Toilet Troubles

Do you know what these pictures mean? A bathroom remodel is in our future. We have always known that at some point (soon) we'll start replacing all the galvanized plumbing in the house. However, recently our toilet started leaking so I think we're moving that project to the front burner. All new plumbing and a new bathroom. The picture on the right shows how much the toilet will leak if we don't turn the nozzle off each time after we use the restroom. We're sure there is a MUCH easier and cheaper solution to this problem than a new bathroom, of course. However since we were planning on doing the plumbing very soon anyways this debacle just made it a priority. Which is fine with me. The leaky toilet will make holiday entertaining a bit more ... uh, interesting. Ah, the joys of older homes!

As you can probably see we have all original tile in our bathroom. This is why we have debated, literally for years, over the extent of a bathroom remodel. I am REALLY torn over taking out original details in old houses because it is what makes them special. However I do want to stay in this house forever and am willing to make it a more useful space. We have some plans for a slight expansion for a walk-in shower. And there are some places where the wall tile is cracked and chipped or has been replaced with cheap twelve-cent white plain big box store type of tile that does not match at all. So in a nutshell those are my justifications. I'm sure that some die-hard restorers will want to crucify me for this but I guess I'm willing to take that risk.

We just ordered tile samples (see pic below) from a place called Mission Tile West. We are looking through about fifteen colors from their Revival line. We'd like to look at some other
places before we commit but their colors are beautiful! We're thinking of the Bancroft line from Kohler for the toilet, pedestal sink and faucets for the sink and shower. We'll probably end up restoring an old claw foot bathtub. I'm really excited!!


Fence Progress and New Garage Siding

It's been awhile since the last post. You should all be used to this since I'm such a slacker blogger.

By late summer/early fall Chad was still working on finishing the fence. Before he could put the most eastern portion of the fence together he wanted to rip out the old siding on the bump-out of our brick garage and rebuild it. I think there are some pictures of him doing that here. On the left below is the other side of the garage bump-out (which hasn't been replaced yet but is a good comparison "before" picture since I forgot to take a "before" picture) and then the new siding is pictured on the right. Looks good, uh? The square is where our garage lights will placed. I'd place a link to what we bought but they have been in the damn boxes so long I can't even remember what we bought! All I know is we got them from here so they are bound to be fabulous. I probably posted about them at some point on this blog.

Here is a picture of the fence finished on the most eastern side of our lot:

The fence is ALMOST finished. We do still need a gate and the hardware for said gate. And we need to finish the tops of the boards so that they are not sticking up in random, fortress-like patterns. The garage siding is primed (bought it that way) but not painted and won't be until we get to painting the outside of our house trim next summer.


A Peek Into the Past

Recently we received a fabulous gift - a copy of an article about our very own Irvington Bungalow published in a 1928 (the year our house was completed) edition or our local newspaper. The article is written in a section of the paper called Builder's Clinic (I think this is the entire title but it is cut-off so there could be more). The article is basically to entice people to come look at the new bungalow at its open house. We had heard from a few neighbors that our home may have been one of the model homes for our section of Irvington - maybe this article is proof, who knows? It gives information about who designed and built our house, the brick manufacturers, and who supplied other materials for the home. There is also very detailed information about what the house looked like inside and out - the color of the wallpaper, the wood trim and floor, the bricks and tile on the fireplace, the kitchen trim and floor, the bathroom tiles and wallpaper, the outside trim. There is even a decent sized picture of the outside of our house as it looked in 1928! In addition, there are advertisements for various home building materials around the article that refer to supplying their goods for our home.

Fortunately for us most of the house has remained the same as the description of it as published in the 1928 article (we had suspected not much had changed over the course of time, which has made things easier for us). The kitchen is decorated much differently now and the grey wallpaper was no longer on the walls when we bought the house but other than that things are pretty much in tact. I can't even describe how happy I was to read this great piece of history about our house. So neat!!


House Updates

It's been awhile since I've written here - sorry, it's been a busy but productive summer (at least by our standards). Here are a few fence update pictures plus our newest addition to the family - our new Japanese Maple. We're almost done with the fence. Just have to construct the gates which some might argue are the most important part of the effectiveness of a fence.

The pictures below are the of the demo of the back part of our garage - the sided extension that was added on at some point to make room for longer vehicles. The siding was gross and needed to be replaced at some point so it made sense to do it now before the fence was installed directly adjacent to the garage siding. I'm pretty sure demo-ing the siding out was Chad's favorite part of the holiday weekend. So...soon we'll have our garage lights installed, new siding, and the fence gates! Woo hoo! Updates soon. Promise.
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Fence, Part III

Here are the latest fence pictures. We were able to get the longest section up over the weekend. Yeah!!! (Still need to put up the gate and scallop the top.)


Rain, Rain Go Away?

It hasn't rained here in central Indiana for like three weeks. No kidding. But today - it decided to rain. Why? Because I decided to wash my car and Chad decided to finish staining the fence boards outside.

Mother Nature is so cruel sometimes. :) Actually, it was just a little sprinkle so it was okay. I thought it was a lot more funny than Chad did.

A little tarp action over our fence slats.
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Green Restoration

Okay, okay. I know it is "hip" to be "green" right now. It is the buzz word of our current times but it's a good thing. It's about time we start realizing that even seemingly small individual environmentally-friendly acts done by one person can add up to real results at some point in the future. Enough of my unoriginal, green soapbox thoughts.

Although us old-house lovers and restorers may not realize it, we are green. I love the line that I've heard and read many times since having green suggestions (at first) shoved down my throat by family members and colleagues (and now I research green stuff on my own): The greenest house (or building) you build is the one you don't build at all. I LOVE this saying because it gives me another reason to feel good about this old house when, at times, I just really want to hate it. But I feel good knowing that I haven't contributed to the killing of more trees, the destruction of farm land, etc etc.

I found this article that discusses green renovations for historic homes. Sure, there are some difficulties and it can be costly up front (both time-wish and monetarily), but restoring a house is a perfect opportunity to implement some environmentally-friendly home improvement aspects. I think what I like most, which the article points out, is that old-house green renovations doesn't have to be (and maybe shouldn't, depending on your commitment to restoration) "in-your-face" sustainability. For example, making our 1928 brick house more energy efficient was the one of the first major projects we undertook. Since we have a brick house, pumping insulation from the outside in was not an option. Instead we drilled one-inch holes sixteen inches apart into all of our outside facing plaster walls and had Icynene type spray foam foamed into the walls (I've mentioned this in a previous post somewhere). Here is a picture of one of the guys foaming it into our walls. At the time we weren't necessarily trying to be green. We were attempting to be comfortable and save money on heating and cooling bills. This cost a pretty penny up front but has been the BEST thing we've done so far to this house. And recently we've been to green building conferences that rate this type of insulation as one of the greenest things you can do to your old house!
Read the article for some green restoration pointers you can implement in your own old house restoration. Meanwhile, here are some of the other green restorations Irvington Bungalow is considering: salvaged home items (tiles, furniture, kitchen sinks, beadboard, etc.), metal roof, keeping the hardwoods and not laying any carpet (there are lots of chemicals that go into making carpet and they can constantly emit fumes into your home even years after installation), using natural and environmentally-friendly products in our future kitchen remodel (love Marmoleum or cork flooring).


Fence, Part II

Here is some of the progress that was made on the fence over the weekend. The cross sections were put up on the north side of the house that is adjacent to the neighbor's fence (first picture). Almost all of the tallest and widest boards were installed along the length of the fence. Finally, the first section of the vertical boards were put up. You can see in the close up in the last picture the design Chad came up with. I'm super excited because I think it looks great!! Keep in mind that the top still needs to be arched (or whatever you call it - the top will look similar to the neighbor's fence) but we're waiting till the whole fence is installed to do that.

The very last picture is of the bouquet I bought at the Irvington Farmer's Market held on the second Sunday of every month during summer and early fall. Yesterday was the first one I've been to this season, maybe the first one of the year. The flowers are grown by an Irvingtonian (I think) in her yard - they are always so beautiful!!

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More Pictures Than Usual! (or Fence Progress and Front Porch Rocker)

(Can you tell I don't have a thesis to write anymore or even a job to go to yet? I've been posting more consistently than I ever have in the existence of this blog.)

So our commitment to making few weekend plans this summer is beginning to pay off. Although there is (as per usual) little visual progress to be seen yet, I think we're feeling pretty good about things here at Irvington Bungalow. As promised in the title, I have more pictures than usual posted today so you can get an idea of the fence project we worked on over the weekend. (I should fess up - I only worked on Sunday and sweet Chad worked both days. Despite our pact to dedicate ourselves to the house for most weekends this summer, I've managed to already attend not one, but two annual festivals our World Class City offers each summer. This weekend it was the Vintage Indiana Wine & Food Festival. But if anyone tries to tell you that sampling various Indiana wines in the summer heat isn't hard work - well, they are just wrong!)

I totally digress.

Back to the house stuff. Below is a picture of what the house looked like outside when we bought it. We immediately took out the front landscaping because we foolishly thought that we would have enough money and time to install new landscaping much sooner than we actually will. haha! Anyways, I'm only showing this picture because of that huge tree on the right hand side. It was in the back yard and was taken out (it was dead) very soon after we moved into the house. That was one of the first major changes for the back yard.

This next picture was taken in 2004 and shows two things: (1) Our former dog, Harley, and the primary reason we started building this damn fence in the first place. He could not be trusted to stay in the yard, silly dog. So we were going to build a fence. Some long time readers (haha, all one of you) might remember that Har Bar unexpectedly passed away which consequently was one of the reasons the fence has been put on hold for so long. There just hasn't been a pressing need. (uh, except to get the neighbors to quit asking us when we are going to finish the fence!) (2) The two sidewalks you see in this picture are now gone as well as that bush thing he is laying next to.

This next picture was taken in the fall of 2006. It shows the footings for the fence as well as a new-ish landscaping bed and tree.

The next picture is proof that, when it comes to our house, Chad likes multiple projects. He decided to till up the entire back yard and re-seed it. At the time I was like: Whatever. But now I think that the new grass is so beautiful (as you'll see in the next pics) that I do think it was all worth it. However, the new grass is another reason the fence building has taken so long.

Posted by PicasaThe next two pics are from yesterday and show the progress that was made on the fence over the weekend. First the posts and then the horizontal boards. Probably next weekend we'll install the rest of this side of the fence. It will slightly mimic our neighbor's fence which you can see in the background.
And finally, Chad also put together our stained front porch rockers! They look fab and we are so excited about them!!



This is a picture of the house I took the other night. It was taken at dusk and I just thought our flowers and our new front porch light* made the house look homey. My mom says our house doesn't look lived in. I'm trying to prove her wrong.

But don't you just hate the aluminum storm door and windows?? They make me want to puke. Next year is planned to be the year of the outside. Meaning that we'd like to (FINALLY) do the landscaping. Also paint the trim, buy and install new storm doors and storm windows. This year (very soon) will be a new roof. Then I'll say: boo-ya!! The house looks lived-in now!

The storm doors that I would like to get are made by Larson and feature shatterproof glass like the glass that is found in automobile windshields. Check out this link to see a video clip of some dude trying to bust the glass with a baseball bat. The doors will allow us to have a clear view outside if we decide to leave the front door open. Even better - passers-by will be able to see our great front door. Even better than that - I won't have to worry about some scuz off the street breaking the glass on our doors to get inside.

* We actually purchased new lights for the front porch as well as the side porch and for the back of the garage facing the alley. We've only installed the front porch light so far. Once the rest are installed, later this summer, we'll post pics.

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Memorial Day Weekend Bust

Due to the rain and some unforeseen technical difficulties the fence didn't get built this weekend as we had planned on (don't think we didn't make a trip to Home Depot every single day this weekend in an attempt to overcome the difficulties).

However, fear not!! It was not a total waste of a weekend. Chad was able to cut and paint some more of the wood for the fence. We put two coats of stain on our rocking chairs. I was also able to get some of the inside organized and the front porch cleaned off. So all was not lost. I'll post some pics of our rocking chairs once we assemble them!!

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The Casualties of Sanding

This past weekend we sanded down a couple of rocking chairs we bought for the front porch. It took us about twice as long as we thought to sand and wipe these chair parts down! Just like the home improvement adage goes, I guess.

Anyways, the sanding took some casualties along the way.
This is NOT staged. My husband actually fell asleep with the dog's bone in his hands in the middle of the back yard. Maybe once these chairs are stained and put together he can fall asleep more properly on the front porch!

Judging by this picture it would be difficult to believe that we have actually lived in our fixer-upper for three years this month!!

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Need New Plumbing ASAP!

In an attempt to keep myself busy while I find a job, I decided to continue with my spring cleaning (slowly but surely I'll finish - although it will probably be fall by the time it all is really done). So the refrigerator was the next step. Unfortunately I needed to throw out some things and, given that trash day is a few days away, I used my disposal.
Or I tried to use my disposal:

Disgusting!! This is so gross. I mean, call me crazy that I think a disposal should actually WORK. Anyways, this means that we are definitely updating all of the plumbing this summer. ugh. (Neighbors - this is why there is no progress on the outside yet ... last summer we re-wired the entire house and this summer plumbing. We promise one day we will actually have the fence up, the walls painted, and some landscaping installed)!!
(ps: Please don't be jealous of the faux wood laminate counters. They are pretty swanky.)

I had to wash my dishes in the bathroom. Nice.
Below is a picture of Shelby while I was washing dishes in the bath sink and drying them in the tub. She looks as if she is questioning my sanity (and I was).
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A Dip into the Lowcountry

A few weeks ago my dad and I took a road trip to Savannah, Georgia and then traveled up the Lowcountry coast to Charleston, South Carolina. As old house lovers, I'm sure you're all aware of the abundance of beautiful historic houses that proliferate in these two southeastern cities. I took about two hundred pics over just a few days. Here are just some of the great houses we came across. I'm not sure if you can tell but in the picture above there is a full-sized copper (I think) statute of a child leaning over the balcony. It was SO cool. I am completely in love with these two cities and if I ever moved anywhere it would be one of these places (or maybe Portland, OR but that's a whole other set of pics....) In other news, I'm about four or five weeks away from graduating with my Masters in Urban Planning. Chad just took a job with the local historic landmarks foundation. He has the coolest job - he has to opportunity to save old houses all around Indianapolis!!! And gets paid for it!!! He's waited a long time for something like this to come along and he deserves it! We're so excited to see some of these vacant dilapidated houses come back to life. He'll still be doing some landscape architecture on the side so not all is lost. Once I'm finished with school we're diving (back) into our dilapidated house full force. We've got a lot on our spring and summer to-do list. Chad installed our new front porch light while I was away but I'm saving those pics for when we have the rest of the outside lights installed. Upcoming projects include a new roof (gotta spend that hail insurance money), replacing the entire plumbing system and a possible bathroom renovation. Told you we had big plans....stay tuned!!

This is in Charleston. It's a little lopsided because I had to reach through a fence to take the pic - can't keep my camera away!

This a B&B in Savannah across the stree from a really great urban park (not one of the squares).

This house is actually an antique store on one Savannah's squares. The inside, while run-down now, is just beautiful. You can really see how, at one point of time, this place was amazing.


Question About Humidifiers

Okay! I can't take it anymore. Right now we have two problems happening inside our house: (1) the air is extremely, excruciatingly dry and (2) dust. Lots and lots of dust that quickly settles on everything inside the house. Now, I know that the dry air is because it is winter. But the dust? I think it is because last summer Chad "un-finsihed" our attic that had been finished by the POs several decades ago in order to get to some electrical wiring. After removing the carpet and the boards, we found blown-in cotton (I think) insulation in between studs in the floor. I think this is the connection, although I could be wrong. I can dust and then an hour later (not exaggerating) there is already a thin layer of dust. I'm concerned about the quality of air we are breathing. I've heard that whole house humidifiers can alleviate the dust problem but I'm pretty sure that has nothing to do with air quality. Does anyone have any experience with whole house humidifiers? We do not have radiators or anything - we have a gas heater. HELP! Due to the fact that 90% of my life is reading and researching for school, I have not done any humidifier research yet except to look it up on This Old House's website. I was hoping someone could point me in the right direction so I can just begin to read about them. Are whole house humidifiers bad for the wood work in old houses?


Snow Day(s)

We've had a little snow here in Indianapolis...good excuse not to do any work. (not that we've needed excuses lately)
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Things I Love About Our Old House

When we started looking at houses, I'm not sure we even considered a new house. For one, old houses have history. There have been lives lived here and it is not all sterile and new feeling when you walk in. Secondly, as soon as I walked into this house I said: this house feels sturdy. It is a brick house, has all the original woodwork, wood floors, and many original detials. I think the sturdy feeling and the details are what finally pushed me into really wanting this house. It certainly wasn't the wallpaper or the seventies kitchen, I can assure you.
Posted here are some of the things that sold me...and the things that to this day I look at and just love about the house. To first picture is our mail slot. Obviously. I love that we have a mail slot. And I absolutely love that we have a mailman who walks up to every one's porches and puts mail in the mail slots. I especially love that ours specifically says "mail" - just so there is not any confusion. That is not our pizza slot, folks. It is for mail only. It also accepts cash.

The pics below are of the mail slot on the inside of the house. There is actually a door that you lift up to retrieve the mail but it was hanging on by only one hinge. We removed it and put "fix mail slot door" on the bottom of the priority list. Besides, I like seeing the old sticker on the inside. I've taken a close-up pic so you can see it better. It says Penn Greg Mfg. Co. out of St. Paul, Minnesota.

The picture to the left is our fireplace mantel. I adore the green bricks and the windmill tile. I'm actually looking for some information on the tile. I'm just curious if anyone out there has anything similar and possibly who manufactured it. If anyone knows anything about it or has seen a similar one, please leave a comment!

The final picture is one of our door knobs. I guess you could tell that, right? I love the fact that all of our doors have the original door knobs. Most of them have the keyhole hardware and several still have the keys in the doors. This particular knob is in our bedroom and still has this string attached to it. Sure, it's a little dirty but the string was there when we bought the place and will continue to remain there.

So that's all I have for now. As soon as we can get more motivated (which might not happen for me until I get my thesis finished) we'll start posting some pics of some work we're doing. Right now we're hibernating from the cold and I'm concentrating on finishing my last semester of grad school.

Oh yeah - one more thing: Go Colts! Happy times for Indianapolis. I'm certainly not a football fan but I appreciate and applaud their efforts and am excited for all of the positive energy in Indy right now!!