130 year-old attics are scary. If you have to spend any amount of time in the area above your normal living space, you could pretty easily fall through the ceiling or find yourself face-to-facemask with a sparkly spaceman. And in our case, (in addition to the latter), our attic is especially haunting (maybe literally?) with it’s crumbling wallpapered ceilings, tumbleweeds and miscellaneous items from the decades before us.

And that’s after a good cleaning. Round 1.

Other than acting as a(n inter)stellar spaceman hangout, our particular attic was pretty unusable until a few short days ago. With the demise of our disgustingly dangerous floor-standing space heater thingies, we were in serious need of a second floor heating solution – enter Adrian and his team from Adi’s Heating and Cooling to find a use for our peaked third story space. (After collecting a handful of quotes, we were happy with not only their price, but their crew is fast and friendly, too. We’re now 4 digits lighter in the wallet, but we took this into account when we signed that stack of papers on closing day. Side note: Their Yelp page has an incorrectly listed phone number, so if you’re interested in their services, let us know!)

Adrian took our spooky, (mostly) empty attic and turned it into the model of modern HVAC efficiency. Rather than give up floor space somewhere on the second floor with a big bulky furnace, he installed a horizontally-oriented furnace above our kitchen-turned-bedroom. He then carefully cut about a dozen or so holes in our ceiling and ran insulated ductwork to every room on the second floor to keep things toasty through our brisk Chicago winters.

Goodbye sad, old space heaters. Hello modern ceiling ducts! Yup, this is how we spend our money these days. We’re so grown up.

We took this one step further and opted to pay a nominal fee to have his team return; yesterday, Adrian combined two of our three (!) current gas meters, which will get the first and second floor onto the same billing statement.* The minimal cost of this last step will not only pay for itself in less than a year, but it also brings us one step closer to restoring this place to its former single-family glory.

Not to mention, how cool does that shiny new machine look?

*We later found out – after confirming with the gas company that they, under no circumstances, could do this themselves – that they could, indeed, do this themselves. For next to nothing. (No third party needed.) The helpful rep from the gas company said that if you’re ever unsure about the extent of their services, ask for a supervisor. After feeling slightly ragey about this revelation, we thought, you live, you learn.

  • Heather {A Fire Pole in the Dining Room} - October 3, 2013 - 8:56 AM

    Three cheers for central heating and air! … and maybe only two for combining the gas meters? Bummer that you paid for it, but at least it’s done and it sounds like it was pretty small compared to the other work.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - October 3, 2013 - 10:15 AM

      Heather, yes, 2 cheers should do it! It was a small charge, but it’s always a bummer to try and cost save in so many areas, then find out that you didn’t need to pay for something in the first place. Negative 3 cheers for misinformation directly from the gas company!

      Lauren, that’s a totally valid question. I’m not sure what your soon-to-be space heaters look like, but ours were severely outdated and likely not up to the safety standards that standalone space heaters are today. Because they’re out in the open, there’s always the chance that they could tip over, since they’re not nearly as sturdy as they might look (I was able to move it around by myself, and on our unlevel floors, they were a real concern). Perhaps you can Google your model number and research reviews or issues. If you have safety points that need to be made, it wouldn’t be out of line to bring your concerns to your new landlord!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - October 3, 2013 - 10:00 AM

    I tried to comment from my phone earlier, so apologies if this ends up being a double post… I have two of those big space heaters in my current apartment, and I’m curious about them. Our landlord said they are really efficient and our heating bills will be low… at the same time, we rent a pretty old place in Ukrainian Village, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was just saying that and trying to cover up the fact that they are dangerous. What did you find out about them that points to them being dangerous? We just moved in at the beginning of September, so we haven’t used them yet, but now I’m a little nervous.ReplyCancel

  • Laura at Rather Square - October 3, 2013 - 10:23 AM

    Goodbye scary attic! (although it would have served a nice purpose for Halloween….)ReplyCancel

  • Julia @ Cuckoo4Design - October 3, 2013 - 4:03 PM

    Wow, I learned something new today too. I can’t believe that they could do this themselves for next to nothing after all.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 6, 2013 - 11:06 AM

    Julia, I know, right? So frustrating, but we’re happy to spread the word now that we know!ReplyCancel

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Big strides were made over the weekend, starting with our home’s garden unit! You might remember that we’re turning our former two-flat into a single family home, but we also have a finished basement that we’ve been avoiding since our July move-in… until recently. We’re working with the city on some zoning restructuring (and once we can share more details on that learning process, we definitely will!), and in the meantime, we logged many, many man hours – these two! – on Saturday. We’ve been cleaning, spackling, de-bugging and replacing closet doors. We vacuumed bread crumbs from the cabinets and somehow filled an entire trash bin. We stared at the former owner’s shortcuts and cursed, loudly and often.

It was trying at times, and there may have been tears shed (me) followed by we can do this! speeches (him).

As a reward for our hard work, we hit the sack by 10PM like the two, old aching back DIY-ers we are, because at 5AM on Sunday morning our alarm would go off – but for good reason! Sunday morning, we packed our camera, fueled up on pancakes (in our usually bustling neighborhood diner) and hit the road for Wisconsin. We were going to the Elhorn Flea Market!

It was the last one of their summer season, and we’d been meaning to go all year – but then we bought a house, and well, the crumbling walls and ceilings took priority. Because we’re in the limbo stage of construction – and because we craved a much needed change of scenery – we took to Elkhorn like kids on Christmas. Held at the Walworth County Fairgrounds, this flea is unlike any we’ve ever been to. It was huge. The sun was in full force, booths of stuff abound, happy people bustled, and the smell of coffee, bratwursts, and fried foods came from every direction.

You guys, I wore a fanny pack with nothing in it but cash and lip gloss. (It promise it was not your mother’s fanny pack, although I realize that’s up for debate.) We meant business; I had to keep these arms free for browsing.

It’s frightening how much can happen before noon when you wake up early enough; by 11:30, we’d been at the flea for over 3 hours. While we had been on the lookout for light fixtures, a rug and some living room chairs (none of which we found), we did load the car with other loot (we’ve been doing that a lot lately!) – all of which was found in the first 30 minutes of our time at the fairgrounds.

By noon, we stopped for cheap fuel, a couple cases of our favorite beer, and a pumpkin patch! When we passed it – Wisconsin is magical, we tell you – Scott half-jokingly asked if I wanted to pick a pumpkin or two. Um, yes, please!

By early afternoon (and a cat nap later for this girl), we had finally made it home. And if you’re wondering, well, what did you get, what did you get? Here’s a better look at what was on that cart:

Those dining chairs! It’s so hard to think that far ahead, but after publicly announcing to our friends that we’d host the annual Friendsgiving dinner, we knew we’d need somewhere to seat them. (Now, where to find the table?) They’ll need a quick wood refresh, but other than that, they’re golden. To say we’re obsessed with them is an understatement. Even after we spent the rest of our day in the garden unit (again), we’d randomly say to each other, remember when we bought those chairs? Ah, good times.

Scott had been on the hunt for the just-right vintage fan (they’re a dime a dozen at most flea markets), but this one fit the bill perfectly. And when the same vendor had an antique “lap desk,” Scott insisted this was just the thing for painting my mini portraits; I had been resisting an easel for years, because I prefer a more reclined surface. This guy, though? It’s changing my life already. It slides up and down in almost any direction, or it can lay completely flat and boost up, if all I needed was a little lift. (You know?)

We also scooped a Paul Simon record that had been on Scott’s wishlist for a while (man, we are seriously missing our turntable), a Thin Lizzy album (because why not?), and a vintage Coach purse (that I can’t stop staring at).

I’m thinking half-day trips should be on the agenda more often. Scott?

  • K - October 1, 2013 - 7:13 AM

    flea market AND reno in one day!? I’ll say that’s productive! And man, stuff never looks that cute and appealing when I go to flea markets/ thrift shops/ yard sales. You guys have an eye for it!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah K. - October 1, 2013 - 7:24 AM

    I want to see a photo of the fanny pack!!!

    Seriously awesome finds. You’re right…those chairs = amazing.

    I thought that was Scott in the bear’s shirt (holding the letters) and COULD NOT figure out why he had a baby strapped to him…ReplyCancel

    • Kim - October 1, 2013 - 8:13 AM

      K, thanks!

      Hannah, the fanny pack was undocumented! It might have exploded the blog. Also, no, no, no, baby.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - October 1, 2013 - 8:19 AM

    WOW I love your treasures! Those chairs are gorgeous and the fan is just perfect! I can’t wait to see how your garden is coming along also (and is it bad that I’m in bed before 10pm each day even without diy’ing all day haha).ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 1, 2013 - 8:21 AM

    Rachel, nope, we love sleep as much as you do! Zzzz.ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly @ Turning It Home - October 1, 2013 - 9:17 AM

    It looks so dreamy there! That fan is in great condition. I bought a Zero fan for $5 at an estate sale, but those blades look pretty rust-free… great find!ReplyCancel

  • Angela - October 1, 2013 - 9:28 AM

    You just made me so homesick for Wisconsin. It is magical, especially the Spotted Cow. We drive up from Atlanta every Christmas just so we can return with several cases.ReplyCancel

  • Heather {A Fire Pole in the Dining Room} - October 1, 2013 - 9:44 AM

    Oooh watch out. Vintage fans have a way of multiplying. We started with one and I think we’re up to 4 (all in working order and being used). You’ve been warned ;)

    LOVE the chairs!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 1, 2013 - 9:47 AM

    Kimberly, that’s a steal!

    Angela, we picked up 2 cases, but I’m thinking we should have gone for 4…

    Heather, I don’t doubt it! Although admittedly, I’ve always been a little fearful of them after I almost chopped off my finger on one.ReplyCancel

  • Laura at Rather Square - October 1, 2013 - 11:27 AM

    I love your finds! The lap desk thingy looks like such a nice setup to work on paintings. Seems like you had a really fun little trip – and it was a good break from all the house reno stuff. I’ll have to check out that flea market next year – we’ve been talking about going to one once our house is a little more set up.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 1, 2013 - 11:37 AM

    Laura, definitely worth the trip from Chicago!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - October 1, 2013 - 12:27 PM

    Ah.mazing. We need to find a flea like this near us! And Coach purse pic? I definitely need to see that!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole T. - October 1, 2013 - 1:15 PM

    How much do you want for these chairs??!?! I am in love! You and Scott did a great job!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica@CapeofDreams - October 1, 2013 - 3:19 PM

    I vote we bring back the fanny pack! I am always in danger of losing my purse and becoming a victim of identity theft because I set my purse down all over the place and forget about it. If fanny packs were haute couture, I would not have this problem.ReplyCancel

  • Caitlyn - October 1, 2013 - 3:25 PM

    Fantastic finds! I love virtual thrifting… although I love your finds so much I kinda wish this had been IRL instead and it was me doing the shopping :)ReplyCancel

  • Julia @ Cuckoo4Design - October 1, 2013 - 7:17 PM

    I always enjoy looking at your photos so much! They are once again gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Jillian - October 1, 2013 - 7:19 PM

    SAWEEET daddy dog!!!!! you owe me a pic of that purse, lady! i will remind you a 3rd time if i’ve gotta!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 1, 2013 - 8:43 PM

    Thanks, guys!

    Nicole, one million dollars.

    Jessica and Jillian – I suppose I should have taken a photo of it, too! Bad blogger.ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl - October 1, 2013 - 11:14 PM

    Don’t know that I’ve ever been as jealous of anything as I am of those chairs…ReplyCancel

  • Kati from so happy home - October 2, 2013 - 11:56 AM

    I’m insanely jealous of your drafting table. And your pumpkin picking. I’m glad you guys got away from the reno, even if only for a few hours. It can make all the difference.ReplyCancel

  • Kate - October 5, 2013 - 4:03 PM

    This flea market is THE BEST. My mom used to live right down the road from it, and my aunt would drive over from Michigan a few times a year and we’d trek all over the grounds for hours at a time. I hope you also ate a chocolate eclair from the ladies under the awning in back – if not, next time for sure!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - October 6, 2013 - 11:03 AM

      Kate, ooh, we didn’t have a chocolate eclair, but DEFINITELY next time!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - October 7, 2013 - 1:59 PM

    I found the same fan just last year. Love the colors!ReplyCancel

  • Margaret - November 1, 2013 - 3:02 PM

    I am drooling over all your finds! Love them!! Those chairs I want in. my. house. now!! :)ReplyCancel

BACK TO TOP

Okay, first: The contractors. Let’s just put this out there – this waiting game is no fun. We’ve talked about our feelings on being stunted, and every day is a new wave of emotions; sometimes we’re all yeah, we’re going to kick so much ass this weekend!, whereas other days we’d rather sleep in, curse our blind-less windows and curl up with Netflix. When there’s so little we can actually do until the contractor’s have completed their work, our motivation goes up and down (and up and down), and right now, we’re still waiting. Their job in the queue before ours has gone weeks past schedule, which in turn does the same for us. (Although word on the street is that they’ll be back next week.)

And so, we wait.

However! We were able to get Mike, our head contractor out for a quick visit, if only to discuss a few more questions we had for him (and while he was there, Q: Is there anything else we can do? A: Not really, no. Boo!). The biggest question? Our front door. Oddly enough, this was no where near as difficult as the Great Door Hunt for the foyer coat closet, although there was still a lot of juggling numbers, measurements and finishes. (Are you sick of all this door talk yet?) Currently, you’re greeted with this:

The door itself might not seem like the worst thing (although it’s far from anything we’d choose on our own), but the door jamb wasn’t properly installed (big surprise, right?), it’s full of dents and so much air can pass under it that little Miss Maddie actually crouches by the door all day long. Staring. Chirping back at the birds.

The door is a pretty standard 36″w x 80″h, but Mike suggested opening the height to a more substantial 84,” which we soon found out meant dollar dollar bills. We loved the suggestion (and it would match the height of the vintage 5-panel that’ll be sharing the same foyer), but it just wasn’t in the budget. Sadly, a new door isn’t something we can put off – there’s a Chicago winter around the corner! – so we had to reassess our options.

And what happens next is why we love you guys. (You all are so helpful. The best! Can we just all sip wine together and hang out in a big circle and braid each others’ hair?)

A recent comment from Cait on a past post quickly evolved into a more private email exchange about entry doors after she linked to a door that we really liked. Not to mention, she had just gone through the front-door-buying-process herself, so she was full of information. The style was non-offensive, clean and just our speed. Oh, hey, new door:

Whether Cait liked it or not (hi, Cait!), she turned into our Door Guru. Throughout the relatively easy hunt, I would email her a question or two, she’d reply, we’d gain insight, and we’d have a happy evening knowing that we’d been blessed by the Guru herself. But when I told Cait that we were bummed about not being able to afford the taller door (We’re going to loose the impressive height! I thought. We’re… settling!), she suggested the most magical answer of all: A transom window!

For a few days after this revelation, Scott and I Googled, pinned and researched transom windows. It’ll add the height we want!, we said. And we’ll get more natural light, too! The good news is that the cost of the transom + the door is still less expensive than custom ordering an 84″ door. Then I found this image that was almost identical to the door we liked with a transom. Done. Sold.

Because Mike will be installing the door and creating a proper jamb himself, we confirmed our plans with him, and he assured us we could buy the door off the shelf at the standard jamb depth (which comes in around 4″ or so). As for the transom, we’re leaning towards this one, but we could go with a single glass pane as well (thoughts?). Here’s how my rough Photoshop calculations predict it’ll look in Hague Blue:

The door was already purchased over the weekend, but we’ll buy the transom window once Mike has had a chance to look at the ordering options. As for the finish, it’s currently primed and (mostly) ready for paint, although we did have an internal debate between steel, fiberglass and real wood. While fiberglass would have been nice, cost reared its ugly head again (since the price can easily double!), and we didn’t want the maintenance of a solid wood exterior door. Side note: In regards to the price tag, we kept in mind the cost of not only the door itself, but new locks and installation. Because we needed a whole new jamb built – and properly! – it was important for us to not skimp on the build-out.

In the meantime, we’re still deciding on a door handleset, which is turning out to be the real question: Will a matte black handle blend in too much with the door? (And if so, is that a bad thing?) Or should we go with bronze/brass for contrast? And dare I mention those exterior lights? It’ll get there…

  • K - September 26, 2013 - 6:55 AM

    We bought a similar steel door last year, and my husband painstakingly primed and painted it with some special door and trim paint. I think it took about 4 coats….and it immediately started chipping and wearing off on some of the panel edges! Argh! I’ll have to check back to see how you guys end up finishing yours, and how it holds up. We have touch-ups in our future!ReplyCancel

  • Heather {A Fire Pole in the Dining Room} - September 26, 2013 - 8:15 AM

    So the good news is that once the contractors start it will be all excitement and unicorn tears. But until then, the waiting just plain sucks. We went through the same up and down emotional spikes. Even if it’s not normal, at least you’re not alone.

    As for the door, I love it and the dark color and the transom window! I’m torn on the hardware. Matte black might be a nice sleek look (which I love) but when I look at the Photoshopped pic above I think ‘where’s the handle?’ I know there’s not one there, but it might have the same effect? Maybe you could buy both handle sets and return the one you don’t love in person?ReplyCancel

  • Kim - September 26, 2013 - 9:15 AM

    K, oh no! Do you know what type/brand of paint he used?! We’re open to any suggestions!

    Heather, we may have to do that (buy 2, return 1). We just can’t decide, and we go back and forth. We’re leaning towards a matte black for a super sleek look, but maybe some contrast would be good, too? Arugh, what happened to just buying a door and being done with it? ;)ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Our Waldo Bungie - September 26, 2013 - 9:29 AM

    Lurve the door choice! Also, just my opinion, but I think a matte black door handle would look really sleek and awesome. Don’t be ‘scurrred!ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Adventures of a Dog Mom - September 26, 2013 - 9:29 AM

    I like this plan, can’t wait to see the finished product!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Heather - September 26, 2013 - 9:45 AM

    Kim,
    That is a great looking door, especially after the color swap. I never thought a steel door could look that good! Nice one Cait. Transoms are one of the favorite design elements in our house. Living in New Orleans, they are as common as having a front door, but I never get sick of all the light they allow into the house. It’s kind of obnoxious, but we have 6 in our home! I included a link that shows all of them- Dana from House Tweaking wrote a cool piece on our place. Keep up the good work. I really enjoy watching the progress.

    http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/09/13/heather-wins-nola-cottage/

    P.S. I loved the painting of Baron. It was a shock to see it, so it took me a while to display it out in the open. Now it sits next to his ashes on my dresser.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - September 26, 2013 - 9:51 AM

    Heather, your home is AWESOME. And don’t think I didn’t notice the photo of The Baron towards the bottom of the post – perfection. I’m so happy to have painted your little man for you.ReplyCancel

  • Shannon - September 26, 2013 - 10:08 AM

    We have transom windows all throughout our new house! I love them!!! :) http://fabulouslyvintage.blogspot.com/2013/09/new-house-dining-room.html

    Can’t wait to see how lovely it makes your front porch look! :)ReplyCancel

  • Laura at Rather Square - September 26, 2013 - 10:13 AM

    Transom window = genius. That will look so sharp! Good idea to get this all squared away (no pun intended) before the Chicago winter. ;)

    I’m a fan of contrast, so I would go with the brass hardware. Can’t wait to see what you do with this. Our front door is original, I think, and covered with layers of crackling paint. We don’t want to totally replace it ($$$) but are trying to figure out a way to repaint it. I think it will end up being a very messy project (like your lead-paint-scraping adventure). Maybe next summer….ReplyCancel

  • Gloria @ The Faceted - September 26, 2013 - 10:52 AM

    Budgets kind of suck the fun out of decorating some times, and functionality? Another speed bump. I have similar front door issues regarding the gap under the door. Mine is so big, I bet squirrels would fit through it. Oklahoma winters aren’t always very nice and I’ve got to get a solution for it soon. The first thing I bought for it won’t work, boo, back to the toy store… On the plus side, I did paint it orange and love it!

    Oh and my vote is for brass handles!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 26, 2013 - 2:22 PM

      Gloria, awesome! Orange is my favorite color, believe it or not!

      Cait, ooh, I’ll have to look at their post! I’m definitely leaning that way now. So fun!ReplyCancel

  • PAppel - September 26, 2013 - 11:49 AM

    Sigle pane transom either with or without address numbers on it is my suggestion.ReplyCancel

  • Cait - September 26, 2013 - 12:37 PM

    Oh wow, I definitely did not expect to see a post with my name in it! Can you see me blushing all the way in Chicago?

    LOVE the Photoshopped version of the door and transom! Great color choice, too! I think I’m leaning towards the 3-pane transom, but the single pane would be fun, too. Especially with house number decals like a commenter above suggested! (ps- Wendy & Alex at Old Town Home have a post on adding decals to their transom.)

    As for hardware, I’m torn between the idea of matte black or something with more contrast like lacquered brass. I guess it depends on whether you want the door, transom and hardware (& lights down the road) to be taken in as one unit or for one element to be the show stopper. Does that make sense? I feel like matte black would allow your eye to view it as a whole before noticing the smaller details, and bronze/brass is sort of the apple in Magritte’s The Son of Man, you see it before you notice other elements.ReplyCancel

  • ann - September 26, 2013 - 12:54 PM

    I think a single pane transom would look better with your new windows.
    Menards, and I’m sure HD or Lowes, sells metal doors already painted, with several color choices.ReplyCancel

  • Lyndsey - September 26, 2013 - 2:07 PM

    I’m of the single pane transom boat too. There’s a lot going on with the windows in the door and the panels, along with all the texture of the siding. Single pane with your house number, perfecto!!

    btw, love your blog– it’s a daily read!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 26, 2013 - 2:19 PM

      Pappel and Lyndsey – I love this idea! I actually thought that might look cool with our address in the single pane, since so many older Chicago homes do this. Thank you for the input!ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - September 27, 2013 - 11:42 AM

    This is the exact door we ordered for our last house and really loved it! The paint literally peeled off the first time we painted it. In huge sheets. So although it says it is primed, we ended up priming it again ourselves and rolled on (or a sprayer would work great too!) the paint the second time and it stuck a lot better. Can’t wait to see it in action at your place.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 28, 2013 - 10:13 AM

      Oh, no! Julia, did a good priming job do the trick?ReplyCancel

  • Shay - September 28, 2013 - 6:08 PM

    Love this door choice! But I am biased since it’s on my home improvement wishlist as our front door replacement. Our house has three solid wood exterior doors and all three are cracked through. I look forward to a low maintenance steel door; but it’s good to know we should re-prime it before painting.ReplyCancel

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