Sunday, September 19, 2010

Renovation Nation, Part The First

In my 2008 holiday newsletter to family and friends, I noted cheerily, “As usual, there was much work done in my condo, and at last, all but one (or two…or three) major projects are behind me.” 
How prophetic! 2010, only two years later, has really been THE year of renovations. After years of chronic water penetration along the east-facing wall of my condo – the one that takes the brunt of whatever the winds of Lake Michigan dish out – and when the first storm after the condo association’s most recent serious efforts at exterior maintenance (eyeball-to-mortar inspection, tuck-pointing, and calking, from a scaffold hung from the roof 15 stories up) confirmed that the source had not by any means been fixed, a major campaign to deal with it once and for all was launched. 
The methodology met with complete success. For the first time in forever – there was lots of old cracked and peeling paint from the day I moved in in 1991 - the entire east and south-facing wall in the living-dining area is pristine, intact, no craquelure, no bulging bubbles of paint, just smooth, pretty walls, even after a couple of the kinds of summer storms the Midwest is famous for.  

But it was quite worth the effort (the contractors’, and mine, for putting up with the mess). It involved removing all of the wallboard, all of the fearsome furring (or is that furry?) strips, and, still failing to find obvious sources of the leaks, covering the entire interior of the cinderblock walls with concrete sealant (wonderful stuff), replacing the furring strips, using greenboard drywall (what you use behind a shower stall), and then beautifully taping, sanding, and painting the walls. 

A side benefit of all this is that the really Terrible Old Radiator Covers had to come down, presenting the opportunity for a long-considered project to replace them, too. While the condominium association paid for the water treatment and restoration of the decor, which would have included remounting the Terrible Old Radiator Covers, I decided now was the time to bust out the dough and just do it. So I did, not only in the living-dining rooms, but in the bedrooms as well. They look great, they’re neatly, neutrally finished aluminum, no dirt-of-the-ages in these guys, and best of all, will never have to be painted, woo-hoo!
The sharp-eyed (and probably even the severely myopic) will note, however, that the floor beneath the nice new radiator covers is, uhm, in appalling condition. Stay tuned for Renovation Nation Part The Second, which is just beginning!


  1. Lvoe the renovation job, and the cat!


  2. Wow that looks a major undertaking. What is 'craquelure'? Not a word I have heard before.

  3. Thanks for your comments and encouragement, Jane and merinz!
    Craquelure is what happens to the surface (typically it's in the varnish) of fine old paintings, and lends that desirable aura of antique-ness, except that's not really what I wanted on my living room walls, HA!

  4. The smooth walls and new radiator covers look great. What a lot of work! It's nice of Teddy to pose in the pictures so we get a good idea of the perspective.