4½ Years in Our Home

As of this week, we’ve lived in our home for 4.5 years. As I’ve done semi-annually since we moved in, I will hereby provide an update on improvements we made to our home in the past six months.

By the way, if you’re interested, here’s the blog post detailing what we did during the six months prior to these most recent six months.


-Removed intercom.


-Swapped out a wall plate.

16Jan16It’s debatable whether this is really an improvement; maybe it’s merely a change. Either way, Isla found these free for the taking at an event we were at back in January. So, the next day, I asked her which electrical plate in her room she wanted to replace, and she selected the one nearest her door. In the photo, you can see her – under supervision, of course! – swapping a boring old white plate for the more decorative option.


-Installed light in closet.


-Installed new toilet seat.


-Swapped out light fixtures.

Okay, here’s what the light fixtures looked like when we moved in:

Blog1I know, I know: it’s solid brass and ornate and Gothic and all sorts of cool stuff. But…it’s also ugly. I never liked this fixture, nor it’s companion fixture at the top of the stairs. So on February 2nd, I changed it out with a model that, granted, is cheaper, but also better looking.



-Removed Security System sticker from window.

IMG_0534Why do security systems always skank up a place so bad? When we moved in, there were ugly, plastic fixtures on the wall and even one on a nice wood pillar. And most of the windows on the main floor had these nearly-impossible-to-remove stickers. I peeled off the other stickers soon after we moved in, but as you can see from the above photo, this one just wouldn’t let go. This is what it looked like for most of the past four years.

IMG_0535So I took some Goo-Gone and a rag to the window and applied copious amounts of elbow grease. The above photo shows what it looked like after about five minutes…

IMG_0536…and here’s what it looked like five minutes after that. All better! (By the way, there’s still one more sticker on another window, but I have to wait until warmer weather to remove it. Jennifer was not pleased with the lingering fumes.)


-Removed built-in stereo/intercom system.

-New doorbell!

Doorbell OldHere’s our old doorbell. The speaker was useless as an intercom. And though it could be used to pipe some music out into the yard, the sound quality was terrible. So, since I removed the intercom system, it seemed only right to also remove this speaker/doorbell.

Here’s the doorbell we now have:

Doorbell NewOkay, two things you might notice here. First, the doorbell isn’t, technically, “new,” it’s just new to us. We bought it at Northwest Architectural Salvage. Second, it’s screwed onto a thin piece of plywood. Yep, it is, and that’s because removing the intercom left a big hole that I had to cover for safety reasons. We’re gonna put all new trim around the door frame – eventually. In the meantime, this will suffice.


-Put lighting wiring into a box.

When my brother-in-law came over a couple months ago, he noticed the wiring for the lights in the commons area was not up to code. So I fixed that.

Not up to code…

OldUp to code...New-Removed excess wiring.

Yeah, my brother-in-law, who works with security systems and is probably mad at me right now for what I said about security systems above, came over and tore out about 100 feet of useless wiring in the basement and helped to clean up some of the remaining cluster of wires.

-Installed three-way switch so light in the commons area can now be turned on/off while downstairs.

-Moved outlet from ceiling to wall.

If you go way back to the post I made four years ago, about the improvements we’d made in our first six months living here, I posted this picture:

New-outlet-in-basement-1024x768My purpose in posting that picture back then was to show that I had moved the light switch (for the light above the washer and dryer) from the ceiling to the wall, and updated it with new features. See that empty spot on the right? That’s because I hadn’t yet moved the outlet from the ceiling to the wall. Oh, I tried, but I couldn’t figure it out. So, last month, an electrician did it for me.


-Replaced hinges on vanity cabinet.

-Installed cabinet door catch on vanity cabinet.

-Replaced toilet paper dispenser.

-Replaced shower head.


-Added chain to light.

A few months ago, I re-discovered that there’s a light under the stairs. I had forgotten about it because it’s sort of hidden, and the chain to turn it on was about 2 inches long. So I replaced it with a chain that’s about a yard long. I even have it going through a loop that puts the chain in a more convenient location. I also added a decorative weight to the chain so that, when I pull it, it won’t retract through the loop. Yep, sometimes I’m awesome.

-Removed fluorescent light fixture.

Yes, I finally removed the last of the fluorescents. This one wasn’t even hooked up to the power anymore, so it really needed to go.

-Removed some wooden planks from ceiling.

Above the fluorescent light fixture were a bunch of planks. They’re ugly and dirty. I removed about half of them. For the rest, I need to get out the crow bar. Stay tuned.

-Added box for light fixture.

Yeah, this one wasn’t up to code, either. Now it is.


-Built stairs for back side of deck.Deck steps BEFOREHere’s the back side of the deck. It has stairs now, so there’s not a 2-foot-plus drop off anymore. No, I don’t have a picture of that. Primarily because I need to fix them, first.

-Removed southern section of decking, and placed on new, all-weather decking that is actually level.

Side of deckThis photo, above, shows the deck boards that were on the southern end of our deck. Not sure why the previous owner suddenly switched from all-weather decking to wood, nor why he didn’t level it, but there you go. It was a real beast removing these planks, but I finally got them all out, put in some thin strips of wood to level it off, and…

IMG_0311…here’s what it looks like now.

-Capped all-weather decking planks.

Look closely:

IMG_0197See how the end of each plank has three rectangular holes in it?

IMG_0198Not anymore!

-Repaired outside light.

Well, not me – the electrician. Now when people come over, we can actually turn on the outside light for them so that they don’t trip on our cement steps.

-Installed little free library.


-Installed bracket to hold up electrical tubing.

Here’s a “before” picture:

Garage Tube 1


Notice the metal tube hanging down? It’s carrying the electrical wiring to the lights in my garage. It’s attached over by the wall of the garage, and it’s attached near the light fixtures, but in the middle, it was sagging about 9 inches.



Garage Tube 2


Here it is now. A close-up is below.



Garage Tube 3

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