Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Show me your fences!

If I am be so bold to ask...Where did you get your fences? Did you buy them? Online or in a store? Build them? (And how much did it cost you, if you are willing to share...)
Right now we have an ugly chain-link fence that is waaaaaaaay past its prime. We are going to be having a lot of company for the wedding in August, and it would be nice if we could do a fence upgrade by then. But we weren't exactly budgeting for that now...
Our house is on a corner lot, and we have some fence "restrictions," in the front yard's corner, given the line of sight traffic needs to be able to see any cars coming. The front fence is limited to 3 ft high, and the side yard fence is limited to 3 ft. high for the first 6 ft. onto the side street, and then it's limited to 6 ft. high after that. It's a little complicated, but the nice city-fence-permit man sent us a great diagram.
So, anyone have suggestions for fences that:
1) Go with our house style
2) Is see-through enough for traffic sight-line on the corner
3) Can be adapted to be different heights and not look wierd from the front to the side yard?
4) Is fairly affordable (yeah, what does that mean?!) and perhaps maintenance-free
We've decided we don't want a privacy fence all along the side yard, even after we aren't restricted for height. It would block too much light for the garden I want on that side, and it might give any unsavory activity on our corner a little too much privacy on the street-side.

We like the fence on the cover of TOH's current issue:

And I found these pics that I like, but not a lot of other details.
Hmmmm.... what do you think?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tin-Ceiling look-alike contest

We're pretty proud of our new dining room ceiling. It was, before we moved in, an icky dropped ceiling hiding a huge plaster mess.
NOW, it's a tin-ceiling look-alike.
See, we reallyreallyreally REALLY wanted a tin ceiling somewhere in the house. They're just cool.
And we like cool things.
But when we priced them, there was no way they fit into our budget. Unless we sacrificed something like, oh, eating for a year. And there are very few things cool enough for us to sacrifice eating for. So, plan B: Textured wallpaper + copper metallic paint. Voila! Tin ceiling! (Sortof.)
We purchased the wallpaper at Menard's, but it's widely available online as well.

After the wallpaper was in place, we painted it with Copper paint.
Total cost, including wallpaper, paste, and paint: $200.
Total cost of real tin ceiling: $2500-$3500.

Here's a brief summary of the steps (a more complete guide can be found here.)

1) Hang the wallpaper on the ceiling. This is a two-person job, and a scaffold is VERY helpful. The wallpaper we got was prepasted, but they recommended that we use additional paste, since it was going on a ceiling. We prepasted, booked the wallpaper for the appropriate time, and began to hang, one piece at a time.

2) Carefully line up the seams of the wallpaper- this is probably the most tedious part of the project. We found the easiest way was to have one person in charge of lining up seams, with the other person firmly pasting behind. You have to move fast so the paste doesn't dry out!

3) Schedule a massage to soothe your sore back and shoulders from the wallpaper-hanging -on-the-ceiling process. (I'm not kidding- you'll need it... and deserve it- think of the money you are saving!)

4) Use a paintbrush or small, thick-napped roller to apply the paint. We found that, with the texture, we needed to roll on the paint, then use the brush to get the paint evenly into crevices without glops. Again, a scaffold is very, VERY helpful.

5) Have friends over to see if they can tell it isn't real! (This is the fun part!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Jeremy and Teri are Moving to MN!!

This is an exciting post for me- For those of you who don't know me personally, here's a synopsis:
I moved from Michigan to Minnesota about 6 years ago to attend graduate school. I loved the Twin Cities, so I stayed. My family lives in Michigan, and they don't get out to sunny Minnesota very often, (despite my consistent recruitment!) I have been lobbying both of my brothers (as well as various friends, and oh yeah, parents) to move out here. For a brief instant, it seemed like I might have a chance with my brother Jeremy, when he applied to medical school at the University of Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic. But, alas, he stayed in Detroit for medical school, lives next door to our other brother, and an hour away from our hometown- which is TWELVE hours from me, by car.
BUT NOW!! He is graduating from med school and had to choose potential places for residency. Again, the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic made the list. He interviewed at 13 places, and finally got his match- the MAYO CLINIC!!!
So, my brother and sister-in-law are bound for Rochester, MN, about an hour-and-a-half away from MEEEE!!
I'm pretty excited.
And now I'll have help recruiting everyone else.... Christopher? Mom? Dad?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Living room additions...

Who says hand-me-downs are second rate? We just got a very comfy easy chair from Sean's parents to help complete the living room. After we got that all positioned, we decided that the short bookcase in the opposite corner was just a mess. And with the living room so close to being done, we just had to go get a different bookcase. Right then.
So, off to IKEA we went.
I know, I know...
Yes. For our budget and space, they got what we need.
So, behold: Orange chair and new bookcase!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sound-Proofing with Mass-Loaded Vinyl

Is your old house noisy too? I'm not just talking squeaks and creaks in the floorboards- we're used to those. I'm talking about being able to hear a whispered conversation through the walls. Or floors. Which is not so much a problem for just Sean and I- but wethinks that when we have someone renting out the basement, we want a wee bit more privacy.
So, I started looking in to how to do some sound-proofing.
The solution: Mass-loaded vinyl attached to the ceiling. What the heck is mass-loaded vinyl anyway?
Well, let's do some word-deconstruction here.

Vinyl: Any of various typically tough, flexible, shiny plastics, often used for coverings and clothing- and especially records.

Mass: A property of matter equal to the measure of an object's resistance to changes in either the speed or direction of its motion. The mass of an object is not dependent on gravity and therefore is different from but proportional to its weight.

Mass+Loaded+Vinyl: Very very VERY heavy flexible vinyl (b/c it's loaded with lots of mass, apparently). That's the laywoman's explanation.

Ok, end of physics lesson. (More info on the product here.)
The real story here is that, after a bit of internet research, we (read: I) decided that MLV was the optimal solution. One sheet of it, under drywall, can give a wall an Sound Transmisson Class of 51- which is apparently pretty darn good. Sean looked at my research and agreed, and then he went to go pick up our order. Good thing he took his brother and a heavy-duty truck. They told us it was heavy, but we didn't realize how heavy. About 200 lbs. for a 200 sqft roll.
So they brought it home.
They lugged it down the stairs.
And then they looked up and asked: How the heck are we going to get this heavy stuff up on the CEILING?!?

See, everything I read about installation suggested installing it under floors. That would make sense if we were re-doing a floor, but we aren't. We have access to basement ceilings, and we aren't about to tear up the hardwood upstairs. The gentleman I spoke to assured me that this type of installation would work- but it would require more manpower. More manpower, indeed.

After we did the kitchen ceiling with a makeshift lift made out of 2x4's, we decided we need to rent a drywall panel lifter for the big room. I had enough of holding up heavy, clumsy vinyl with my head and arms while Sean wielded the drill as quickly as possible. (And he had enough of me yelling "Hurry- umm, hurry, my arms are going to FALLLLLLL OOOOOFFFFFFFF!")

About the product: everything I've read about it sounds great. So far, we think it will make a really big difference. Keep your ears open, and when we're done, I'll post an update for you.