84. Begone Ugly Windows

We have a new window in the mudroom.

It is not like the gorgeous original kitchen windows that we spent three months painstakingly restoring.

Restored wood windows

No, this window is a bottom-line Andersen window, on sale from Home Depot this past week for $225.

American Craftsman window from Home Depot

We have spent the last year — on and off — looking for old double hung windows with real muntins that would fit this 48″x48″ square opening. No dice. No windows either.

This is a perfect example of the drafty, ugly aluminum windows -- this one is going to be gone SOON as well.

This is a perfect example of the drafty, ugly aluminum windows — this one is going to be gone SOON as well.

The problem is that some of the windows in the cottage are original, and some were replaced in the seventies with aluminum frame windows that, uh, have zero charm. (Zero R-Value as well.) We are keeping the wood frame originals, but that leaves us with having to replace the others.

We just couldn’t spend any more time looking for old windows that we could re-do. It was time to upgrade that old aluminum window that was cracked and didn’t work. I could spend the rest of this post lamenting the loss of craftsmanship in the modern world. Why is everything affordable made from plastic vinyl? And as much as I’d like to put in expensive Pella windows that are, you know, historically appropriate? It just isn’t in the budget; we went with cheap, and on sale for even cheaper…But Energy Star Efficient! And Made in the USA.

On an unseasonably warm October Saturday, we carted the old window out to the edge of the road, where someone will most likely stop and take it for the aluminum.

We put all of our junk out here by the side of the road with a FREE sign next to it. So far everything we've put out has been taken: a ladder,  old ceiling materials, an old light, a vacuum cleaner, and even the old kitchen sink...

We put all of our junk out here by the side of the road with a FREE sign next to it. So far everything we’ve put out has been taken: a ladder, old ceiling materials, an old light, a vacuum cleaner, orange louvered doors, and even the old kitchen sink…

Alas, the perennial problem is this: What does this particular project consist of? Are we just trying to get a window in for the winter, so air won’t blow through the kitchen? Or are we going to take our time and replace the siding now, because that is in the long-range plan?

After several rounds of discussion, we decided to take the cedar shakes off and put white cove siding on the front of the mudroom. Mr. H.C. isn’t exactly happy about it; we’ve still got the kitchen AND the mudroom to finish, and here we are taking an excursion to the outside of the house.

Mr. H.C. frowning at the level.

Mr. H.C. frowning at the level. He frowns at his level quite often.

Of course, nothing about the mudroom is level or square. This photo sums up pretty well the angst that goes with putting a level on any wall or sill or floor of the cottage. It’s always a bigger job than expected — Mr. H.C. had to take off the horizontal board and cut off the studs three-quarters of an inch on one side for the window to fit in the frame.

At the end of the day, the window is in...

At the end of the day, the window is in…

But at the end of the day, the window was in; I relented and admitted that it didn’t look too bad; and the rest of the outside walls are (almost) ready for siding.

And we got to relax and enjoy the fruit of our labors for 10 minutes until it got dark...

And we got to relax and enjoy the fruit of our labors for ten minutes until it got dark…

83. The Mudroom Demolition

The mudroom has some problems. Even its name assumes trouble — Mud Room.

But let’s not sugar coat it, or white wash it; it is the entryway into our beautiful kitchen from the muddy outdoors. No just walking inside from a warm garage — this here’s the country! And for most traditional houses, the mudroom is not the main entry into the house, but guess what readers? The cottage is not the traditional house…

Mudroom, Before

This is just one short five foot wall on the left side of the entry way into the kitchen. It just about shows perfectly the hodge podge that the mudroom is…The gray shadow on the siding also showed us where the original door was.

The mudroom was originally the front porch to the cottage; when Joe and Clara renovated in the seventies, they enclosed it. But being a lowly front porch, the concrete floor is on, well, the ground — no footers, no basement, maybe some gravel, although that’s doubtful. So the concrete floor has some serious cracks. No Problemo! We just put down some rebar, pour some concrete, smear on floor leveler, and tile over it!  :-)

Joe and Clara used cedar shakes to cover the walls. This means that under the cedar was a mishmash of old siding, holes where doors used to be, holes where an air conditioner used to be, and just plain holes. On the plus side, we now have six boxes of cedar shakes just itching to be a glamorous cedar chicken coop!

Did I mention that the electric panel box is out there too? Joe ingeniously made a hidden door of cedar shakes to cover the box and all the wires, but now that we’ve taken off the shakes, there is just an ugly plywood door that isn’t acceptable for much of anything. Well, maybe for a glamorous chicken coop…

The ceiling was plastic vinyl wainscot panels that Mr. H.C. made short work of taking down. Clara put twenty dozen hooks in the ceiling and hung her baskets from the ceiling. It had a certain charm, but I was always afraid a bird or a squirrel would jump out from one of those baskets and land on my head…

The front wall under the window is a mixture of concrete block and bricks. It is the back wall of the brick planter that is out front. I planted some test flowers in it this spring, completely sure they would die and I could say, “See, nothing will grow here. It doesn’t get sun, it doesn’t get water. Let’s take it out.” And of course, the white impatiens and red coleus thrived. (We did have a wet summer…) So the planter is staying for now. Oh, and there is a chimney. It takes up one corner, and it looks like someone who didn’t know how to mortar bricks together did the mortar job. Probably my grandfather…

We have big plans for this small, narrow room: a wood stove on an elevated platform, a rocking chair, French doors that will lead you into the kitchen, and this lovely DIY combo of bench and coat rack. We already have the floor tile and the French doors; we purchased them both eons ago at Habitat for Humanity Restores. The wood stove will be coming down from our city house basement; the ceiling will be the same beadboard as in the kitchen. But first things first:


42. Tackling the mudroom

This wonderful warm weekend I discovered that it’s not just the sun I miss during winter; I also miss being outside without coat, hat, mittens, and boots!

Wait! What’s that yellow glow? It’s the Sun!

It was really warm this weekend. Like 65 degrees warm! The sun was out occasionally, peeking through the clouds, but mostly it was gray. I didn’t mind. We turned the heat off in the cottage, and opened the doors. Henry went in and out and was happy. I went in and out and was happy. We even had a bonfire on Saturday night (just a small one) and it was warm enough to stand outside next to it WITHOUT jackets! Mother Earth Farm –the garden center next to the cottage (How wonderful is that statement!) has the countdown on their sign — 10 weeks until spring!Bonfire in January
Mr. H.C. was rebuilding the last window down in his workshop (and kind of grouchy about it) so I was on my own. But he actually gave me permission to start destroying the mudroom. Demo, as it is known in the trades, is a blast, and usually he gets to do it; but with the door open, and my crowbar in hand, I started taking off the cedar shakes that are were the “walls” of the mudroom. (Probably he was grouchy because he wasn’t wielding the crowbar!)

One of the mudroom walls covered in cedar shakes

One of the mudroom walls covered in cedar shakes

I know you are going to ask why we would begin messing up ANOTHER room in the cottage before we are even half-finished with the kitchen… Well, you see, the mudroom is attached to the kitchen. In fact, it is the Entryway to the kitchen. And the doors that we are going to put between the two rooms have to go in NEXT. So the doorway/wall between the rooms had to be taken down, so we can rebuild it to fit our new beautiful French doors that we got for $70 last fall. (You can see them  here in post 16. The Color of Apples .) They aren’t quite the same size as the old sliding glass doors, so building the frame for these doors is the next project.

Let me tell you — taking down and rebuilding is a S-L-O-W process! It took me all day and I didn’t quite get all the shakes off. I was trying to be careful because we might want to reuse them for something. Don’t you think a chicken coop sided in natural cedar shakes would be poulet heaven?

I found this rustic chicken coop sided in cedar shakes at www.theartofdoingstuff.com. I fell in love with it and even pinned it to one of my pinterest boards.

I found this rustic chicken coop sided in cedar shakes at www.theartofdoingstuff.com/chicken-coop-inspiration/
I fell in love with it and even pinned it to one of my pinterest boards.

20130112-232710.jpgAfter Mr. H.C. primed the last window, he came up to help. His mood visibly improved once I shared my crowbars. I understand. Windows have gotten me in a funk before as well. (See post 29. Being Thankful for Failure Takes a Better Man than I.)

The downside of the warm weather and demo-ing a mudroom were ladybugs and stink bugs. They were everywhere. Behind the cedar, under the cedar, in groups, single, falling from the ceiling, crawling on the floor… We thought it was just because we were taking off old cedar that had been there for thirty years, but it turns out this warm weekend brought out the stinkbugs in Everyone’s houses, not just ours. We ended the satisfying weekend with only two splinters, several boxes of acceptable-to-reuse cedar shakes, and almost-bare mudroom walls.

Yep, the walls ain’t pretty!

On to Door #2!