Hi, all.  We have our flooring on the back porch, we have a functional dining room table, we have a kitchen and working dishwasher (never mind the near electrical fire from the dishwasher and fridge working simultaneously…crisis averted.)  What we don’t have is lighting except the kitchen and loft, level flooring surfaces, a ceiling fan, a functioning kitchen sink, or the gusto to do pretty much anything this weekend.  Tim and I are going to take a drive, drink some smoothies, level and lay underlayment on the floors, and maybe figure out how to finish plumbing our kitchen sink.  Next weekend will be an Onarga weekend, the following our friend Angela Kelly is coming and bringing us a feline companion who reportedly likes to catch spiders (we’re hoping she will graduate to mice) and the last weekend of the month we will be supporting the March of Dimes in Lafayette.  This is a busy month!  Weekday goals have been largely usurped by Lie to Me episodes, but we are really going to try to hammer out this flooring in the next few weeks.  It will make a huge difference and I can’t wait to share pictures.  Until then, I will whip up a before/progress (notice I didn’t say “after”) blog entry with pictures of the spaces as they are right now. 


Progress (?)

Ok, I know I promised “progress” photos, but once I started looking around to snap some shots, I realized we don’t have much visual progress to report yet.  We are mid project with several things, including the entryway makeover, lighting in the office, new fan/lighting in the main room (which is basically the whole first level light source–we’ve had lots of mood lighting with lamps and candles.  It’s a shame we are asleep by nine trying to revamp this house instead of putting that mood lighting to good use,) painting woodwork and beams, finishing subflooring, and finally laying the floors this weekend, hopefully.  THEN I will have a ton of impressive photos for you.  Stay tuned through our not so productive, midweek lull!

Finally some photos!

So, I uploaded a ton of pictures and I thought they would give you an idea of what we’ve been working with so far.  I had a heck of a time figuring out how to get the photos IN the post, but I got it!  I was two shakes away from calling Kendra Gilbertson in a full out WordPress meltdown.  Whew.

Our home is quite the mess, but it really is so much better.  These are mostly original photos of the house, the tearing out paneling/drywall/insulation photos, the drywalling/finishing photos, and a few odds and ends like termite damage, wasp nests, cabinets, and the state of our window sills.  Tomorrow I will post some pictures of progress now that we are in painting mode!  We finally have fast, beautiful, world-connected internet in the woods and I, for one, am thrilled.


Welcome home to us!

Heeeey!  It’s us.  We are in such great spirits on this Monday because our house is actually beginning to feel like a little, tiny, partial bit of a home.  This weekend, we made great strides in amateur home repair and boy are we happy about it.  Let me give you some deets:

First off, let me congratulate Timmy publicly for estimating the number of drywall sheets that would need to be hung in the entire main level of our house totally accurately with one whole sheet to spare (just in case, you know.)  This means he not only removed 1000 square feet of paneling and drywall with 70 nails per sheet, but he also cut, hung and rigged 30 new pieces of drywall on crappy, crooked, bowed beams.  At almost exactly three weeks in, we had fresh, new, professionally finished drywall which got painted this weekend.  I know this seems naive, but it’s weird to me that drywall is such a messy project with the mudding and sanding and sinking your screws in just right and then BAM you can paint it and it looks so wonderfully clean and new.  I will never look at other peoples’ walls the same way again.  Seriously!  Is that creepy?  Are you still going to invite me over for family functions?  I hope so.

Anyway, aside from the drywall painting process (thanks, Teri/Mom) and tidying of other generally chaotic surfaces in the last week, we have some exciting developments.  Of course to temper that, we also have some not so exciting happenings but we are really trying to channel our inner Buddhas and accept things as they are so we can move forward, even if it isn’t what we planned.  Like when you order 963 square feet of flooring for your entire ground level and it doesn’t come in, then it is supposed to come a week late and STILL doesn’t come in, and then when they finally admit that they have no idea when it will get here but they promise to deliver it free of charge when it does.  The funny part is that they have no idea we live in the boonies about thirty minutes away from the store.  I can’t wait to see a Lowe’s truck backing down our squiggly lane.  Karma, wench!

I digress.  Again.  The best progress we have made so far aside from painting the downstairs and the loft lies in…CABINETRY.  That’s right, ladies and gents, we have cabinets and they went in with only one tiny little Meg-induced snafu.  Tim and Dad/Jamie put down the subfloor in the kitchen and hallway Saturday morning with impressive ease and then they started setting base cabinets.  Ol’ Davey, the man who built our house, had a hard time with straight lines, so the boys ran into a bit of frustration trying to affix those puppies to the wall, but 2 trips to the hardware store later, they were IN!  Let’s rewind a little, because that description makes it seem a little easier than it actually was.

Mom and I painted the loft/master olive green while the fellas put the cabinets in place.  It wasn’t long before I heard “Meg?”  Because of the dishwasher hoses, Tim wanted to know if we could rearrange some of the cabinets to put the dishwasher next to the oven to avoid extension hoses (which we didn’t have on hand) and make life easier.  I said no, largely because (completely aside from my disdain for adjacent appliances) the cabinets wouldn’t fit correctly.  I ordered the cabinets, so I take responsibility for their lack of interchangeability, but let’s talk about the cabinet buying process.  We knew we wanted unfinished so we could make them whatever color we wanted, and we knew we wanted them from Menards because Lowe’s is a WalMart company and a little too corporate/monopolistic for our liking.  Tim and Roger/Dad went to Menards the second day we were in our house.  It was about three in the afternoon and Tim calls to say “I think we should buy cabinets today!  There is an 11% rebate that ends today!”  Putting aside the lack of a cohesive floor plan for the kitchen at that point, Mary Kay/Mom and I went to Menards, found a nice lady, and she helped us design the entire kitchen and order what we needed right there on the spot in about an hour’s time.  It was very last minute and we didn’t have any measurements with us and when I called Tim at home to measure for us, we were battling poor tin roof reception on his end with Menards tin roof reception on my end.  Let’s just say we’re lucky the cabinets and countertop matched up at all.  When the boys were installing the cabinets, the studs were anything but predictable, but the cabinets went in with relative ease thanks to a few shims for the bowed walls (thanks, Dave.)   There were supposed to be two filler pieces on either side of the sink, but the countertop was 3 inches short, so we took one of those out and it solved the problem.  We love the countertop, so that’s great!  We hadn’t really picked one out, so I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants with that custom, expensive order.  Base cabinets in, upper cabinet line drawn, Mom and I go to town (10 miles each way) and come home to the wall cabinets hung.  Go, boys, go!  Except because of the countertop length snafu, the upper cabinet next to the stove is too wide, making the distance from window to cabinet 2 inches deeper on the left than the right.  You’d think at almost 30 years of age I would have picked up some ability to calm down and steer away from symmetry and OCD linear preferences.  Alas, it’s simply not true.  We took down those two, rehung the oven one, exchanged the bigger one for a smaller one last night and hung it at 7pm to finish out the kitchen.  Huzzah!  It looks great and it’s going to look even better after we decide what we are doing with the unfinished wood.  We exposed some ceiling beams (not the ones you see in the pictures, but up between those in the actual ceiling) and we like that rustic feel.  The visible beams are going to be painted white like the ceiling beams.  We are throwing around some ideas for cabinets that involve a melding of white and rustic.  We’ll see…

Here’s a peek at what we see when we get home now.  Get a load of those craigslisted matching chairs!  I have fantastic craigslist mojo.  It’s true.  Also, visualize a curled walnut wood floor throughout the whole level.  Ah, beauty.  Also, we are down to one little mousey who is not long for the Ballard residence despite the fact that he has cleaned three traps now.  That little bugger!


…and the house in the woods goes for the one-two punch

I feel like a convenience food eating, drill wielding, cranky but productive life force has taken over the bodies of Tim and Meg Ballard.  It has been almost three weeks since we moved in, and while waking up to the woods doesn’t get old, the things this house needs are starting to make cohabitation a bit more challenging.  We haven’t put anything away because we really can’t until we lay floors, install cabinets, finish out the closets, and do the hundred other things preventing us from tackling the 80 boxes in our basement.  At one point this week, I took two garbage bags full of Tim’s and my clothes and dumped them on our small loft bedroom floor thinking that might prompt me to either put them away or give them to someone who would appreciate them more than I do.  More on attempting a 50 piece wardrobe later.  Can I just say if you are tempted to chop it down to a 50 piece wardrobe and you are soon moving, CHOP NOW!  Moving then chopping was one of the more stupid procrastinations of late.

Anyway, let’s rewind to our slowly productive week last week in which we were back to work with a shocking lack of energy in the evenings.  We mostly went to bed at about nine and tried to mentally recuperate from moving in ready to swing a paint brush, adjusting to un-paneling the walls, coming to grips with gutting out the drywall, and tackling the various mouse castles and hornet nests that happened to pop up.

Did I also mention we had a tiny bit of termite trailing up two beams on the walls?  It wasn’t a huge deal because it was old and isolated.  Wait, did I say it wasn’t a big deal?  What I meant to say was we HOPED it wasn’t a big deal until today when we found out otherwise.  It is still arguably not a “big” one, but last night I said to Tim in our cluttered-with-tools-and-sawhorses living room “hey, do you think the floor feels….something right here?”  It turns out “something” is the technical term for a squishy spot resulting from–you guessed it–a few more termite friends.  This section runs under a wood parquet floor, so ripping up the tiles, floor board, and subfloor down to the studs is definitely in our immediate future.  Tim swears that it is isolated to a 2×4 feet section but I will report back later when I actually see it.  At times, he tends to be overly optimistic about situations that might cause–ahem–a mental breakdown on my behalf.  It’s sweet, but I like the cold hard truth so I can prepare myself…

In other news, we had some fantastic luck.  Tim finished hanging the drywall (ok, he’s putting in the last piece any second now) and the quandary became finishing the stuff.  I invited Laura Kapoun over to help me tackle/master the art of mudding drywall and we only attempted what would run behind the kitchen cabinets.  Luckily, Teri Garner’s favorite painter, drywaller, and jack of all trades happened to be working for his brother in Spencer, Indiana not too far from here and he happened to agree to come take a look at our drywall.  We are the most fortunate souls on the planet, because handy Ron agreed to working with us a few hours in the evenings this week and in no less than three days, he has finished out 1000 square feet of our drywall.  We will be sanding it tomorrow and Friday and we will have actual, lovely, painted walls this weekend!  Woo hoo!  Thank you, Ron.  We also decided to remove the two hinky light fixtures in the study, forgetting that the ceiling fan fell out of the ceiling which pretty much leaves us in the dark unless you are in the kitchen or bathroom.  Not one of our finer choices, but we are making it just fine.  Thank goodness it is staying light so late since Daylight Savings or we would be in bed with the sunset.

Flooring is in at the end of the week, so we will lay that next weekend. Cabinets are going in this weekend, thanks to my parents who are coming to help.  Tim can’t wait for me to actually cook something.  We might even tile some floors. Then again, we might be on home improvement overload by then and sit miserably in the middle of the floor of a dark room for three days.  That would be totally fine with me at this point.

The hills are alive…

This was a doozy of a weekend at the Garner-Ballard abode.  We had high hopes of hanging drywall, renting scaffolding, hanging more drywall at a height of 18 feet, painting A frame ceilings, priming and painting beams, priming a bedroom/loft, and rewiring most of the main level.  Thanks to major help from family and friends, we pretty much did it all.

Let’s rewind to Wednesday at midnight.  Timmy sits straight up in bed and says he’s going to get a decaf coffee at McDonald’s.  In the morning after I had processed a little, I clarified that he left the Hansel and Gretel deep in the woods down a winding lane house for a McDonald’s coffee.  He said “yeah, and I called my dad.  He didn’t mind that I woke him up.  He’s going to come over for a few days to help us figure out the wiring.” It’s a good thing he did, because Roger Ballard single-handedly rewired all of our switches and outlets.  I am pretty sure the soul of our recently acquired house was jubilant because the man who built the house had a totally wonky sense of electrical work and suffice it to say we will sleep better at night.  We will also sleep better at night because Timmy finished taking out the drywall and about 15 feet by 8 feet of insulation that had become a mousey mansion for Lil’ Frankie and Richie the V, as we call them, as well as hundreds of their mousey cousins judging by the presents they left in our walls.  GROSS.  I don’t do mice.  Now, Tim doesn’t do them either.  We are so happy that our mousey walls are gone and replaced with nice clean insulation and drywall.  We are sleeping like babies and we are convinced it isn’t just the manual labor we jam packed into one week of home repair.

Friday afternoon Timmy hung drywall with the help of our friends Nate and Jake and they got a quarter of one wall done.  Not a lot to get jazzed about, you say?  Try looking at exposed, mousey insulation for a week and then try not to rejoice at two pieces of hung drywall.  We were almost clapping.  Saturday morning, we got scaffolding up and Dan Stinson came down to help Timmy hang really high drywall.  Little did he know he would also get roped into priming and painting ceiling beams almost 20 feet in the air and giving an old, frighteningly ornate brass ceiling fan a $12 spray paint and hardware makeover.  Those boys are champions.  By Saturday night, we had white outlets thanks to Rog and a much cuter ceiling fan.  We also had a shocking lack of exposed insulation, which by our nerdy standards was titillating.  On Sunday, our friends Nate and Jess and son Jordan came over to help.  Thank goodness they did, because Nate and Jordan hung drywall while Tim and Dan painted the ceiling, primed and painted beams, and hung the last of the high drywall while Jess and I made paint brush runs to town and primed the loft/master bedroom.  The loft is super because we wake up in the morning looking out patio doors onto a deck where the sun rises right over the tree line.  It really is breathtaking and I took a picture of it the first three mornings we woke up there.  It’s so pretty!  It makes me want to sit up in bed and sing “the hills are aliiiiive with the sound of muuuusiiiiic” but Timmy doesn’t love it when I wake up with song.  Unless it’s a holiday tune. Seriously.  Anyway, we got SO much done yesterday, albeit with a significant amount of swearing, caffeine and messes.  We are pretty darn proud of our first week as home-owners.

The next few weeks will be hectic because we are laying flooring, having the drywall finished, installing cabinets, hanging new light fixtures, stripping wallpaper, priming and painting the rest of the woodwork and walls.  It will be a ton of work, but after that, our house should be tolerably cute for company.  April is wide open, so put dibs on weekends now if you want ’em.  After these things, the focus will switch to the downstairs/future family room which is currently a mauve carpeted, dungeonish, windowless, lattice-laden mess.  Bear with us.  It WILL be cute when I’m done.  Let’s not even talk about the outside of the house.  Geesh.

Wait, is it buyers’ remorse or buyers’ revamp?

We think it’s both, and we have been homeowners for a whopping 5 days.  Tim and I went with that old saying about buying the worst house in the best neighborhood.  This zip code (swanky, if you ask us) is privy to the best public schools and feels like the wilderness when, in fact, Kroger is a six minute jaunt.  It is quiet and relaxing and beautiful (the 5 acres, not the house…yet) and we were admittedly fueled by optimism, moving into a completely paneled home built in 1981 as a handyman’s special.

With lots of Ballard family help coming from four hours away last weekend, we wanted to be organized and ready to go Friday night after working ’til 5.  We bought paint, closed on the house, worked all day, and planned a jam packed 5-10PM window in which we would caulk and prime a large amount of the first floor space of our A frame house.  Instead, we got to the house and our eyes instantly glazed over in a light-bulb-and-handmade-lattice-everywhere induced haze.  We drank a bottle of champagne trying to revel in the inaction while it lasted and promptly ripped out every piece of lattice in reaching distance.  We instantly felt better.

The next morning we tried to get our moving truck but were unavoidably detained (we have the truck but it’s missing a mirror, we might be able to get one from Indy, we can give you the truck without the mirror but WAIT we can’t find the keys, et cetera) and we ended up walking into a great deal through UHaul, so it all worked out.  Long story short, everything got moved in two truck loads (we had to use a 16 foot truck since we have a surprisingly wiggly lane all the way back to the abode) and it was then that we realized we could take off the paneling because there was drywall underneath!  Hallelujah!  We were stoked.  For about six minutes, at which point we realized the paneling had been Liquid Nails’d to the drywall, making it unfinishable since it ripped the drywall paper when we pulled it off. (Insert Debby Downer noise)  We proceeded to rip out all the cabinets and tiled counters to create absolutely as much chaos as possible in a single week.


Bless Timmy’s heart, he has been working ALL WEEK to take off paneling and drywall which isn’t an easy task in an A frame when you’re taking the lone ranger approach.  So far we have found a wasp nest, two mouse nests (Meg is horrified) and some old (thankfully) termite damage (“Oh we NEVER had any TERMITES out here…”) but that should be it for the nasty surprises since tomorrow we are ready to start hanging drywall again.  I use the term “we” loosely since I mostly stand around with Grandma Susie face (read:  completely overwhelmed to the point of profound commitment to one physical spot with huge eyes glancing slightly upward) while Tim likes the demolition of said paneling and drywall just a little too much, if you ask me.  It’s actually a fantastic balance.  Don’t feel too badly for Timmy.  As soon as we get to the mudding/sanding/painting/finishing parts, it’s all me.  Tim can go out for a beer and watch a sporting event and I’ll be in the zone with my classical music and creative mojo.  Look out!

On the docket for next week:  finishing drywall, painting walls (FINALLY), laying flooring, and installing cabinets.  Too much to do in a week, you say?  Pshaw.  We’ll see about that.

*Forgive the wonky photos, but they were taken with my phone and the ceiling was too tall to capture sensibly.  More/better photos to come.