Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I'm still compiling a blog post recapping some of the notable projects of the last 10 months, like when a pipe partially collapsed in the garden sending sewage bubbling up through my lovely yellow flowers and I couldn't afford a plumber so I dug it out and actually patched it myself (that's the image at the top of the page in the SALVAGE HOUSE banner). Oh, or all the fun times hand stripping, sanding and staining all the wood floors in the house! Good memories. But that will have to wait because the next project is in full swing. Mission: Kitchen!Here's an image of the kitchen before. (ok, it's actually the upstairs kitchen, not the downstairs, but they look exactly the same and it's the only photo I could come up with. whatever. Imagine the same thing but my neighbor's pink siding instead of a roof outside the window)
So what do you do when you need to put your huge wonderful Tromm washer and Dryer in your house? We need an exterior wall to make a vent, need to be near to plumbing, water pipes, and not block a window. . .Kitchen wins! Only problem is there are currently cabinets and counter tops in the way. Problem?! NO PROBLEM! A couple noisy hours with my trusty reciprocating saw, Marco with his circular saw, a lot of crow bar action and a broken hammer later -you have to get fierce with old wood!- I pry off a panel of wood and on the back side I find this:

Isn't it Cool!! It's a pencil drawing of Joseph Stalin, leader of the communist Soviet Union, complete with sickle and hammer. Is this a statement of communist support? and it doesn't just say "I support Stalin" It says "WE GO JOE." The connotation being that group is declaring it's overwhelming support of something, it's allegiance to a side, like "Texas goes RED" in an election. And it's not "stalin" it's "JOE" suggesting a certain familiarity and respect. "Good man. We supportcha!." So who drew it and why? and exactly when? Did this get taken to a rally? Was it drawn for an underground communist organization and eventually hidden in the side wall of my cabinet? This is one of the coolest parts of renovating an old house. You never know what snippets of the house's history you'll find, and it certainly reinforces the feeling that the property is so much more than me and my life. It's had many lives, and will hopefully have many more if I do my job right. This find reinforces my sentiments that I'm not THE owner, I'm the current steward of the house. I've made sure to let the house and those who still watch over it know that I may be ripping it up some right now, but it's like pruning a rose, you snip off a little so more will bloom. i got the feeling they were a little disturbed when I first started ripping it apart. A discussion of house ghosts another time. Soon it'll be time to return to the Texas History floor to compile a list of all the tenants of the house between 1926-1950 to search out what I can about their stories. But first things first...
You can half see the new shelves for glass wares in the window in this shot
To remove the sink, or not remove the sink, that is the question. We removed it.
My little sidekick wants to help! Sorry, my piglet, there's sharp power tools running in here.

Remember in Under the Tuscan Sun when she finds the faucet randomly in the middle of a wall? It starts dripping and eventually gushes as a metaphor of inspirational life force having returned, as in "her cup runneth over!" This is my tribute photo because I love that movie. Especially the clothes!!

So we ripped it all out, including some rotten boards behind the sink, and revealed a need for more boards to replace the subfloor, etc. (water damage) Some people would take a big truck to Lowes. We take our "mini truck." We certainly do get stares in the lumber dock and all the way home every time we do this! You have to take the headrests off and lean to the side a little once you get in the car, but it totally works. you'd be shocked what I've carried in my little Tiburon Azul de Espacio (little blue space shark, Lucky for short.) My mini cooper is the BEST.

Marco drinks the rest of the juice (!!!) while I photograph the car in the Lowes lumber dock.

As I type this, Marco and his construction genius uncle are in the kitchen putting new pipes and electrical in the walls to make the hookups for the washer and dryer. I went salvage shopping this morning before work and found the perfect giant porcelein sink tub thing.
So far the expenses read like this:
$44.00 for wood at Lowes (should have been well over $50 but the men in the lumber department like me. Some women put on a push up bra and go gold digging for a Lexus, I brush my hair a little and get exceptional service at Lowes. I'm probably the happier.)
$54.00 for a new porcelien sink from an old architectural salvage shop overlooking the Trinity River, Orr Reed. They have the best selection of sinks of all the Dallas salvage shops, and a ton of antique doors and windows.
... brings the total so far to $98.00. Sweet! Remember the overall budget goal is $300, not because that's what it should take but because that's all I can scrape up right now. Hopefully I sell something soon or have someone come get some alterations done so we can up this budget a little! Some tile would be nice. Anyone want to sponsor 3 or 4 square feet of black and white hexagon tiles for the counter around the sink? maybe just black to go with the washer dryer...


  1. YAYAYAY!!! The new post is up! I'm so excited :D

  2. Oh WOW! I love the crazy Communist wood board you pulled up! That's so unexpected and a really unique page in your house's story! I love Under The Tuscan Sun- what a GREAT movie! :) And sponsoring tile sounds like fun! Sign me up!

    P.S. I love how you fit all that stuff in your Mini Cooper. [Lucky voice: "VROOM VROOM, ZOOM ZOOM!"]

  3. Thanks for your enthusiasm, Michal. It was your brilliant idea in the first place! oh, and you always do the perfect impersonation of Lucky's voice. vroomvroom!

    I was kind-of joking about the tile, but of course I'm not too proud to take a gift if anyone's offering!

    To see the tile go to hextile.com
    Under the Products tab click "historic" and check it out. I'll be wanting mostly black tile with a few white tiles as accents. I estimate I need three square feet of 1" black hex tile and one square foot of white 1" hex. I also need to get a small number of preformed trim pieces so I don't have to cut tiny tiles! So, if you feel the strong desire to contribute one of the square feet I need I'll be glad to use it!

  4. Did you keep the crazy communist drawing? I totally would have. Don't know what I would've done with it... but something.

    Can't wait to see what it looks like when it's done. If you want any help on the kitchen, let me know! I'd be super happy to help out. Renovations are fun!

  5. OH YA we're keeping the communist drawing! We're discussing ways to preserve it although I have no idea where do hang it! Spray or dip into a glaze? put in protective glass? Something inexpensive! It doesn't exactly fit my normal aesthetic. and it's big, 18"x22".

    I would love for you to come help! as soon as I come up with a colour scheme I'm going to start painting the kitchen and that would be a great job for a helper. The colour scheme must complement a large swath of grey and black in the sink/washer/dryer/ zone. Suggestions will happily be considered! people wanting to vicariously enjoy home ownership who can paint a straight line or make chocolate pudding are always welcome to come help. :) I'll update you on the next work date, Kate. Probably Sunday or Monday.

  6. Alright missy- the order has been placed and you now have a big box of black & white tiling en route to your house! :D I'm so glad you have this blog- I feel like I get to be a part of the renovations!