Take my house, please!

20 Apr

I haven’t posted anything in the last two years because all the work is done. And as a result, I’d like to take on a new project. I have my eye on an old colonial era home in New England that needs a lot of restoration. Yippeee! But I can only buy that if I can sell this.

So if anyone out there wants to take on a pretty much completed 4 story beautiful bow front townhouse in beautiful and dynamic downtown Springfield, MA….. here’s how you can do it:

Zillow Listing for 29 Mattoon Street

It’s been on the market nearly a month and I haven’t had any offers yet. It’s such a great house! You’d love to live here!!

2014 in review

30 Dec

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 8,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Home Depot, you done me wrong

21 Dec

My 12 year old Fisher Paykel double drawer dishwasher died in November. I had a repairman out and he said it would cost $1100 to fix it and that wouldn’t mean 12 more years of it working. So I decided to get a new dishwasher. I looked at another Fisher Paykel dishdrawer set up, and then decided to also mosey on over to Home Depot to see about a more typical, regular old dishwasher. Home Depot happened to be having a big appliance sale with free delivery and removal of old appliances widely advertised.

I poked around in the store, but there was no one there to help me, so I went home and looked online. I chatted with a couple of very helpful online reps and ordered a GE Profile Steam Assisted dishwasher for around $700. Since appliances are all now designed to die in about ten years, and since all of my appliances are about 12.5 years old, I thought I’d check out the washer and dryers. My existing ones were also Fisher Paykels, and the dryer had been repaired twice already, but still only worked on high and didn’t have automatic shut off. I figured I’d bite the bullet and get a new washer and dryer while I had the Home Depot delivery and installation team over putting in my new dishwasher. So I got some more GE steam assisted stuff: a washer and a gas dryer. Home Depot offered interest free financing on the HD card, $100 discount for each additional appliance purchased, FREE DELIVERY AND REMOVAL OF OLD APPLIANCES, and very reasonable extended warranties ($125 each for five additional years of coverage, plus the online rep said she’d give me a discount for getting three extended warranties).

Well, in order to get the free installation, I had to order their install kits. Then it turns out that for the gas dryer and dishwasher, installation actually cost $79. Okay, that was still cheaper than $125 per appliance at the place I looked at the Fisher Paykels.

So the day finally arrives. The delivery men come, deliver the appliances, set up the washing machine and get ready to leave. What about the other appliances? Oh, we’re not allowed to install those in MA, because you have to have a licensed plumber and electrician install them. If you lived in Enfield (a ten minute drive away and over the state line in CT), we could do it. Sorry.

What? What the what? I called HD and got put around to a bunch of different extensions until I had a long conversation with a rep in Utah who had grown up here in Springfield, MA. She said “if the drivers are a licensed plumber/electrician team, they’ll install for you, but if they’re not, they won’t.” What????? She put me on hold for ages while she said she was looking to see if there were installers available to come out to my house that night (oh, did I mention this is all happening on a Saturday night). No, there weren’t. Okay, I said, I’m going to find someone and I’ll send you the bill. She told me she’d send me a $50 gift card for my trouble. I may have snorted in derision.

I called around — of course, no one was interested in coming to do an install with zero notice on a rainy Saturday night. A guy who lives in the neighborhood who does handyman stuff said he’d do it, but he’d charge me emergency call rate, which was $200 to come out on a Saturday night, and then basically $125 – $150 per appliance install and $25 per to take away the old ones. Okay, I said, planning to submit the bill to Home Depot for reimbursement.

He came, he installed. The dishwasher didn’t come with an electrical cord, so he had to go out the next morning and get one and had to come back the next morning (Sunday) to finish. He charged an additional $300 to come out on a Sunday. So the grand total was $916.98 for the installation of my appliances. You know, the ones advertised as coming with FREE F****NG INSTALLATION AND REMOVAL OF OLD APPLIANCES.

I submitted the invoice to our friends at Home Depot and after a round of phone calls and emails, they said the most they could do was send me a $200 gift card. They “respectfully declined” to reimburse me for the work I had to have done due to their patently false advertising (hey, attorney general — want to take a stab at this) and false promises/incorrect information from their staff.

The appliances are fine (in fact, the laundry ones are great, I really love them), but after a kind of shitty installation of carpet by Home Depot this spring and after this fiasco, I will never get any Home Depot installation done and will do my best to warn others away from them. I already succeeded in steering a neighbor away from buying a stove from them. As I tell my tale of woe to others, I’ve heard of another person who bought a dishwasher at the store in West Springfield, MA and was expecting free installation only to be told when they came to deliver it that they don’t install dishwashers in MA. She paid $300 to have hers installed. Ummmm… class action lawsuit anyone?

So, please dear readers — especially those in our fair Commonwealth of Massachusetts — vote with your wallets and do not purchase items for installation at the Depot. If you do, don’t expect the installation to happen.

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.