This post is one in a series I'm doing in conjunction with PureBond Plywood. I'm being reimbursed for my purchase of their product, but if you've been around here a minute or so you know I'd buy their stuff anyway because it's green and we try really hard to be so it all works out. Click the icon to learn more about PureBond's products, which are available at Home Depot.
On the first day we step foot in this house, I remember walking up the steep, painted, rubberized stairs and being surprised by the space I found at the top. What I assumed would be a short, small hallway actually stretched farther back than I anticipated, as I didn't yet understand gabled roofs and dormer windows, and was actually quite spacious for being this odd little space at the top of the stairs, between the two upstairs bedrooms.
It was the first time I gave serious pause to the idea of living in this house, after initially scoffing at the drop ceiling in the living room, the torture closet that was the downstairs bath, and the paneling in the downstairs bedroom, for starters.
Sidebar: it was the kitchen that did me in, along with the surprisingly copious amounts of sunlight that came in the large, updated windows. Later the knowledge that the roof and the siding were fairly recent as well sealed the deal. Should have listened better about the furnace, though. Oh well.
Anyway, so once we moved in I struggled a little to figure out how to utilize that space. It was definitely big enough for a sitting area, and I plotted a small space where Kyle and I could sit and drink our morning coffee together, or where I could sit and talk on a vintage-styled landline phone to ... people who wanted to spend long amounts of time on the phone with me. After a little bit of shopping, this is what I came up with:
Not bad, right? And sometimes we did sit there together and talk, but not nearly as often as I thought. And Despite having that surface landline tie-in right there, we never bought phones for them.
Meanwhile, RIP chairs. You were so beautiful before the cats destroyed you. (We still have them, I just desperately need to reupholster them.)
Anyway, as time went on and more cats joined the colony and human babies were created and brought home, I realized exactly what I wanted to do with that space to make it better used by everyone for everyone and was a kind of secret teenage fantasy-room want of mine that never came to be.
That is, until I bought my own house and realized I could do whatever I damn wanted, thank you very much.
I decided we needed to build a window seat big enough for at least one adult and two small children to sit on, preferably with as much hidden storage as possible.
And a couple of weekends ago, we began to do just that.
Here is the landing, as we call it, after moving out the blue chair (her sister is at the dance studio I sometimes work for) and the white table and cleaning up the 438297432897 cat related items, not to disclude some hidden dried up puke and a toy I swore I threw away three years ago:
All nice and clean. We're also going to get to that grate here in a minute, but for now, ignore it.
Our plan is simple: to hack these Ana White plans (OMFG WE'RE FINALLY BUILDING SOMETHING!) because they are 99% the same measurements of the space we have and is pretty much exactly what we were looking to create. Except, you know, we're going to attach ours to the wall and make it permanent, but you know, semantics.
First step, then, was to remove the landline wire:
Which had since been snipped by us because while in 2007 it seemed slightly weird to not have a landline even though everyone we knew had a cell phone so we left them be while not really using them, by 2012 it was clear that ain't nobody got time for a landline no more and we cut those mother effers out because they were nothing but danger magnets for the kids and the cats:
Complete with the slightly surprising evidence that these walls had been robin's egg blue once upon a time. Huh. Bonus points: removing this allowed us to FINALLY pull the wires out of the other side of this wall in Kiedis' room, which were a horrible awful cat hair trap and something I HATED that he played with. I'm so glad to have those wires gone, I can't even tell you.
Next up were the baseboards, with a great deal of caution and care to not (a) damage the baseboards because we plan on repurposing them (keep your eyes peeled for that coming up) and (b) not destroy the obviously-only-being-still-held-together-despite-huge-cracks-by-the-eighteen-layers-of-paint-on-the-damn-walls plaster, uh, walls:
I hate plaster walls. But at least, true to form, the baseboards were only randomly nailed in at odd intervals and came out rather easily (and shockingly were able to be back-hammered out of the planks with a great deal of ease as well. Only one bent on me, so that was exciting, because these are the things that are now the highlights of my life.)
The thing with this house is that you always expect the worst, brace for worse than your imagination is capable of, and pray for things to just go smoothly. For once, things went smoothly, especially when you add in that both kids were "helping" me with this phase of the project while Kyle was working on the next phase, which we'll get to next week.
I will say this -- nothing made me prouder than to watch Tova and Kiedis get out their play tools and pretend to hammer and pry things right alongside of me. Tova even used a little wooden flat head screwdriver like a chisel and hit the end with the matching hammer and you guys, I almost lost it. MAH BAYBEEZ. *Sniff* *Sob*
Anyway, the three of us made quick work of removing the baseboards:
And I took to that grate to investigate the sitch there.
See, there is no duct work that leads to that grate. Pretty much all we can tell is that it was a hole through which you could see straight down into our now-master bathroom as Max the cat so lovingly depicts in that post, and that you can peep at the layers of a 115 year old house, if you so felt like digging out an old Sephora gift card holder mirrored compact and your industrial work light and holding them both at weird angles so you could take photos of the guts of your house.
WHAT. I WAS A GIRL SCOUT. SHUT UP.
Found: a metric ton of cat hair (most of which I tried to vacuum up); spiderwebs like whoa; lots of gross broken plaster; and look really carefully in the lower left hand corner of the mirror on bottom. See that thick wire there?
THAT'S ELECTRICAL, KIDDIES. FUNCTIONING, LEGIT ELECTRICAL.
Things just got A LOT more exciting.
But we'll get to that here in a bit.