The Estate of Things

Grout Cottage: End of June Progress

by Sarah on June 28, 2013, 2 comments

To reviewthe Grout Cottage is a Queen Anne built in 1895. It is a duplex that we began remodeling in December 2012. Here’s the introduction post to the house.

It’s high time we check in with the Grout Cottage project, there have been some Instagram snippets here and there but let’s talk about a few details. On a good day the Grout Cottage still looks a little like a haunted house but that’s because the exterior transformation hasn’t really happened yet. Earlier this week a young couple drove by and stopped to look at the house. I chatted with them and they said they liked to stop by periodically to see the change happen. They asked me if we were going to paint the exterior and of course I said yes…what color do you think? I said maybe blue/grey, they agreed that would be a good one.

After that I joked with my Dad about the question of painting the outside. He said, no we’re not gonna paint, haven’t you seen the magazines, post-apocalypse is all the rage. We had a good banter back & forth.

Jokes aside let’s check it out,

The gable ends were changed to A-frame

Grout front June

For funsies I used a site called Colorjive to paint the house a blue/grey–not that I don’t think blue/grey is an entirely safe color but I’d like to get a visual. This is not the exact color it will be but it is a Benjamin Moore color but I can’t remember what it was now.

Grout blue

Then we put a new metal roof on. The front porch will have to be rebuilt before it can get the new metal roof.

Grout new roof

We rebuilt the upstairs porch entirely and raised the roof and the door to make enough room for a standard size entry door for the apartment. Also notice the gable end was changed to an A-frame on the back and you can see the other one on the right side of the house. There were four in all that had to be converted.

grout upstairs porch

The light hits this house beautifully in the mornings that’s why I take so many pictures of the side and the blue sky. That rectangular window was added in the bathroom to provide natural light, there was no window there previously. The old and too small kitchen window is covered in black weatherproofing temporarily and the new kitchen window is right next to it. Notice the gas line running right in front of that window, that will be relocated. Those attic vents with the curved trim are darling, there is one on each side and they will stay exactly as they are.

grout kitchen window

Look now because pretty soon the new outside stairwell will be built and this shabby arbor will be gone and the patchwork stairs will be gone too. I will be #trulyrelieved when I don’t have to look at the crappy staircase any more.

Grout stairs

Electrical lines and an HVAC line running up the right side of the house. We’ll build a box around these to parcel them together neatly

grout side conduit

I spend a lot of time thinking about how I want to change some of the Queen Anne trim but stay consistent with the period. A lot of these trim pieces are rotten or have been re-created. I’m not wild about the “nipple” hanging off that bay. I’ve also thought about panels here around the window in this bay instead of just continuing the siding.

grout bay window

The sawtooth trim is pretty cool around the front of the house but some of it has deteriorated over time. There are a lot of important pending design decisions left for the front of the house.

grout sawtooth

This is the newly sheet rocked Apartment B (upstairs). It’s exciting when walls go up and rooms form. We are looking at the living area in this photo. Originally we had exposed collar ties or “beams” but they were removed at the beginning of this week. We felt like the span wasn’t large enough and that the beams were detracting from the cathedral look.

grout sheetrock apartment B

So that’s a snapshot of wassup right now at the project. Currently I’m thinking about a built-in in the bathroom with glass doors,  a corner shelf at the entry and a whole boat-load of trim ideas for the front porch.


Grout Cottage: Checking in Upstairs

by Sarah on April 30, 2013, no comments

To reviewthe Grout Cottage is a Queen Anne built in 1895. It is a duplex that we began remodeling in December 2012. Here’s the introduction post to the house.

While Apartment A (downstairs) of the Grout Cottage is getting the finishing touches, Apartment B (upstairs) is getting new frame work and a new layout.

It doesn’t look like much now but this is the current state of Apartment B after demo is complete and re-framing is well underway,

grout cathedralThis is what the living area looks like now,

Grout Living Room BThe future site of the bathroom and kitchen,

Grout Kitchen B

And those bedrooms now have real closets with average size doors.

Grout closet frame BSo we’re getting there, you have to get through the important structural stuff to get to the fun stuff.


Grout project: Restore

by Betsy Moyer on April 2, 2013, no comments

It’s finishes like these that bring a smile to a remodeler’s face. When we started the Grout Project, the dark hallway had only a little sliver of an original stained glass window. I decided to keep that little window and expand it in to a larger window to let some more light in. I’m pretty happy with my decision.
The big reveal is on the horizon.


Grout Cottage: Apartment B

by Sarah on March 29, 2013, no comments

To reviewthe Grout Cottage is a Queen Anne built in 1895. It is a duplex that we began remodeling in December 2012. Here’s the introduction post to the house.

Good Friday Morning and welcome to Apartment B. It’s the upstairs apartment at the Grout Cottage.

grout b entry

Let’s hope the stairs can get us safely to the front door.

grout b stairs

We started tearing the place out this week. I got to it with my camera after the crew had already removed the mounds of personal belongings left behind by the previous tenant.

grout b door

The whole place is clad in beadboard, walls and ceilings. There are angles everywhere.

grout b kitchen

Charming kitchen with open shelving

grout b kitchen2

that little shelf below is mounted on a chase that used to house one of the chimneys, you may remember that we have already removed all three chimneys. We had to remove the chimneys that ran from the downstairs all the way up while someone was still living upstairs. Joseph (lead carpenter extraordinaire) was just pleased as punch when they had to remove those chimneys inside a box all while containing the soot. He loves hates me.

grout b chimney

The living room is a good size and cozy but not in a bad way. It needs to be opened to the kitchen and I’m planning on making that happen.

grout b living room

That 1970s firebox is gone now.

grout b living room2

Largest bedroom in the front of the apartment. This was a first for me–the window on the right is actually a pocket window. An antique drive thru window, it actually slides open in to a cavity in the wall. There is one in each bedroom.

grout b bedroom

Closets will be expanded and doors will become standard height

grout b bedroom2

The tear out had already started in the 2nd bedroom, look at those angles.

grout b bedroom3

close up of our sliding window

grout b sliding window

I really saved the best for last–the bathroom. I did not substitute part of the set from the new Evil Dead movie, this is the real bathroom. I tried to turn the light on but it didn’t work.

grout b bath


grout b bath2

The new and improved layout of this apartment will be more of a challenge than the downstairs. We’ll have to be creative but first we meet with the plumber to find out what can be moved if anything.


Grout Cottage: Meet & Greet

by Sarah on November 26, 2012, 16 comments

I’d like to introduce you to my newest project—the Grout Cottage.

She’s hurtin’ and the people in the neighborhood are delighted that we plan to rescue the house and so am I.

For a proper introduction– here are some basic stats,

  • Built in 1895 (the oldest property we’ve renovated to date)
  • Two story, Queen Anne
  • Duplex; two apartments both two bedroom, one bath
  • Has some original stained glass windows
  • German wood lap siding
  • metal roof
  • has small dilapidated carriage house in rear w/ dirt floor

Queen Anne architecture will incorporate bay windows to avoid smooth surfaces, one of the unique features in this house is the single cutaway bay window on the right corner with bracket detailing.

Moving around to the rear, this is lovely isn’t it. I’m looking forward to improving that upstairs porch. If you’re thinking it looks structurally unsound…you’d be correct.

the old carriage house,

up close,

We’ll begin in the first floor apartment because the upstairs is currently occupied,

Current living room,



Kitchen– the previous owner started some renovation when the apartment was vacant,

they terminated the chimney in the kitchen and framed in what looks to be a pantry,


Hall, nice little stained glass window to let some light in


The bathroom had already been gutted and re-framed. There’s no window in here and they actually left a cavity on the right side which creates an opportunity to expand and widen the room.

Bedroom 1,


Bedroom 2,


Are you excited for demolition to begin on Monday?