Saturday, November 14, 2020

House to Home, Volume Five - Step Inside

I don't even know where to start with this one but I just read something interesting.  Over the last year I must have measured the inside of the trouse a million times while trying to visualize the layout of my soon-to-be new paint office, but for the life of me I cannot recall what size it is.  A couple of my neighbors have said they remember when the original trailer was placed in 1964 or 1965 so I googled "what size is a 1960s mobile home" and man, that was a rabbit hole.  Here's a link to a fun article that makes me think it was 10' wide - Wikipedia says they were called a "ten-wide" - and if I had the copy of my town lister's card here with me I could make an educated guess on the length.  Suffice it to say, trousification turned it into something else entirely with the addition of a "sunken living room" (as my sister likes to call it), two bedrooms, an office nook and an abnormally large bathroom.  I have very little photographic evidence of the interior so to spice things up I'm going to supplement with more of the pictures I took when I first looked at this property in May of 2013.

Let's jump right in with the kitchen since that room was probably the most startling.  Feast your eyes:

It was a marvel, and you can bet I absolutely kept the color of the cabinets.  Later on in this journey you will see what this space looked like after my contractor's crew spent a day on preliminary demo.

The original dining room space, to the right of the front door (kitchen is to the left) is what I used as my main art space - Studio A.  If you've been following my blog for a while you may recognize these next pictures - they are from February of 2018.

Again, that yellow is original but stepping down into the living room, I DID paint the purple wall.

I also painted everything hanging on that purple wall.  Fun fact:  the gold couch was one of the first pieces of furniture my grandparents bought when they moved back to the States from Colombia in 1960.

For reference, here is that same wall in May 2013.

Turning around and looking at the other side of the living room:

Yowza.  This is what became Studio C, the area where I had my alcohol inks and later my oil and cold wax.  This summer all the art supplies got relegated elsewhere because it became my quarantine home office.

Another fun fact:  this table is one of the first things I bought when I moved to Montana a hundred years ago.

Moving on to the lighter purple area you can see in the background, that was another trouse add-on.  The original owners had bookshelves built in and used it as an office.

I had a small desk there also, but at the near end of the bookshelves.  It became my gym library (picture taken in December 2018).

Directly behind where I stood to take that picture was the first of two bedrooms.  Here's the original and yes, an 80+ year old couple had a bright orange bedroom, bless their little hearts.

(Did they also have glow in the dark stars on the ceiling?  The VERY low ceiling?  Yes they did.)  Thru that not-so-cleverly disguised door is the second bedroom.  I took the door down and that's what I use as my painting table.

I don't have a picture of the laundry area (nothing to see here) but I saved the extra large bathroom for last.  The only picture I have at hand of the original room is not great quality because it's from the listing, but I will post it anyway because it's worth it:

To borrow a phrase from some Youtubers I watch, LORDY DAY!  You can't see from this one picture but the room is big enough to have its own foyer.  When I started messing around with fluid art I turned the bathroom into Studio B - I needed a space where I wasn't worried about paint flying around.  Here are some more repeat pictures from February 2018:

Side note:  the box on the floor has a small sculpting wheel inside and that's where the really messy paint action happened.  Stuff like this:

But I digress.  Here are pictures my mom took on September 13th.

Don't ask about all the Christmas ornaments - we can talk about that another time.  Here's what my storage unit looked like on October 3rd:

I made one more trip so there's more junk in there now, and here are the contents of my garage:

Plus the bathtub - I took this picture after the crew pulled the clawfoot tub out for me.  Quick tangent:  my tub was born on May 2, 1949.  Cool.

There you have it.  I know that was a lot of awkward back and forth but hopefully you get an idea of how it all started, how it progressed, and how it ended.  Emptying everything out was probably a hell of a lot easier for me than it was for the previous owners - they had a metric shit ton of stuff - but I still felt like the trouse had become one giant junk drawer, and I hate junk drawers.  It's amazing how quickly things accumulate.  Note to self:  don't do that.

We haven't caught up to present day yet (teaser:  yesterday morning I woke up to no water pressure) but it's about to get exciting.

Monday, November 9, 2020

House to Home, Volume Four - First Things First

You could say I've been preparing for this massive remodel since the day I moved in.  Almost.  That was January of 2014, and I spent the first couple of months having my bathroom and kitchen rebuilt from the studs up.  When the snow melted we started on outdoor projects:  crappy fences, crappy little outbuildings - we tore it all down.  Now here we are six years later and demo is officially going to start, but first things first - there's still a bunch of stuff that needs to move out of the way.  Like the shit shed.

I went back through several years' worth of photos looking for a "before" image.  No luck, so I went all the way back to the first day I came to see this property.  Still no decent pictures of the front, but here's what it looked like from the side (May 2013) - this is from behind the garage, so not a view many people would see but it gives you an idea of what I started with.

Nice, right?  The previous owners did clear out all the crap, and we pulled out the clothes drying rack, tore down the homemade storage box thing on the left that was attached to the back of the garage, and took down the fence between the garage and the shed.  Again, that was in spring of 2014.  A couple years later I wanted to minimize the obviousness (is that a word?) of all these white buildings so I painted everything that faced the back deck dark green, including the north side of the garage and the front of the shed.  I don't have any great pictures post-paint, but this will give you an idea.

I have photographed a lot of artwork hanging on the lower right half of that wall.  Here's another picture from behind the garage that I think was taken in spring of 2017.

The green served its purpose but no amount of paint could disguise the crappiness of the shed, which was originally two buildings stuck together.  My neighbor tore down one half about five years ago, and that's when the remaining building officially became the shit shed.  I only used it as winter storage for some of my patio furniture - it was gross and musty and full of spiders.  Knowing that demo was going to become a reality this year, I started taking bits of the building apart, and that's when it really began to live up to its name.  This was the view from my hammock mid-June 2020:

Gross.  A friend salvaged and repurposed the two window sashes but everything else is trash.  Here's my progress on July 4th.

Still gross.  My mom came up on the 11th and although she doubted our ability, we turned that thing into a pile of rubble before the dumpster arrived on the 15th.

Adios, shit shed.  All that remained was an 8' x 12' dance floor.

Something else in the "first things first" category was the relocation of a LOT of perennials.  I transplanted a bunch of these from in front of the house but won't know if it worked until next spring.

A nice couple came and dug out my strawberry dogwood tree hoping to give it a new life.  Fingers crossed it is successful.  All the rudbeckia along the driveway had to be sacrificed, which is a shame because it was so pretty when in bloom.  Here are some before pictures from last summer:

And here is the after, on September 20th:

The spot that had me questioning my life choices was all along the north side of the garage.  It was FULL of hostas, day lilies, astilbe and ferns - a regular jungle.  Roxie loved it there.

I decided to make a temporary flower bed for everything that needed to be moved but after days of digging and hauling a couple hundred pounds of rocks, that temporary bed is going to be permanent.  Here's how it looked on August 1st, about half way done:

And this is how the side of my garage ended up:

Speaking of the garage, I am VERY VERY VERY happy to see that thing go.  Another pile of junk.  It got so bad that in early August some part of the track broke and the door wouldn't roll up.  But I needed to get in the garage, mostly because my lawn mower was in there.  Let me tell you, the reciprocating saw I bought this year has been worth its weight in gold.  Pretty yellow Dewalt gold.  I removed two windows and cut myself a new door.  Boom.

The same people who dug out my dogwood tree wanted to recycle the metal roof and a bunch of rafters from the garage.  They came over a few times on salvage missions; this is what the garage looked like on October 10th, about a week before serious demo began:

And that wraps up all the exterior prep work.  Next we will take a look inside.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

House to Home, Volume Three - Welcome to the Trouse

Trouse:  Urban Dictionary defines trouse as "a term utilized in the real estate appraisal industry to describe a trailer which has been added onto and may or may not resemble a site built home."  Trailer + House = Trouse.  Welcome to Vermont.

My house is a combo platter of a trouse and a stick-built house, stuck together like a wonky duplex.  The trouse was torn down last week but here are some pictures I took on October 10th for posterity.  They start with the back of the house, which faces east, and go counter-clockwise.

In the first picture you can see a black door resting against the back of the house.  If you look past the blue chairs you can see what looks like a hole - that's where the door was and there was a REALLY old kerosene tank in there that fed the trailer furnace.  My mom and I removed the door and used a reciprocating saw to cut the opening bigger so the fuel company could get in there to pump out and remove the tank.  When the trailer was just a trailer the tank was outside.  Trousification (I just made up that word) put the tank under cover and behind a door.

Fun fact:  the guy who came to pump the tank discovered a screw in the bottom of it.  He figures there must have been a pin hole in the tank so someone (Yankee ingenuity?) stuck a screw in it and siliconed the crap out of it to plug the hole.  He said he's heard of it being done but never seen it, then he took a picture.

This one is taken from my thinking chair. I have a little fire pit and two chairs over in the back corner - my thinking chair and one extra for a thinking guest. The part of the house shown here is the stick-built part which dates to about the mid-1980s. That's a non-functioning chimney which I would like to have removed in Part Two of house renovations which is several years out. There was another kerosene tank outside here between those two back windows. It had a makeshift roof which almost blocked part of the dining room window. Not attractive at all. It looks so much better with that tank gone.

This next one is the north side of the house. Yes, it totally needs a little stoop which may or may not happen with this reno. Usually I care a little more about cleaning the pollen or mildew or algae or whatever it is off the bottom of the siding but all that vinyl is coming off so I let it go. You will notice from this angle the abomination that is the trouse-to-house attachment. It's crazy.

I like to say the trouse was built from lattice and windows. And I'm not joking. The place where some siding is missing on the house is where the roof of a storage lean-to was attached. We demoed the barnwood walls of the storage space probably six years ago and my mom meticulously salvaged all the boards because I thought they were cool. I've been storing them in my garage and they will be repurposed in the new build. The roof and support posts came down a couple of years ago.  Another fun fact: whenever snow slid off the metal roof and landed on the lean-to metal roof, which it did a LOT because welcome to Vermont, the whole house shook like crazy.  Marginally scary.  Actually, not gonna lie, majorly scary.


Here's the front of the trouse - it faces west. I painted the window trim a couple summers ago - everything in my house that's not nailed down is painted that turquoise color.  And, apparently, some things that ARE nailed down. This was the first year I've been here that I did not plant any annuals. I was expecting the demolition to begin sometime in August so it didn't seem like a worthwhile way to spend money. Turns out demo was two months late and I got my "dirt under the fingernails" fix transplanting a crap ton of plants I wanted to save. More on that later.

This picture is taken, obviously, from my driveway (oh hello loaner car) and you can really see the original trailer. They even left the hitch there so it would be taxed as a mobile home.

Sooooo much added on to that little trailer, and all the space that looks like it could be a second story is ... nothing. Empty space. It took me until last summer to get up the nerve to look behind that white door. In fact I sent my nephew up a ladder to do it, just in case that's where all the dead bodies are stored. Or giant spiders. But it was totally empty.

I am happy to say the view from all of these angles is totally different now. A pile of rubble is SUCH an improvement and it only gets better from here.