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27 October 2009 @ 10:55 pm
Let me tell you a story. Last winter, my husband approached my fabulously talented contractor brother-in-law with a simple question: how much would it cost to fix the exposed cement/embedded stovepipe behind our kitchen stove? And we ended up with a fully remodeled kitchen.

~*~The End~*~

The saga of 'FrankenHouse Gets a New Ceiling' isn’t going to be anywhere near as rich and layered. We’re not ripping down the sheet rock from the walls; we’ve not called in the electricians (though I wish we were able. *dreamy sigh!*), we’re not tearing up the flooring. There’s no need to call the tile guy, or the plumber, or the stone people (who were not, for the record, trolls. I asked). If you’re a homeowner or someone who's done repairs on any living space, you’ll understand this: there is no such thing as a simple home improvement project.*

But more on that later.

You might not be able to tell from this photo, but our ceiling is bowed. As in freaking dips down toward the center of the room. We’d noticed it before, but attributed it to poorly installed ceiling-wainscot. We were wrong.


My brother-in-law, or Bob teh Builder as he shall henceforth be known (did you see how I cleverly skirted copyright issues? I am teh smartypants), studied it for a while, then shrugged. The sheet rock, he told me, is really no heavier than the wood that was nailed up to the cross board slat things (which I KNOW have a proper name; alas, I was too distracted by my drooping ceiling to take accurate notes). Without reframing the entire room (and, come to that, the entire ceiling structure), there wasn’t much to be done. “Is it going to fall down upon our heads?” I asked.

“No,” Bob teh Builder assured me. He’s good with words.

“Then sally forth!” cried I. And, for good measure, “Pip pip!”

Whoever had done the makeshift work had clearly tried to accommodate for the warp. They wedged shims. They wedged them willy nilly.





Just to be sure, they nailed random bits of wood at odd intervals.


This (very blurry - sorry!) pic tells the sad story of a leak, long long ago. I hope.


Remember the corner of mismatched and ill-installed molding? Here’s what lies beneath.


It’s tough to see, but up and to the right, there’s about a two inch gap between the wallboard (actually layers of paneling and thing sheet rock and... I don't know, bubble wrap?) and the ceiling. No matter the material, The Mystery of the Larger Molding is solved. Take that Trixie Belden! Go trot after your rapscallion younger brother and ride horses with your millionaire best friend; leave the home improvement puzzles to the experts.

"So, gentle, readers, at the end of the day, when Bob teh Builder and his sidekick, Spackle n’ Paint Mike, have packed up and gone, silence falls over the house. The dust settles. The plastic stills. Bit by bit, the ceiling droops lower. And lower. And... " Crikey. Is that a Christmas decoration hanging in the window?


If you squint, you can make out icicle lights. They've been there since last November. We’re so classy.

So. That’s where things stand at the end of Day Two.**

Hey, remember when I said, “But more on that later”? Those were some good times. Looking back has brought me to thinking that maybe I ought to tell you what I meant. Long story WAY short, we’re going to have Spackle n’ Paint Mike (who is, by the way, completely lovely and really REALLY good at his job) paint! Once he’s done spackling, of course. Thing is, I’ve had every intention of painting the kitchen, but life does get in the way. Another thing that gets in the way: my fear of screwing up a truly lovely kitchen with my painfully amateur attempts at painting. There is So. Much. Cutting. In. I can’t even. Spackle n’ Paint Mike is going to paint the kitchen AND the newly ceilinged living room/formal dining room. And all of the trim. And the various doors.

I am ridiculously excited.

Except for one thing: I have to pick paint colors. ... and when I say ‘I’ I mean ‘we.’ You lot are going to have to start pulling your weight.

Go. Rest. We’ll talk soon.

*I accept that y’all with your fancy, well constructed homes built to code and the most basic levels of comfort might not have encountered any such thing. Anyone with an older house, especially one built as a summer cottage, or one that the owners deigned to call in professionals for serious repairs, or that are built over a sacred burial ground... you know whereof I speak.

** Actually, we’re an eensy bit further along, but I don’t have the most current photos ready to go. In my defense, I picked up an extra class last night, and ended up teaching three classes today in addition to doing general desk work and gym maintenance. Also, my knees hurt. Stupid weather. Stupid carrying extra weight. Stupid ‘it’s not the years, it’s the mileage.’ In conclusion, I can neither take nor upload photographs due to knees of suck. ::curtsies::


Aifacat: BOOP!aifacat on October 28th, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
And, naturally, my inner ten-year-old boy says, "Hurr...your ceiling has been wedgied!"

That's some quality craftsmanship, there. Looks like the handywork of our condo's former "handyman" (aka guy who lives in condo complex who got on the board as Treasurer AND simultaneously got paid to be handyman without any actual skill or experience). Gladly that administration is long since voted out.
Kelladyjoust on October 28th, 2009 04:46 am (UTC)
We're trying to piece together the story of who did (or did NOT) do to this poor house and when.

Apparently there was a school principal/administrator (loved to travel, keen on the ladies) living here before the prior (lovely gentleman, sod-all DIY guy) owner.
gardenfaieriesgardenfaieries on October 28th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC)
I'm SO glad we painted the wood. *sigh* for once we made the right choice. This is what the handyman was afraid of, faux ceilings hide lots of "booboos". Hope all works out for you and your "wee" house. :)
Kel: blue shutterladyjoust on October 28th, 2009 04:40 am (UTC)
For our part, painting would've been the least feasible option. I'm glad that painting brightened things up for you, and that you don't seem to be dealing with any wacky homegrown installation nightmares.

Alas, that's not the case for us. Ah, well. We're dealing with it the best we can. When all is done, it will look clean and fresh and lovely. And, quirky though our tiny house is, I still love it to bits. :D

Mirandamirmie on October 28th, 2009 04:56 am (UTC)
The fireplacestovething is very pretty! As are the floors!
Kel: don't let them see you're afraidladyjoust on October 28th, 2009 05:05 am (UTC)
I do love our local stone hearth/wood stove.

In my pictures, the floors are coming off pretty sweet. Up close? Not so much. One of these days, we're going to have to own up to the notion that scratched and pitted =/= quaint and rustic. *whimper* This home improvement stuff NEVER ENDS.
Molly: firefly tardiszapthatmonster on October 28th, 2009 06:36 am (UTC)
That ceiling kind of terrifies me. Bowed? I would be concerned about walking in my house. I like the shimmy fix, though.

I got the books, by the way. Thank youuus!
Kelladyjoust on October 28th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
It's actually not that bad. I've grown accustomed to all the quirks and tilts and odd angles of my ramshackle little cottage.

Yay! And you're very welcome!
Fjordhopperfjordhopper on October 28th, 2009 09:43 am (UTC)
What does the roof do, over the bowed ceiling? do you have attic space above that ceiling? Although I am sure that Bob teh builder checked it all out for you...I always wonder why a ceiling or a floor could be deflecting, when I see it.

Yay for not painting yourself!! that is excellent! (especially with the ceiling, it's no fun to prime & paint a big ceiling like that!)

It is going to look great when complete and make a big difference for your house!
Kelladyjoust on October 28th, 2009 09:24 pm (UTC)
There's an attic space above, and no discernible defects there.

I am SO EXCITED to have the painting done professionally. We've always done it ourselves, and it's always looked as if we've done it ourselves.

There's still so, so much that needs to be done, but I agree - this will make a vast difference in the tone of the house. :D
La Petite Souris Scientifiquemelebeth on October 28th, 2009 10:50 am (UTC)
Home repairs are teh exciting! (And teh stressful. And teh making of insanity - witness my most recent post) :)

You know what I love though?


I'm serious. Fixing holes in walls is so profoundly satisfying to me that it's a little ridiculous.

That having been said, I'm telling myself three times that I do not have to repaint the inside of my closet to cover the spackled bits, because IT IS A CLOSET. And CLOTHES ARE IN FRONT OF THE SPACKLE. And NOBODY CARES.

Except me. But I don't think that even I care enough to repaint an entire closet just to deal with a few patches.

I might care enough to finally rip out and remodel the closet... and then I'll paint ;)
Kelladyjoust on October 29th, 2009 04:13 am (UTC)
From everything I'm reading on your journal, you've some formidable home improvement skills.

And the next time I need spackling done, I am calling you. Will you work for books? And kitty time? And veggie chili?

La Petite Souris Scientifiquemelebeth on October 29th, 2009 02:06 pm (UTC)
Yes x 3 :)
Zoë Tzoethor on October 28th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
Having grown up in an old house, I love these fun discoveries - they remind me of home. We had the classy slanted kitchen floor. If you placed a marble on the ground at one end of the kitchen, it would immediately roll down to the other end.

Only recently (and due to a cat toy) did I notice that Becca and my apartment has a slanted living room floor. It's like a little piece of home!

PS: you are super hilarious and you NEED TO WRITE A BOOK.
Adrienne C.adrienne429 on October 28th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
We have a weird ceiling problem on the back porch. You're giving me the idea that I should take some pictures and post them to show you.
On days like today, there's a bit of water that gets in. I think it's water coming from the outside gutters, not the roof. By the way, just to let you know, I'm waiting with anticipation for the window estimate from Jamar. He's going to email the pdf of the contract and the paper with follow in the mail. Please say a prayer for me that it's good amount I can get mom to go for.
Kelladyjoust on October 28th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
Heck, yes! I don't want to be the only one doing this!

Good luck with the window replacement. *fingers crossed for you!*