Monday, March 28, 2011


We have enjoyed collecting "treasures" that we have found in and around the 315 N. Thomas house. Of course we consider the old hardware from the former bathrooms something to relish, but we also love our growing stash of miscellaneous finds: two china plates that were buried under the old porch, a tiny glass Vaseline jar that the landscaping crew found in the backyard, chunks of coal found in the dirt floor in the basement under the original coal shoot , and a 1911 silver dime found in a wall.

week 4.

Dave Grimm, Master Carpenter:

-Framed up Master Bathroom

-Basement plumbing rough in

-Back porch measured before tear-out for re-building

Mike Blanc, House Mouse:

-Footings dug in basement

-Footings poured in basement

-Old porch and porch roof torn off

Monday, March 21, 2011

house mouse.

Mike calls himself the "house mouse" because he sneaks in after Dave leaves and tackles the projects that Dave leaves for him. Our house renovation has been 'good medicine' for Mike in the middle of his cancer journey. This old house is a blessing on many levels for us!
Mike's weekend projects included:
-Refitted the old basement stairs into the cellar entrance (how did he think of that?!)
Daughter Emily got to see the new house for the first time.
-Removed the old porch walls and ceiling (we are re-building it)
-Removal of old kitchen windows (we have a plan for the old, beautiful one!
-Digging of footings in the basement

Want to know more about Mike's cancer journey? Check out the link to

lovey dovey photos.

Daughter Abby visited us over the weekend and took a stroll through the new house with her camera. We are charmed by the details she captured.

If you would like to see more, visit her blog at and look for the big house. post.

week 3.

Carpenter Dave was busy last week.

-Got floor in Master Bath

-Reframed the basement stairway

-Interviewed a new mason

-Framed up the Downstairs Bathroom (and added arch above the tub)

-Framed up the storage area above the basement stairway

-Laid out the footings in the basement

-Finalized order for kitchen, mudroom & bathroom windows

(The living room looks like a temporary lumber yard.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

the claw foot tub.

The only parts of the upstairs bathroom (or what we call The Master Bath) that were original to the house are the claw foot tub and marble towel holders. We carefully set them aside when we demo-ed the space. This room will probably see the greatest transformation because we took out a wall and extended the space to the roof line. This will enable us to keep the windows (which were covered up!) and have space for both a shower and a tub. Note: Our architect is a genius.

The tub is in excellent condition (for being about 100 years old) but I have my sights set on a whirlpool tub, which is non-negotiable for me. However, we are patting ourselves on the back for coming up with a charming way to enjoy this old tub. We designed the Laundry Room in the basement so that our claw foot tub is the "laundry basket" at the end of the clothes chute coming from the Girls' Bathroom.

We will get to enjoy this charming tub everyday in a cleaning capacity... just not quite the same cleaning that it did for the first 100 years.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

week 2.

Carpenter Dave Grimm spent the bulk of his second week on the job reinforcing the master bathroom floor in preparation for the weight of the whirlpool tub, shower and tile work. You can see from the BEFORE photo (bottom) that huge chunks had been taken out of the floors joists weakening the floor. Mike is thoroughly impressed with the way that Dave reinforced the walls from basement to the second floor.

Dave also measured and ordered new Pella windows for the kitchen, both bathrooms and mudroom porch. After months of demo work, you can imagine how exciting this is for us.

week 1.

We decided to share our progress on a weekly basis now that builder, Dave Grimm, is on the job. We will still share stories along the way and get into details now and then, but we will share the basics of our progress each week.
During the first week Dave began crafting his master plan for the myriad of projects ahead, and he installed six new Pella windows in the basement.

mike's list.

Starting in March, our carpenter Dave Grimm has been on the job. He is a delight to work with and daily impresses us with his attention to detail. Another thing we love is that Dave leaves lists of things for Mike to accomplish. This really helps Dave continue doing what he does best and it saves us money. They are an amazing team. They appreciate each others' work, so I think they strive to impress each other - in a good way. Working at the Dream House is good medicine for Mike and he can't wait to see MIKE's LIST.

progress frozen.

In the months of January & February when asked "how the house was going" I would often say that out our progress was frozen - pun intended. We had all the radiators pulled for cleaning and re-designing of the heating system. We attempted to heat the house with an auxiliary heating system that Mike borrowed. After we got the first month's bill of over $300 with the toilet water still freezing, we unplugged the unit, bought a propane heater and decided to postpone any major work in the house until things warmed up. Mike was in the process of removing all the old pipes from the house anyway, so there was nothing to freeze. (Except anyone who tried working in the house.)

the yard re-do.

The yard at our Dream House required as much work and attention as the inside. Besides all the clean-up and demolition projects on the INSIDE of the house, Mike had his hands full with the backyard. Words alone cannot explain how overgrown and unkempt one backyard could be. It took weeks of days working in extreme manual labor mode to get the yard to the place where it was ready for Lanoha Nursery. There were wooden fences to remove, concrete slabs to dig out, chain link fences to remove, over-grown-weeds-the-size-of-trees to dig out and an alley to clear. We also dug out the old brick path and saved the bricks to be used in the new path from the driveway to the house. After Mike finished, Lanoha Nursery was ready to work their magic on the new brick patio.

Seeing is believing, so we hope you enjoy a slide show we created with BEFORE and AFTER photos. Use the link below. Enter your email and a password of your choice. Click on the YARD RE-DO photos (SELECT ALL) and hit the SLIDE SHOW button. Enjoy the fruit of our labors.
To see the shared pictures Karen Blanc shared with you, simply follow this link:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

let the demo begin.

We realized that Mike would be delighted and we would save lots of money if Mike did all the demolition work for us. We learned that contractors have to suit up in Tyvek and do a lot of fancy-pansy stuff if there is lead paint or asbestos in anything they are tearing out, but the homeowner can do it without the restrictions. Mike has been a one-man-demo-show. He takes pride in his work and cleans up meticulously after every project. I could barely keep up with the before-and-after photos. Four months and six roll-off dumpsters later, Mike had the house ready for the builder to start working his magic with our architect's plans.

Here is a SHORT LIST of Mike's Demolition Projects:

-Kitchen demolition (with exception of cabinets original to the house)

-Remove junk & appliances left in the house

-Demo both bathrooms (nothing worthy of saving except claw foot tub - more on that later)

-Remove all old wood from basement (down to the brick exterior walls and supports)

-Remove all asbestos from basement pipes (don't worry, he wore a respirator)

-Remove all old insulation

-Remove old wiring and phone lines

-Remove all old pipes

-Break out old sewer line

-Break out concrete in one of third of basement floor

-Clear debris from the fireplaces and chimneys

-Tear off roof & windows that were added to the side balcony (restoring original look)

-Demo closet at top of basement stairs (making storage space more useful)

-Demo wall between master bedroom and guest closets (to create one large closet)

If this does not sound like a tremendous amount of work, take a look at the process with photographs in a slide show. Use the link below, SELECT ALL the photos in the HOUSE DEMO album and click on SLIDESHOW.

To see the shared pictures Karen Blanc shared with you, simply follow this link:

Mike has been a busy boy and he gets absolutely excited whenever he gets to work on our house project. It is amazing... he never tires of it. Lucky for us.

pottery barn.

We are Pottery Barn enthusiasts. Now that we have our Dream House we realized that another dream would be to have Pottery Barn do a catalog shoot at our new home. As avid Pottery Barn catalog readers, we know that PB photographs their seasonal catalogs in different homes around the country and then "tell the story" of the home on their web site.

It doesn't hurt to ask and it doesn't hurt to try. I carefully photographed the charming features of our new house and created a 20 page mini-StoryBook album stating the many benefits of a catalog shoot not only in this house, but also in our small town in the Midwest.

If you would like to view our "please come and use our home for your catalog" digital album, just click on the link below. Sign in with your email and a password of your choice. Then select the album and hit PREVIEW.

To see the shared StoryBooks Karen Blanc shared with you, simply follow this link:

it's official.

We were in Asia at DisneyWorld on July 12th when First National Bank of Omaha called to let us know that they accepted our bid. We did a high-five in the middle of the street. We were elated. A cajillion things happened to make it all possible. On July 29, 2010 we signed the papers at the title company to make it official. We owned a home big enough to welcome our whole family!

love at first sight.

It was Sunday, June 20th and we were winding down from a fabulous WALLERFEST weekend, celebrating our Wallerstedt family heritage with 100 relatives from around the country. We were delivering loaves of Mike's warm bread and passed the grand house at 315 N. Thomas. "Do you want the go in? The back door is open."

The house was in foreclosure and had sat empty for several weeks. There was no electricity but it was dusk and the sun came into the house in an enchanting way. The love affair began. We walked through the rooms and marvelled at the beauty and the potential. It drew us in. When we went home that night, I pictured us making dinner in that house instead. That night in bed, I pictured us in the front bedroom with the balcony. It was eerie, but mostly cool.

Soon it was all we could think about. We made the calls to find out which bank technically owned it. We went to the courthouse to review the records and we researched how to do the right things when purchasing a house in foreclosure.

But the most important thing we had to do was stop and pray. Our desires to purchase this house were running out of control and we could feel how the anxiety of this whole progress could consume us. It was a simple prayer, but we committed the whole thing into God's Hands. We prayed that we would stop stressing out and asked God to take over. We honestly couldn't imagine how things could even work out for us to purchase and renovate it. Our prayer was that we wanted to always be able to see and know that this was God's plan & purpose, not our scramblings. We made what we believed was a good bid - for them and for us - and we went on with our lives.