Sunday, October 2, 2011


For two people who rarely go anywhere or do anything, Honey and I have been busy. New York, St. Louis, Lisle. If all this gadding about keeps up, I'm going to have to change the name of this blog to Now, in the interest of geographic fidelity.

But because our youngest bought a house in St. Louis (built about the time I was starting high school, so we are talking old here), we drove down to check out this ranch home equipped with aluminum wiring, knotty pine paneling and some of the ugliest wallpaper borders ever created. Because the 94-year-old homeowner swapped out the wiring, we got to take care of the rest.

Whadya think?

(This beguiling fixer-upper is actually just south of Odell, IL, off I-55.)

This is the real house:

Clearly, the what-I-think-may-be-a-Japanese-Maple is trying to swallow the house whole, which dovetails nicely into a Mothra movie and not so much into an episode of Curb Appeal.

This is, of course, the kitchen.
Cleaning supplies? Check.
More cleaning supplies, especially Clorox bleach? Check.
Candy Corn and Bagel Chips waiting on counter for our dinner? Check.
Dog who fell down the basement steps and lived to tell about it? Check. (For those who missed out on Bandit's previous near-death experience in St. Louis, you can read about it here.)

Imagine, if you will, floor-to-ceiling paneling. Very dark, very dusty, and now gone, thanks to the incredible hand strength of two men and a nurse. (Why wait for a crowbar, when you can yank and hurl?)

Here is our girl, going after wallpaper glue:

In AJ's hands, the house will be absolutely darling, just not immediately. We explained that following every home purchase, elation turns to horror. This is textbook. And not a little scary.

But once the dessicated squirrels and dusty window treatments are cleared away and thought and paint are added to the walls, it will get better. I promise, you will not have to wear rubber gloves inside your house forever, only while you are working at the hospital.

Many thanks to Aunt Joyce for showing up with lunch and demonstrating her amazing technical skills by removing the faux ceiling beam in three wacks. When she was done with that project, she effortlessly moved on to paneling screw removal.

Ever remodeled a house? Tell me about your reno shenanigans in the comments section. I'd love to read about your experiences, and I know AJ will be encouraged and inspired.


Sharon said...

AJ needs to read the blog, Young House Love. It's a young couple that's been remodeling an old house. All they do now is blog and make quite a living from it.

Anonymous said...

When in doubt: Navajo White.

BFL said...

I am reminded of how short-sighted I was when I opted NOT to buy that condo in Columbia when I was about AJ's age. Waiting until I was almost 40 to buy my first house meant that stripping ugly brown paint from a "railing" and replacing it with stain was really hard work. And removing dark red and black wallpaper with raised texture from what was a teenage boy's bedroom revealed about a zillion nail holes that needed spackling. Fixing that was even harder work. It was all downhill from there. Good Luck, AJ!

Johanna said...

Anna and her cousins Tom and Lara can really bond now. They, too, are still living in the world of "what's really behind those walls exploration." I love it that when they redid their downstairs bath, they found pictures of a previous owner's son in his soccer uniform and notes from the other children in the family!

Kathy and Freddy said...

Well said. This would be good reading for any of us who have experienced the absolute horror of what is behind those walls. AJ, you are not alone!!!