Archive for July, 2011

fool me once. . .

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

When you rehab every room in a house there are always small, lingering tasks. They don’t prevent you from using the room, but you know the room isn’t quite ready for prime time (or a blog post). Here at mad maison we have more than a few. Sometimes, completing those tasks can be more fulfilling than all the other work you put into a room. Recent examples are the ceiling fixtures in both our bedroom and mike’s office. You may be surprised to learn that mad wanted to replace the identical light fixtures in the two bedrooms:

Mike's Ceiling Fixture, before

original bedroom fixtures

Perhaps you recall from a much earlier mad maison post, we were almost undone by the wiring in the living and dining rooms. In the bedrooms, we delayed replacing the lights until we found fixtures we loved and a better method. Once we found the fixture for mike’s office from Room & Board, I knew I would use a similar simple pendant/drum shade fixture in our bedroom. The night we purchased the light, as I was laying in bed looking at the old fixture, I remembered something Bob (the Room & Board salesperson) said about the wiring: “you could easily replace the housing unit for very little money with one that’s suitable for your house.” You see, the tops of the living room, dining room, and both bedroom lights all looked like this:

Dining Room Light, before

original dining room fixture

As you can see, there is a canopy (that sits against the ceiling), a rod that screws into the hickey (I swear, that‘s the name), a chain attached to the rod, and then the rest of the fixture. As I looked at the fixture still hanging in our bedroom, I realized I could probably cut the chain, reuse the rod and the canopy, spray-paint them (someone had painted the top of the fixture in the dining room), and then string our new pendants through them and install them quickly and easily. So that’s exactly what we did. I’m thrilled with the results. The pendants are very secure (especially since they’re much lighter than the earlier chandeliers) and I prefer the look of the white canopy on white ceiling to the chrome on white we currently have in the dining room and living room. And, the design works better with this 103 year-old house. See for yourself:

Mike's office Ceiling LIght

new ceiling fixture in mike's office

Bedroom Ceiling Light

new bedroom ceiling fixture

In fact, when we’re done with everything else in the house, and I’m able to find suitable canopies and rods for the living room and dining room, I might even rewire our current pendants in those two rooms. Of course, that won’t happen for quite some time. We have many other small tasks (like our kitchen, bathroom, and hallway) to finish first. Perhaps most satisfying of all is the realization¬† that we’re actually getting smarter and learning from our mistakes. Our house may be able to fool us once, but not twice.

an external experiment

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

It isn’t an accident that mad maison hasn’t shared photos of the exterior of the house. It’s been a long time since the house was painted–and the last paint job was not up to our standards. Right now, it’s still a little “crack-house” chic. We’ve been focused on the inside of the house (and we’ve had a few projects cooking that we’ll share in upcoming posts) and we knew the outside would be quite a thing. Our plan is to have the exterior repaired and repainted (hopefully) in the next twelve months. In the meanwhile, we conducted a small experiment on the exterior and we’re excited to share the results with our loyal readers. In addition to the old paint job, the exterior of mad maison sports a treatment commonly referred to as schmutz. There is visible dirt on the exterior, which complements the old paint job quite nicely. While we’re not ready to hire painters, we thought we could try removing the worst of the schmutz. We wanted to try washing part of the house. We started with a very specific area, the garage doors, to measure our results. We didn’t want to do any full-blown power washing, for fear that we would remove the old paint from the house (or, heaven forbid, knock the whole structure down). Of course, this being mad maison, additional work was required to complete the task at hand. There is a water spigot on the outside of the house:

le spigot

You’ll notice that there is no faucet to go with the spigot. Task one, therefore, was to find a faucet that we could install. A couple of trips to the hardware store led us to discover the four-way stem key:

four way stem key

four-way stem key

The stem key works as a “removable” faucet, which means no scurrilous individuals can steal our water while we’re not looking (my grandfather would be so pleased):

four way stem key

stem key in position

Once we found the stem key, we also found a “faux” power washer to fit on the end of a hose. This extends the reach of the hose spray without producing too much paint-stripping psi:

power washer

"power" washer

Finally, we assembled our cleaning/scrubbing supplies:
cleaning tools

While the house still looks like it needs a paint job, we were pleased that we successfully removed the loose schmutz, and feel it is a temporary improvement until we’re able to get the professionals in here. Here’s the before and after:

garage door, dirty

garage door, dirty

garage door, scrubbed

garage door, cleaner

We think the improvement is even more apparent in the close-ups:

dirty garage door close up

dirty close up

scrubbed garage door close up

clean close up

Inch by (sometimes frustratingly small) inch we’re getting this mad maison to where it should be.