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Furniture Archeology

13th January 2009



Ready for finish This buffet was left in the garage by the home’s previous owner. It set in the garage for several years collecting dust and junk. I spilled a bit of paint remover on the top and was surprises at how well the wood looked underneath. I decided to strip the entire piece to see what was there. I was pleasantly surprised. The thick coat of navy blue paint had protected most of the cabinet quite well. After replacing the plywood on one side and on the back, and rebuilding the frame and drawers, it is now ready for finish.

Rescued: Trash to Treasure

13th November 2009


This desk was left at one of the houses we bought. It was scarred, burned, beaten, and rough.  I had thrown it out on the curb for the city to pick up, but my wife dragged it back into the garage.  When I asked her why, she just said, “look at those dove tailed joints, I can fix it!” She spent a few days sanding on it and I spent another half day stripping the old finish and re-gluing bad joints, but everything was there.I sprayed it with Minwax One-Step poly and stain. Definately the way to go on a piece like this. The finish is uniform and yet the distressed characteristics still show through. Carri was very pleas3ed with the final results.

We did a little research and discovered that the desk was an Ethan Allen “Old Tavern” series desk from the early 50’s.We found others just like it on Ebay for $400 to $500. I made a mirror frame out some scratch pieces of pine, and Carri distressed it to match the desk

Not a bad addition to the home for next to nothing (labor not included!)

Let there be lights!

07th February 2011


Sutherland’s was having a clearance.  And what a great clearance.  I was so excited, just like a little kid turned loose with $20 dollars in a dime store!  I found matching lighting for all of the first floor rooms, including the bathroom!

I saved about 75% and found lighting that exceeded my expectations.

Kitchen Lights

20th February 2011


The kitchen came with a “boob light” and a bar of tract lights.

It looked awful and just didn’t go well.  Then boob light is OK, but just too plain.  The tract lighting looked like something out of an 80’s disco!  Not appropriate at all.

We lucked into the upgrades for the first floor lighting fixtures at Sutherland’s but the kitchen needing more illumination than the upgraded light would provide.

Dave came up with the idea for some recessed lighting.  It’s economical and very effective.

We should be replacing the boob light soon, but just the recessed light made such a huge difference!

These photos show the new kitchen light, the newly stained cabinets, the new recessed lights, and the new counter tops!

Lot’s of work is starting to come together!

Just a funny!

07th March 2011


When we were working on the “L street house” a  neighbor lady came over.  She introduced herself to me and I introduced myself and Dave as my fiancee.  She says, “Really? Even after all this? You still want to Marry him?”  LOL Still working on it!

The outlook for 2015 looked bright at the beginning of the year. All of our rental were occupied with stable renters; the past reno’s had been paid for, and it looked like the local housing market was starting to turn to the positive. I decided I couldn’t wait any longer and began to plan the remodel of of personal residence. Normally, our reno’s involve take the worst house on the block and turn it into the best, but this time we are starting with what i consider the best house on the block and making it better, or at least our own. In theory the plan was simple: Remove carpet, restore the oak floors, and open up the wall between the den and formal living room. The carpet will be recycled in one of our rent houses. It is over 25 years old, but except for the heavy traffic area through the den, it still in very good shape.

The floors had not seen the light of day for over 25 years so we were not sure what to expect. Unfortunately the den floor was covered in linoleum.  There was also a patch in the middle of the floor that would have to dealt with, and we also planned on moving the air duct so that hole would need to be patched also.

Stripping the linoleum was time consuming but not too difficult. I started by pulling and scrapping off the top coat, then wetted the backing with Henry Easy Release. It took several applications, the first application easily removed the backing, but the adhesive would take several more applications. Henry Easy Release also turned out to be a very effective solvent for the floor varnish also. I was pleasantly surprised that this solvent did no have strong odors and didn’t appear to be an irritant to my lungs either.

Patching the floor was pretty straight forward. I removed the oak flooring from a back bedroom closet and replaced it with plywood.  The bedrooms will probably always remain carpeted so no one will notice.  Even if the carpet is removed, replacing the plywood with new oak flooring should not pose a problem.

The den floor is ready to sand but I will remove the wall between the den and living room and patch the floor were the existing wall was first.


Rubble Garden

24th December 2017


Several years ago on one of our remodels, we had to replace the concrete driveway. We broke into large but manageable chunks to haul off. Instead of hauling it off to a dump, I put an add in Craigslist ‘Free Concrete.’ I had 2 people come buy and load up the back of their pickups with a couple of loads. One said he wanted it to stop the erosion on his dirt drive. The other said he wanted it for stepping stones to one of his out buildings. I also got a few very strange calls checking to see if the craigslist ad was legit. A couple thought it was joke so I explained the possible uses. It turned out we had made an afternoon feature on a local radio show contest for funny and unbelievable craigslist add people post. The joke was we were just trying to get someone to haul off our debris for free. We were winning for most of the afternoon until someone submitted a post for free ‘Maple leaves, Baggged or Free Range’. In the end, I hauled off most of the drive to a house that was asking for free dirt and fill materials.

Once again, I had to break up a large concrete slab in the back yard of one or our renos. Rather than haul it to the off I decided to use it for edging along the back yard for a garden.







I used as much of the concrete as possible for the garden edging, and a bit more for a path along the back of the house leading to the deck. Even then 8 trailer loads were hauled  to the concrete recycler.  Not sure I would do this again but it was an interesting project