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Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.

It has recently been brought to my attention that this blog is occasionally “boring.”  Touché.

If you’re here to to see regular updates of light fixtures being bedazzled with metallic spray paint, I’ll save you the effort – your blog is over HERE. If, however, you’re interested in peeking into the mind of someone who’s probably thought more about houses today than most people will this year, keep reading.

The success of any project-based blog is predicated on consistent progress, and I will admit that there has been precious little of that lately. For many reasons, some house-related, but most not, our kitchen project is crawling.  But that doesn’t mean there’s been NO progress.  Here’s what’s up:

The new kitchen window was approved.

Thanks to my fellow historic district commissioners, the window we proposed to take the place of termite-eaten siding was approved. It’ll be sized and detailed to match the windows on the library and should help to brighten our new kitchen.

Kitchen window.PC9

kitchen window shaded

We almost hired a plumber.

Before launching my search for a plumber to work on our kitchen project, I asked two trusted general contractors for a recommendation. Both had the same response: “Good luck.” And, boy, were they right. My calls were ignored by three plumbers. Another stood me up for our appointment. And one went to Weezie’s old house in Durham even though I never mentioned her name, my relation to her, or a Durham address. Of the people who did show up, only one has been consistently responsive, but his estimate is jaw-dropping. To paraphrase my dad, sometimes you can’t afford NOT to hire the expensive guy.  We’re hoping to firm up our decision this week so that we can get the worked started pronto.

busted plumbing

We bought a kitchen sink.

You see? We might not have much of our new kitchen yet, but we DO have the kitchen sink, and I can understand why you’d leave it for last: this mugger-bugger is heavy. The sink was an easy selection for us. In our last kitchen, I used an Ikea Domsjo, a deep farm-style sink that we absolutely loved. It was durable, beautiful and huge, allowing you to wash large pans without constantly banging them on the sides of the sink. We chose a 30″ fireclay, single bowl farm-style sink for our new kitchen. It’s like a mini bathtub and weighs nearly as much as I do. The under-mounted, farm-style configuration is a no-brainer; it’s timeless and perfect for an old house like ours.

farm sink

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks for your recent update. From my perspective you can continue to be as boring as you want. I actually looked at the spray painted light fixtures. She did some serious damage to some perfectly nice lamps.

    Congratulations on historic commission approval for your new window. Do you know which brand of window you are going to use? I have been having a bear of a time trying to find a historically accurate window that is also energy efficient. If I could get my plumber to commute to Hillsborough I would send him your way. From your photo it looks like you have quite a variety of types and styles of plumbing components.

    Keep up the good work.

    February 19, 2014
    • jrh #

      Thanks, Andre!

      My favorite window company these days is Loewen. They’re Canandian, but they have a pretty good distribution network in the States, at least on the East coast. Their windows are Douglas Fir, a relatively durable wood compared to pine, which is what most window manufacturers are using these days. The double-hungs have tall bottom rails like an old wood window, and if you order them with simulated divided lights (SDL’s), you get about as close as you can get to an old window with new technology. The other detail they get right is that the interior jamb liner (the vinyl piece that the sash slides up and down on) is wrapped with wood. It’s a subtle detail that goes a long way toward making the window feel more authentic.

      February 20, 2014
  2. Your blog isn’t in the least “Boring”, Reid. I think it’s a remarkably refreshing alternative to all of those constantly proliferating blogs written by folks who are, all too obviously, more interested in decor (think “House & Garden” magazine) than the actual nuts and bolts of taking good care of an old house.

    I’ll admit to having, over the past year, amused friends with the tale of the young architect who, along with his busy wife, has bought a 200-plus year-old house down the street….only to find that, somehow, the top floor of the house is missing a measurable amount of the space indicated by the dimensions of the lower floor (this always involves my explaining the physical implicatios of the term “torque”). If Herve and I had bought your house (as you know, we looked at it three times before deciding on the Webb House), we’d be pissed off if there was so much as a single square foot “missing” from the upstairs section.

    I’m copying two things for you and Weezy……perhaps you already have the lengthy (17 pages) article on your house….from the Winter 2004 edition of The Historical Society’s Journal? In any case, you’ll have a copy….plus a copy of Peter Taylor’s grim short story “Cupid, Venus, Folly, and Time”. At one time, he owned your house, as you might know.

    I went to Sewanee, where everyone knew him and Eleanor….and all the Eglish Department professors used to make fun of his compulsively buying houses between Sewanee, Charlottesville, and the Chapel Hill area. Peter never lost any money, though….as far as I know.

    The story I’mcopying for you (and I’ll stick these in your mailbox while walking the dogs) is supposedly set at your house (albeit he’s taken considerable artistic liberties in adding “lancet windows” to your front door and a “ballroom” in what I know to be a dauntingly grungy and enterprisingly un-restored, 18th century celllar/laundry-room.

    In ay case, your blog isn’t “boring”; it’s VERY INTERESTING and informative. I forwarded your posting about the new, counter-top dishwasher to several friends who didn’t know that such a thing existed. They all agreed that they could use such a thing.

    David Terry
    117 E. Queen St., Hillsborough

    February 20, 2014
    • jrh #

      Thanks, David. This is the first I’ve heard of the Peter Taylor story you mention – I’d absolutely love to have a copy if it’s not too much trouble! I do have a copy of the Historical Society journal with the piece on our house.

      It’s funny how certain blog entries appeal to some folks and not at all to others. For example, another person restoring a house in CT e-mailed me to thank me for the write-up on the shop vac I bought. He might be the only person that cared, but it was clearly useful for him. Can’t please all the people all the time, right?

      Thanks for reading!

      February 20, 2014
  3. P.S. the friends to whom I forwarded the dishwasher posting are all folks who are either determinedly single, childless (as in all your children grew up and moved away?), or otherwise disinclined to ever use the bigass dishwasher that was installed in 1980 or so.

    It’s also a fine thing for someone who uses a wheelchair (I have several disabled friends who simply don’t can’t bother with a “standard” dishwasher; the countertop model is perfect for their needs/situation). They (and they all live alone) understandably resent a standard dishwasher’s taking up so much of the space they can easily reach in their kitchens.

    So……Thanks for your very practical and informed advice.

    —david terry

    February 20, 2014
  4. Leslie #

    I never said it was boring.

    February 20, 2014
    • jrh #

      Someone else did, though.

      February 21, 2014
      • Regarding any adult silly enough to say “it’s boring”…..?…..

        My grandmother (an extremely intelligent, and funny, but fairly strict woman) ran a boys’ orphanage for 25 years. By the time I and my two brothers were growing up, she’d retired, but she still treated us more-or-less as inmates.

        One of my fondest memories of her was her reply to one or more of us whenever (which was regularly) we indulged in that whiney-ass, adolescent mewling “Do I HAVE to?….It’s so BORING”, “But it’s really BORING!”, or “She’s so BORING!”.

        My grandmother would always pause, look over her glasses, and firmly
        anounce “Please don’t waste other people’s time by telling them that something is ‘boring’. Just say “I’m bored”. That’s at least honest. Adults don’t walk around claiming that something or someone esle is ‘boring’. It’s rude and stupid to do so. So, at least try be ACCURATE.”

        We used to HATE it when she pulled that routine on us. At this age, however, I completely agree with her.

        David Terry
        117 E.Queen St.

        February 21, 2014
  5. Yes, I like your focus on history and details… and this post and its replies have great helpful information about sinks and windows! (although I’ve already committed to Marvins in most of my house)

    February 21, 2014
    • jrh #

      Chad – Marvin makes a great window too and they’re easier to find south of the border. Thanks for reading!

      February 25, 2014
  6. Love your sink selection. As a kitchen designer I always recommend my clients consider going with a large, single tub sink. SO MUCH MORE FUNCTIONAL! 😀

    March 17, 2014
    • jrh #

      Thanks! I agree. I rarely find use for the second bowl and get endlessly frustrated trying to wash pans on an angle.

      March 19, 2014


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