Archive for July, 2010

This summer, I started playing beach volleyball with friends on Sunday mornings at 9:30. We play overlooking the blue-green waters of Grand Traverse Bay. The busy TART trail runs behind the beachfront courts and is always bustling with activity. An occasional onlooker will pause for a moment or two on the many benches along the trail to watch our group play.

I had forgotten how much fun it is to play a team sport and how short bursts of energy really get the adrenaline pumping. Dont’ get me wrong, we’re not always playing ‘bump-set-spike’ volleyball, but we’re putting forth a solid effort while laughing, listening to music and having a good time. Inevitably, we end up with sand on our arms and legs from all of the digs and diving for the ball, but it’s nothing that a dip in the bay can’t fix.

There are plenty of nets, so gather up some friends and have a ball!


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Back in mid-June, we had a major thunderstorm and it rained like cats and dogs! Seriously. Flash flooding occurred all over Michigan and we had our own mini flash flood in our basement. The rain came on a Friday night after a super-busy week at work and I was less than thrilled to wake up to water and mud in the basement.   

Basement “trap door”

Yes, mud. It was like a huge mudslide came in through our basement’s “trap door,” as I like to call it. (Side note: According to someone who lived in our house in the 1940’s who dropped by two years ago when we first bought the house, he said that back room was the coal room and he and his brother used to shovel coal through that door. Interesting factoid.)   

Back to the basement flood/mudslide saga…  

The glass half full side of me said, “well, the basement was in need of a spring cleaning;” however, the so-tired-I-have-dark-bags-under-my-eyes, over-worked, cranky side of me said, “F—ing basement… I don’t have time for this. I hate this house!”   

"My Life" by Missy Luyk, a 3rd Grade Autobiography

As it turned out, the basement cleanup wasn’t all that bad despite a few setbacks. When moving all of the items out of the back room, I tweaked my back carrying a ridiculously heavy box of books. It reminded me that I still want to build a custom bookshelf upstairs, so we can finally unpack and have some books to read. (Hopefully, the bookshelf project will happen-someday.) The good news was that we had almost 100% of our boxes and storage items off the ground, which was a relief. However, there was one cardboard box that was, unfortunately, on the basement floor and suffered some water damage.   

An excerpt from "My Life"

It was the box that contained all of my keepsakes from growing up. We’re talking about scrapbooks, elementary school field day ribbons, student-of-the-month certificates, the Young Authors books that I wrote each year, trophies, my high school sports letters, a woodlot project binder and “My Life, An Autobiography” that I wrote in the 3rd grade. What a find!  

I took all of the artifacts out of the dripping wet cardboard box and set them out to dry with a fan. A few days later, I checked and all was salvageable. The 3rd grade autobiography is priceless. I ended it by writing…When I grow up I want to go to college. I want to go to Harvard. I think I’m going to live in the country. I plan on being a Director or Interior Decorator. I want to be a Director so I can be the boss. I also like to decorate. I want to live in a big house.  

As a third grader, I guess I had big ideas! Let’s see how I stack up so far in life…  

  • College- check! Go green! I’m a Michigan State University Resource Development alumni!
  • Harvard??- not a chance
  • Live in the country- Nope, livin’ in downtown TC, but we do have a view of the bay.
  • Director or Interior Decorator- Not there yet on the director, but I’m sure it will happen someday. And I guess you could say that I’m an interior decorator… for our own home remodel and furnishing.
  • Big house?- I think our 1900 sq ft house is big enough for me. 

Not bad! Thanks to my third grade teacher, Mrs. Vensus, for a wonderful project and trip down memory lane, even though it was due to a not-so-much-fun basement flood. 

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Our downstairs bathroom is the final room on the lower-level in need of an overhaul. When we moved in, it was a mash of colors: pink, teal, yellow, white and brown linoleum. It looked like this:

After about 5 months living in the house, we decided to spruce the bathroom up with paint. It was a temporary fix, but made it much more livable. I painted the cabinets white, half the wall white and the upper half yellow. I painted the vanity white and left the radiator teal. The temporary fix looked like this:

The real bathroom renovation began unfolding this spring. David took down the lath and plaster walls, carted off the cabinet shelving around the shower and removed the flooring, radiator, vanity and toilet. Because the downstairs bathroom is also our only shower, we had to install a temporary plastic enclosure while the room was down to the studs (which it has been since April). The cast iron tub, which we love, had to be removed temporarily so that the floors could be leveled. We took showers at family member’s houses during the 7 days that the old floor was removed and a new subfloor was installed. It really made us appreciate the convenience of a shower, albeit a makeshift one.

So, the toilet and radiator have been on the side porch for months now as we piece this little room back together. Sorry neighbors.

Many of the timestaking and frustrating projects of the bathroom remodel has been behind the scenes work- the stuff that you won’t physically see when it’s all said and done (unless you like to check out people’s crawl spaces when you go on a home tour). David installed all new plumbing to the shower and vanity, moved the location of the toilet and subsequent plumbing, installed a ceiling vent/light (by spending a hot day in the attic and on the roof), and added a concrete footing to support the failed foundation in the basement crawl space. David also built a bathroom vanity from scratch (with the help of our cabinet-maker friend- Scott) and it also took a bit of time to get right.

So you’ll just have to wait for Bathroom Makeover II to see the bathroom transformation complete. We still have a long way to go… mudding and sanding the recently hung drywall, tiling the bathtub surround and floor, painting the walls and ceiling, installing custom shelving, picking out and installing new bathroom hardware, the list goes on and on…

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The grounds

Please enjoy this photo tour through ‘the grounds’ at our home.

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First off, it’s good to have perspective when showing off a good before-and-after-picture, and boy, do I have some perspective for you!? Obviously, we bought our home for it’s potential and could somehow see past the very dated interior. Looking back, I’m not sure I wear the same rose-colored glasses or would ever make the same mistake choice again.

Needless to say, we had our work cut out for us to transform the mudroom from a wood-paneled dark and dingy space into a clean, crisp and inviting room that would welcome us home from our daily chores.

Originally, we planned to keep the paneling, paint it a creamy white, and envisioned outfitting it with some kitschy cabin-like decor. Afterall, the mudroom space has been a super handy storage room along our 25-month (and counting) remodel– our kitchen appliances were happily stored there while our long-awaited kitchen was built, it served the utilitarian purpose of storing snow pants, coats, scarves and boots during our long Up North winters and has housed a rotating army of tools depending on what projects were going on.

Well…our 130-year-old house had other plans for us and keeping the mudroom paneling just wasn’t in the cards. Since the electrical panel was back there and we opted to install new wiring throughout the entire house, the paneling had to go. We ripped out the carpeting (some places two layers of carpet) and linoleum only to find that the floor was still sagging in spots. It turned out that a subfloor was put on top the original flooring which was almost completely rotted, as evidenced by hole down to the crawl space in the picture to the left. Yikes! Watch your step.

The more we dove into the problem, we realized the back of the house had settled quite a bit and we needed to raise the floor (up to three inches in places) to sync up to the other rooms. To level the floors, we sistered in new 2×6’s to the existing floor boards and leveled and re-leveled along the way. Then we put down sheets of 3/4-inch OSB plywood subfloor and were back on solid (and level) ground! Success.

By January 2009, we were installing the drywall throughout the lower-level of the house, including the mudroom. It was mudded and sanded in February and we primed and painted in March. We chose “sand between your toes” beige for the mudroom, kitchen and front hallway. In April, David installed the ceiling fans and recessed lighting throughout the lower level.

Then, the mudroom project took a backseat to installing and finishing Hickory hardwood floors, planting grass in the front and back yards, sprucing up our three porches with paint, building a little outdoor firepit patio, installing victorian-style baseboard, rehabbing six old dilapidated radiators, re-using old doors and trim, improving our front closet, and of course, working on our brand spankin’ new kitchen.

The mudroom actually became a “room” when the tile floor was installed. Because we live across the street from the beach, we chose a sand-colored tile for the mudroom and think it compliments the “sand between your toes” wall color perfectly.

There are still many to-do’s on the mudroom’s list, but we’re quite pleased with the results. The room is light, airy and welcoming.

Feast your eyes on this:

We still would like to add a bench where the red rug is, add shelving and hooks for coats behind the door, install a super swanky dogfood center for Wyatt and my dream is to add a washer and dryer where the couch is.

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