links for 2008-07-02

Houseblog restart: Basement library and guest bedroom

For various reasons, we’ve taken a good long break from home improvement, so the houseblog has been pretty dormant. That changed last week when Lisa and I started to look seriously at what it would take to reclaim our basement as a guest bedroom.

Right now it’s quite a project. Ever since the flood in 2006, we haven’t really used the room as living space. We had a lot of cleanup to do, and ended up parking a lot of junk down there along with my (mercifully undamaged) books and music. The sump pump we installed in 2007 has helped us recover our confidence in the room, though, and we have A Plan For A Guest Room. (I’m capitalizing it so it feels more official.)

The room is not too small, about ten feet wide by fourteen or fifteen feet long, but of that fourteen or fifteen feet only about eleven feet is usable. The fireplace in the basement (which smokes too much to be usable) is made of fieldstone from behind the house, which is nice, but projects into the room about a foot, rendering the foot or so of wall space on either side unusable. And on the other side there’s a corridor running from the foot of the stairs to the door to the laundry room that has to be kept open for traffic. So there are already some floorplan challenges.

Add to that all the acres of leftover boxes, kitchen debris that we “decluttered” from the kitchen only to clutter the basement room, other clutter that accumulates through a few years of family life, extra furniture gifted by well meaning family members, surplus dog beds, and so on, and there’s a bit of a challenge in even seeing the walls.

So here’s the punchlist for the project:

Phase 1: Declutter

  1. Package up in storage crates the stuff we need to keep.
  2. Sell a few items of furniture and maybe some leftover electronics (surplus turntable, CD player, DVD player, TV)
  3. Give away whatever we can’t sell. (Thank you, Arlington List and Freecycle.)
  4. Throw away whatever we can’t give away.
  5. CDs–I have about a thousand CDs left after the Great CD Ripping Project concluded. They need a home.
  6. Before I get rid of the CDs, I need to buy a hard drive to back up my music drive, so that I don’t lose all the music I ripped.

Phase II: Redecorate

  1. Temporarily box up all my books and LPs. (No small feat.)
  2. Collapse the old open bookshelves that currently consume the walls in the main room.
  3. Paint!
  4. Lay new carpet tiles.
  5. Replace the door that covers the access for the main house water valve and the sump (the prior door was damaged in the flood).

Phase III: Reinstall

  1. Purchase and install new bookshelves, with doors, along one wall of the room. (Hello, Billy. Hello, Bestå.)
  2. Load in the books.
  3. Purchase a new sleeper sofa and set it up along the other wall.

The good news: Esta is visiting right now and has already helped with items 1, 3, and 4, and will be helping with #9. That still leaves a lot to be done when I get back from Tanglewood. But it should be fun.

Heading for Tanglewood

It’s always hard to get on the road for a bunch of days away from the family; this time I have the compensation of what’s on the other end of the road. It’s time for the Tanglewood season opener, where the BSO and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus will reprise this spring’s performance of Berlioz’s magnificent Les Troyens in its sprawling entirety. Should be a fun time, and there are already signs that the BSO front office is having fun with the production. Witness: the 10-foot-tall Trojan Horse (no doubt stuffed with a pair of ninjas) that will grace the opening night gala. Now all we need is someone to play the role of Cassandra and predict great doom should the caterers wheel it into the tent.