Q: What happens when you paint latex paint over oil base paint?

A: Simple.  This happens:

(This is the Craftsman style bungalow next door we purchased in January.  For other related posts, click on the tag Bungalow)

Door bungalow

Kitchen Door

And this:

Bedroom Door

Bedroom Door

 It appears that someone found a sale on green oil base paint and painted every door and baseboard in this house.  Then, later, a super smart person painted flat latex paint over the oil base paint.  Result?  A house full of peeling paint for me to scrape off and start over! 🙂  YAY!

Kitchen Wall

Kitchen Wall

Dining Room Arch

Dining Room Arch

Butler's Pantry

Butler's Pantry

I am scraping, sanding and peeling off the paint at present.  When I am finished, I will cover the lovely green with white oil base paint.

Yay for me!


What Were They Thinking: really bad old house ideas

Courtesy of This Old House

Courtesy of This Old House

So…I get up early this morning, 7:00 a.m. to be exact, excited that the carpenter was able to come by today and give me an estimate on porch work that needs to be done.  Everything was going well.  I showed Mike (our carpenter and friend), the porch boards that need to be replaced and the rotted column base that needed to be repaired.  He pointed out that the left corner of the porch was slightly sagging and that the column base was at an angle.  That made me curious.  So, I hopped off the porch to investigate.  Sure enough the column base that was rotted was a replacement so that meant work was done on the front corner of the porch.  I decided to pull off the fascia board and guess what I found…

front porch

Why would you do this on a corner?  It needs major support here…not a rig job.  This corner has a heavy column resting on it and water drains here.  Why in the world would you think that three pieces of junk wood would hold up over time?  Argh!  Off with their head!!!!!!!!!

front corner seal

Let’s examine the problem, shall we?


For the life of me, I cannot understand someone skimping on the repair job of something as important as a porch foundation.  It appears that the original beam (technically called a seal) had rotted.  We have had experience with this problem.  We had another place where the seal had rotted.  We had to have the house jacked up and a replacement put in.  It is not that big a deal and not as expensive as you would think.  In fact, if you have a little know how, you could buy a jack for $100 and do it yourself.

Needless to say, I was not excited in the least to find this kind of junk.  We have to repair this mess first before I can have the carpenter come back and replace porch boards.  I was looking forward to spending my holiday off next week sanding the porch so, when Mike was finished, I could prime and repaint the porch.  Now my plans have been foiled by a rotted piece of timber and a nitwit of a PO. (For all you non old house folks, PO means Previous Owner.  They are the ghosts that we old house folks blame every knuckleheaded idea on).  Argh!  This is just a typical occurrence though, for old house owners.  I laughed this morning (I mean, ya have to!  If not, you might go a little crazy!  CRAZY! Who you callin’ crazy?) and told my husband that this was not something listed on our home inspection report.  Oh well…what can ya do but fix it?  I guess you could track down the nut who either did this, or authorized someone to do it, and give them a good kick in the pants (or skirt).  That would make me feel better but, it ultimately would not solve the problem.  I wonder if one of the PO’s might log in one day and find my blog…..hmmm….I have this peabrained idea narrowed down to a couple of possible PO’s.  If you haven’t caught on yet, I am not too happy about finding this.  Anytime I think I have it bad, I head over to This Old House and look at the home inspection nightmare pictures.  Here are a few of my favorites. 

At least we did not find this:

Courtesy of This Old House

Courtesy of This Old House

Or this:

Courtesy of This Old House

Courtesy of This Old House

Yes folks, that is duct tape holding together a cracked support beam.

I think that the same guy who “reworked” my porch so nicely also did this:

Courtesy of This Old House

Courtesy of This Old House

Courtesy of This Old House

Courtesy of This Old House

My absolute favorite picture is where someone put a suitcase under a major support beam to hold up the porch.  For the life of me, I could not find it.  It was previously featured on TOH.  If you find it, let me know.  For more ideas for your lovely home, you can click here.

And lastly, my second favorite photo so far.  I guess it is because I can relate!

Courtesy of This Old House

Courtesy of This Old House



Spare Bedroom, Before and After

Ah-ha!  I found the realtor walk through picture of the spare bedroom too.  Once I was finished painting the spare bedroom this past November because guests were coming to stay, I looked at the pictures and I did not feel that I really changed the room much at all.  However, this picture reminds me of how ugly it was.


spare bedroom before


spare bedroom presently

Well, off to make waffles for my patient.  I am surprised she wants to eat since she is feeling so bad this morning.  But, if she wants waffles, I will make her some!


Pictures From the “What Were They Thinking?” Archive

I finally found my realtor walkthrough pictures of our house.  It is interesting to compare before and after pictures of some of the rooms.  I will post them all soon, but here are my absolute favorites….the kitchen before:

I don’t know which is worse, the red plastic handles on the cabinets mounted higher than you can reach, or the burgundy damask fabric that was stapled…YES, stapled to the wall, or the fire engine red laminate countertops.  The swags were also stapled to the window.  If you look close, you can see that they did not even bother to take down the old window hardware before stapling up the swags.  And, of course!!!!  I almost forgot!  The fingerpainted artwork on the cabinet doors!  At least it was acryllic paint and washed off!   The kitchen was also carpeted from wall to wall.  I can’t explain how gross that was.  We pulled it up to find a black and white checkerboard floor.  Which was a lot better than the carpet.

I accumulated two garbage bags of fabric that I took down from the windows, walls, and every other imaginable place.  Look at the front door..yes people, there is a front door under there somewhere!

front door

These doors have: 1) a set of plantation blinds, 2) a lacy curtain, and 3) a set of swags.  Can we add anything else?

I do not have any “after” pics, but here are some “in process” pics that show you what things look like now.  The kitchen:


Connect Meeting Christmas


***Update to post: I decided to clean my kitchen and take a better picture.

Kitchen side view

hall dogtrot

This is not the best pic… it was taken last year when I was trying to clean some things out and get rid of clutter.  But, as you can see, the 3 layers are gone from the window.  I replaced it all with some very simple semi sheer ivory shades.  Isn’t this hall cool?  We were living in 700 square feet before we bought this place.  I could fit my old place in this hall!  I cannot wait until I get all of the woodwork stripped and those awful repro art deco lights outta there!

Well, until next time. 


Projects – 2008 in Review

I was sitting around trying to think about what we did all year.  It seems like 2008 was a slow year for us as far as the DIY scene was concerned.  In the early part of the year, around March, we spent a lot of time getting construction bids and filling out mountains of paperwork for our construction loan, only for the subprime mortgage crisis to hit and, in the end, we ended up scratching the whole deal.  I had to go back through my pictures to see what exactly we DID accomplish this year.  I was glad to find proof that our year was not wasted.  Here is a pictorial review of our year:


Finished the rent house (Hallelujah!) and took our three year old employee to Chuck-E-Cheese.  Hey, we had to pay her somehow for all that painting she did!

chuck e cheese

employee viv


We celebrated our five year anniversary

anniversary flowers


My birthday!  Ahem….anyway.  In 8 hours, I cleaned, primed and put two coats of paint on the living room walls.  It wouldn’t have taken me 8 hours normally except that I: 1) painted alone; 2) pushed a very heavy 10 foot ladder around the room 8 times while I painted the middle and top of the room …twice! I have 13 feet ceilings.  [is it 13 foot, or 13 feet?]

living room bay

fireplace living room

lr bay

lr fireplace


In April, I redid an ugly 80’s dresser for Vivian’s room and, for storage, we revamped an old shelf my brother made many years ago by adding crown moulding to it and painting it.

Vivian's dresser

old shelf

shelf finished


We took down the ugly drop ceiling in the attic.   We also painted the Master Bedroom.

drop ceiling

master bedroom before

master bedroom in progress


I sanded, repainted and recovered an old chair I bought for $5.00 at a junk store.  I also managed to tick off the entire Ratcliff family and get called a potstirrer.   Hahaha….that’s definitely a new one for me!

old chair

chair finished


I started this blog. Yay!  I pulled a metal tray on wheels out of the garbage and remade it into a plant stand for my porch.  Click here for the details and pictures.  Even my husband could not believe I wanted something this ugly.  But it turned out well.

My new plant stand

My new plant stand


We went to the Philippines.  What a life changing experience!  Click here to see more photos of the trip.  In case you cannot figure out who I am, I am the very white girl in the middle!




Vivian’s Birthday.   Hurricane Gustav hit Cenla.  That was very interesting.  It took us about a month to recover and get all of the debris cleared and everything back to normal.  I can’t complain though, we did not endure anything like New Orleans did.  Click the link above to see pictures of that fun.


Was definitely not a project month.  I was caught up watching the media and reading the news regarding  local and national politics.  I did get a call from the Louisiana Historic Preservation Office in Baton Rouge telling me that they want to put my street on the National Register.  Which reminds me…..I need to give her a call.  That nomination is supposed to be sent to Washington in April.  I am definitely going to help make sure that happens!




I repainted and reappointed the guest room and stripped a fireplace mantel.

Spare room before

Spare room - almost done


We worked on the attic/loft area so we can add another bathroom upstairs.  Steven put up two porch lights in the back.  Steven stripped a door and a transom down to the bare wood.  We also stripped some paint in the hall that was caked on to the wainscoting.  Click here for December’s project pictures.

I guess all in all it was not a bad year.  We did not get as much as we wanted accomplished.  We didn’t nearly come close to the amount of work we did in 2007.  Oh well, put it on the list!  It will get done eventually!


Working on the Attic/Loft

Since we have five more days left of our vacation, Steven decided to continue working on the attic area.  He started pulling up plywood so he could get it ready to blow in some insulation.  We always thought that the plywood was sitting on rafters or beams, but when he started pulling up plywood, this is what he found:

upstairs floor

I was excited about it because it is grooved and fits together pretty well.  I started envisioning refinishing it for the loft area we are planning.  Steven was not too happy about it because it meant he would have to take it up (or at least some of it) to be able to blow in the insulation.  In fact, this discovery threw a huge kink in his plan and he was not happy about it at all.  He is green (anyone who who has taken the Colors Communication Assessment knows what I am talking about) and he does not like his carefully calculated plans to get kinked up.  We will probably take most of the plywood up to make sure all of the electrical is ran properly and up to code.  When this house was built, it did not have electricity.  We found gas lines, so the first owner must have had gas lamps.  You can see where the knob and pole wiring was retrofit in the ceiling.  It appears that our wiring has been updated and the knob and pole wiring is no longer used, but we just want to make 100% sure before moving on.  It would be awful if we had to go back and pull up flooring again in the future due to electrical issues.

The really funny part about pulling up the plywood was to find this:

underneath the floor upstairs

What were they thinking?  It appears that an attic fan was removed from this area and also that electrical wiring was retrofit.  Instead of sistering some beams (or some other proper and efficient method of leveling the floor), they decided to stack together pieces and parts of wood in order to make the floor semi level and then to nail a piece of plywood on top of it.  Sigh……

For some of the other “nice” jobs done to the attic, click here    Not only will you be able to see the lovely sheetrock job, but also a drop in ceiling which the PO must have installed blindfolded.  I laugh when I write anything about a PO…it makes me wonder if in 20 years or so, someone else will be writing a blog about me and all the horrible house blunders I made.  🙂  Anyway, we completely removed the drop in ceiling.  It is not a great improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.  This kind of thing makes me excited!  It means progress.  Steven is more of the demo man and I am the cleaner upper, detailer/finisher.  I usually let him do the demo and rough in work and I come back in, fill in holes, sand, scrape, paint, etc.

Here is the color scheme I would like to use for this space once we get it all done…you know, about five years from now!  I want this space to be sophisticated.  These are all Valspar Signature colors by Martha Stewart.  I picked them up at Lowes today.

paint scheme upstairs

I am thinking the lime green for the walls, maybe the dark slate blue for an accent wall.  Dark brown furniture. The throw pillows and accessories would be the middle three colors: red, light blue and gray.

Here are a few pictures my daughter took.  Here is the remodel of the upstairs through the eyes of a four year old:



Vivian 2

Happy Monday everyone!


Ideas for a Craft Room

After making our annual trip to area stores to take advantage of after Christmas sales, Steven and I decided to finish cleaning the “attic” upstairs to get it ready for insulation.  I am not sure if this space was used as an attic, or if it is just unfinished.  There are so many bad PO jobs done to the poor space, that I can’t really tell.  We are planning on turning the space into: 1) spare bedroom, 2) bathroom, 3) home theater/man room, 4) craft area.  It is a huge space.  It feels more like a loft than an attic.  More about the loft thing later.  Anyway, we basically moved things from here:

left of loft

(This is going to be the spare bedroom and bathroom) To here:

right of loft

To the left will be the home theater projector and to the right will be my craft room area.  We had to clean up the area that we will put the bedroom so that we can pull up the half inch (yes, I said half inch) plywood that is on the floor, check to make sure the electrical has been ran properly, blow in some insulation and put down a sturdier plywood subfloor.  Right now, when you walk across the room, the boards bow and squeak.  One of the last PO’s decided to frame this space up for the master bedroom.  The hysterical frame up and drywall job pictures are here

Anyway, since this is a large open space, I wanted to decorate it loft style.  Here are a few of my ideas:


Most of the pictures pertain to my side of the room…the super craft area.  But, you get the idea.  When you first walk up the stairs, to the left will be a wall of built in shelving to house all of my books.  I was thinking about painting the wall behind the shelves with chalkboard paint and using white shelves.  Should make a nice black and white contrast.  The shelves will be tall so I can write on the chalkboard above the books.  For wall paint, I was thinking about a nice lime green with accents of turquoise and brown.  Maybe a splash of red accessories here and there.  You know me, gotta have red somewhere.

Unfortunately, the decorating part is WAAAAAAAY far down the line.  The first order of business is insulation.  The second order of business is installing a bathroom so we can demo the HORRIFIC one downstairs.  We only have one, yes, yes, yes, only ONE bathroom downstairs.  It is hard to imagine that we have 3200 sq feet and only one bathroom.  There is no other place to squeeze in another bathroom except upstairs.  So, unfortunately, we are working on the upstairs so we can work on the downstairs.  (Doesn’t make sense, does it?) We cannot remodel the bathroom downstairs until we have another one somewhere else.  We cannot remodel the kitchen (the kitchen is ALMOST as bad as the bathroom) without having somewhere to wash the dishes, etc. (a bathroom).  So, we had to sit down and figure out what needed to come first.  It completely galls me that we have to spend time and money on an upstairs space before we can work on OUR living space downstairs.  Oh well….  I guess it all comes down to: What comes first, the chicken or the egg? 

Steven and I both have one more week off, so we are trying to make the best use of our time.  We are going to try to blow in the insulation next week and, while we are at it, retrofit some insulation in the walls downstairs.  I sure am glad I caught that episode of This Old House two weeks ago showing exactly how it is supposed to be done! 🙂

Maybe, if all goes well, I will be able to post pictures of our framed up new bathroom next week.  It will still be a while before we get the flooring laid and have it replumbed, but I can hope for the best and dream about it anyway….right?


PS I am enjoying our high of 75 degree weather!  You won’t catch this Southern Girl anywhere close to snow! 😀

***Update:  This never happened due to a lot of bad electrical wiring we found.  So, we held off on putting in the insulation until we could get the electrical updated.  Don’t want to start any fires!  Ya know?!

The Old Fashioned Way

Drop in ceiling (were they serious?)

Drop in ceiling (were they serious?)Upstairs 1100 sq feet open space

Well, the towel has been thrown in and we have decided to go allllll the way to the drawing board and start over.  We started out only needing around $50-80k in repairs, but by the time the bank was done adding their projects that “would make the house appraise for more” and making us hire a general contractor, our bottom line total of borrowing $178k was just waaaaaaaaaay more than what we wanted to spend.  So, we are pulling it all back and deciding to go with Plan A, which was, do the work ourself!

We will have to get creative on finding someone to help with the roof work (we have a LARGE roof), but the other things are just maintenance issues that we can take care of ourself.  I almost feel relieved to be going back to Plan A.  I trust in myself more than I do the general contractor and the bank.  We also were not thrilled to add all of the things the bank wanted to add, just to make our house supposedly worth more.  As you can tell from our previous blog, you can see how well their theory held.

So, we are dusting off the power tools and mourning the six months lost on filling out paperwork and getting the house appraised.  We could have already gutted and redone the kitchen or bathroom by now!!!  Or at least sanded and repainted a porch ballister or two 🙂  It was nice for a while to think that we could have all of the work done at once instead of laboring over it for the next ten years, but in all honesty, I think we will be more satisfied and proud to come home and see the transformation and know that we had a hand in it.  So, three cheers for doing the old fashioned [hard] way! 

First, we are going to gut the horrendous sheetrock and drop in ceiling job that some misguided PO attempted and try to frame up an extra bedroom, bathroom and recreation room.  Even though I hate that  our first project is to finish space that we don’t need yet.  I mean, we have 4 bedrooms downstairs already!!  But, in order to gut the bathroom downstairs, we have to create a bathroom upstairs.  In our 4000 sq ft house, we only have one bathroom.  YES, I said ONE bathroom!  So, new bathroom upstairs first, along with the extras, then we can gut the ugly bathroom downstairs.  As a woman, I would like to scrape and paint the exterior of the house first, that would be a super improvement to the face of the house, but, in the Louisiana sun, instant gratification falls second on the list to keeping cool and avoiding heat stroke!  So, the upstairs it is.