playing house. (part one).


We’re almost done with the “practice house,” as Luke has dubbed it. Basically, we’re building a miniature house in which we can pretend to be real homeowners, sans the Barbies.

At some point last summer, we realized that the big house project was not going to be finished within a reasonable amount of time. And we needed a place to live that wouldn’t involve squatting in our friend Kent’s house. In the back yard of our property is the world’s most crooked building. When we bought the place, it had broken windows and was filled with miscellaneous stuff that had previously belonged to a elderly lady with the same name as my grandmother. We named the building “the shed,” added our own pile of crap to the mix, and focused on renovating the actual house.

The shed really wasn’t worth considering as more than a place to keep the rain off a pile of junk. Until the sense of desperation set in. There comes a point in every woman’s life when she has to lower her standards and jump into action. This can happen at 4 a.m., when the paper is due in 4 hours, you and you realize that you can’t do research ANY MORE, but must start writing QUICKLY. You buy the Ford instead of the Lexus. Plenty of ill-conceived marriages have been entered into, due to this “desperation” phenomenon. Women end up settling for the chain-smoking, football addicted lout. Men end up settling for the nagging, shop-aholics. Neither party knows what to expect, but they figure, “what the hell?”

In our case, we settled for a twisted little building in the backyard. We believed that “things would work out.” We opened our hearts and our wallets to the crappy little shed, and we got to work. We were delusional. If we had known how long and twisted the road would be, we might not have started down it. We thought it would be a quick and simple job. The building already had basic wiring and plumbing. It had walls and a roof. All we’d need to do was replace the crappy masonite on the walls with some drywall, add a few fixtures and outlets, and start moving in, right?

Oh, the tangled web we weave. Here’s the real story:

First off, the windows were broken and very crappy. We had the old windows removed from the eviscerated kitchen, so we thought we’d throw those in. Simple. We began by removing half a wall…

We frame in the new windows. But they are very short windows, and we’ve planned to change the height of the floor, so determining the “correct” location of the windows turns out to be very difficult. We reframe and change the window height 3 times. Or was it four? I can’t remember. The insanity of this doesn’t escape me, but somehow I still feel like the windows aren’t located at the right height. (Below, Luke is raising the window sill. The day after he lowered it.)

To be continued. Soon.


3 Responses to “playing house. (part one).”

  1. 1 buzzardroost

    Project time seems reasonable to me, looking from the outside. If at all possible, hire all the help you can get. Managing people is a pain but things get done quickly. Having them redo it three times would not be cool though.

  2. Whoo hoo! You’re back, baby! Glad to read the first part of the shed story and can’t wait to read the rest. You left us hanging. After seeing “the shed” yesterday in its largely completed form and remembering it in its “a place to keep stuff dry” incarnation, I have to say that the transformation is pretty incredible. You all have created a light-filled, cozy, WARM space to live in… and if you can ignore the neighbor’s dogs, maybe you’ll love it so much you’ll stay there and rent out the “big” house. I suspect you’ll stop worrying about the window height soon too.

  3. I am in awe of all of the work you guys have done. Also, re: schedule, our project took twice as long as planned – and that was with a contractor. And the drywall post was hilarious. Too many years of architectural education will complicate any design or building task or project. I can relate to that.

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