Tag Archives: diy

life in a fixer – the stairway

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One of the first things I noticed about our fixer from the perspective of a new mother, was the stairs. Staircases can be a source of concern to any mother with a child that is still developing walking skills, but this stairway was special. Part of the railing midway was torn down, prematurely exposing the walker to the first floor. Additionally, the railing that remained intact was spaced wide enough for our newly toddling firstborn to fit through.

The stairway peril became a situation that required scrutiny as projects piled up, and time was not available to immediately remedy the condition of the steps. Once the buildup of boxes and furniture found homes, I had to discover a method of sectioning off this hazard. I tried various arrangements, but the most effective was positioning our daughter’s play yard over the opening. The wheels allowed us to move it as we needed to ascend to the second level.

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Almost a year after we purchased our fixer, time allowed my husband to begin tackling the stairs. He wanted to build a new base to allow more vertically developed individuals to avoid harm to their cranium on the sloped ceiling. The venture commenced while my daughter and I were on a trip visiting family. We were able to come home to a partially constructed stairway. Eventually, the project was finished, and even painted. It was a sturdy work of art. The railing at the landing was crafted to be demountable for easier move-in/move-out capability.

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Keep reading!

Part One    the beginning

Part Two    jobless, but not homeless

Part Three    buckets and bugs

Part Four    kitchen remodel

Part Five    the floors

Part Six    the stairway

More coming soon…

Epilogue    life after a fixer

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life after a fixer

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It never goes away. That urge to change every detail to your imagining; conjuring plans for a room. Our current home has mostly been updated to the previous owner’s vision. Still, I feel the need to repaint; to tear out all the pretty landscaping and grow edible things. Maybe I am not made for move-in ready. I have to create; to shape something that reflects my imagination in a practical way. That is why I love photography and gardening.

My husband is equally driven by creativity, even more so when it comes to a house. He is the real genius behind designing and seeing building projects to completion. With his training in architecture and our passion for making things both functional and lovely, we have a hard time sitting still. I am not sure what the future holds, but we are striving to make decisions and progress that will one day allow us to encounter another venture, whether that be another fixer, or building something from the foundation up. We desire not just a house, but a sustainable homestead that will keep us busy creating and doing what we love.

I have slowly been updating details and adding more photos to the life in a fixer series. I really wish I had taken more pictures of the home the day we moved out, but we were already quite behind schedule and the lighting was not favorable. Regardless, I am sorting through the photographs and adding them as I can. Each detail recalls a memory of those special times, as well as the hardships that became a part of our journey.

life in a fixer – the floors

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Replacing the floors became one of the first major tasks that captured our attention on the interior of the fixer, after painting the walls and exterior. The original materials included laminate flooring from the 70s (dirty and falling apart), and shag carpeting that smelled of pet urine. Some of the sub-flooring needed to be cut out and replaced due to water damage. Brian was able to tackle this situation full force during his unemployment.

We knew that our budget required that we carefully choose the new materials. Brian discovered a recycled building supply store a few hours from us, and after two trips with my mom and a friend (we did not have a truck ourselves) we hauled stacks of leftover douglas fir wood flooring at less than $1 a square foot.

In keeping with our other non-toxic finishes (we used Yolo Colorhouse paint on the interior), we decided to use pure tung oil for the wood flooring rather than the usual wood floor finishes. This allowed us to move in while the oil was still drying, and avoid inhaling any harmful fumes as we finished up the project.

During this transformation, glimpses of hope and renewal spurred us on. As the walls were washed and painted and the floor planks wedged and pounded in place, we started to realize that this place could become a cozy home. As soon as enough of the flooring was installed, we moved in. It took another couple of weeks for the rest of the floors to be completed.

Our unfinished wood floors have held up beautifully over the past year and a half. With two children and a dog we have the occasional dent or mark, but it tells a story much more eloquently than stains on carpeting would. It was a cost-effective and lasting choice for our home.

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Keep reading!

Part One    the beginning

Part Two    jobless, but not homeless

Part Three    buckets and bugs

Part Four    kitchen remodel

Part Five    the floors

Part Six    the stairway

More coming soon…

Epilogue    life after a fixer

life without shampoo – the no ‘poo method

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I don’t wash my hair with shampoo. When this discovery is made by others, it often incites amusing reactions. Usually surprise and curiosity mingle in response, with perhaps a tinge of repulsion. When I first encountered the “no ‘poo” method, I was skeptical as well. The name itself seemed to cause alarm. But, because of my need to do pretty much everything differently, as well as my extreme frugal tendencies, I decided to give the technique a try.

The Reasons

Why switch to the no ‘poo method? Well, for starters it is healthier for your hair, as well as your whole being. Shampoo acts as a detergent, stripping your locks of its natural and beneficial oils (while adding mineral oil which simply sets on your strands of hair). This creates an imbalance and causes overproduction to compensate. This is why many people need to wash their hair daily to deal with greasy roots.

Most shampoos contain chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin. This reason is the most crucial for me. If I try to eat well and avoid chemicals and pesticides in my food, why shouldn’t I do the same with the products I use on my hair and skin? They all end up in our body one way or another.

Another convincing reason is the savings. Water and baking soda are quite the bargain. I am always looking for ways to live healthier and save money, and this method provides a way to do both!

The Method

My routine is simple. Once I run out of my formula, I simply head to the pantry and pull out the baking soda. I mix approximately two tablespoons of baking soda with two cups of warm water, pouring the resulting liquid into an empty shampoo bottle. Every few days or so I use this to clean my hair, shaking before each use.

It took about two weeks for my hair to acclimate. This was not an issue for me as a stay-at-home mama who usually wears her hair up anyway. After the adjustment period, I began to enjoy the benefits of not having to wash my hair daily to tame oily roots. My hair became smoother and healthier. I could choose to cleanse my hair only a few times a week while still maintaining clean-feeling locks.

There were a couple of situations where I did not have access to my “no ‘poo” mixture, but wanted to wash my hair (the hospital after the birth of my second daughter was one such instance). I begrudgingly used the shampoo available and had to restart my baking soda fix at home. I am more careful to avoid such circumstances as a result.

Check back soon for my companion post: life without conditioner.

The Resources

I first learned about going ‘poo-less fom Simple Mom.

Trina at Beginner Beans has a great post on the no ‘poo method for curly hair.

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life in a fixer part 4 – kitchen remodel

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A little over a week after we moved into the house Brian got a phone call that brought him back to work – at least part time. We had only experienced unemployment for about two months. Renewed income was definitely important and needed, although now progress on our fixer slowed significantly. It seemed that as soon as we started development on one area, a new project would arise that we weren’t expecting. Such is the life of home ownership – at least with our circumstances.

By April we were able to begin our kitchen remodel. This was our biggest adventure yet. As always, things took longer than expected. We had to live without a kitchen for several weeks. The toaster oven was moved into the living room and we bought disposable plates and cutlery for the first time in our married lives.

Thankfully, my parents came to visit about this time and rented a truck at the airport, which allowed us to pick up our new cabinets from Ikea. Brian entirely gutted the existing kitchen. Fragments of the cabinetry and countertop were everywhere. It was an exciting day! No more disgusting and smelly shelves and storage! This was a big step in the progress of our fixer.

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Some other goals for the kitchen remodel were to replace the light fixture and the window.

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Keep reading!

Part One    the beginning

Part Two    jobless, but not homeless

Part Three    buckets and bugs

Part Four    kitchen remodel

Part Five    the floors

Part Six    the stairway

More coming soon…

Epilogue    life after a fixer