Our house was built in 1887, making our most recent baby 126-years-old. We absolutely love the romantic idea of fixing up our turn-of-the-century home (we often wonder about the house’s first owners – what furniture they owned, what they wore and how they talked [all proper like, obviously]), and with every Demo Day came fun, new surprises. Lath – that f@&!-ing lath! – not being in the fun category.
On the opposite end, you know that we uncovered this arch above the entryway (formerly the entrance to the building’s first floor unit), and on the first weekend of demo, we also uncovered original gas light piping beneath the surface of our ceiling:
It’s obvious now this wasn’t the safest method (and a little web digging had us finding out that the gas piping was ultimately replaced with electricity between 1900 and 1910), and we did confirm with our contractor that they were no longer active. Phew. They’ll cause no harm being covered by new drywall, but we couldn’t resist documenting this sweet remnant left behind from the original construction.
I like to think that an adorable little family lived here, maybe with 2 kids, a chicken and many dogs, and when they came home in the evenings, they would turn on their little gas lights with a little gas switch. (Scott, on the other hand, has not given the first family as much of a backstory; c’mon, Scott!)
These pipes will stay for nostalgia’s sake, and once the drywall has been installed, we’ll be adding can lights throughout, adding a much needed junction box to the living room (the fan that was once here wasn’t attached to a junction box – at all!), and possibly moving the placement of the dining room fixture so that it’ll hang properly above a table – but the jury’s still out on that move. And when I say we, I really mean that this will be handled our contractor, as I could only imagine the hilarity that would ensue if Scott and I took to drywalling on stilts. (Like this guy; he’s awesome.)
For now, our living and dining rooms are still looking a little like this:
But with our contractor returning to work sometime this week – clean drywall, here we come! – here’s hoping it won’t be long before we can settle back into semi-normalcy, returning home in the evenings with our little electric lights and flipping on our little electric switches.
A life changing – yes, really – thing happened in 2008. As a tiny birthday token, I painted for Scott a mini portrait of a pup, shared this with you (a whole year later), and then quietly (very quietly, shh), began taking word of mouth orders. These orders – mostly from friends and family – turned into reader requests, which, besides shocking my pants right off, turned into the official launch of The Pet Shop in 2010, 3 years ago today.
We were in business.
Since then, we’ve re-branded, began quarterly partnerships with nonprofit animal organizations and have come to know so many amazing pet lovers with incredible stories of their own. Well over 600 portraits later (what!), I’m finding myself in our second in-home studio, and I’m feeling incredibly lucky that you all have not only watched us grow, but you’re the very reason for it! Know that these words hold so much more weight than they appear: thank you.
While Jack just wants to know where we’re stashing the birthday cake (Scott, I’m wondering this, too?), we wanted to ring in this milestone with a celebration. Pull out the streamers, tie down those balloons, break out the kazoos (seriously, Scott, where’s the cake?), and here’s 15% off for you!
Today through Sunday, everything in The Pet Shop is eligible for 15% off when you use the code BDAY03, including prints, gift certificates, original paintings and of course, custom portraits! There are a few things to mention, such as:
- Promo runs through midnight CST, Sunday, September 15th.
- Promo cannot be applied towards past or existing orders.
- Our current turnaround time for a custom portrait is 9 weeks, so now is the time to check off your holiday shopping list. ‘Tis the season! (No, seriously, ’tis the season.) And keep in mind that if you have limited access to pet photos, gift certificates are always a great solution, too. The gift of custom art; what could be better?
Now, let’s party! I have the hats, Jack’s got the attitude, and Scott better have the cake.
Psst! Sunday, October 20th will be the last day to place custom orders for a timely Christmakuh delivery – but we have sold out sooner in previous years (of course we’ll keep you in the loop). Visit The Pet Shop, right here.
Holy Jeez, do we hate cables. In the past we’ve done everything in our power to minimize and hide them. Although they’re often necessary to connect one electronic gizmo to another, the previous tenants of this house took it to an entirely different level – but unlike mess you may see behind the television or under your desk, this time, it was outside our home. Specifically, seemingly miles of extraneous cables running along the side of our house.
I know, right? This is what we were facing – cables upon cables, twisted into other cables and on top of more cables!
The good news for us is that nearly all of what you see below is coaxial cable along our home’s vinyl siding, and it’s used to run a TV or internet signal in and around the home. It carries no electrical charge (I had to tell this to Kim, many, many times – safety police!), so you can easily clip and snip it as necessary, and if you’re not using it to carry a signal (as in our case where we’re utilizing a cable internet service as opposed to the previous tenants’ satellite dish), it’s completely unnecessary. Once we had identified the single cable we were using, we were all clear to get to snipping. For half a day! Seriously. (And as always, Jack did a fantastic job holding down the sidewalk for us).
We used a powered drill / driver to unscrew all the cable ties that were fastened into the side of the house and remove the satellite dish, wire cutters for the wires (obviously), and a claw hammer to pry out random fasteners nailed into our monstrous back deck / patio thingie. (We often talk about that thing coming down in the future – that is, after we get a ceiling and finish the bathrooms. And the kitchen and the bedroom…) At one point, I ended up having to climb up onto the roof of the garage to manage some unnecessary cables that had begun to droop.
We filled all of the holes that went through the entire wall (literally, through the siding and into the house) with an exterior grade caulk to seal out the elements, and as we finish the painting prep, we’ll patch all of the drywall on the inside with spackle.
After hours of snipping, roping and de-cabling, we could see our siding again!
It looks like a different house! And while the visual progress was pretty unbelievable (my hands were itching to tackle this project since our first showing!), we’ve still got a hefty list of what’s left to do – next year, perhaps?
Once we’ve got the siding pressure-washed, the foundation painted and the fence-line planted, (again, likely not until next spring as the inside to-dos have been piling, too) this sliver of walkway will look so, so much better.
Until then, we’ll continue to celebrate these small victories. Hip, hip!
Things we shouldn’t do until our contractor completes the drywall repair - well, the drywall we’ve ripped out… but also the ceilings we’ve taken down and the floors we’ve ripped up:
- Nail anything into the walls. Our home will still be shifting (ever-so-slightly) until they complete the support beam installation. This means that any built-in ideas we have are off the books for now.
- Unpack the fun stuff. We have bags of pillows, boxes of vases and candles and little orange elephants that would love to come out of hiding, but who would want to Swiff all that once the dust settles?
- Build extra kitchen storage. We picked up the Vittsjo unit from Ikea for some open shelving and much needed storage for the kitchen, but as much as we’d love to unpack that flat box, why would we? Again, refer to the dust reference, above.
- Work on the entry. Tiling the floor and stair repair would be better suited until after the sledgehammers, ladders and nail guns have been tucked away. Drop a saw on the staircase? Sure! Scrape the ladder across the entryway floor? Why not!
- Paint the walls. Obviously.
- Clean. Meaning, a real clean. No, we haven’t given up laundry or toilet scrubbing, but what’s the point in maintaining the baseboards when we don’t even have a ceiling? My Type-A ways have fallen to the wayside, and I kind of like it.
We’ve said this a few times, but not only are we hiring out the ceiling leveling (and therefore, the floor straightening), but our construction crew will also be moving around electrical work – centering lights, adding outlets and adding switches where needed. There’s a big list of to-dos, and although we’re next on the team’s work schedule, we’d rather not waste this in-between time doing nothing. Yes, there’s a lot we can’t do (i.e., above! Again!), but how about what we can do?
Well, let us tell you!
First, Scott and I have spent a big chunk of time cleaning windows, dropping off all our screens for repair (did you know you can do this at Ace Hardware?), scraping old caulk, and laying down spackle to fill in the 120-year-old cracks in the window casing. Phew.
While we were spackling, this got us into wall-repair-mode, so we used drywall patches to take care of any gaping holes. Below, you’ll see where our thermostat used to be (it was moved when we had an extra vents added on the first floor), and we also knocked out the more manageable holes in our master bedroom – a result of the pipe capping. We also covered any small dents, knicks and cracks throughout the whole house while we were at it.
Now, here’s where things get weird – us included. The entire first floor was, unfortunately, painted with low quality paint and rollers, leaving an unintentional bizarre texture on the walls. In addition, staples and glue were used by the previous owner to adhere anything to the wall, so wanting to make it right, we decided to sand the walls. All the (first floor) walls!
We scraped what we could with a large putty knife, and we followed that up with a coarse sanding block and our mouse sander. We’re still not finished (there’s a lot of wall to cover!), but it’s helping. It’ll be worth it. (Although truth be told, I’m exhausted just thinking back on the task itself.)
And finally, we’ve decided on paint colors to go on our soon-to-be very flat, very untextured walls! This turned into quite the ordeal, as with anything in our home (or so it seems). We know that technically, technically we can’t paint – not yet – but once our team of contractor’s completes their punch list, it’ll be game on, and we’ll be ready. (Sort of like the whole house buying process: Wait, wait, wait… Then, go! Go! Go!)
Our goal? Soft colors. Muted. Understated. Colors that are almost non-colors but will still contrast with bright white trim. For weeks, our home has been lined with swatches of Silver Drop, Pensive Sky, Ancient Stone (that one was no. Just, no.), Dolphin Fin and Pale bud – all by Behr – to name a few:
It’s no surprise that once you get the colors on the wall, they’re no longer the same color you swear you just saw at the hardware store. They’re lighter (or darker) than you’d expect, they have a red (or blue or green) undertone that looks blech, and you start second guessing if the man at the paint counter actually tinted your sample jar at all!
Finally, after wading through a sea of blue-grays, warm-greys and taupe-whites, we landed on Subtle Touch (a silver white) for the entry, Pensive Sky (a blue-gray, green-gray or good-old-gray, depending on the light) for the living room and Pale Bud (pink!) for the studio.
Oddly enough – for us, anyway – we toyed with the idea of going white white, and while we know that it would’ve looked pretty, especially in the studio with all that natural light, it’s just not in our guts. We’re still pro-color people. (Yes, even this soft.) For a while, we’ve pinned and pinned images of white on white, but in the end, we’re thrilled with our final choices. They’re neutral and soft, and the barely-there-hues will be our base for all our other items to layer against. Furniture, art and swappable decor will liven things up and give us the dose of color color we love so much.
And that brings us to the other things we can do until the contractor completes the drywall repair:
- Start stripping the coat closet door. We’re still going back and forth on color (because would it be too much to have a charcoal front door and closet door? Help!), but if we can get it stripped and ready, the crew can frame out the space properly.
- De-cable the outside of our house. That’s a whole ‘nother story!
- Start researching for a new front door. We’d like something with a few glass panes (if possible), and the whole door frame will be reconstructed at the same time.
- Start researching our tile option for the entryway. Why not?
Our lists are long, our brains are a bit all-over-the-place (can you tell?), so we will see. It’ll get there.