Sunday, December 30, 2012

DIY as Videogame Part 2: Treasure

A good videogame typically offers "rewards" to users who have successfully completed a task or obtained a new skill or level.  Sometimes, "treasure" can be found at predictable spots along the game's path that you can later use for some other purpose or to simply decorate your avatar in newer, fancier ways.

DIY treasure (for us) usually comes in the form of a supporting family member or friend who surprise us with gifts we can use to adorn or fix up the home.  For instance, we visit my sister and brother-in-law for the holidays and they gives us the benefit of their experience and wisdom on home repair and decor. In addition, they often surprise us with antique items we can use to dress up the Victorian home.  They also take us to places where we can discover our own treasure or meet someone who helps us fix one of our long-standing home issues.

In just one visit, we found a great set of thick drapery panels, that we wanted to try and use to separate the entry way from the parlor, at one of my sister's favorite thrift shops.  She also took us to a great antique warehouse named Antiques Then & Now in San Carlos. Not only did it have an amazing range of antiques, but they are staffed by friendly knowledgeable people. Dan (the man), helped us find the correct skeleton key to go with the locks in our Claire Secretary Hutch.  I spent months trying to find the right key and Dan found the correct one in 5 minutes.  This is not an easy thing.  Most people (including myself) think that all skeleton keys are the same and will work with all locks.  In the old days, people needed to have unique keys so that the butler or the scullery maid didn't drink up all the liquor or steal jewelry. If all old locks opened with just one key, just think how easy it would be for a robber to clean up in just one neighborhood!  Somehow, in a sea of skeleton keys, Dan the man found what we needed and it only cost us $2.

Here are recent pics showing the "treasure" we received for our past DIY work.  They include two stain glass windows, Napolean seat/stool and other items. Also picked up some shelf brackets from Mr. Bill and a cutting router, which I'll pick up in the Spring.  Thank you Sylvia and Bill!

 Thick, vintage drapery that fits perfectly in the entryway. Purchased at Thrift store for $15.  Notice the stain glass window to the right.
We were gifted with the soft Napoleon seat/stool and the antique washboard now on top of the bookcase.

Happy New Years to you. Strength and Vision in all you do in 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

DIY as Videogame Part 1

Well, we've had a couple of blog fans wonder why we haven't posted anything since October.

The three main reasons are:
1. I was burning out after 3 years of continuous refurbishng.
2. It gets colder and wetter here and that only enhances 1.
3. I wanted to 'enjoy' the house more rather than leap up and work on something.

During the past few months, I've been able to focus on researching the next steps in our ongoing DIY efforts of our home and also rekindle my passion in doing more challenging projects for 2013.

So how is DIY like a Videogame?  Like a videogame, one can "level-up" after completing some easier, simpler tasks that gives you experience and knowledge to attack something more challenging..  One can also gain "bonus points" for jobs completed successfully like a videogame. For instance, your home value increases or friends and family are "impressed" at what you can do! lol  And, well, DIY can be FUN, like a game, but also, one needs to unplug from this game from time to time or else you will start to HATE the game!  So I gave myself some mind-time do just tons of research on a few major things I plan on doing in 2013.

1. Build Carriage Doors.
We bought a brand new car and leave it overnight in our very small garage. In fact, we bought a certain kind of car so it would FIT in our garage.  It's the Chevy Spark and is a really great, inexpensive car that we are enjoying more and more.  We bought it at FH Dailey Chevrolet in San Leandro and our dealer was Chris Bruyn, who was really easy to work with.  I recommend the car and him. E-Mail
Guide to Subcompact cars
As it turns out, we can't install an automatic garage door that rolls up because of the lack of head clearance. But when one door closes, another one opens (pun intended).  A little research leads us to a pair of carriage doors that opens outward like regular doors.  It certainly would be similar in style to the 19th century carriage door (park your horse and buggy), but these can work with an automatic opener.  I found a great video that shows me how to make carriage doors and plan on doing that first in the New Year.

A few inspiration pics.

Here are some links for you that cover a wide range of garage door options.

A unique way to build carriage doors

Design your own garage door.

We are actually pretty lucky to even have an attached garage in the Victorian.  Most old homes, here in the Bay Area, either have no garage, or are detached far from the house or is just a driveway along the side.  Eventually, we will be able to just drive in and enter our house from a garage doorway.

2. Build a Master bathroom

This would be the biggest project we undertake this year, I think.  It involves many factors and would involve a few more people ie. plumber. But we are confident that we can do most of the work to make this happen and envision a nice, large walk-in shower, large wash basin and vanity and a few other nice things that will be part of our master bedroom. No more walking through the kitchen to use the toilet. The biggest factor is working with a pro to setup the main pipes and making sure everything is up to code for inspection.  After that, we will be ready to install a nice, one-piece shower that doesn't require any tiling.  Home Depot seems to have some pretty good systems.  The 3D home modeling program I use is helping me visualize where everything fits and flows with the rest of the house.

3. Stairs
In order to take advantage of having a car in the garage and have access to our laundry room, we need to put in stairs connecting upstairs with downstairs.  I feel this is something we can do by ourselves but will be a challenge because there are very few places that stairs can go in our shotgun style Victorian.  This project will probably be the most challenging yet most rewarding.

4. Built-in Bookcase and window bench.
I've always wanted to build my wife a little library and hope I can create this in the parlor.  It should also help insulate against the noise from the street. Here is my PS vision for it.

Other Planned Projects for 2013 include:
-New Gutters
-Regrading the Foundation
-Front yard curb appeal (option 1)

-New Gas Fire place and mantle
-Garden Renovation
-New Windows
-Complete Insulation throughout the House

-Solar Shingles/Panels

I think if we can complete all of these (and deal with the vicissitudes of life), then I would say it would have been a successful 2013.  Let's see how that all goes?

Part 2 is coming up titled, 'DIY and Videogame Treasure'!
Stay tuned!