The Phantom

Bill called in a friend for the tape and mud portion of the bedroom reno. I've yet to meet him, or even see him, but each day this week I've come home to visible progress on the drywall. He's apparently not working tomorrow per Bill's voicemail, but will be here and finish up on Friday.

If everything is dry and ready to go I have two gallons of drywall primer waiting for Saturday. The new doors will not be ready until sometime during the second week of April (they build the jambs and put on the casing we chose) so Bill will have a little break before coming back for door and trim installation. I'm planning to get the walls painted during the hiatus.

So far the entrants into my paint tournament are all from Benjamin Moore and are: Feather Gray, Revere Pewter (the current favorite), and after I get a sample, Stonington Gray. The early pre-painting lead in the trim division is Decorators White, but I expect one or maybe two last minute additions.

Windows are still up in the air and we'll probably spend some time this weekend looking at the big box stores to see if theres anything available that we like. I have a pair of silver Resto rods and finials still in the box that we never used at the condo, so I'm pleased to finally have a place to use them once the windows are resolved.

(Sheet) Rock on!

Ah, the smell of construction. Too-tiny closet gone, too narrow door widened to normal human size. All new electrical placed and wired, Lutron switches with integral dimmers ready for installation when the drywall is finished.

And here's the new and improved bay, minus the old desk, plus the beginnings of the new window seat. Also gone is one oddly placed outlet and the 1952 4-prong phone jack. New recessed light here as well, switch around the corner in the bay for uncluttered sightlines from the door.

Tape and mud start tomorrow morning!

Vanity Fair

We're not even close to done with Bedroom #1 and in my head I'm already thinking about the bathroom. My tile picks remain the same: China Black marble for the floor, probably a 12x12, laid on the diagonal. White carrera subway for the walls, all the way to the ceiling. I'm relatively open on size, although 4x8 would be ideal.

I've found the floor tile locally but I'm having a problem with the subway. Everyone has carrera tile, but nobody has the size or shape we need. Theres a seller on eBay with a great price on 3x6 which I'd probably be happy with, but shipping from Canada won't be cheap.

I spent part of today looking at vanity cabinets. We'd originally planned on a pair of pedestal sinks but have changed our minds. In the end this will be the guest bath, and one sink will be fine. One sink also fits into the space better.

The leading candidate is the Clermont by Kohler.
I've been happy with every Kohler product I've ever purchased, and I can pick this up for about $650 at Not dirt cheap, but certainly at the reasonable end of the spectrum. I like the simple styling and I think a wood piece will warm up all the black and white marble nicely.

What I have not been able to find a reasonable price on is this:

This faucet is from the For Town collection by Michael S. Smith for Kallista. Picture it (widespread) on a carrera slab with a white undermount sink atop that cabinet. Its crisp, its classic, its perfect. It's also ridiculously expensive at $1,495 so its likely not coming here to live. Luckily there are a couple Kohler faucets (Purist, Pinstripe) I can work with, and there are some seriously good prices to be found online.

The guys were here working on the bedroom on Saturday so I should have some progress pics to share tomorrow.

Derby Girls & Tallboys

In the mood for something different? I've got two words: Roller Derby. Yes, really.

We had a family outing last night to the KC Roller Warriors Coll-Ides of March matches, pitting the Dreadnaught Dorothys against the Knockouts, and the Black Eyed Susans (pictured above) against the Victory Vixens.

The matches had been mentioned on the local NPR weekend calendar segment so it was a record breaking crowd of about 3600 down at Municipal Auditorium. With the exception of excruciatingly long beer lines it was a ton of fun. (When was the last time you were at an event where beer was sold in tallboys?! I was tempted to go the PBR route but went with Bud Heavy just to be safe.)

It's roller derby just like you're thinking, but on a flat, rather than banked track. The refs gave a quick primer beforehand so you'd have an idea what was going on. The longer we watched the more we understood and enjoyed the games. I was bummed that the one skater I'd heard of, Estee Slaughter, wasn't playing, but we did enjoy watching Dominant Jean, Billie Club, Ruth Canal, Annie Maul, and the rest of the ladies checking, blocking, fouling and scoring.

Each match up plays their first half and then it's half time. The KC School of Rock band, the rockingest 12 to 14 year-old band you've ever seen played the half time show. Then each match plays its second half and it's all over.

We sat in the balcony and enjoyed ourselves, but next time I want to get their earlier as its all general admission and I think it would be even more fun to sit on the floor. The crowd was a big cross-section of people, those you might expect to see, and those you might not. If you're reading from somewhere other than KC, check around for leagues in your area. I think this was the first time I'd paid money to see a women's sporting event, but it certainly won't be the last.

Renovation rip tide

It was deceptively sunny today, but still cool with a brisk breeze, a perfect metaphor for my mood. I'm thrilled that we've started doing something to this place, but today the process wore me down.

We're partially wired and there is new insulation, and sheetrocking begins tomorrow. There is also a three foot wide path of mud and dust and plaster bits that runs the length of the hall, through the entry and living room, swings around through the corner of the dining room and completely across the kitchen to the garage.

Every surface here is covered with a fine, gritty dust, including the bathroom we're using, which is now completely devoid of any counter space. Our toothbrushes are in their holder... on the closet shelf in the bedroom. There is nowhere to hang a towel since I'd always used the door, which must now be closed so that the neighbors can't see my ass when I exit the shower.

The electrician had things come up, and while I know things happen, he had planned to be done today, but must now come back tomorrow. And beat the sheetrocker. The carpenter, in an effort to be helpful, had his Pella guy come bid the three bedroom windows. Two grand for three windows is not in the budget.

So I'd been battling a mild crankiness when I headed off to the bowling alley. Just as we started, Brett called. Mrs. Blandings had stopped by and brought this:

When Patricia posted that she'd been invited to sit on the Elle Decor panel at West Week I was thrilled for her. If you read Mrs. Blandings you know that Style and Substance, the title of Margaret Russell's new book, is an apt discription of Patricia as well. Because I'm often prone to making a joke, after offering my congratulations I also offered twenty bucks if she could boost Margaret's lipstick. Even better than pilfered cosmetics, is an inscription:

Thank you so much Patricia. That was incredibly thoughtful of you, and came on a day when I really needed a nice surprise.

The pros take over

Bill and his powertools arrived today to finish the demo because frankly it wore us out. While tear out is certainly something you can do yourself, the fact that the walls came down in bigger pieces for him, rather than the crumbly bits we got says that there is more knowledge involved than you'd think.
Tomorrow he'll take out the bathroom door and vanity and start framing for the new, larger door. Also up tomorrow is Chris the electrician. I'm so excited about the darkness-banishing recessed lights I could squeal. Who am I kidding, the whole thing makes me want to squeal.

I've also taken the opportunity to remove some other doors around the house (salvaging the very cool hardware!) that are going away and shuttled them off to the dumpster. We've got some old wrought iron I was going to trash too but Bill saves scrap metal and offered to take it all off my hands.

So the tear down is nearly done. Hopefully by the weekend I'll have some pictures of the rebuilt to show.

Here we go

Order your dumpster before you start your demo, or you end up with so much debris bagged up and stacked in the middle of the room that you have to stop. Our dumpster is being delivered tomorrow, so we can finish clearing out the room tomorrow and Wednesday night.
Tonight we met with the electrician, and his bid was very good. So good in fact that the number had barely left his mouth and I said "Sold." Brett then immediately said "How much more to add ceiling lights in the hallway?"
So everything needs to be cleared out and ready to go by Thursday, because thats when the rewiring begins. We went to Lowe's tonight armed with a list and the Christmas gift cards from our families, and came out with 400 bucks worth of electrical equipment. New, white, grounded outlets. Five inch recessed ceiling cans. Wide, shallow wall switches with dimmers. Even a pair of simple ceiling fixtures to replace the bare bulb and pull chain lights in the closets.

Never one to wait on the fun stuff, today I also picked up a couple Ben Moore sample jars to test when the new drywall is up.

We're SO ready for some change.

Hammer time

The final numbers for carpentry and drywall and electrical are nearly in, and while they're really not bad, we need to save where we can. Coupled with a chance viewing of DIY Network's Ten Grand in your Hand, we decided today to begin demolition in the west bedroom.

Here it is before, an ugly expanse of wallpaper glue left from the old faded burlap.
Here's the other side of the room with the ancient built-in desk. Bill's going to do a window bench here. Those pieces of paper up in the corner are there as we were judging sizes for new crown moulding.
And here is the east wall shortly after we began swinging hammers. The closet in the center remains, but gets a double door instead of the sliders that were there. The tiny closet in the corner on the left goes away. It currently holds slanted shoe shelves and not much else. Removing it lets us install a 30 inch door into the bathroom rather than the too-narrow one there now. That change saves us the cost of a door and hardware as well as making that whole part of the room less congested.
Here's Brett with his hammer. The other benefit of demo work is that we got to blow off some angst and steam we built up yesterday. The sweatshirt is your clue, nuff said.
So far it seems like our house is exremely well built. Phyllis had told us that in 1952 Joe Hoffman was the premier home builder in this part of town, and I'm inclined to think she was right. Nails are long and plentiful, and everything is incredibly solid. For some reason the drywall is double layered. There actually is insulation, but its old and not very thick and I'm happy we're replacing it.

The wiring is all intact and while it's not scary, it does look old and I'm glad we're replacing it as well. Another electrician comes tomorrow night to give us a bid, and hopefully I can get someone to deliver a roll-off. So far we've got 12 contractor bags of broken sheetrock, assorted doors and shelves, and miles of nail-ridden trim.

More photos to follow as things progress.

Its time

After a long winter we're dying for some change around here. We're both itching to pull out the legions of overgrown yews circling the house, but really we need some improvement inside. Contractor One came a couple weekends ago, but he seems to have flaked and we're not calling him back. I emailed a couple of questions to Contractor Two and received a prompt reply from the company president and an invitation to call and talk. We've since reconsidered hiring a remodeling company for this first task, but when we get to the middle of the house (where theres a ceiling vault planned) or the master bath addition, Lyon Construction will be my first contact. (Locals, if you have any experience with them I'd love to hear about it.)

Tomorrow night Bill is coming by. The husband of a woman I used to work with, he's been invaluable at past houses. Carpentry, drywall, tile, he can handle them all, and he's good.

We're starting in the bedroom at the end of the hall, and I've asked him to bid the following: Tear down drywall and insulate the walls. He's passed on rewiring so I've got to get an electrician in for the electrical. Then back to Bill for new drywall, all new trim and all new doors. Depending on where the price lands, three windows will need to be replaced and theres a spot perfect for a window bench.

Why all new? Mostly because of the electrical and insulation issues (good God it was a cold winter), but also because most of the architectural choices are just plain wimpy. Mouldings are too small, doors are plain and flat. Coupled with old paint and general wear and tear, everything just looks tired. And not the kind of tired that new paint can fix.

I think good moulding can make a room, but I hate the overwrought detailing you find in garden variety new construction. Rooms tend to be smaller, then they go crazy with the trim and the resulting effect is just overwhelming.

We've got bigger rooms, and we need proportional moulding. Here's a crown profile that I think I love. Six inches feels like the right size, but the profile isn't overdone. Also it's symmetrical, which I like.

I'm looking for a four inch casing for windows and doors that works with this. I've got a couple contenders, but so far nothing has yelled out "it's me!"

I've had a bit of a revelation on doors as well. I originally had a very contemporary flat panel in mind, in this configuration.

I've since come to realize that it's likely too modern for the house, even in the more traditional raised panel. We're trying to inject some freshness into this place, but I think a lot of that will come from clearing out the clutter, strengthening the proportions, and using more up-to-date colors.

Staying with the three panels, but changing them up a bit, is this:

Feels crisp and classic, doesn't it, especially thinking of it in fresh white paint. White paint of course is a whole post unto itself, but if you've got a favorite feel free to let me know. I've got plenty of room for test patches.

Cross your fingers for me tomorrow night. With a little luck I'll have reason for a before shot here in the next week. Bill appears to be available and hungry, so hopefully he'll give me some good numbers and we can give him the green light.

Hard to find: the perfect parsons

A few weeks ago I was looking through the craigslist furniture listings and came upon a plain parsons table. Sort of a console, 5 feet or so long, and perfect for a spot we'll have in the living room. The top and legs were the same material, which I like, but the material was a dark woodgrain laminate, which I don't. I thought about doing something to it, wallpaper or fabric, maybe some paint even, but ultimately decided to pass.

It got me to looking around online and it seems like a simple parsons table all in the same material is hard to find. If you want a steel base with a stone top thats no problem. Same for chrome and glass. But it doesn't seem like anyone is offering anything in all wood.

Room and Board has the Brooklyn console in lacquered steel, which isn't bad. I like steel, and I like the solid sides. I can't decide if I like the little rolled foot on the bottom. It reads vaguely asian so you'd think I would, but I'm just not sure. Happily there's plenty of time to look and think. Still, it looks like a good deal for $449.

I also liked Room and Board's Align console. Stained bamboo wouldn't be my first choice of material, but it's got great lines. That spot between the top and the drawers is just screaming for a couple stacks of big books.

Crate and Barrel used to offer nearly this same thing, only without the drawers. I remember it along with a matching bench you could slide under, but they seem to be long gone.

Before and after. Sort of.

I have some shelves down in the basement where I keep the lamps I pick up at auctions and estate sales. A graveyard or a nursery, depending on how you look at it. Some I've bought with the intent to rewire and sell, like that vintage bottle-shaped Haegar with its original finial, or the one made out of an antique French copper brazier.

More often I've bought thinking they could be refreshed and pressed into service in our home. The pair of oversized Stiffel urns that I hoped could be chromed turned out to be pot metal, so they're awaiting a trip to the body shop for some car paint. The same with the metal horse lamp, the base shaped like an oversized knight off a chess board.

This ceramic seated Asian figure came from an auction, was originally glazed in an unattractive avocado green, and sat on a corroded metal base. I don't remember exactly what I paid for him, but I do know that he was under five bucks. As is the custom here at Chez Malaise, I completely forgot to take a picture of him as purchased.

When the weather warmed up last weekend I took him outside and got to work with a can of Krylon Fusion superbond spray paint. I've never painted a ceramic piece before, but so far I'm pleased with both the apparent adherence and surface finish of the paint. He'll need a few touch-ups to cover a couple thin spots and one small run I hadn't noticed, but the shot above is representative of how he'll look when I'm done spraying him down.

A lamp shop not far from me has simple round black wood bases with oriental bracket feet, which I think will work perfectly. I saved the guts to reuse, but hope to find a silver-toned cap and neck for between the base and socket. With that he'll be done and ready for a shade, whenever I find a little spot to fit him in.

2010 AIDSWalk Open

It was a busy weekend. Saturday started with a 10am bloody mary at Bistro 303, our start bar for this years putt-putt pub crawl, the AIDSWalk Open. My tee shirt is shown above, laid out on the dining room table in all its XL glory. Lets hope a hot dryer will shrink it down to something I can actually wear. Note to self: remind Cindy next year that I'm closer to an M or an L.

We putted well and made great time, even stopping for some adult refreshment along the way. (who can say no to jello shots?!) Plus the weather held and it was nice enough to walk so we got some exercise. Brett and I made it home in time to watch the second half of the KU/MU game, and indeed no win feels quite as good as spanking Mizzou.

Rachel's husband was out of town so she texted early evening with an invite to a small impromptu dinner party. She makes this delicious celery soup that I have yet to replicate, followed by salmon with an herb butter and sauteed mushrooms with carmelized bok choi. With a few good bottles of wine a great time was had by all.

Prada is staying with us this week for spring break. They're all sacked out on the couch currently so I imagine its an all-day barkfest while Brett and I are at work. Her daddy has not had her groomed all winter so I'm doing her a favor by not posting any photos. I'm also calling her groomer tomorrow to beg for an emergency appointment. I can't imagine this is going to end in anything other than a near-total shave.


Photo credit:
Kansas State was incredibly tough, but Kansas pulled ahead to win 82-65. Senior Night this year had only one honoree, Sherron Collins. For him tonight's victory was win number 125, the most by any athlete in a four year span in KU history.

Four Big 12 regular season titles, 2 Big 12 post-season championship titles, 3 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearances, 2 Elite 8 appearances, 1 Final Four and 1 NCAA Championship win.

Thank you #4, it's been a blast.

Winter Fine Arts and Antiques Auction

***Post Auction Update*** BLOODBATH. Here's how it ended up:

Grant Wood litho - $2,000, and the condition was pretty rough
Dog portrait - $250 (I'm pissed at myself that I didn't go on this, it was gorgeous in person, cleaned and relined by a conservator in 1995. Far lesser dog paintings on ebay right now for way more $. Lesson learned.)
Mah Jongg Set - $275, I never bid, I didn't think it was all that old and the case left me saying "meh"
Seascape - $550, gorgeous painting, worth way more, I just didn't have the free cash
Bronze - $180, which seems a bit much for unsigned work. "Consigned with" two other signed bronzes means nothing
Goodknight landscape - $90, didn't love it so much in person and didn't bid
Norio Azuma serigraph - $80, I let go at 70 and it went to a local dealer. I just couldn't bid more not knowing anything about the artist and it being in the bottom half of the run.

Fun sale to watch, but a drag coming home empty handed.

Tuesday evening is KC Auction Co.'s Winter Fine Arts and Antique sale. These quarterly catalog sales are always interesting, so I'm heading down after work. Even though I'm not in the market for a linen press, antique Stuben, or victorian jewelry, it's always interesting to see things and what they sell for.

I am always in the market for interesting art, and there are some great things coming up on the block.

This pencil signed lithograph is by Grant Wood. I like the image, but there are some condition issues. The paper has some foxing in addition to the old tape damage on the corners. Pre-auction bidding (these sales are also live on the internet) is up to $600 so it won't be coming home with me, and thats okay.

This dog in profile painting has no pre-auction bids, so if it looks like it's in good shape when I go to preview, I'll give it a shot. From the photos it appears to be a quality painting, and I think a new frame might really breathe some life into it. I've said before that I've avoided buying dog art because I think it's better that I just not start. I'm over that now so who knows, perhaps this will be the first of many.

I love mah jongg sets. I have only a rudimentary understanding of the game, I just think the pieces are so beautiful. The box for this set isn't my favorite, but I'll be interested to see it in person. These generally sell well, and I always fear its to crafters who'll turn the tiles into drawer pulls and elastic bracelets. (Crafters, this is how that word got a bad connotation)

This is the painting I was really interested in, an oil on canvas by Bennett Bradbury. Framed dimensions are 19" by 23", which is a nice size. Born in Massachusetts in 1914, he ended up in California and is known for seascapes like these. Pre-auction bidding was at $110.00 earlier today which only mildly concerned me. Tonight its sitting at $275.00 so I'm pretty sure its going way over my head. The auction data I found has his past sales in the 3K -5K range. I think it's really beautiful and I'll be very interested to see what it sells for.

Sculpture is something I rarely buy. I sold a couple things at the antique mall, but I could likely find a spot for this 9 inch tall bronze. It's attributed to a Kansas City artist named Clara Bikales. I know nothing about her, but I do like the form. If I were lucky enough to bring it home we'd have to find a more attractive base. Polished stone block perhaps?

If you've paid attention to the art I've mentioned and/or bought in the past, you know I have a thing for landscapes. This little oil on board woodland scene is by Colorado artist Veryl Goodknight. I think a new frame could smarten it up quite a bit, but it's a pretty nice little painting as is. It's 14" by 16" framed, so again could fit in anywhere.

Of course I do like a little bit of modern too, like this serigraph (silkscreen) print titled "Calm" by Norio Azuma. I know nothing about Mr./Ms. Azuma, and this is the lower half of the run (277 of 500), but I like the image a lot and could certainly find a spot for it. Things like this often sell for very reasonable prices, so again I'm anxious to see it in person to know if I want to bid.

Hopefully I'll come home with something good and can chronicle another framing project soon.