Friday, December 04, 2009

The New Digs

(this is not a super attractive picture-
I promise this place is much more inviting in real life!)

Hello Blog! I know I haven't visited in ages and ages. I haven't fed you the good nourishing words that I have so frequently, dare I say regularly, provided in the past. But blog, I've been a very busy bee for the past six weeks. I put an offer on a house, I got slammed at work, I did very important things like watch countless episodes of "Arrested Development" on Hulu, and I had guests. And I started packing. And I closed on my new house.

Holy shit world, let me tell you something. When I looked at this house a few times before I made the offer, I really liked it. Yes, it had a sort of weird smell to it and needed updating and some cleaning, but the price was more than right, and the location is fantastic. I've randomly run into people who know where I've moved to and they're like "Ohmigosh, that place? I luuuuuuuuuuv that place! What a great place! Can we come visit you? Do you have a spare bedroom? Can I move in?"

When I went to see the house the day after closing, I got a bit of a shock. Every single surface was covered in a serious layer of nicotine. And ground into that was a layer of greasy dust. So while the house was dirty it was uniformly dirty and not apparent to the naked eye without the help of a magic eraser and/or bleach. I had no clue how much work was ahead of me until after the papers were signed....

The first night I had the house- my house- and got inside (just for an initial look, not moving in yet), the first thing I attacked was the outside of the refrigerator. This is the oldest fridge in the world but works well and the seals are good, so I was pretty sure I was going to keep it. I sort of swiped at it with a microfiber cloth- not bad! There was a little dust on there but not bad! So I pulled the fridge out from the wall and there it was: the line of built up tar. And I had to haul out the soft scrub to cut through it.

The outside of the fridge probably took an hour to clean, using Softscrub first and a magic eraser after that, then rinsing everything off. The fridge was not dark almond. it is actually off-white. See?

(yes, that white spot in the middle there is clean....)

This is how it has been for every single surface, except for the walls which were painted relatively recently. Things change colors when you scrub them. The counters, the floors, the stove, the washer and dryer, the sinks and toilets, the closet shelving, bathtub, light fixtures, the window frames, tile work, and mirrors were all covered in sticky tar. I'd start one little project and it turned into a major ordeal because there wasn't a good way to clean anything with just one product. I had someone come in and clean the carpets and the air ducts. I only saw one of the ducts get cleaned (which happened to be the closest to the heater unit), and it produced huge billowing clouds of dust and crud that went all over the place. My vents are still blowing out some pretty impressive dust actually. I don't think they had ever been cleaned. I don't understand how the former owner is not very very sick. (She did have 2 air purifiers in her house before she moved- I bet she would never have needed them if she'd had the ducts cleaned.) The carpet, of course, changed color with steaming.

When just the outside of the fridge was cleaned, I tried to attack the kitchen floor. I tried everything,including straight ammonia and bleach (at different times of course), and nothing cut through the dirt at all.

(the 9 squares on the left took an hour of scrubbing, thank God I figured out a different method)

All of the sudden I was very overwhelmed and panicked and sure I'd made a terrible decision and bought some hulking money pit that was going to take over my life and eat up all of my money. I needed help. Lots of it. I was freaking out.

I asked a few friends to come over to help with the initial cleaning- windows, bathrooms, floors, and other things I could attack with minimal tools. I have to say that I have some wonderful friends who were sooooo excellent about being there for me. Even if they hadn't cleaned their fingers off and just talked to me while I worked that alone would have helped so much in calming me down. I can't thank them enough.

My dad drove up from Alabama on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, AKA Moving Day 2009. He stayed until Saturday and we spent pretty much all of that time repairing, fixing, cleaning, and going to Lowes for supplies. Thanksgiving dinner was courtesy of Cracker Barrel this year. He brought his shop vac, various tools like drain snakes and putty knives, and lots and lots of household maintenance basics. Here is a list of what we accomplished, I had to get this down because I know I'll forget all of the hard work we did last week if I don't:

  • Replaced locks
  • Added working lock to storage unit (used the old front door lock- nice idea!)
  • Put up smoke detectors (there was only one- the original one- in the upstairs hall and I'm not sure if it even works)
  • Put up switch/outlet covers on naked electrical fixtures all over the place (the covers were brand new, still in plastic, and sitting in a bag in the laundry room- hunh?)
  • Scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed- I still have callouses on my fingertips from all of the hardcore scrubbing we did. I even used toothbrushes....
  • Scraped drops of paint off of most surfaces- floors, counters, stove, bathtub, shelves, you name it
  • Sprayed multiple bottles of pet deodorizer (PureAyre) and vinegar- both of which really work for getting the weird smoke/dog/air freshener smells out of the house
  • Cleaned all light fixtures/fan blades
  • Threw out existing window treatments (except for in the bedroom where the blinds were in decent shape and just needed a soak and scrub)
  • Cleaned fridge inside and out, vacuumed coils with the shop vac, it was nasty.
  • Scrubbed every surface with soft scrub and magic erasers
  • Reset drawer runners
  • Put up roller blind (actually the old room darkening shade from my apartment bedroom which fits perfectly after a little rigging)
  • Glued down edge of flooring under fridge
  • Reset sink with plumber's putty- ohhhh so glad my Dad was there for that.
  • Vacuumed, scrubbed, and lined all cupboards and drawers
  • Scrubbed the vinyl floor with Easy Off, resealed with Quick Finish (this really was an amazing trick and I can't believe it worked- these are both miracle products)
  • Replaced stove vent filter
  • Ripped out old (NASTY) shelving in pantry, replaced it using some of the existing brackets after they were magic erasered and bleached (those brackets and things are insanely expensive!)
  • Reset the outlets that were set too far back in the wall to even get a cover on them
  • Scrubbed caustic mystery substance off of the back of the dryer (it had actually eaten through the metal in places) using vinegar
  • Vacuumed out dryer and dryer hose
  • Attached new longer dryer hose
  • Cleaned floor under washer and dryer, scrubbed surfaces with magic eraser.
Downstairs Bathroom
  • Vacuumed out gross bathroom fan
  • Replaced fan filter with genius invention (there aren't replacements made for that circa 1982 fan model anymore, so I snapped the filter case open, replaced what was in there with the leftover bits from the carbon filter I bought for my heating system, and closed it back up)
  • Caulked toilet and counters
  • Vacuumed cupboard out, scrubbed off contact paper liner
Living room
  • Replaced blinds
  • Painted and reattached mantel so it was level
  • Put up door bell (the ringer was already there on the door and works with what I got!)
  • Fixed hall light so the bottom finial of it didn't hit the top of the coat closet door
  • Replaced light switches next to front door
  • Scrubbed the fireplace surround tiles- so dramatic!
my friend Kelley decided to slap her initials in all that nicotine build up)

Upstairs Bathroom
  • Cleaned for HOURS- scraped paint and caulk off of everything
  • Caulked around tub, toilet, and counter tops
  • Vacuumed out fan
  • Tightened toilet tank
  • Tightened toilet bowl
  • Replaced toilet seat with one of those fancy ones that closes silently and can be lifted off for cleaning- WOW.
  • Took out and cleaned drain assembly
  • Reset metal plate around shower handle with plumber's putty
  • Replaced faucet spring and seat for cold water in sink
  • Vacuumed, scrubbed, & lined cabinets & drawers with shelf liners
  • Put up hand towel loop on wall
  • Put up towel hooks on back of doors
  • New light bulbs
  • New hotel style shower curtain rod- I LOVE that thing
  • Space saver storage unit
Master Bedroom
  • Cleaned shades and re-hung them
  • scrubbed closet shelves
  • caulked windows
So I am still doing a fair amount of Febrezing and PureAyre-ing and opening windows (when it's warm enough- it's supposed to snow this weekend so airing out is a pain in the ass). I still need a few random things like a dining room table set and maybe a rug in there. The wood floors in the dining room need some serious cleaning and I am considering using the Easy-Off and Quick Finish method in there as well. Otherwise the scrubbing required is nearly impossible to do by hand. If you scrub once and then wait a minute or two and scrub again with a Scotch-Brite pad and lots of energy, all of this black crud comes up off the floor. Ewwwwwww. Here's one more picture of grossness for you. These are the pulls on one of the ceiling fans. The big fat one is clean. The skinny one has been left to the smokey elements for who knows how long:
(ewwwwwwwwwwww. if you are a smoker quit right now!)

I also have started thinking about curtains.... And putting some art on the walls....

It doesn't feel like I live here yet- it feels like I am on vacation in some fancy hotel (well, once the cleaning was done anyway). I know I will get used to it soon. The fact that I am five minutes away from the grocery store and live in a community where people know their neighbors... well, it's refreshing and exciting.

I love my new little house, and I will be doing a lot more blogging about it in the future. I know that this post is a lot of whining about the condition of it at the beginning, but part of me is glad it needed so much work at first because I feel like I've really connected with the place and I've made it mine. I also know that everything is in good working order because my Dad and I saw or touched everything in here. Be prepared for future posts about projects here on the home front!


Heather Meadows said...

Wow, that is AWESOME! Great job to you, your dad, and all your friends! Can't wait to see some "after" pictures when you get to decorating and whatnot :)

kelley said...

Glad to see a new post and allllll the progress that's been made. And, again, I apologize on behalf of smokers everywhere!! The reason we (smokers and ex-smokers) die 10 years ahead of non-smokers is not the health problems, it's to avoid having to clean our homes :)