Category Archives: House

Two Girls in a Bedroom

On Friday, with some apprehension, I said to Catherine, “Y’know, Papa and I have been thinking about getting your old small bed down from the attic and putting it in your room so that Esme can sleep with you at night.” I wasn’t sure how she would react to the idea of giving up ‘her’ space and brought up the topic just to start the ball rolling so she could get used to the idea.

Well, wouldn’t you know that Catherine was more than thrilled at the thought of having “two sisters in one room!!” So excited, in fact, that as soon as we got home and put Esme down for her nap she rushed into her room and started cleaning up.

Before
Before

Catherine and I had the room clean and tidy by the time Peter came home from work and before bedtime the two of them had rearranged the furniture a bit, retrieved the bed from the attic, assembled it and made it cozy. Both girls were almost too excited about it all to fall asleep, but they eventually drifted off.

After
After

Esme spent about half the night in her new bed and half the night in ours, but I’d say it was a pretty good first night. Just before bed Catherine told us, “If Esme wakes up and cries I will say to her ‘are you okay, Esme?’ And if she says no, I will bring her to Mama.” So sweet!

The room is so small that eventually I think we’ll have to go to bunk beds, but for now this arrangement will be just fine. [more photos here]

WoodBathroom 2.0

The bathroom has been on the bottom of our list of things to do since we moved in here almost four years ago. The color of the tile, the grimeyness of the grout, the darkness and the smallness could all be overlooked because we just weren’t in the room all that much. While we went about other projects in the house I tried, in vain, to make the bathroom more livable. New art, new mats different shelving… nothing was quite right, but we made the best of it. Just before Christmas, though, two tiles popped themselves off the bathtub wall. Peter started researching how to put them back up, but I saw this as a great opportunity to be done with the tile all together.

For Christmas, Peter and I received a huge wrapped box from my parents. Inside was a brand new tub surround! It was white, sleek and just plain perfect. We hadn’t even mentioned the renegade tiles to them! This project was meant to be! All we needed now was some time to put it in. I spent a week emptying out the bathroom and pulling down the old tile. Then I took the girls and went to my parents’ house for a weekend, while my Dad came here. Over the course of two full days plus and evening the guys were able to tear down the rest of the tile, repair the walls in the shower, install the new tub surround, install beadboard around the bathroom walls, build a window sill and probably more things that I’ve missed!

We came home on Sunday night to a mostly new bathroom! Over the next week or so we put some finishing touches on (some new paint, new towel hooks, new toilet paper holder) and cleaned and purged and organized the bathroom contents. I was ruthless, and only the absolute necessities made it back in to the room.

The clean, fresh, white new atmosphere of the bathroom has inspired me to keep it simple and organized. Everything has a place and we’re doing our darndest to return them there after use. It feels silly to say, but this ‘new’ bathroom really makes me feel good and at peace. It has also inspired me to keep working on organizing and simplifying and beautifying other parts of the house as well. A huge thank you shout out to my Dad and Peter for such great (and fast!) workmanship!

[a few more photos can be found here]

ps. Dad, when you get home from vacation, I have some ideas to run by you…..just kidding!

Bathroom Art

It’s no secret that I don’t really love my bathroom. It is small, cramped and just overall pretty ugly. We do our best to fit what we need into it and are constantly purging and rearranging our stuff so make the room more usable. Thank goodness I don’t have to spend much time there!

I’ve tried decorating the one open wall a few times since we’ve moved in. Nothing ever seemed right, though. I would leave photos or art on the wall for a while and then pull it down in desperation.

After several attempts I was stuck by some inspiration. I think I have finally found some bathroom art that will stay up for a long time and it only cost me $3. Here’s how:

Part One: Last month I found three yellow Ikea picture frames at the Children’s Drop and Shop, a semi-annual consignment sale. They were still in the package and at a dollar each were half off their retail price. I bought them without an end purpose in mind, but figured they’d come in handy.

Part Two: Have you ever seen wordle.net? It’s a fun little site that creates word clouds from blocks of text. The more frequent a word in the text, the larger it is in the cloud. I love playing around with this tool, but have never known just what to do with the results.

Part Three: I did some brainstorming and came up with three songs that are bathroom related. I copied and pasted the lyrics into the Wordle tool, fiddled around with font, color and layout and printed out three word clouds. I popped them in the frames and hung them up. So simple, so perfect.

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Songs: (left to right)(links to Youtube so you can enjoy the songs too!)
Singing in the Shower“- one of my Sesame Street favorites
Splish Splash“- Bobby Darin
Rubber Ducky“- a classic!

Family Closet

Some time around the new year I got it into my head that we should have a family closet. One space for all our clothes, nicely organized, easy to access and, most importantly, close to our washer and dryer. Inspired by the Duggars, I set to work planning such a space in our house. Fortunately for me, we had a bit of space that would be perfect- the back corner of our basement, currently being used as a storage room. Unfortunately for me, the room was a) not a ‘finished’ room and b) was full of ‘storage’.

We spent the first few months of the year discussing and dreaming and researching the idea of a family closet. There’s not a whole lot out there on the topic, but we did find this site as well as checking out photos of the Duggar’s closet. We don’t need to store as many clothes as they do, but I’m sure you get the idea!

As we researched we brainstormed reasons that we wanted to rethink our current clothes storage situation

  • Our bedrooms are small and the bureaus are taking up precious space better used for other purposes
  • Getting clean clothes put away was bothersome due to varied sleeping schedules and distance from the laundry area
  • Collecting up dirty clothes was tedious
  • Clothes were disorganized and hard to access in too small closets and too dark bedrooms
  • Laundry for four people was multiplying and taking over, we had no clear plan to manage the piles.

In May we took the plunge and started the remodel. We took everything out of the storage room and piled it in the living room. It was an embarrassing amount of stuff. Over the next week or two we went through each and every box and pile and consolidated, freecycled, donated, tossed, or moved to the attic every last bit of it. Phew!

My Dad and Corey came at the beginning of June and put drywall on the wall that needed it, put down subflooring and flooring and cut and installed the baseboard trim. Peter and Catherine primed and painted the room white. I served as forewoman making important decisions and making helpful comments like, “I would sure help with all that heavy lifting, but, darn, I have this baby to nurse and this backyard wading pool to lifeguard…”

We’ve just finished moving everything in. The storage items that made the cut have been put back on the shelving unit just inside the door. Paint and other tools and such are tucked under the staircase. The two bureaus from the bedrooms have been tucked into their own corners and filled with our, recently sorted, clothes. There’s a rack (and a pipe in the ceiling) for our hanging clothes and some other organizers here and there. With the addition of a braided rug from my parent’s attic, we now have a cozy little place to get dressed and fold laundry.

Though we’re still in the honeymoon phase, we’re optimistic about our new setup. Some of the benefits we’re hoping to reap from the change

  • Dirty laundry all in one place
  • Quick and easy transfer of clean laundry from line or dryer to drawers
  • Brightly lit room means it’s easier to find what you want
  • Peter can dress in the morning without waking anyone else
  • We can see all of our stuff clearly which means we won’t buy duplicates and can easily purge what we aren’t wearing
  • Room upstairs to shuffle some other furniture around and some ‘breathing space’ in our bedrooms

There are a few more photos of the room and it’s progression in this gallery. Check them out and come back here with your questions and comments. We love a good discussion here at World Wide Wood!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It is definitely looking a bit like Christmas here at the Wood Homestead, thanks to three new Christmas Garlands we’ve recently hung.

The first is a New Englandy Cranberry and Popcorn garland that adorns the front windows:

The second, a traditional construction paper Paper Chain garland. It is hung above harm’s reach in the archway between the dining room and kitchen. Catherine’s new found stapling skills were a huge help in making this garland.

And finally, a snowflakey, starry garland hung to disguise the lamp cord above the dining room table. I knit the stars using this pattern (here’s mine on Ravelry for you ravelers) and then strung them all together.

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Keeping Warm in the Winter (without relying on the heaters)

It is December 1st and the Wood household has yet to turn on the heat. Not because we’re gluttons for punishment or because we’re better than you or anything. Mostly, it just hasn’t gotten cold enough to need it on. We try to avoid turning the heat on for a few reasons: conservation of energy and financial savings are just the big ones.

Here are some of our tips for staying comfortable (and saving money) as the temperature dives:

Reduce the amount of space you need to heat. The smaller your house, the less heat you’ll need. If you’re looking to buy a new house, don’t buy more square footage as you need. If you’re not moving, look at how you can close off unused space and keep the heat in the used space. Closing doors, shutting off radiators, hanging heavy blankets in open doorways are good places to start.

Insulate your outsides walls. This might mean more insulation in the attic or tighter windows. It can also mean draft dodgers at doors and windows. You can even buy (or make) heavy window quilts to keep the heat in. And there’s always window plastic to fall back on!

Use a programmable thermostat. If everyone is out of the house all day there’s no reason to keep the house too warm. Set your thermostat to turn on just before you wake up and turn off as you’re leaving for the day. You can set it to kick on again about an hour before you come home. We also set ours to shut off at night while we’re all asleep.

Dress appropriately. I love to go barefoot, but it just isn’t practical in these cold New England winters. Socks, pants and long sleeve shirts are givens. Sometimes long underwear or a sweater is just the layer you need to take the chill off. If you can wear short sleeves in February you’re probably keeping the house too warm. Remember to dress appropriately at night, too. Warm pjs and socks underneath flannel sheets and a warm quilt or comforter should do the trick.

Keep busy. Make cookies, vacuum, do the dishes, play games, exercise, organize a closet, fold the laundry, paint a room. The more you move, the warmer you’ll be.

Eat (and drink!) warm things. Hot chocolate, beef stew, chili, mashed potatoes, chicken soup, oatmeal, tea… you get the picture, right?

Get out of the house. You’ll spend less money on heat if you go somewhere else. We love to spend time at the library. Church makes for a long outing on Sundays. Walking the mall, exploring a museum or visiting friends and family can keep you away from home as well. Bundling up can give you more options- go for a walk or run, shovel snow, build a snowman. The fresh air will do you good and will make the warm house seem even warmer when you get home!

Lowering your thermostat just a couple of degrees can make a big difference. Start slowly and drop a degree or two. Once you get accustomed to that drop it a couple more. You’ll find a temperature that is both comfortable enough to live in and that won’t devastate your budget. Good luck, and stay warm!

The Basement: Officially Official

This morning, the Danvers building inspector stopped by and gave us the seal (or signature, rather) of approval!

building permit

The assessor stopped by shortly thereafter, which means that our tax bill will be going up (not so good) but also that our house will officially be more valuable (good for when we sell it).

So now we can officially move in! Hopefully we’ll work on that this Saturday. Other than that, there are a few minor things to touch up, like adding some handles to the doors and putting a top piece on the half wall, but that won’t stop us from moving things in!

We’ve come a long way since we started working on the basement. To show just how far, here’s a pic from before:

building permit

And here’s after:

building permit

See more before pics and after pics.

Let There Be Light!

View looking from the laundry area into the living room
Into the living room

And there was light! And, more importantly, electricity. Yes, our electrician came back today to do his finish electrical work in the basement. He has a few small things to finish up tomorrow, but for the most part everything electrical is finished. We’ve got six recessed lights in the living room, wrap lights in the laundry area and storage room, and working receptacles and switches all over the place. He also took care of a few non-basement items upstairs, like installing a new light in the ceiling above the kitchen sink, installing a larger GFCI receptacle in the bathroom, and fixing/updating a receptacle in the kitchen that wasn’t grounded properly (!).

Having electricity and working lights downstairs really goes a long way to making the basement look almost finished. The bright lighting also helps to point out all of the little imperfections in our painting and drywalling, most of which we’ll probably let slide, but some of which we’ll want to fix. More importantly, it will make it much easier to get our work finished, since we won’t have to rely solely on the one portable work light we had been using.

Earlier this week, I worked on getting the French doors painted. We have a bit of clean-up work to do on that, removing the remaining bits of plastic sheet covering the glass, and scraping off the paint that managed to get through and around the plastic. I also got things all cleaned up and rearranged the storage room so that the electrician could have access to the electrical panel. And I did a bit of touch up gooping and painting on a few other areas around the basement.

What’s left? We still need to do a bit more touch-up gooping and painting, lay down the flooring, install the baseboard moulding around the living room and laundry area, install the casing around the French doors and the door to outside, raise the cabinets over the washer/dryer, install a door in front of the washer/dryer, install latches and handles on the French doors, and get the final electrical and building inspections. After that, we can move in! We still have a way to go, but it feels so close!

Here are some photos I took tonight, showing what it looks like with most of the painting done and the lights on!

Basement progress

So, things are moving along with the basement project. The water issue is cleared up. The damaged wallboard has been replaced and gooped over. Last week, Ken came over and we primed everything in the basement. Corey came to babysit Catherine for a while so that Rebecca and I could spend some quality, uninterrupted time at Home Depot. We bought all of the paint for the basement, as well as the floor and casing trim. Hopefully this week we’ll be able to start painting. Before you know it, we’ll be putting down flooring, getting our finish electrical work, and moving in! Hooray!

Here are some pics from before we put on the primer, and after the primer. Just one coat of primer makes a really big difference!

Basement slowdown

Work on the basement has been going a bit more slowly recently. Part of it is that it’s summer time and we’re doing lots of travel, part of it is that we’re trying to balance basement work with other interests and obligations, and part of it is that we had a bit of a setback due to some water damage.

Two issues with the house conspired to damage the bottom portion of the existing wall in our basement. One issue was that our gutter system is not the most effective. It’s old and leaky, and some parts are not well designed. In particular, one of the downspouts emptied right out next to the corner of the house, and the water essentially sunk into the ground and into the foundation wall, eventually working its way down to the cement floor of the basement. It didn’t flood, but what it did do was make the cement floor very moist. This isn’t a huge deal for the most part, because we’re using DriCore and our subfloor sits up off of the concrete on impermeable plastic feet. However, the existing drywall that the previous owners had put up on the outside walls was installed so that the bottom of the panels touched the concrete, and when the concrete became moist, that moisture wicked right up and soaked the bottom portions of our wall. In most places this just resulted in discoloration to the wallboard, which is easily fixed with Kilz. In a few places, however, the wallboard was significantly waterlogged and started to disintegrate. So to fix the problem, we took a few steps.

First, we did some work on the gutters to make them a bit more effective. I rerouted the downspout at the front of the house so that it ran around the corner and headed to the back of the house, dumping the water safely out in the back yard instead of right into the foundation. We also cleaned out and tightened up the gutters in the front where most of the water was getting dumped. Next, inside, we cut an inch away from the bottom of all of the wallboard in the basement so that it was no longer touching the concrete floor, thus preventing any future water damage. Finally, we ripped out some of the more damaged sections of the wall and replaced them with Mold Tough drywall, which resists mold growth and water damage. I’ve also placed some Damp-Rid buckets in the basement to help absorb any additional excess moisture. We still have some work to do with the drainage situation in our yard to keep as much water away from the foundation as we can, but all in all I think these changes will be very helpful.

Thankfully, since the basement hasn’t been finished yet and we hadn’t started painting, the water damage wasn’t such a big deal. All we have to do now is tape, goop, and sand the newly-installed drywall, and then we’ll be back to the point where we can start priming and painting. After that, we install the flooring, molding and trim, and after that, the final electrical work and final inspections.

Phew!