Saturday, July 27, 2013

ye olde shanty: home sweet home part 3, aka a circus massacre.

for those of you not following me on instagram for up-to-the-minute, groundbreaking shanty updates (#yeoldeshanty), the exterior demo is mostly done and the termite tents went up immediately following. i've been talking about the termite tents since the beginning, and have actually been really excited about it. imagine my excitement when i found out the tents looked like THIS:
the tents were so festive and cheerful in the midst of this shit show that i was actually a little bit sad to see them come down after just 24 hours.

coastal fumigators, as i understand it, is the only company that offers the tent fumigation service in the greater space city area, and denny, the foreman, said they put up about three tents a day, every day. they take them off a house and then put them right back on another house. which explains how they are SO FAST. but seriously, houston is enormous. how is there only one company doing this?

you could pretty much see the tents from any surrounding street, and it cracked me up. such festive tents, filled with poisonous gasses, and possibly also some meth cookers, à la breaking bad. (PS-BREAKING BAD IS BACK Y'ALL. me gusta that aaron paul nugget, hard, but has hims been sucking on an air hose or is hims just a bit puffy OR WHAT; discuss)

the tents were necessary in order to kill the subterranean termite infestation, and as a bonus, they killed pretty much everything else, including the other type of termites we had (drywood), the carpenter bee colony we discovered post-purchase, tons of scary wasps, roaches et al. also there were some lizard casualties; sorry, lizards. i'm happy to report zero cat deaths, though, including the stray effer mercer had been feeding on the porch of the back shanty. we considered the cat thing a real victory. 

speaking of, the DEADLY GASSES part of this process was pretty serious. we'd handed letters out prior, warning our neighbors to hide they kids, hide they wives, and also locate they outdoor cats, since outdoor cats apparently LOVE circus tents and have a death wish. the tent crew put signs everywhere also, had locks on every door AND had a 24-hour watchman sit in front of the house the entire time the tents were up. as none of this was thoroughly covered on B. Bad, we were le surprised. 

brad also had some signs made, because SAFETY FIRST, people. let's hear it for this five-font combo, y'all! i will mention that the coastal fumigators Owner and President (Sherri) called personally to ask where we'd gotten these beauties, because SHE WANT for future gassings. 
when the tents came down, there were dead bugs everywhere. everywhere but mainly right at the perimeter inside the tents, in an effort to escape. 

well played, coastal fumigators. 

imma not post pictures of the bug body pile massacre, because GROSS, but it was remarkable. our paint crew arrived the day after the tents were off, and while the gas level safety tests were being run, they walked around in awe of los insectos muertos. 

in the meantime, i learned a lot about bugs from denny, specifically that carpenter bees look a whole lot like bumblebees, except they have shiny behinds and drill perfectly round 3/8" holes all over the wood of your house, pretty much ruining it in a very lovely way. 

while the tents were up, we had a day to kind of catch our breath, so brad and i checked out a new thai place on westheimer for lunch, which was pretty good, but also very romantic:


ye olde shanty: home sweet home part 2, aka bless this mess.

first of all, thanks a million to everyone who's given sugarbear and i such encouraging feedback on the new house(s) project! it was nervewracking to start the #yeoldeshanty posts, but holy hell, y'all-i didn't expect to get a response, which has been overwhelming in such a great way.  your comments and enthusiasm mean the world to me, FO RILL, because this has been a craptastic rollercoaster week. getting out of our townhouse (sad as balls, by the way), trying to move into, live and run a business out of a rented garage apartment (Clusterfuck Central, LLC), trying to keep up with design projects, trying to demo and paint and renovate at least one of the houses to a point where we can move into it this coming week (OH GOOD, MORE MOVING, PLEASE SHOOT ME) has depleted me. i have needed a friend HARD like every five minutes, and in lieu of full-time hand-holding from actual friends, your comments have been that. not to be all shmoopy, but really. thank you, miracle interweb support system. also, big shout-out to my main squeeze, xanax - YOU COMPLETE ME.

the real point here, is that we became new homeowners last week, and on saturday, we started ripping those houses apart.

at 7:30 am saturday, the demo crew showed up and those guys were ready to party. NO SERIOUSLY, they had a blast. have you ever seen a demo crew? some of the happiest workers ever. apparently, ripping a house apart fulfills some weird male desire, because b-radical loves it too. i've never seen so many crazy-eye, weird little maniacal laugh and sledgehammering combos. someone on the demo crew had brought their little kid (he stayed out of the way during the dangerous parts) and at one point he had a hammer and was just beating the shit out of a pile of dirt. there's probs a metaphor there, but mainly it was hilarious.

worth noting is that through my real J-O-B, i've started using 1-800-GOTJUNK to haul off trash. THEY ARE AMAZING. it's expensive, certainly much more expensive than just getting a dumpster dropped off, but seriously, who is having a dumpster dropped off? are we sitting around drinking coffee talking about the best place to get a dumpster? you can call the 1-800-GOTJUNK team in the morning, and they will have a crew stop by THAT DAY to clean up and haul away your trash. they send a crew with an empty truck and charge by the half or full load, and the crews work fast and hard to carry and load your junk. in our case, i called mid-day and asked them to send as many trucks as possible. we ended up needing about 4 trucks, but part of that was because our new neighbor, beverly, asked if she could put "a few things" in one truck, and ended up filling HALF a truck.

i shit you not. on the upside, we have a neighbor named beverly and she owes us about $300 worth of favors.

seriously, that kid is what? five? sugarbear is in the blue shirt and was having a pretty great time.

so, the front yard, sans crazy fence structure, is enormous. ps-look at all that trash.

the two black pipes under the ladder are the water lines. brad and i took guesses on how long it would take for the demo crew to break one or both of them, and if you guessed around noon, you'd be the winner.

hot pink door across the street is pretty sassy.

the kid.

sugarbear in repose.

so under all that stupid deck we found A STOOP!!

current state of the front, after most of the debris had been hauled off.
brad again.

steve on the back house deck, which had to go before someone fell off the side.

RIP, unsafe deck. please note our grove of papaya trees and mercer's collection of tidy cat litter buckets.

papayas for daaaaayyyysss. too bad no one likes papayas.

see that enormous mountain of trash between the flamingo and green bush? THAT WAS LEFT INSIDE THE BACK HOUSE. and that's not even everything.
with all the testosterone and scary danger vibes, i stuck to tasks like getting the back house cleaned out and corralling the tens of thousands of terra cottery strewn everywhere. the previous owners left either a normal amount of shit? or maybe like a million more times than normal? i have no idea, but i suspect the latter. at least some of it has been entertaining? here is a smattering:
creepy doll in a polio robe, coming soon to YOUR NEXT NIGHTMARE.

accept a miracle! cards, blank on the back. i've been finding these everywhere, which is great because I ACCEPT. we need all the miracles we can get.

high times, september 1978.

the lady in red, chris de burgh. can't wait to get the record player unpacked and spin the shit out of this track.

playboy, april 1987. the jacket/scarf combo is killing me, but mainly, WHICH JEANS ARE TOO SEXY FOR ADS???
the next person who invites me to a baby shower is totally getting that doll.

no one seemed to know what the feathers in the doorways meant, but here are a few more photos. i need to get pictures of all the pots and crystals and skulls and hats left behind.

i hope you still think this is interesting, because there is soooooo much more. like yesterday, i found an ENTIRE BOX of old creepy dolls and we started painting the back house floors black (like my heart). plus we are meeting the architects next week, and i'm pretty jazzed about that.

up next in the YE OLDE SHANTY adventures: TERMITE TENTS.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

ye olde shanty: home sweet home part 1, aka wish us luck.

as i've mentioned and am real thrilled to repeat, we bought a house, y'all! i'm so excited i can almost not stand it, DOT COM, and since this is about to consume my life and instagram feed, i thought it would be fun-slash-necessary to share on this online diary of mine. and by fun, i mean that i'm terrified to share it, as are all designers when it comes to their own house, and it's taken a summoning of all my courage to post this.

for starters, by 'a house', what i mean is, we bought two houses? aka two crackety crack shacks. they are in may-jah, may-jah disrepair, but the spaces are interesting, the lot is not small and i really love the new neighborhood. didimentiontheyaredumps? due to some serious curb unappeal and the amount of repair obviously needed, plus the super confusion of two biggish houses, situated separately on one single property, we actually got ye olde shanty for a pretty good bargain. also, in this totes bonkers seller's market, we sold our townhouse for the asking price, which was calculated by figuring out what it was worth, what the market might bear, multiplying by two and then adding $5K just because we are GAMBLERS. four offers in nine days, and we closed friday, which i still don't think is real? but it is real, and we'd closed previously in the week on ye olde shanters, so PHEW.

ye olde shanty has thus far been drawing a lot of comparisons to that movie the money pit, which i haven't seen, but i presume is about a handsome young couple who are so smart in buying a fixer upper that they have to dig a huge hole to put all the profits in, after they're done? just kidding. we are getting nothing but looks of pity, raised eyebrows, voices of concern, and someone asked me yesterday how i'd talked sugarbear into it. the truth is, I DON'T KNOW, but i do know that brad is the brains of this operation, so if he believes it can be done realistically, it really can. he is mensasmart and NOT a risktaker, where as if i believe it can be done, it is because i am very much GLASS HALF FULL, we will find a way, money is no object, reality is for everyone else, nobody tells me no. but brad tells me no all the time, so if he's on board, ALL ABOARD. please feel free to give me/us a pep talk, because we are rill excited, and also a bit skeered.

so anyway, ye olde shanty part one - the front house, was built in the 30's, ALLEGEDLY, has three bedrooms and faces the street. it is fug as all get out, but not to fear, that front shit, all siding and winders, porch, et all, is going away asap (SPOILER ALERT: most of it got ripped off on saturday).

ye olde shanty part two - the back house, was built in the 80's, is nestled between two enormous trees and kind of hard to see from anywhere other than inside the compound. SUPES SNEAKY. also, like half of that NO RAILINGS NO PROBLEM deck sitch is coming down monday.


although we are on the fringes of very amazing historic districts of montrose, there are no historical aspects of the front house for us to try and preserve, which is why we went into this with the plan to completely gut and renovate the front house. that sucker has been a rental since maybe the 80's and needs new EVERYTHING. did i mention it has two types of termites? it does. so does le back house, so the termite tents go up on monday. good news: termite tents are cheap. if your jealousy is still consuming you, i encourage you to please keep reading.

we need to get our shiz in order with the structural people and our architect, because there are foundation issues (natch) to fix first, and then some general concern that ye olde shanty: front house may just need to RIP forever, if the rot situation is too great. however, if it is deemed salvagable, the loose plan is to open up and enlarge the stair, wrap the stair into the entry a bit (because the step-to-riser ratio is beyond wrong and scary), create a new route into the kitchen, open up the dining room, add a butler's pantry and clearer access to the powder bath, enlarge the kitchen, enclose the laundry room (currently accessible by exiting to the out of doors through the dining room and walking down the deck) and add a second bathroom upstairs, plus put some killer porch situations and garage back where everything got ripped off. plus all new everything else.

obvs, the front house is inhabitable. like for awhile? so the back house, slightly smaller and in considerably better shape (IN COMPARISON, NOT IN GENERAL GOOD SHAPE), will house the wilson-luebe's plus my office in the meantime. the back house was built by the current homeowner in the 80's, after she'd lived in the front house since the 60's. she'd "always wanted to live in a treehouse," so she (SHE = MERCER) and her partner built a giant treehouse, where mercer could focus on her crystal collection, butterfly sanctuary and gardening.*  first level of the treehouse is a workshop and greenhouse/potting station, and the second and third floors include two bedrooms, two baths and a study. don't kid yourself-it is like, 900 square feet back there, but mercer sprang for the 1980's sub-zero and it stays, so i'm looking forward to that. it's going to be cramped when the wilson-luebe menagerie move in, especially since i work out of the house and have been adding employees left and right, but the current plan is to convert the ENTIRE back house into my office after we move to the front house, making this whole situation one big reverse mullet: party in the front, business in the back. and as my pal carolyn pointed out, deliveries in the rear? we are very mature.

here are some BEFORE pictures, which are entirely confusing, but i've broken them down as best as possible for your viewing pleasure.

view from the sky, with sophisticated macpaint scribbles for you: 

front house:
road that goes through (which is the drive to the back house, carport for front house, and super redonk enclosed porch area with plexiglass ceiling.
kind of the best view of the front? SO MUCH POTENTIAL, is what i say. also all this shit be gone. stay tuned for the demo post.
from inside the compound. the fence separated the front rental from the back house, and that is a kind of garage thing? that little room sticking out on the left is the laundry area, accessed from the dining room on the right. weird convenient!
better view of weirdness from the deck of back house. the fence is already gone, the deck of the back house goes monday, and the magnolia is perf for a swing. PRIORITIES. please also note how that garage door structure will keep the middle of your car dry/safe! but not the sides. makes sense.
front door on the left, and this huge space is entry and living room. or entry, sitting room and living room? the opening on the right is into the dining room.
from the fireplace wall. creepers enclosed stair, double door to side deck (which might pop out to be a direct route the kitchen. wood floors under this carpet are totes not salvageable - EMOTICON SAD FACE. also worth mentioning that at the top of that stair landing, there are four identical steps down into the kitchen.
dining room. opening leads to powder bath and kitchen. or you know, go out the doors, outside, for laundry time!
kitchen. ZZZZZZZZZZ.
back house:
back house tree house. under the deck, there are three carports. road that goes through the property is on the left. entrance to potting area is on the left, and the woodshop is under the portion on the right.
entrance to potting area. rickety stairs.
more of the same. this is approximately 1% of the terra cotta plant and pots situation.
up the stairs, entrance to living room. please note giant crystal rock formations and cacti, which were left behind and are MINE now.
living room, currently getting a heavy dose of benjamin moore's decorator's white on all walls and ceilings, plus those 45-degree pine floors and open stairs are all getting painted. PAINTED, y'all. and i went with black because i couldn't talk myself out of it. the tree is like, 35 years old and they left it, but we are not sure it will live through the termite gassing, or live outside in houston's hot as balls summer while we gas, but we will try to save it. there's a door behind the tree that goes to the downstairs bedroom. PLEASE NOTE COPIOUS AMOUNT OF CRYSTALS.
living into dining. fireplace. hats. skulls and crystals ERRYWHURRR. louvered doors go to downstairs bath (and are now a solid door, privacy, WTF), opening on the left is to the kitchen, doors on right are out to the deck.
mas living room hats skulls crystals.
kitchen. cabinets getting some white paint and we are adding open shelves and cabinet hardware. in a dream world, i swap out the counters and fixtures, but for now, we are focusing on the front house.
downstairs bedroom. no me gusta beds on angles.
upstairs bedroom, larger than it looks, but becomes office. bathroom to the left.
study upstairs, which is open to the bedroom. those ghetto shelves are gone and that creepy closet is where you go when you are very, very naughty.
upstairs bath, with the cutest tiniest clawfoot tub ever. that mirror thing on the wall is gone, that sconce's days are numbered.
*TOTALLY NORMAL, right? we never did meet her partner, who had already moved, but during the purchasing process, we did get to know mercer and her man lover/brother/man friend/on-site helper/part three of a love triangle/WE HAVE NO IDEA, but he lived there too, henry. mercer is one of the most bizarre and delightful people i've EVER met - she has thus far told me stories about the frequent alien visitations that occurred during the 60's and 70's, her previous career as a muralist painting cloudscapes in NYC penthouse rotundas, the massive healing crystals collection she has compiled over the years, and the biggest weiner she has ever seen, plus also a litany of LSD trips she enjoyed over the years. mercer smokes virginia slims, is always wearing sunglasses and UGGGGGGs, and wrote LOVE GRATITUDE on EVERYTHING, even inside the refrigerator. mercer also tucked bird feathers into just about every doorway; does anyone know what this means?