weather we've had in awhile.  It's awesome...even more awesome is the fact that we have the 2 most expensive ways to heat a house; propane and fuel oil.  wooohoooo!  Joe recommended building a fire in the middle of the living room to keep warm but then decided we didn't want our clothes to smell like campfire so that idea was ixnayed. 

I haven't posted anything for a few days because there really hasn't been any action at the house, other than this happened today...

Joe and his aching back accomplished that today.  He also took out the last little bit of flooring that was still infesting the kitchen and it is all officially GONE  ♪♪ Hit the road, Jack, and don'tcha come back.♪♪  Boy are we happy that stuff is gone and that project is over with!  

The contractor is set to start tomorrow so now some progress will really start to show.  He is going to start with the dry walling of the dining room tomorrow, finishing up the walls and furring them.

Furring is the preparation of a wall, ceiling, or floor with strips of wood or metal to provide a level surface for drywall, flooring, or another surface.  Our kitchen wall that butts up to the dining room wall is about an inch further out so the dining room wall must be 'furred'.  Here is a pic to help explain...

Other than that we don't have much to report on.  The effects of living in 2 different locations is starting to wear on us, though.  I feel like both houses are in a constant state of chaos and post-tornado like conditions.  Hindsight is always 20-20 so I'm now realizing that we probably shouldn't have packed up all but 2 random mug-night mugs and some paper plates in the kitchen.  We've mastered the art of dumping whatever may be left in the fridge into a skillet and calling it 'dinner'...we also make a mean frozen pizza.

If you're in the area drop on by for what's sure to be an interesting dinner...we promise to turn the heat up for you.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Q: Can your blisters get blisters? A: YES

Remember when I mentioned that we were going to be doing some new sheetrocking?  In order to do that, we had to take the wall covering that was there.  The previous owners were going for a very country cabin feeling in the house, which is all good and fine but it did NOT fit the style of this 1930's house.  The rest of the house has all the original beautiful woodwork and then BAM, new knotty pine.  See what I mean...

It had to go.  To save our contractor some time (and save us money) We removed the pine paneling and the awful hackjob of a decorative framing that was put around the big opening between the dining room and living room ourselves.  Well, Joe removed it.  But while Joe was doing that I had the extremely fun awful job of removing the multiple layers of bad laminate, plywood, and linoleum that was in the kitchen.  This was BY FAR one of the worst jobs I have ever done.  If any of my friends need help doing this in their own  homes in the future....sorry, call someone else.  We saved a lot of money doing it ourselves and it will be worth it once our new flooring is in there but WOW was it hard work.  I am convinced that whoever laid these used at least double the amount of necessary adhesive. 
It took me an entire day to take up the old laminate, unscrew the plywood that was under that, and then rip out 2 layers of linoleum in 2/3 of the kitchen.  I'll tackle the other 1/3 when I can move my hands again and the blisters ON my blisters go away.

These are the 2 gorgeous linoleum options I found under the plywood.  Kinda thinking we should just keep one of them, don't you!? :)

Fun and Flooring

What better way to spend a Monday than picking out new flooring!! WOOOHOOOO  I'm serious though, I was so excited about this you would have thought we were going to town to buy a puppy. 

When we first were going to redo the floors, we wanted to stain them dark, but after learning that our floors are maple that plan changed. Maple is a very difficult wood to stain because it is so hard and dense.  Stain works when the particles settle into the pours and crevices of a wood and if the particles can't find any of those, it is wiped away.  So when you try to stain maple it often comes out looking very streaked and the uniform look that you would want is almost impossible to achieve.  We were pretty bummed about that but then decided "It is what it is, I guess we will have light floors".  BUT, now that we get to pick all new flooring, we were able to pick the dark color we had originally wanted!

We stopped at 4 different flooring stores.  We found a few that we liked but I didn't LOVE either of them.  Since this flooring is going to be on our entire main floor I really wanted it to be something that I couldn't live without.  Of course there were some that I loved but they were $5+ a square foot but when you're ballin' on a budget, that is NOT feasible.  We went to the last store of the day and low and behold THERE IT WAS.  We picked out our flooring, loaded up all 1000 lbs of it, and headed home.  I have to say, I was pretty impressed at our decision making skills.  The entire process maybe took us 2.5 hours, I know people who have taken over 2.5 weeks to pick out their flooring.  *giving myself a pat on the back* 

This is what we chose:
Store: Lumber Liquidators
Brand: Kensington Manor
Color: Sandy Hills Hickory
12mm handscraped laminate with pad attached

Our living room and dining room now look like an obstacle course but it's starting to feel like it's coming together!

One man's trash...

One of the things the previous owners were supposed to do before they left was sand all the hardwood floors so we could finish them (when we still thought we could save the original floors).  To make a long story short, they skimped a bit and ended up putting peel and stick wood-look tiles in some of the upstairs to cover some areas they didn't sand.  To say the least, a blind man could see that they obviously didn't match. 
The tiles themselves weren't THAT ugly so I decided to take them all up and put them down in our storage room to cover up the gross cracked concrete floor.  Is it perfect? No.  Is it flat? No.  But it's a heck of a lot easier, prettier, and CHEAPER than laying a new concrete floor down there and the main goal of covering up the 'yuck' down there was achieved.  Next step is painting the plywood.

From 60 Below to Indoor Pools

Sunday, December 29
If today was any sort of indication as to how this whole process is going to go, hold on people! WOW. You hear of the horror stories about people who buy a house and then a few days after it's all official they realize their plumbing busted or their heater explodes...I thought we were about to become the next stars of TVs hit 'Renovation Reality'. We got to the house this morning and realized the house was much colder than it should be. The thermostat read a balmy 54 degrees. 54F outside is one thing, break out the bikinis and fill the pool...54 in the house, WAY TOO COLD!  With wind chills soon to be approaching -60 and colder this was a scary moment...think frozen pipes, water everywhere, mass chaos, crabby know, apacolyptic type conditions.

Crisis was adverted. Apparently the previous owners had practically run the fuel oil dry causing the heat to shut off in the middle of the night when we were not there. Just as I was trying figure out which of my organs we can sell to replace our heater, Joe whips out his tool set, pulls something here, wrenches something there and the heater starts 'bleeding'. If you don't know, when a fuel oil tank runs out, it's not as simple as just putting some more oil in, trust me, we tried; you need to 'bleed the line'. It's really not as graphic as it sounds. Air has to be released from the line to allow fuel oil back in. The oil that pours out is a reddish tint, hence 'bleeding the line'...clever individual that thought that one up. A few minutes later it kicked back on and we were cookin' with gas!...or heating with oil in this case but that just sounds lame.

We have also invested in an infrared heater for our main floor to help offset the fuel oil costs. We are totally fine with paying a bit more in electric than having to pay an arm and a leg, even both legs to fill the fuel oil tank.  When I first heard how these heaters actually work I was a bit leery...look it up, it's interesting, but it works like a charm and keeps the main floor toasty.

The next big piece of news is our flooring.  We had wanted to save the original floors by staining or simply sealing them.  Ya, not so much anymore.  At some point in time since the house was built in the 1930's some patch work has been done in the flooring but whoever did it didn't 'feather' the new pieces in with the old, they just cut a square and laid new wood in that square and that square only, it's hideous.  We had our contractor come over to the house to look at the floors and tell us his opinion on them, if they are salvageable, if it's worth it, etc.  End of story is we are no longer refinishing but laying completely new flooring over the ENTIRE main floor, tearing out some window framing and replacing to making it match the era of the house, taking down some wall coverings and doing some sheetrocking.  I tell ya what, if you ever hire a contractor or do any sort of home-reno, be snowballs SO QUICKLY.  If we didn't catch ourselves we would have ended up with an addition, a pool and an indoor basketball court.  We're super excited about it all though, it will look like a COMPLETELY different house!