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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Former glory

We thought we had beige/brown terrazzo. Of course, we knew it needed to be cleaned, because it has obvious grimey build-up around the walls that mopping won't remove, but we were shocked when we found out that it was originally white...and could be again.

The representative of a local stone restoration company came out to do an estimate, and he gave me a demonstration of what to expect from their services. He asked me to show him the spot in the house where the floor is in the worst condition, so I pointed him in the direction of a group of 9 tiles near the back door that I thought were damaged and covered with 66 years' worth of wax (and who knows what else). He sprayed some Mar-Tek Pro-Strip on one tile, scrubbed it with a brush, and toweled the area dry. Here's what resulted.

Stripped terrazzo tile

He was almost as surprised at the dramatic difference as I was. This tile was put down 66 years ago. Who knows how long it's been since this floor was stripped and honed? Maybe never.

His estimate: $2422. Naturally, we'll be getting other bids, but this is definitely on our Must Do list.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Charles Eames once said, "The details are not the details. They make the design." Accordingly, we have changed quite a few things about the front of our house.

First, a cage of burglar bars originally covered a large portion of the front porch. Not only was it unsightly, it screamed paranoia and had to go. In fact, the inspection report listed it as a hazard, so we stipulated that it be removed before we took possession of the house.

Burglar bars...gone before we got here

Also, our mailbox originally was positioned in the flowerbed beside the driveway and looked like this:

Old mailbox

Besides needing a paint job, it was inconveniently located, so we offered it free on Craigslist. Someone came out almost immediately and removed it, which involved a good bit of digging and ultimately pulling out of the ground with a large pickup truck. (Giving things away on Craigslist is the fastest, cheapest method of getting things cleaned out or torn down. People will take absolutely anything if it's free, no matter how much work they have to do to get it.)

The new mailbox is on the front porch, which is more attractive and makes much more sense.

New mailbox
Kingso Locking Stainless Steel Letterbox -

The old porch lights were brass carriage house style, which were completely wrong for the house. Here they are in ignominy, sitting in the free CL pile.

Old porch lights

We happily replaced them with something far more in keeping with a 1950s ranch style house. They look great with our door hardware and coordinate nicely with the mailbox.

New porch lights
George Kovacs Outdoor Sconce -

The previous hardwired doorbell had been pulled out of the wall and left on the front windowsill months or perhaps even years before. We replaced it with a Ring Video Doorbell. It works with your smartphone, allowing you see and talk to anyone at your door, even if you're not at home. It also has a motion detector, which alerts you of any movement on your front porch or in your yard.

New doorbell
Ring video doorbell -

Finally, we bought a 5-foot doormat to put in front of the double doors. Of all the purchases we made, it is probably my least favorite. I thought it was a plain rubber mat, but it turned out to be the felted type and has to be hosed off more often than a rubber mat would. That aside, I like the pattern, so I'll still chalk it up as a win.

New doormat
Aqua-Shield Elipse Doormat -

All in all, we're making good progress. Next on the list...the terrazzo floors.