Drying out basement

9 Jul

When I first moved here, I had a dehumidifier in the basement. It worked great and kept it dry. At some point it broke and due to incredible sloth and laziness, it has taken me about five years to replace it. I just got a Frigidaire, Energy Star, 50 pint model from Home Depot online (delivered to my door, thank you very much). I’ve hooked it up for constant drainage with an old bit of garden hose (and propped it on an old radiator, levelled with some broken tiles — this is a classy operation right here).


photo 1 photo 3

In the first three hours of operation, it filled up — 50 pints! So I switched it to the constant drainage. It already smells better and feels dryer and the rugs in the hallway above the basement feel dryer. Why did I wait so long??

This model had great reviews on HomeDepot.com and only cost about $240 with tax (including free delivery, which is really worth it). It has a five year warranty, so when it does die (in five years and one day, no doubt), I’ll plan to replace it toot sweet and not wait forever. One step towards a less gross basement.

Garden inspiration

21 Apr


I found this photo on a new favorite blog — Kitchens I Have Loved — and am in love with it. I stare at this photo for hours. I would like to incorporate these rich greens in planters in my little back garden, but just looking at the photo initiates a lot of imagination time. It was from an old magazine and didn’t have a credit that I could find.

Happy Easter, everybody!

20 Apr
Taggy says Happy Easter, also please feed me.

Taggy says Happy Easter, also please feed me.

Installing Lincrusta Trim

15 Apr

I’m bad at so many things. Taking informative, step-by-step photos and posting replicable instructions about home improvement projects is one of my many weaknesses.

One of my favorite bloggers, Daniel at Manhattan-Nest, is so good at tutorials. So perhaps one day he’ll put up some Lincrusta molding and write a much better tutorial about how he installed it. In the meantime, here’s my feeble offering.

Lincrusta molding/trim/chair rail comes in rolls. (Hint number one: if you’ve got ten rolls of it because of a delivery error and you store those ten rolls in your basement for eight years, they will dry out and become unusable. And in the meantime, Lincrusta may design a better-suited product. It happens.)

Roll of Lincrusta trim

Roll of Lincrusta trim

In order to apply the trim to a wall, you need to get the curl to relax and the product to soften, so you are advised to soak it in hot water for about twenty minutes.

Where I only needed a short amount (between doors and such), I cut off the needed amount (NB: the lincrusta expands when wet, so cut off a bit less than you really need — maybe 1/4 inch less). For really loooong sections (the stairs), I cut off about 3 foot sections. I used a razor blade and a rotary cutting mat to do the cutting.

Then I put three or four sections in the tub at a time and let them soak in warm water.

Lincrusta pieces soaking in tub.

Lincrusta pieces soaking in tub.

If the sections were longer than 3 feet or so, they would stick out of the tub and I’d have to move them around so they were equally wet.

Then I put them on the pasting station (i.e. bathroom sink) and applied “vinyl over vinyl” adhesive with a paint brush. Really goop it up. You’ll have to use your imagination on that part, as I forgot to take a picture.

Then you put it on the wall. I put it over the wallpaper and over the “grasscloth” (textured vinyl wall covering). Press it down and use a wallpaper roller to really get it to stick. Again, please use imagination.

One thing that happened was that the Lincrusta cracked in places. Like this:

Cracked bit of Lincrusta.

Cracked bit of Lincrusta.

If you press it together along the crack and then caulk it later, it’s barely noticeable. And I personally have very low standards, so it’s fine with me.

Here it is in the process of going up one of the stairwells:


To manage the curves and the dips and the general rise of the wall, I used short sections (a foot or so) when I needed to change the angle. This worked fine for me. There were gaps between some of the joints (although I did angled cuts where possible). After it has been up for about a day, you’re supposed to caulk the gaps, using acrylic caulk. Did that. Then you’re supposed to prime it with an acrylic primer OR paint with oil paint (now not sold in Massachusetts). So I primed it and painted it thinking that would cover the gaps up pretty well.

This happened with varying levels of success. There’s one part right by the front door where it looks really quite crappy, but again, it’s done, and that’s what matters most to me.


Sort of choppy Lincrusta install. But the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Sort of choppy Lincrusta install. But the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Primed Lincrusta.

Primed Lincrusta.



The Halls — They’re Done!

14 Apr

After 12 long years (actually they sort of flew by) of looking at the dingy hallways and grotty stairs, I now have gorgeous, lovely, clean and beautiful walls, creamy spindles, and squishy green carpet. Hip, hip, hooray!

The carpet was installed on Wednesday and it looks quite beautiful. The installation was a bit of an ordeal, and the work scratched up the paint on all the baseboards (so they had to be repainted) but it’s done now.

There is a bit of a rest home chic to the whole appearance, but it’s working for me. Painting the spindles was a tremendous ordeal. There are still some spots here and there that I missed, but I’ve decided they add character. The members of Flaw-Pointers International (certain friends who hone in on imperfections) can go to hell and just leave me alone, because I think it all looks great.

Here are some photos of the transformation>

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Wallpaper progress on my 12th anniversary in the house

28 Feb

I moved into my wonderful dream home twelve years ago today. My how time flies! I don’t have any photos of the house when I first arrived (due to a 2006 computer crash that cost me all the photos from 2002 – 2006), but let me tell you, it looked a lot different. All the walls were white (except for the hallways, which were papered in a dingy damask). Most of the floors were painted brown with lead paint or had very gross industrial carpet on them. There was no kitchen. Most of the rooms had live gas for a stove and a couple had wall-mounted sinks. (My house had been a rooming house for single men for nearly 70 years and each man did his cooking in his room). There was one bathroom.

I had grand plans to totally renovate the house from roof to basement in ten years. I also had a job that paid about double what I’ve been earning for the past several years, so needless to say, my plan did not go according to plan. But even though the ten-year mark was two years ago, I have kept up a fairly steady pace of renovations, plugging away and doing what I could (or what I foolishly thought I could) do on my own and hiring people to do what I couldn’t.

Ever since I moved in, I’ve longed to do the hallways/staircases over. They were dingy. The paper was peeling. The walls were cracked. The stairs were painted brown with strange (but functional) black rubber stair treads. And now, twelve years on, they are nearly finished!

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Good friends are coming tomorrow to risk their necks hanging the paper (and prepping the wall) in that terrible coffin corner. Then I’ll have a bit of touch up painting to do, and our work will be done. I know what needs to be done for the chair rail installation, but I do not have the patience, skills, tools, or ability to do it. So I’m going to hire a handyman for that and hope it will be done in March.

Am also going to start painting the stair treads and spindles this month, in anticipation of choosing a carpet for the stairs and having it installed in May.

This wallpapering makes me deeply, profoundly, inexpressibly happy. It looks great and I am SOOOOO grateful to my several friends without whom I could not have done it (sounds like an Oscar acceptance speech). So lucky to have great, daring friends!!!

Paper hanging in progress

19 Feb

Here are the in-progress photos:


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