Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Inside and Around the New House

It's pretty hard to take pictures of the inside of a room, but what the heck.

This is one side of the closet in the master bedroom. The other side is just as huge.

Karen loves the purple carpet in the guest room.

I'm not so crazy about the cheap red carpet in the studio. One of two things is going to happen: I'm going to leave it for its sound-baffling qualities, or rip it up, re-finish the hardwood floor, and put an area rug down on the recording side of the room (which is going to be separated by a curtain.

The view from the studio window.

The dining area, attached to the kitchen. I love the stone floor tiles, hate the lavender paint and seashell border.

Dinette counter.

Weird 1960s decorative feature. I'm not sure what's going on here.

The kitchen proper. We're very excited about the side-by-side fridge.

The "den," adjoining the living room.

The living room / home theater. Note the fireplace. We love the wall of exposed brick. The paneling is, shall we say, less than modern, but it's a nice dark color, which will be great for home theater. You may have noticed a preponderance of ceiling fans. Every room but the den has one.

The back yard.

Pretty trees.

And finally, the house from the back.

I welcome your decorating suggestions and reserve the right to ignore all of them.


  • At 9/27/2007 11:09 AM , Anonymous phil hamm said...

    Looks nice. The '1960s decorative feature' can hold a lot of nick-nacks or could make a great climbing place for cats.

    How are the furnace filters? Clean? How's the HVAC? Gas? Electric? Heat Pump? Take care of the HVAC it's the biggest ticket item you have, and improper maintenance can destroy it.

    That fridge looks MEGA MASSIVE. I'm cringing at the thought of the electric bill from it!

  • At 9/27/2007 11:12 AM , Anonymous phil hamm said...

    Keep an eye on those gutters. I don't envy you the leaf blowing/raking you'll be doing. That amount of trees may justify a friggin' 2-stroke leaf blower! Keep those leaves out of the gutters!

  • At 9/27/2007 1:44 PM , Anonymous philip hamm said...

    Oh, some advice - second hand. If you plan on refinishing that floor, pay someone. If you can sand the existing finish off, that's great, you'll need a heavy duty belt sander (Mark Holm may have one). But for actually laying the polyurethane, hire someone.

    It's not bad having a crappy old carpet that you don't mind pedals leaking graphite gunk and oil on in a music room.

    Is there enough room in that backyard for me and Joe to bring baseball mitts when we come visit? Punk?

  • At 9/27/2007 1:51 PM , Blogger Frank Creasy said...

    Phil's right about gutters and HVAC. Replace air return filters regularly; a little bleach in the condensate pipes at season's end in the AC units can prevent big problems later. Small task, well worth the few minutes of time. As for leaf removal: My first home had lots and lots of oaks all around. I invested in a Sears Craftsman leaf vacuum shredder/bagger (looks like a mower, but serves this specific function). If nearly daily raking in the fall is needed to prevent drowning in leaf drop, I would HIGHLY recommend the purchase of one. It would save COUNTLESS hours of raking and bagging and disposing of leaves. Plus, the shredded leaf mulch works wonders on acid-loving plants such as hollies and azaelas and the like. Environmentally friendly! (Scott, are you catching this...your capitalist-pig friend espousing an environmentally friendly approach to home maintenance? Don't tell Dick Cheney, or I'm in trouble!!!)

    Decorating: Strip the wallpaper border and repaint the dining room. Cheap makeover. The red carpet is - well - hideous, and I'd rip it out if at all possible. I know your disposable income is probably in short supply right now, but carpeting for one room would probably be cheaper than you think - at least worth investigating.

    The wood paneling? Could paint over it. Again, easy and cheap and would really make the room "pop", to use the interior designing vernacular. A lighter color would draw your eye into the room. (Can you tell I've watched plenty of "Trading Spaces" episodes?)

    But the bottom line is, what a great home! The sweat equity will be well worth it. And come tax time, you and Karen will be SO happy about your deductions!

  • At 9/27/2007 5:15 PM , Blogger Joey Fanelli said...

    If you're considering ripping up the red carpet and refinishing the wood underneath in the home studio, I say go for it. The red carpet is just repulsive.

  • At 9/27/2007 9:15 PM , Anonymous philip hamm said...

    One more thing...

    If you filled out your moving kit at the Post Office, you should have gotten a 10% coupon from Lowe's. This can be great for big ticket items such as a lawn mower (they may be on clearance now or it may be too late) or appliances you need to replace.

    Look to see if the fridge has a water filter. My friend Mac had his water filter clog and it cost tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage, destroying the carpet, drywall, and framing in his finished basement. A definite plus.

    Also, ULTRA IMPORTANT - replace the water hoses to your washer this weekend. Replacements should be inexpensive at your local Lowe's or Home Depot. These hoses have constant pressure on them and they should be replaced every 5 years as a general rule. Again, if they burst it could be tens of thousands of dollars of damage in a matter of hours.

  • At 9/27/2007 9:18 PM , Anonymous phil hamm said...

    Congratulations again. It's incredibly exciting and a little overwhelming purchasing on your first home you really own with a mortgage.

  • At 9/27/2007 9:22 PM , Anonymous phil hamm said...

    Decorating: Strip the wallpaper border and repaint the dining room. Cheap makeover.

    You can rent a wallpaper stripper at your local equipment rental shop. Rent-A-Center or whatever. It is an incredibly huge pain in the ass.

    We use Benjamin Moore paint in our house, we used a bunch of different brands in the last one. Benjamin Moore is expensive paint, but it covers really well and lasts forever.

    I love the stone tile floors and I -LOVE- the interior brick wall in the living room. Is the fireplace a plain wood burning one? I'm jealous - that was a -very- expensive upgrade that we couldn't justify when we bought our house, bit I love the smell and flexibility of real fires. Wood is not that expensive, looks like you have plenty of room to store a cord, should cost $200 or so and last a couple years. Don't stack firewood against the house, there are bugs (termites, etc.) in firewood so stack it away from the house.

    I can't wait to come down and visit!!!!

  • At 9/27/2007 9:53 PM , Blogger Wayne Conners said...

    Wow...lot of good comments, which I won't expand on except to say that you've seen my yard, and a leaf blower is the best purchase I ever made. I have a bad back, as you know, and the leaf blower is essential!

    Congratulations, A&K. Welcome to the wonderful world of home ownership.

  • At 9/27/2007 11:14 PM , Anonymous Kate said...

    It's amazing what some paint can do to transform things. I have found Lowe's Valspar and/or American Tradition paint to be the best of all paints, especially their eggshell or satin finishes. I highly recommend using that over any other types of paint. I have just about tried them all - Ralph Lauren paints from Home Depot are a nightmare. Just my two cents...

    Oh and that purple colored carpet - rock on!

    And that paneling can be painted any color as an amazing accent wall.

    Oh and one more thing... when the first hard freeze hits Richmond, remember to let your outdoor faucets drip through the night... we've experienced the nightmare of one of those pipes bursting...

    CONGRATS to you two!

  • At 9/28/2007 8:42 AM , Anonymous phil hamm said...

    I know your disposable income is probably in short supply right now, but carpeting for one room would probably be cheaper than you think - at least worth investigating.

    True. Also, you'll get MUCH BETTER pricing on flooring (carpet, hardwood, tile, etc.) at a locally owned flooring place than at a chain like Home Depot or Lowe's. They just work through local contractors anyway so it's just more money to go around.

    Oh and one more thing... when the first hard freeze hits Richmond, remember to let your outdoor faucets drip through the night... we've experienced the nightmare of one of those pipes bursting...

    Great point!!! Remember to turn off your outside lines every winter. Turn them off on the inside of the house, then open the valves on the outside of the house. There should be a "bleeder" on the inside also to let the water out, maybe not on an older house.

    Remember: WATER IS YOUR ENEMY!!! And it can do a world of damage!

  • At 9/28/2007 10:04 AM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    [officially freaking out]

  • At 9/28/2007 10:20 AM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    We actually DO have some money set aside for repairs and work. We put less of an initial payment down, reasoning that we needed that money more NOW than in 30 years.

    There are a few preventative things that are high priorities: Radon remediation next Friday, as well as cutting down some dead branches. There are a few places where water has visibly pooled near the house, and we need to get some soil to slope up to the house to draw it away. And there are a few exposed cinder block holes at the base of the chimney that need to be filled in with concrete and covered with soil.

    The HVAC checked out okay, but hadn't been serviced in a while. It's gas, with a big outdoor propane tank. As Frank Rizzo would say: "Butan, propan, whatever the &%#@ you guys call it."

    Painting is a big priority for Karen. I think I have her pretty much sold on a red kitchen, not unlike the color of Sam the Cooking Guy's kitchen from Discovery Health, or Phil and Rose's living room. She talked about painting the paneling, too, but Frank, we're going counter to the TV design show logic; we need a darker color for the home theater to function best.

    Wallpaper remover, eh? That will be a strange new wonder for me. We have some HIDEOUS bathroom wallpaper to remove, on both levels. In fact, the bathrooms are SO hideously decorated that I opted not to show them to you.

    And it looks like we're going to have to pay someone to take all the s$%# out of the shed.

    I already own a leaf blower, thanks. It's electric. Good thing I have all those extension cords from Joe Jackson's Night and Day!

    Yes, the yard is WAY big enough to throw balls of many kinds. But whomever is downhill needs to be a good catcher, or the ball will end up in the drainage ditch at the bottom of the valley.

  • At 9/28/2007 11:21 AM , Blogger Frank Creasy said...

    Hey man, it's a bit daunting at first...but of course, there's so much I can't do for myself and I'm on home number 3 now. Some basic maintenance knowledge IS essential, but honestly the time required is not so's a host of little things for the most part, which so many people neglect and then pay for in bigger ways down the road. People who care about their homes don't blow off the important things, like basic maintenance of your HVAC system, your gutters, or preventing pipes from freezing.

    The GREAT thing about the interior design piece is that it's something you can do on YOUR schedule. Ugly carpet, ugly paint? Do it this weekend...or next month...or in the spring. It's up to you, but most importantly is do NOT let it stress you out or become a bone of contention in your relationship.

    My husband rule of thumb is if wife asks/tells me to do it, I try to do it ASAP. I'm not successful every time, but it REALLY helps keep the peace. Happy wife, happy life, that's my mantra. That, and jai gura dava om.

  • At 9/28/2007 12:17 PM , Anonymous philip hamm said...

    Wallpaper remover, eh? That will be a strange new wonder for me. We have some HIDEOUS bathroom wallpaper to remove, on both levels. In fact, the bathrooms are SO hideously decorated that I opted not to show them to you.

    If you've got whole rooms to remove wallpaper, I recommend hiring someone to do it. Wallpaper removal is the most godawful hateful task you'll ever do, and you'll burn your fingers doing it. All I had to do was remove one border - one border - and I pledged to myself that I would never deal with wallpaper again as long as I lived. It is that horrible a task. I recommended that you remove the border yourself only under the assumption that the border was the only thing you were removing.

    If you have an external tank you have propane, which is old skool. If your burners on the stove look like "gas" then they are running on the propane also. I'd recommend getting a thorough checkup on the HVAC right away - expect it to cost $2-300, it will be well worth it. And you'll need to find a propane contractor (your local Hank Hill selling propane and propane accessories).

  • At 9/28/2007 12:19 PM , Anonymous philip hamm said...

    BTW if you ever get a propane BBQ grill it should be a relatively easy job for a gas contractor to set you up with a hookup directly to the house tank. Ultra convenient, and you don't have to shop specifically for a grill that runs on methane natural gas.

  • At 9/29/2007 9:09 AM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    Jeez, thanks for the wallpaper advice. Karen watches a lot of home design shows and thinks we can remove the paper from one or both of the bathrooms because it was installed poorly and is already peeling.

    Gas grill??? That's for punks! Give me hardwood charcoal, baby! NOTHING tastes like it. The seller left their gas grill behind; it will be gone soon either by their removal or our garbage.

    I'm counting on my local homies to help teach me these things. Most of my tool-wielding knowledge is centered around building things that look real but aren't...

  • At 10/10/2007 12:10 PM , Anonymous Kate said...

    Can I add one tip on the wallpaper remover thing? If you can't afford to hire someone (or don't want to pay boo-koo bucks for it) this is what I did and it worked really well.

    I got some good paint primer (make sure to inquire you are getting the right one) and just covered the wallpaper with primer. One of our rooms had some wallpaper with a little texture and so I used two coats of the primer and it covered it quite well. I highly recommend this. I learned a hard lesson by trying to strip the wallpaper off myself. No fingernails left for weeks, every word I don't like to say was verbalized, and I stripped off layers of the drywall itself. It was a nasty ugly day. PRIMER baby!

  • At 10/19/2007 2:48 PM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    Meredith and Charessa at my church recommended using a solution of 1 part fabric softener to 10 parts water to remove wallpaper glue. Worked like a freaking CHARM on the hideous seashell border.


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