Here I am, standing on the porch of my family's new house. On January 12, we finally finished all the paperwork on this monster and collected the keys. Now the real fun begins: making it livable for the Lester brood.
There are a couple reasons we bought this house. First off, we needed a bigger place. We have outgrown our secluded homestead in Quitman and this place is more than double the size. Second, it is about 25 miles closer to where I work. And third, look at this picture:
In the foreground is the corner of our new home. In the background, you can see my parent's house. So living that close is a great benefit for the family.
This future luxurious dream house needs a lot of work. Let me show you how much exactly, starting where we started looking: the basement.
The door to the basement opens to this:
These stairs are about shoulder width and weak. I worried walking down them about whether they would shoulder my weight. They will need replaced. And yes, that is a drain line running through the stair.
Sara and I had no idea what we would find in the basement but we were happy with one surprise. The size of the basement is much greater than we expected. Plus, it was filled with all kinds of junk for us to pay someone to haul away. Jackpot!
Here is one of several rooms in the basement. We just did some minor exploring while we were down there because there were no lights. We had not called for electricity and were using a flashlight. (By the way, the flash on our digital camera is great.)
Here is another room in the basement and - cha-ching- free trash cans. More loot for me. Looks like there is some metal shelving and a big flower pot. I didn't look but I'm hoping there are a couple Dr. Hy-Vees left in those boxes next to the white trash can.
Here you can see the outside entrance to the basement. The previous occupants were kind enough to leave refuse on these steps for us to remove. One part of me would really like to meet these people, but one part of me knows I really, really don't want to meet them.
This leads up to the area by the back door. I foresee a deck in this are with these stairs being implemented into the deck. I would like to build some sort of cellar door style covering for this area, for when it isn't being used and to keep snow out. I have not worked all that out yet. We're a long way from working on that project.
Finally, here is the star of the basement. When I saw this, I was both awe-struck and feeling a presence of evil. This, dear ones, is: the furnace. Dun-dun-duuuuuuuuuuh!
I'm fairly sure this was the furnace in the movie "A Christmas Story." I saw it and felt like Luke Skywalker felt when he laid his eyes on Darth Vader in "Empire." It was a soup of fear, anger, confidence and doubt, all jumbled together.
Let me tell you a little story. When I was in junior high, my friend Travis Brandt lived in this house. I was over here all the time. Once, he opened the door to the basement. He was giving me the tour, I think. He looked down the stairs and said, "That's the basement. I don't go down there. It freaks me out a little." I knew what he meant. Just looking down those stairs, I felt the presence of evil. It chilled me to the bone. My point?
This furnace was the cause of that evil.
Man, creeps me out 25 miles away, just knowing it lies there waiting for me.
The Foyer and Main Staircase
The front door to this house is pretty cool. I don't have a picture of it but I will get one. The one I took was back lit and dark. But trust me, it's worth saving. But the foyer is a little dark, so I would like to put a window or two along side it, to lighten things up. The floor in the foyer has been covered in parquet flooring, which is now loose. I am sure there is hardwood flooring under it. I'd rather have that anyway.
The staircase has a really cool main post that I would like to clean up and get back to new again. It seems sturdy and I hope will serve us well. A majority of the balusters on the handrail are missing and will have to be replaced. Te stairs, however, are in great condition. I was very happy with their condition. There is a rug on the stairs and I can see beautiful wood peeking out from under it. I would like to just have that wood, but wonder about kids in socks slipping on finished wood. This staircase is the main focal point as you open the door so I want it to shine. But not if I have to sacrifice safety. Hopefully, I can find a solution and achieve both.
There is a hallway in the foyer that will be worked on also. The carpet will be removed to show the hardwood floors I hope are under it and the walls will be redecorated. Currently, there is wallpaper on these walls that someone has painted over. I had never seen someone paint wallpaper before so I don't know if that is common or not, but it seems stupid and lazy to me. So, demo the walls and paint it up how I, I mean, Sara, likes it. The heating grate in this hall is pretty cool also. I hope I can polish it up and make it stand out in the area. There is paint and some other build-up on it, but I have confidence in the chemical industry providing a safe manner of fixing it.
The Living Room
The room we have decided to be our living room has a really cool wood floor. The pattern is unusual and I think it will really be a beautiful floor when I get finished with it.
The walls in this room are cracked and need replaced, along with the ceiling. The room also needs some more electrical outlets. I have debated whether to work with the plaster walls or replace them. I am currently leaning towards replacing them. I would like to insulate the house better and this room has two walls that are exterior walls. That and the rewiring motivate me to replace them. But I have not made up my mind yet on this. It could change.
The Kid's Day Room
The center of the house on the main floor opens to a long room which we both think makes a great place for the kids' play area.
The carpet in this room is filthy, musty and has to go. Again, I hope there is hardwood under it. Sara says the paneling is good to go for now, but I will get rid of it. Just give me enough time. The door leads to the wrap around porch and is covered by layers of paint. It is a nice door and I hope to save it.
By the way, you can see the door leading to the Lair of the Furnace. It is right next to the door leading outside. Didn't I tell you? Evil even in binary code.
This room was being used as the master bedroom, but we are going to turn it into the library, with wall to ceiling bookcases, maybe a hide-a-bed.
It's just too bad we can't show off these walls. I mean, WOW! But these walls are all exterior walls and I will be tearing them out for insulating purposes and for wiring. The closet has a window in it. Nothing more to add, just thought it was a weird place for a window. We'll be using the closet to store games and school supplies.
There is a reason I think a hide-a-bed or futon will be in this library. It features a full bath that was used as a master bath. So, this room is actually a library/guest room. Feel free to stop by for a visit.
But first we'll have to replace the toilet, bath, shower walls, sink, vanity and check the plumbing to make sure it is insulated and not busted from the winter.
But after that, it's all yours.
The Dining Room
Next to the day room is the dining room. This room has two doors in it, one leading to the wrap-around porch in the front and another leading to where the deck will someday be located.
The door to the back will need a new exterior storm door and both interior doors will need refinished. Also, this room has a low spot, a slant that leans toward the kitchen. I need to get under the house with some lighting and see if this is structural or intended. It worries me quite a bit. But this is a nice room for dining in and I hope to construct a large concrete table for our family. So far, Sara and Willa are against that idea. That's a double whammy. But, if I build it, they will come...to dinner.
If you have never seen the beauty of concrete counter tops or tables, check this out.
This kitchen is gonna be a lot of work. It is a buffet style kitchen and it needs all new counter tops, which I plan to make out of concrete. It will need new cupboards, new flooring and the window at the end needs replaced. The other window has a counter top built over it, which I will remove. There is also space at the other end of the kitchen that needs work.
The biggest project here, however, will be the partial removal of the wall to the left of the picture. I would like to take it out to about bar level, so the kitchen is opened up to the rest of the house. The way it is, you are secluded when in the kitchen. The wall is really thick though, so it may be a support wall or a wet wall. This one I'll need outside help with, I think.
Pretty much, this room is a total do over. About the only thing salvageable is the ceiling. And I'm not too fond of it, either.
The Mud Room
This room looks like it was tacked onto the back of the house as an afterthought. It has a heating vent to it and will probably hold our deep freeze. Not much to see here.
This room is pink. Oh, and the sink...it's on the floor. Two big problems with this room. First things I saw, anyway.
It will also need a new toilet, new flooring, ceiling, tub/shower. The moulding needs replaced and the door also needs a door knob.
This will serve as the main bathroom for the family, being upstairs with the bedrooms.
So, did I mention it was pink? Oh yeah, they painted everything pink. Even the tiles on the walls.
Something that I noticed while I was standing there looking at the tragic pinkness of the room was there was no door knob. There are a lot of rooms in this house without a door knob, so that didn't surprise me.
What did confuse me, though, was this:
As I said, the door had no door knob, so it would not stay shut. But this lock is on the outside of the bathroom, and the door swings outward. What is this all about? Why would you have a lock on the outside of the bathroom, where you couldn't open it when you were finished?
Sara asked if I thought they locked their kids in the bathroom.
After some questioning, it seems that may be the reason for the lock on the outside.
Looking around at the carnage they left behind, nothing would surprise me.
The rest of the rooms up here were bedrooms, except for the room we will be using for a "hobby" room.
This room has windows all along the western and northern walls. All these windows will need to be replaced.
I'll post a more later, but this marathon post has taken a great deal of time today as it is. But you can see the enormity of the job ahead of us. It will be an adventure.