Category Archives: DIY

In case you missed it…

Ask this old house

You can now view my segment (and hideous kitchen) online! My segment starts at the 12:30 mark. Make sure you check it out and Tom and the gang have some great tips at the end. Let me know what you think!


I’m Ready For My Close Up (AKA Part 2 of My Time on the Silver Screen)

Photo Courtesy of Elyse Andrews, Somerville Beat

Photo Courtesy of Elyse Andrews, Somerville Beat

Yesterday I chatted about how I got selected to film a segment for Ask This Old House  so today I’m going to talk about what it was like to film a TV show that I’ve loved since I was a kid. Short and to the point: It. Was. AWESOME.

The project for the ATOH team was our cracked joist. Apparently, it’s a very common problem in old homes as our joists were notched so they sat on top of our main beam in the basement. This was common practice 100+ years ago and worked perfectly fine, until we started putting more and more stress by having large appliances (in our case, our fridge) sitting in the sweet spot of the joist. Add a high traffic area with our over-sized fridge, and you’ll have a cracked joist.  Builders today use hangers to connect the joist to the main beam, giving the joist proper support that it needs. But back to the filming!

We started relatively early in the afternoon, as they said our job shouldn’t take that long to complete. Tom Silva pulled up in his massive truck, where Adam and I (as well as his parents and Elyse) stood star struck. Let me tell you. He’s seriously the nicest guy to chat with. Coming with him, was the production entourage: Lighting, Sound, Producers, Assistant Producer, Camera guy all crammed in our teeny house. They brought so much equipment! The lighting, tools and camera could easily fill our entire living room.

We started off filming in the kitchen with our “opening” segment. This is where we cover the basics; welcoming Tom to our house and explaining why we wanted his expertise on our project. I’m not going to give the exact rundown of what happened here, but I will say…it took much longer then I thought it would take! I would be given direction by the director and while I thought I did a good job, I would be asked to do it again, but in a different manner. I now appreciate what actors go through! After we finished up we made our way to the basement where Tom was going to give our basement an inspection.

Tom giving our basement the once over

If only our basement was that bright! They brought in so many extra lights since our basement has very little natural light and setting those up take time! In between takes I was picking Tom’s brain about everything. How does our structure look? What would you recommend for the slope in our floor? What about moving our laundry upstairs, replacing the small shower? Being the good guy he is, he answered them all, and gave really great advice. I’m pretty sure I asked him (more than once) if he felt we had a good house on our hands, to which we replied, “You’ve got a great house with good bones. It’s going to make a great house for you!”


All in all, it was an amazing experience. With Adam and I being such big fans, it was incredible. Here’s a show we watch (and set our DVR for) filming in our very own home. When we discovered our joist was cracked, we had no idea how to even start fixing it and more importantly, how to prevent it from happening to our other joists. By having ATOH come to our house and show us how to fix it properly truly was a lifesaver! Had we listened to the structural engineer we brought in earlier that summer, we would have spent thousands (literally) in unnecessary repairs. Now we have the knowledge on what do to for the other joists, so we can reinforce them and give them the support that’s needed.

Joist signed by Tom Silva

For those that can’t read this, Tom wrote: “To Meghan and Adam From This Old House To Your House” Tom Silva, 9/10/2012

Plus, when the time comes to sell this place, do you think we’ll get extra points for having the joist that Tom Silva fixed from Ask This Old House signed by him? Maybe we’ll have to be on the look out for some fans like us.

For those that missed the show since it was on at the crack of dawn today, they’ll be showing it a couple of times this week. Make sure you put in your zip code so you won’t miss it! And if you want to view it online, you’ll be able to see it after January 8th, using this link.

Today, is a big day for Operation Restoration! (Part 1)

We have some HUGE news to share today on the blog…I’m going to be on TV! Ask This Old House specifically. And it starts airing TODAY! (Check out this link to see when it airs on your PBS station!)

So, way back in September something incredible happened. And no, it wasn’t the mister FINALLY proposing (which was also very incredible) but it was a visit from Tom Silva himself, and Ask This Old House! In our home! To film ME! Little ole’ me. How did this all happen? It’s quite interesting actually.

We’ve had issues with our furnace. Not only is it ancient, but where it’s located is also a problem, right smack in the middle of the basement and vents up through our chimney. We’ve been toying with the idea of getting rid of it completely (along with the water heater) and going green. What I mean is, getting a direct vent furnace and tankless water heater, which would allow us to remove the chimney entirely and then we’d be able to open the walls up without a giant brick eyesore in the middle of our rooms. So, Adam and I were casually chatting about the whole thing, when he mentioned “Maybe you should email Ask This Old House.” Since we had no idea how big of a project it really is, I took our question and emailed away. Hoping we’d get an answer soon.

Well, a few months later, we finally got a response! I got a call from one of the producers saying that they were interested in chatting with us about our project. So I gave him a call back and while the the furnace question was great, he wanted to know if we had any other projects, perhaps ones that were smaller scale? Of course we had smaller projects! I rattled off about 5 other things we had in our pipeline and he told me he’d get back to me if the team felt a project was right to pursue.

About a week later he called me back, saying that they were interested in our cracked floor joist, which apparently is a common problem in old homes. The producer came out to our house to take a look around and see our trouble area and said he’d be in touch.

That was it for a couple of weeks, until he called again while we were in Maine for a friends wedding. They wanted to film us and our cracked joist! I frantically called Adam and told him the news. They wanted to film that Monday! We both quickly shot emails to our bosses saying how Ask This Old House was coming to our HOME and we need that day off! Thankfully, they completely understood why we needed the day off and were so excited for us! So we rushed home that Sunday to clean the house like it never had been cleaned before, in preparation for it’s TV debut.

My dear friend Elyse from the Somerville Beat was kind enough to come by the day they started filming and caught some action shots of them filming. Here’s some shots she captured:

Photo Credit: Somerville Beat

Photo Credit: Somerville Beat

Photo Credit: Somerville Beat

Photo Credit: Somerville Beat

So tune in tomorrow when I chat about my experience filming and what it was like to hang out with Tom Silva for a day. And just a reminder, my segment (#1114) starts airing today (find out when it airs on your PBS station here) and if you don’t get PBS in your neck of the woods, or don’t have cable, you can view it online starting January 8th.

September/October Happenings

Well, it’s a new month and per usual, it’s been a bit. Life seems to just move right on by when you’re having fun!  So, what have we been up to? A lot.

September 15 is an important day for Adam and I, as it’s the day he proposed! After 10 wonderful years together, we’re tying the knot and I couldn’t be more excited! How did we celebrate? By going to a Biergarden with some of our closest friends at our favorite neighborhood bar!

The following weekend we held our very first (and I’m sure not our last) Demo Party which was BYOCB, aka, Bring Your Own Crow Bar!

The game plan was to not get hurt, hurt other people, while demoing our future master bedroom and dining room. I’d love to show pictures of what the place looked like during the demo, but all I can say is that it was messy. Extremely messy and dusty. I think that I’m still cleaning up dust. With the help of our friends, we brought the rooms down to their studs and ready to rewire and insulate before the it gets really cold.

Dining Room:

Future Master Bedroom:

Upstairs hallway:

The beginning of October brought on a little more demo, wiring and insulation in the dining room. It’s amazing how the room feels bigger when the drop ceiling is removed!

Sorry for the horrible quality of this photo…we had no overhead light installed yet so we were using Adam’s old college floor light that gives off a horrible glow.

In the middle of October, Adam’s parents threw us an amazing engagement brunch with just close family where we got to relive our engagement by retelling our engagement story!

And the last weekend in October we finished insulating the dining room.

As much as I’d love to say that the next step is drywall, I’d be telling a little lie. We need to address some serious slope-age in the floor before we get to the drywall stage. But at least for now, the room is insulated for the winter. Now we just have to insulate the bedroom and hallway before the big freeze hits New England it turns into my least favorite season. Winter.

Did you tackle any projects in September or October? Any wedding advice for this bride-to-be?!

Frost Yourself

Before I get to today’s post, I want to make a little plug. Tomorrow I am guest blogging on Wayfair’s My Way Home blog about something that recently occurred in our little house and some tips on when you need to bring in a professional for your DIY job. VERY exciting things happening at Operation Restoration! Now, on to today’s post.

A while back (I’m talking at least 8 months ago) Adam and I went to the ReStore in Roslindale to scope out what this store had to offer. It was a relatively new location so we went to look around and see what treasures we could find. And we found some goodies!

It’s safe to assume that we now have a full fledged door obsession. Almost every antique/thrift store or fair, we’re looking for doors to replace our plywood hollow core doors with period piece solid wood ones. We’ve had luck at the ReStore in Portland and you can’t beat the prices there. So when we came across not one but THREE gorgeous doors, we couldn’t walk away from them. Two of them were previous porch doors and one was half of a French door. Why were we interested in only half of a French door? Well, the section that had the gorgeous glass door knob fit our bathroom door frame. Is it weird that I wanted a glass paned door our bathroom door? Sure, it would make for awkward moments, but I had a solution.

I wanted a door that would allow light to pass through it because that part of the house is so dark and the bathroom window gets great light. The French door was a perfect solution, and the perfect price of $25! So, how do you make it so people can’t see you do your business without having the pay a lot of money for frosted replacement glass? Frosted glass spray paint!

The door itself needed a little TLC before I addressed the glass so I took off the hardware and got to bust out my trusty sander and went to town.

After a quick sanding and dusting, I was ready for some paint. I wanted to keep it white to go with the rest of the bathroom and brighten up the dark hallway so I used Behr’s semi-gloss enamel in Behr Premium Plus Enamel Zero VOC in Ultra Bright White that we picked up from the Home Depot. After three coats and the proper drying time (about 2-3 hours) it was good to go.

On to the frosting!

While we were at Home Depot we purchased RustOleum specialty frosted glass spray. Since we had no idea how this stuff would turn out, we did a dry run on one of the other doors we purchased that has glass panes. As a back up we purchased plain contact paper, but I really didn’t want to go that route as I was looking for a more permanent solution. We tested and perfected our process on one pane and after a couple of passes; it started to “frost up”! Let’s do this for reals.

We first had to give the glass a good cleaning and make sure that they were extremely dry before we could even begin spraying. Once we cleaned up the glass, we were ready to spray. Starting at the top, we went frame by frame, with nice even lines so it was more consistent. We read on the can that it worked best if you applied multiple coats while it was still wet. Sounds pretty good! We probably did about 10 coats. That might seem a little excessive, but I’d rather have a lot of coats on there versus not, just in case you could still through it. We left the door outside for 48 hours so it could properly gas-off, brought it back in and hung it up. I absolutely love it and am so happy that we went this route. It still lets the light shine through but you still have your privacy. Sorry for the night shots. They’re the best I could get!

Am I absolutely crazy for putting in glass as a bathroom door? Would you have a glass bathroom door? Fill me in!

***I am entering my DIY frosted bathroom door into the Creating With the Stars blog contest for a chance to compete in a four week, DIY contest.  I will most likely be soliciting votes from you in the near future. So, consider this your warning. 😉 ***

Getting a little ahead of ourselves…

A couple of weeks ago, Adam and I took off to the middle of New Hampshire to “just look” at some flooring at the Carlise Warehouse. We didn’t have anything going on that Saturday, so we figured we’d take a trip to just to check out what they had. And man, did they deliver.

They were having a warehouse sale (which is why we ventured up there) and were greeted with massive railroad beams out in the front…right up our alley! The people there were so incredibly welcoming, gave us a quick overview of what they had, and told us to just go ahead a look.

We spotted some of our favorite wood, wide white pine. As much as we love the look of these, and how they’d fit in with the look we’re going for, unfortunately the wood is just too soft. Bromley + soft wood = disaster. Just ask Adam’s parents who have them in their kitchen, as you can see where Bromley has used them as his personal scratching post. On to the next grouping of wood!

We came across piles of gorgeous walnuts, oaks, and laminate flooring, but nothing. Until we found THE ONE. Were we ever in trouble. It’s called Antique hard wide pine and what adds to it’s uniqueness is that it comes from railroad bridges, ties, ship masts. It gorgeous knots and nail holes that shows a history, and we just kept staring at it. We tried walking away but we just couldn’t stop looking at it and talking about how amazing it would look in our house.

Source: Carlise Wide Plank Floors

Told you we were in trouble.

The next thing I know, we’re having serious talks about whether or not we should get this flooring and start crunching numbers. At $5/square foot we landed on a steal. This wood alone normally sells between $15-$20/square foot! Talk about savings. We talked to one of the employees there and he was so incredibly  helpful. We asked how it would stand up to Bromley’s nails and normal wear and tare and he said that it’s some of the hardest wood you can get. Ugh oh. We aren’t even close to being ready for flooring (still have to add supports downstairs and level the floor in the kitchen and dining room) but this is the deal of the year. How can we walk away from this gorgeous wood?

Well, if you guessed that we walked away from it, you’re completely wrong. We paid for it and scheduled to have it delivered the following week. We got enough to cover the entire downstairs (living room, kitchen, dining room and downstairs bathroom) with some extra wood to spare. We’re planning on putting this in ourselves, so it looks like we have to get our butts in gear!

The good thing about having the floors in our possession is that it’s a constant reminder that we need to get moving on some things. We’ve been really busy this summer so we haven’t been able to tackle a lot of projects. But come this fall, we’re planning on having a demo party, where friends will help us finish up the dining room and upstairs bedroom, so we can start putting it back together.  We’re tired of living in a construction zone; we just want to be able to enjoy this house! And once these floors are in, we’ll be one step closer, and I can’t wait.

Consider this a brain dump.

I can’t believe that I haven’t updated since MARCH! That’s completely uncalled for and I can hear Adam shaming me now. It’s scary to look back and see the first picture that I have up there has snow in it. Unacceptable.

So, consider this a brain dump for the past 2+ months of what we’ve been up too. And let me apologize for the quality of my pictures. I’m using my iPhone and one of these days, I’ll get a proper camera. Someday.

April brought us some exciting and not so exciting things. First up, exciting:
Look at those amps. The POWER!

Gorgeous isn’t it? Who knew I’d be so happy to see an electrical panel go up in our house. Thanks to Gibbions Electric who came in for one days work and upgraded us from a 100 amp panel to 200 amps. What does that mean for us? Well, whenever we get to the kitchen, we’ll be able to have things like, oh, a dishwasher on it’s own circuit and get the second floor off of just one breaker. And no. You didn’t read that wrong. Our ENTIRE second floor is on one breaker. That’s going to change. Someday!

And now the not so exciting news:
We were able to get some estimates on our chimney, since we demoed a section of the guestroom revealing it to be in not that great of shape. We called a bunch of places and they came and gave us the bad news. While the chimney itself wasn’t horrible…we couldn’t get a liner. Come to find out, when our house was built 100 years ago, they built the chimney around the center beam of the house. So the beam literally runs right through it, and as a quick fix, the previous owners built up the inside with bricks so the beam would be “protected” (I use that term loosely) from the gases of the furnace and water heater. We called in a structural engineer to take a look at everything and he told us that 1. Our house was made the cheapest way possible (thanks) 2. We’re missing some supports (awesome) 3. You can remove the section of the beam that’s in the chimney, but we’ve got a add a bunch of lolly columns to help out with you know, holding up the house. One other option? Getting a direct venting furnace (thanks for that suggestion Dad!) Our furnace is ancient and if we did this, then we could circumvent the issue completely…just costs a fortune! So, we’re putting that on hold for awhile.

And things that I thought were amazing:
May was pretty productive for us. We went to one of our favorite places in the world…BRIMFIELD! Seriously. It’s like Christmas for us and it happens 3 times a year! I won’t speak too much about it because I could go on and on about it, but what I love about it is how much inspiration I get from there. And Adam and I have come to a conclusion of what our “style” is when it comes to decorating. I’ll dub it refurbished-industrial. We really dig things that have metal and wood mixed together, so like tables, shelving, chairs. Love it. What did we get? Some awesome stuff:

Hello Beautiful. A gorgeous Mission Style rocker that I got for $200, original ask of $275.

Our new coffee table! An 1875ish took trunk that has removable/slideable compartments inside. See? Got it for a steal at $250…originally $350!

And these little loves I’ve been eying forever. And will most likely continue grabbing ones that look cool. I’m very jealous of Adam’s letters…they kick mine in the butt.

Oh and we did a project! Very overdue. Have I ever mentioned that we had a handicap ramp out our backdoor? No? Welp, we did…for almost two years. The previous owner was wheelchair bound and it took up a lot of our prime backyard real estate. It had to go. Adam demoed it and said that it was the most well built thing he’s come across during our time here. That doesn’t say much! So once the ramp was gone, it was stair building time. We built the stringers from scratch, broke up some concrete, built a new landing pad with bricks we had found around the house, and stairs that are solid. We couldn’t be happier with how they turned out and it’s so much roomier. We absolutely love it, even if it is temporary (that’s another story for another time). Enjoy these lovely pics!