Weekend Work

This weekend was fun and exhausting!

My mom and Carol came on Saturday morning. We spent the day at Fort McHenry followed by Happy Hour and Dinner in Federal Hill.


Sunday morning we headed to the Farmer’s Market for breakfast and flowers. It was so nice to spend a relaxing day showing my mom the house and our new neighborhood.

Since they weren’t in to hanging drywall Sunday, Mom and Carol left Sunday morning after the market.  It was time for Collin and I to get to work!

We hit up Home Depot for supplies and our Drywall Lift Rental. That thing is awesome! When we got home we got it set up and started in the back corner of the room. Basically, you just place the drywall on the lift and then crank it so that it raises to the ceiling.



(Look Ma – No Hands!)

Once lifted, we both worked to screw the sheet in the beams. The first few sheets were a breeze because they required no cuts. Moving towards the front of the room we had to start making cuts to ensure a tight fit. The process moved quickly. We had the ceiling up in about 2.5 hours.



(Still in high spirits at this point)


Once the ceiling was done, it was time to move on to the front window wall. This was especially difficult because of the rounded front of the room. We really needed to plan out how the angles would go to ensure we didn’t make it more difficult for ourselves when we do the baseboard and crown molding.


While Collin finished the window wall, I was spackling the ceiling and seams.

By the end of the day, we were able to complete the whole room! We were absolutely exhausted, but the room was done and we were one step closer to moving upstairs.

Over the next two days, we will be sanding and re-applying the 2nd and 3rd coats of spackle, which means if all goes well, there will be paint this week! 🙂

And for a quick before and after:


Updates for this Week

This week was a little crazy, but we were able to get a few things done. Tuesday was our Anniversary, so we were off from reno and headed to a nice dinner instead!

Wednesday was not our Anniversary, so it was right back to it. Collin had off so he was in charge of picking up Drywall for the ceilings. This seemed like an easy task for a day off, but he was dead by the end of the day. Someone needs to invent a Drywall Delivery service. We also had a few appointments with the Window quotes for the front of the house.

The window company came in the morning to measure and quote. The issue is our windows are an awkward size (Extra Tall, Extra Skinny), plus I want black frames inside and outside. This raises the cost like $500 per window, times 5 windows, boo. So we decided to wait on windows for now, since we have a bathroom that needs an overhaul much worse.

After the window meeting, I headed to work and Collin headed to Home Depot. He had to rent a truck, load 12 sheets of drywall, drive the drywall home, unload 12 sheets of drywall and then go back to Home Depot to return the truck. Once he got back home, the garbage guy was coming to pick up another load (plaster from the brick removal this weekend), so Collin had to bring all of the garbage downstairs to prep for the pick-up. Needless to say, when I got home from work Collin was asleep on the couch.

But, there was still work to do, so we got him up to start moving the drywall upstairs. After 12 sheets, we finally had the drywall in place and ready to be hung. It was still early, so we decided to go grab a drink and some ice cream – Its all about balance people. 🙂

Thursday we both had work, but Collin came home with a new fun tool:



The floor scraper was a lifesaver in getting up the rest of the subfloor that is glued to the wood floors. I scraped and pulled nails, while Collin prepped dinner. We were able to get the whole hallway ready to be sanded. Here is the  (Picture Quality is Horrible in this Hallway since there are no lights! That will change soon 🙂 ) :



This weekend my mom comes to see the house and deliver the very important Wall Paper Steamer. Sunday we have big plans to hang all of the drywall in the Master Bedroom! If all goes as planned, we should be able to move out of the dining room in the next 2.5 weeks!


Let There Be Brick

While demo is still continuing, we decided now would be the time to expose any brick we want upstairs. After searching through inspiration pictures and pinning away, we chose the wall behind the bed in the Master Bedroom for the Exposed Brick look. We needed to start the project on a day we both had off (since I HATE cleaning, and this is the messiest project of all time). So, Sunday we woke up early, had a quick breakfast, and headed off to Home Depot for the tools to get started.

Here’s what you need:



(Tons of Garbage Bags, Acid Proof Gloves, Acid Resistant Sprayer, Muriatic Acid and Rental Demo Hammer Drill with chisel edge – Not Pictured: Wire Brush, Safety Goggles and Dust Mask)

Its important to note that although all row houses in Baltimore have brick behind the plaster, there is no knowing what condition it is in. So when you decide to expose brick, there’s a chance the brick is in terrible condition, and at that point, would need to be re-pointed ($$$). You are definitely taking a risk. We figured, worst case scenario, we can frame out the wall and drywall over it, so we moved forward.

After you get your materials together, you put down some drop clothes to protect the floors. We will be refinishing the floors, so were not too concerned about this. Then you just start hammer-drilling:





This does not take much effort. The plaster basically falls off the walls. Also, the wallpaper helps keep it together in big chunks for easy clean-up. Your shoulders start to get sore just from the weight of the tool, so it helps to have another person you can switch with for a break. It moves really quickly. We were done in an hour or so.



OMG – Look at that mess!

I went to go return the hammer drill to Home Depot while Collin cleaned up.



Ahh – Much better!

Next it’s time for the Acid Cleaning. Mix the Acid as per the instructions (for our bottles, it was 3 oz of Acid and fill the rest with water).

To start you just spray some on the wall. It will fizz, since the acid is doing its job. Then you use a wire brush to clean the wall. It reminds me of brushing teeth motion.




You can see the difference in the clean brick and the not clean brick above pretty clearly.

We will need to go through this process two times total over the next few days. Then we can let the wall dry out and seal it up!


Demo Day 2

Today (Saturday) Anastasia and I demo’d the rest of the window wall to prep for Drywall later this week.

Here’s the before:



The During:



By the end, we had so much garbage, you could barely work in the space. Considering Collin and I are planning on exposing the brick tomorrow, the bedroom needed to be cleared out. So we worked on bundling the scrap metal and bringing the pile of garbage downstairs. I jumped on to Craigslist to find a junk hauler really quick. They are the best on there! He came in 2 hours!

Here is the living room, ready for the junk hauler:




And Finally, the After of the Bedroom, Demo’d, Cleaned and Ready for Tomorrow:



(Don’t mind that last pile of Garbage. That is all of the old original wood that we can donate to a company that uses it to build furniture)


Hallway Demo

Collin had work yesterday, so I was on my own to demo the hallway. The goal was to remove the drop ceiling, all moldings, carpet, tack strips and panelling.


Here’s the before. Hard to see because of the glare from the Master Bedroom Windows combined with the complete lack of light in the hallway, but the paneling is on the wall to the right. Also, note where the ceiling is above the Master bedroom door. After we took the ceiling down we gained about 12 inches of height. See below:



No more paneling, carpet or moldings. After ripping up the carpet, there is a layer of hardboard which is nailed and glued down. It is not easy to pull up. Because of the glue and nail combo, it comes up in small chunks, then you need to follow up pulling out the nails. You can see towards the master I was able to get some of the hardboard up. Here’s a close up of the After:




I think with a  good sanding, stain and poly, we will be able to salvage the original floors (fingers crossed). If not, plan B would be to install over them, but I would rather keep the originals. We’ll see how that progresses.

Today (Saturday), Anastasia is coming over to help demo the front wall of the bedroom. That wall will be drywalled over, eventually, get new windows and new moldings. Tomorrow (Sunday) I’m hoping to start exposing the brick in the master bedroom. I’ll do a very detailed post on that, since I think other people would love to see the steps we go through to make it happen. We’ve done it before in the Conkling St house, so hopefully it is in as good of shape that house was behind the plaster.


Start of Construction

Today we started demo on the upstairs. We are currently living on the first floor, in the dining room area. We have the living room set up in the formal living area and the kitchen is cleaned and unpacked.

We decided not to move upstairs until its done so that we have space and don’t have to worry about keeping clean during the reno.

We started in the Master Bedroom:


Starting to take down the drop ceiling:



After removing the drop ceiling in the master bedroom, we gained about 6 inches in height in the room.


(Ahh – those windows, that view, that garbage pile!)

After we finished that room, we moved to the 2nd Bedroom:



We got a little excited with Demo and ripped up the carpet in that room as well. We gained about a foot of height in this bedroom.


Finally, we moved to the 3rd Bedroom (the Guest Room). We decided to focus our efforts on the first 2 bedrooms for the next month, so we set up the bed frame and mattress in here. Yes it still has creepy wallpaper and horrible carpet, but we needed to get the mattress out of the living room to open up more space and we plan on having guests rather quickly, so it would be great to have a clean room that they can retreat to.

Tomorrow, Collin has work, so I’m on my own. The plan is to get the rest of the drop ceiling down in the hallway, take off all of the moldings and possibly get to removing the faux wood paneling down the wall. I’ll be sure to share lots of pictures!






Moving Day

We finally closed and moved on Monday, June 13th!

I spent the weekend with Anastasia packing up with house in to boxes, labeling, bubble wrapping, etc. By Sunday night, we felt pretty prepared for all of the work the next day would entail.




We woke up at 7 AM, got breakfast, walked the dog and then I headed to go pick up the moving truck. ***Reminder for Future Me: ALWAYS GET THE BIGGER TRUCK! I happened to grab the bigger truck, only because it was the same price as the 15 foot truck, thinking we don’t have that much stuff. WRONG! the 17 foot truck was packed to the brim!

So after I drove the Uhaul home, we started packing. It took about 2.5 hours total, so not the worst day ever, but definitely worked up a sweat.

After we were all packed up, we cleaned the house, said our house good-bye’s and jumped in the truck to head to our new neighborhood, on the other side of town.

Meanwhile, I had to work during all of this, so constant breaks were in order to attend to customer calls and emails ***Reminder for Future Me: ALWAYS TAKE OFF WORK!

We had some time to kill before closing at 3:30 PM, so we grabbed lunch with JoJo. After that we drove down to the realtors for closing.

Closing on our old house was simple and straightforward. They gave us the check and we headed up the road to the other title agency to close on the New house at 4:30. When we got there, they asked if we had wired all of the money for closing. I told them no, we wired the difference and gave them the check from the first closing. Apparently, this was unacceptable and we could not close on the house.

At this point it is 4:45 PM, we have our dog under the table at closing because it was 85 degrees outside, our Uhaul with everything we own is parked in the parking lot and they are basically telling us we are homeless until the check gets deposited, clears and wired in to their account. Cue the Panic.

Realtor Greg to the rescue! He called the other title agency, had them void the check and wire the money over the next morning. He also called the home owner of our new house to explain the situation and see if she would let us move in tonight regardless. She said yes (as long as we signed a liability waiver)! So we didn’t actually close, but headed to the house to start moving!


It was now about 5:30 PM and we started unloading the Uhaul (approx. 8 hours after loading it). We were exhausted, but had to get everything in the house before the sunset. We pushed through and unloaded the Uhaul in about 2 hours and then met up with Anastasia for dinner and some beers at BarFly’s.

I think we both pretty much died 5 seconds after getting in to bed. It was a long day, but it was done and we were in our new home!

And Just in Case You’re Wondering, we got this text the next afternoon: