Once upon a time, we bought a house and loved the brick chimney, but didn’t love the duct work and chaseway that ran alongside. We ran through our options, and decided on the most difficult (of course)! We sourced old yellow (Chicago-style) brick for about two years off Craigslist at cheap or free prices. Then came the hard part – the cutting out of the old brick and tooth-ing in the salvaged brick to expand the chimney. Not for only one chimney – but for four different areas in the house! We had four areas to add brick:
the duct work in the dining room we wanted to cover
the plumbing (toilet) pipe on the opposite side of the dining room we wanted to cover
the chimney in the upstairs master that ran alongside a heating supply run duct
It turned out amazing and we are really happy with the results. The salvaged brick and new mortar isn’t a one-to-one match with the old stuff, but there is no way it would ever be…that chimney is over 100 years old! The expanded chimneys are such a unique architectural feature and really make the room unique, versus just cutting up some drywall to cover whatever pipes and duct work need covering. It makes the house look like there are more chimneys and although they’re not functional, they add texture, age and color to the rooms. I LOVE THEM! In the next house we fix up, it would be awesome to somehow include some old brick in every room. I wonder how Ross feels about that idea….
Taking out the corner pieces of the kitchen chimney so we could make it longer/wider
Longer/wider brick to cover the chaseway
Slow-going piecing one brick in at a time
Almost finished – just the top brick remaining, to reconcile with the ceiling
The finished kitchen chimney – looks like it was meant to be!
Before and after! I would never cook anything in the kitchen on the left…gross
The weather has been so weird….umm climate change anyone? We had like 50 mph wind gusts the other night. I kept thinking of the deer hiding out in the woods for some reason! Also praying there were no humans out in that wind, of course.
I did a video tour back in November, which was very warm with temps almost to 70 degrees! Everyone was all “Yay, it’s summer again!” but I was just plain freaked out. Still am…how does it go from 70 to below freezing that quickly? Anyway, the video tour is bright and sunny (balmy) so that explains that. I’ve been meaning to post it for awhile!
Ross installing our fire detectors in the dining room
Walking into the downstairs bedroom which is right off the dining room
View from the downstairs bedroom into the dining room
Entry staircase we need to refinish and under-stair storage -we are storing brick there temporarily!
Kitchen – we have appliances and that’s about it!
The downstairs bathroom – can’t believe it is the same room as before…INCREDIBLE!
Downstairs living room (those are brand-new toilets in the boxes, ha!)
The upstairs bathroom is such a gem! I LOVE how it turned out…even better than in my head.
The sink-side of the upstairs bathroom with new frosted window
The upstairs hallway with refinished floors and new staircase window to let light in
The upstairs master is both my and Ross’ favorite room…it’s super cozy and we love the chimney
We stole some space from the bedroom for a large walk-in closet (not original to these old homes!)
We haven’t painted the second upstairs bedroom but I’m going to stage it like a nursery
This closet is original! And small! Perfect for a nursery.
I hardly ever question anything Ross is doing over at the house, but I did poke a few inquiries his way about his plans for outside. It was pretty innocent questioning because one time I tried to talk to him about when we should lay grass seed and his answer was pretty much “Don’t ask me about GRASS SEED right now.” So I just asked him…”Now that the inside is so nice…have you thought about the outside of the house at all?” And we honestly didn’t discuss it much, outside of the obvious fact that the garage needed a floor, and Ross insisted the front steps needed to be straighter and the front driveway should be redone due to bad cracking.
Of course, being a chick, I pinned a bunch of cool walkways and outdoor patios that I liked on Pinterest, and when we were in bed he would glance over at the iPad and ask if that was the look that I liked. It worked out great, because that is exactly the look we achieved with the walkways at the house and I didn’t even have to stick my nose in it! The driveways are kind of boring to me personally but those are worth a post too. Have a look!
Our new front driveway spans all the way to the back patio so you can park on the side of the house and go in the back door
New garage driveway
Future walking path from the house to the garage
Making the pattern on the concrete walkway with a stencil
We had a date night recently and as per usual, we used it to work on the house. At first, I held back and did some work on my laptop while Ross worked on the hex tile. However, I got bored pretty quickly and asked Ross how I could help. He said the best thing I could do is pre-cut tile to the specs he provided. When he didn’t need a half piece of the hex tile, he would draw on the tile with a permanent marker and I would cut it.
I learned a lot about cutting tile. Incorrectly, I assumed you had to slam the handle down on the tile and it would actually scratch the tile a tiny bit. Ross didn’t really notice, but eventually he came over and told me I didn’t need to slam it down but just very gently tap the tile, after it is cut. Low and behold, tapping the tile after cutting it was really slick! We were a great team and the tile looks great. I kind of appreciate chipping in and rolling up my sleeves alongside my man.
Using the tile cutter
We cut a sheet at a time
1/4 x 3/16 V-Notch Pro Trowel and tile adhesive
We installed 1/4 in. Georgia Pacific DensShield on the floor and 1/2 in. on the wall
Hex tile being installed in the downstairs bath
Downstairs bath hex tile finished
View of the bath from the downstairs hallway
Subway tile being installed on the walls and shower!
This was so much work. I can’t even count the hours Ross put in ripping up old carpet, fighting with carpet glue, sanding and coating. But I fervently believe this was the single most valuable feature we pulled out of this house, for the least amount of money. I mean, the sander was $200. It’s just the work involved – the elbow grease – that sucks so bad. Plus we had to patch areas because “somebody” had to have wider doorways that let in more light…I always further complicate things. But it was all worth it…and I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…!
Sandpaper for the edger
Living room carpet glue we sanded off
Entryway staircase landing
Downstairs living room floor
Master bedroom floor next to the chimney
We took up all of the kitchen floors to make the hardwood carry through to the back hallway
Ross did some more work on the clawfoot tub. Some serious work. Wurk wurk. I tried to sand the claw feet with steel wool….bahahahaha… what a clown, I am. Steel wool didn’t do anything but eat up hours of my life that I can never get back.
Clawfoot tub after sanding, before priming the outside of it.
Ross used his sander on the outside of the tub as well as the claw feet to get the years and years of rust off. A family friend recommended Naval Jelly for removing rust and Ross said that worked like a charm.
The clawfoot tub with primer on the outside
He used Rustoleum Stops Rust to paint and prime the outside of the tub. He blocked the drain hole and taped the rim of the tub so he didn’t have any overspray get on the part we had already cleaned up.
Using Naval Jelly on the claw feet
After he shined up the claw feet I really wanted to leave them natural, but Ross said they would rust again right away if we didn’t spray anything on them, so we’re going to paint them white as well.
The claw feet were nice and shiny after sanding!
All we have to do now is the finishing coat of bright, shiny white. So exciting. I made Ross promise me I can take a bath in the tub before we sell the house. Like a 4 hour bath. With wine. And candles. And soft towels.
Ross refinished the upstairs hallway floor and it looks amazing.
After thinking about it for awhile, he decided to use his RYOBI surface planer on the boards to make them relatively even before laying them. I was worried it would wear the boards down too thin but they are still pretty thick as you can see from the pictures.
Hallway floor during sanding
After planing them and laying them down, he rented a floor sander to sand them smooth. Ross used fast-drying Minwax Polyurethane for floors to finish them.
The floor sander we rented
They really look tremendous. His plan is to start on the upper level and work his way down.
I’m so excited now that the floors and drywall are progressing…the floors look so amazing in person.
I’m supposed to be grocery shopping right now but I wanted to share our most recent progress. George is busy watching The Safe Side (three times in a row…he loves this movie). We posted pictures of the drywall and it looks great! Below is a full update – now off to spend hundreds of dolla$ on sustenance. I promise I’ll never take a tour video again with my iPhone…[covers eyes] sorry!
We passed all of the inspections so we were able to put up drywall. It makes a world of difference when you can actually see and walk through each room. Now we are able to visualize our rooms better. We’re running full speed ahead with the taping, mudding, painting, refinishing trim and getting doors back on. And everything else of course.
In the kitchen looking at our pantry/buffet corner
In the kitchen looking at the front hallway and front door
The one downside of having drywall up is the loss of so much natural light! I guess I won’t care or notice as much when we have our lighting turned on, but right now it’s kind of dark compared to what it used to look like and it kind of bummed me out, because we added so many windows. I want light er’where!
Standing in the living room looking into the dining room
Standing in the dining room looking at the doorway to the kitchen
We are talking about applying wall texture and what to do about the bedrooms that are already painted. Remember we didn’t have to tear into the walls in the bedrooms, so we realistically don’t need to texture those. Ross asked me my opinion and honestly I don’t think as a home buyer I would notice. Everything is going to be staged anyway so it’s not like someone’s going to be staring at the wall texture.
Light cutouts in the kitchen ceiling
I remember the words vapor barrier being thrown around at some point…but I honestly don’t know what this is. Some kind of plastic for the wall. 😉
Onto the mudding and taping…the part that everyone hates! Or so I’ve heard. Not about that mudding life.
Whenever Ross refinishes the driveway I feel like we have a new house. He used Rustoleum EpoxyShield to turn the asphalt black again and it looks tremendous. I think this is one of the most important parts of curb appeal, because the sun fades it every year, and it stands out so much against the grass.
Refinished driveway at our house
In thinking about the driveway situation at the rental, we will have to do something on the front (streetside) driveway as well as a new driveway leading up to the garage (not to mention a garage floor where it is just dirt currently). The front concrete driveway is all cracked because it is right next to a huge tree and also has a big hill, so it will need to be replaced.
The front driveway is concrete but it’s pretty old and is in really bad shape
The back driveway might end up being tar/asphalt, because we will need it to be pretty big, and there is just grass there currently. I like the look of the black asphalt when it is new…it stands out a lot and I think it will be obvious to buyers that the driveway and garage are new.
The current garage has no floor and the driveway is a tiny little patch of asphalt
I’m assuming the garage floor will be concrete, then we’ll have to plan out some sort of new walking path as the current one is janky. It’s kind of half buried and not easily walked on nor mowed around. I’m excited to plan out the backyard with the new driveway and walking path. I guess we’ll have to stop parking in the grass eventually!