About Us

Here we are – Curt & Francia  the first night in the reno house. Before long the three, six, 8 year (so far) renovation will commence. Art lovers (the Picasso work shirt should give it away) and art gallery / business owners. It’s my love of art that inspired me to renovate this house to be the showcase of some of our favorite pieces. I love a building challenge and this one will be just that.

Francia on the other hand is quite ambivalent  – but her lack of interest is only matched by her patience. Thanks, honey.

Come join us.

46 thoughts on “About Us

  1. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. We have no DIY skills, so worked alongside a great team of professional contractors. Still, it was quite the experience. Can only imagine all the stories you could tell… will be back to read some more!

    • Thanks for stopping by. Any renovation is quite the experience, whether you use the tools or direct the team- it’s sometimes harder to make sure it’s done the way you want than to do it yourself, so I tip my hardhat to you. Things look great!

  2. Curt – thanks for visiting our Art Farm blog. I will check out your site for tips, insights, and tales of the misadventures. nothing better than working on my own home! i am sure you share that thought. david mahany

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog. While mine isn’t one dedicated to home remodeling like yours, I have done a few projects around the house. My father and I have gutted and re-trimmed the dining room as well as filled a 9ft high by 20ft long niche with built-in bookcases and cabinets. It can be stressful at times but if also can be fun.

    • You’re so right about the good and bad of renovation – but it is a great feeling when you’re done. Looking forward to seeing that kitchen tile job.

  4. Thanks for visiting my blog. I love how you write so technically about your renovation procedures. If Barnabas were in charge of the blog and/or had the time to write it would look a little bit like yours. I hope you are enjoying the journey!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by – and the well wishes! Your restoration sounds wonderful. I just love stone on houses – in fact I fell off a ladder prepping the rain screen that goes behind the limestone I’m adding to the house. Thanks for following along.

    • No, thank you! It’s a fun, fun, fun world when you’re a renovator. I hope you don’t learn how to fall off a ladder from me. Three more weeks and I’m out of this wheelchair! All the best and safe remodeling.

  5. My wife, Pat, and I purchased a 1926 Sears Kit Home three years ago. We retired into it in June 2012. Since then we have remodeled the living room, formal dining room and two bathrooms (took 3 1/2 tons of concrete out of the upstairs bathroom). It has been a real task. But…a fun task. Appreciate your blogs and work very much, as well as your gallery.

    • Yes – reading your blog I can tell you would be one of those that finds joy and meaning in labor. I think most people look at renovations as a necessary evil. My wife thinks I’m crazy to DIY when I could pay someone to do it for me. She doesn’t get it. I would love to see posts concerning your renovations – but I have enjoyed your thoughts on pottery. I am a big fan of pottery and have it surrounding me daily. I have a great deal of art – as I should being an art dealer. But my favorite joys come from holding a piece of pottery and thinking of the artist who created it – few works of art are as intimate.

      • I will set up a blog page to share some of the things we have done to fix up the old house. I fell in love with pottery the first time I touched clay. It’s literally a “feeling” thing. Over the course of the years pottery has kept me grounded, and enabled me to get through some tough times. Pardon the seeming “puns” but how else can you speak of pottery. I look forward to getting to know you better over the course of time.

      • Thanks George – I would love to see what you have done to the old girl. I am enjoying your posts – I suppose that’s why I became an art dealer – so that I could surround myself with objects created by hand. Thanks for stopping in.

  6. Thanks for cruising by our blog on the renovation in our office. I love your blog title with “mis” in brackets! Too funny. I think it is only those who see the fun side of doing these jobs who actually enjoy doing them! Our little group is well practiced as we moved from an old house into a new building, but we still manage to “reno” it! Best of luck with your blog!

    • Thank you – It you were very thoughtful in your continued support of your cause. It’s people like you who make the world a little bit better.

  7. Thanks for the like! In case you’re interested, balkengelage.wordpress.com has a sister, beamsandhayforks.wordpress.com, which is basically the same blog, but in English.

    I really like your blog and will be popping by from time to time to see how you’re getting along.

    • Thanks so much! I had to just look at the pictures. I looked up beamsandhayforks.wordpress.com and stated following you there. Love renovations – the older the better. I’ll be watching.

  8. Thanks for checking out my blog and liking some of my pictures. I also love art in all its forms and so some remodeling of my properties too. Looks like we have a lot in common 🙂 I think its neat you’re posting about all your remodeling 🙂

    • Thanks so much Jill – I really enjoy your photography – simply breathtaking. My father was a photographer all of his life – and was a photographer during WWII. The logo of our gallery has a silhouette of my father holding his camera – so I know a good photograph when I see it 🙂 Stay safe out there.

  9. Bam. You’ve been given a Leibster award from me! I’m passing this torch and responsibility over to you Curt. You’re mentioned on my blog but I still don’t know how to do fancy things like link it.

    • Hi Elly! Thanks so much for the nomination – I’m flattered 🙂 Unfortunately I don’t qualify for this because of too many followers – but it’s the thought that counts. I’ll be watching old Abe’s progress.

  10. Hi Curt! I finally got around to visiting your blog! In scanning through, I see a lot of information that will be quite valuable in the renovation of the Masser House. We’re mainly trying to get the house ready for winter (hopefully no water breaks this year or water leaking in from melting snow!) and tidying up just a wee bit. Thanks so much for your visits! We really enjoy your comments–Billl and Donna emailed me tonight telling me how they both laughed out loud over the beard comment. 🙂 Are you still recuperating from your ladder accident? We hope you’re on the mend and back to the renovating soon. ~Heidi aka SecondCupOfCoffee 🙂

    • Hi Heidi – thanks so much for the kind words. I have had more time lately to catch up on my blog reading since I’m still on the mend. I do enjoy a good renovation adventure – so I have been happily following along with the Masser House saga. Looks like a wonderful project by some delightful people – that’s better than watching cable in my book. I wish you all the best – I’ll be watching.

  11. Thanks so much for connecting. I just went to your home page and saw the pic of your bleeding leg….I laughed because I’ve had so many similar abrasions from DIY land…great to meet you 🙂 Keep on DIY’ing…it’s awesome…can’t wait to read your posts.

    • Thanks so much Danielle – that’s one cute blog you have there! I do have one tip for you though – when your new Bosch drill gives up the ghost- get an impact drill and your wrists will thank you. Also use star drive screws and they won’t fall off the bit as often. Keep the bandages close – thanks for stopping in.
      -curt

  12. Renovation issues, restoration headaches and personal injuries.
    All things I can fully relate to.
    With a sprinkling of art! great stuff-
    Do you want to join the “will we ever finish this b****y project ?” club that I am thinking of starting?

    Gill

    • Hi Gill – thanks for stopping in. I’ll join any club that has members that can feel the pain of renovations. Physical, mental and/or financial disasters are just around the corner with these old homes. So count me in!

  13. Hi Curt,

    Thanks for the follow (pinfoldlane.wordpress.com).

    You’re the first follower who I feel is actually interested (apart from family and friend’s of course!).

    I like the time and detail you’ve put into your work. I guess that’s the beauty of working on something you love and take pride in.

    I see you’re a yellow tool fan! I’ve just bought my first yellow one. I’m a firm Hitachi fan but couldn’t get a reasonably priced orbital sander from them. However the build quality’s great on the DeWalt and it’s done a wonderful job on the join in the new worktops I’ve just fitted with my dad (post to come in the next couple of weeks I’m sure!).

    Keep up the great work, it’s looking wonderful. Best wishes from the UK,
    Pete

    • Thanks Pete! Yep, I pretty much love working on renovations. I try to do as much by myself as possible. I just started doing my own copper plumbing because I didn’t like the work of the pros in my area. Dewalt tools are pretty good, but I have about every brand. My framing nailers are Hitachi. I’ve had super good luck with Makita impact drivers. Your place is looking great and I’ll be watching.

    • You have a very nice blog and I enjoyed reading about the Lateral Kitchen Design. Since I’m still in the design phase of my gutted (read gone) kitchen I love to see innovative ideas.

  14. Hi there. I just stumbled on your page randomly and am so glad I did. I bought my first house this year and have some major DIYs I want to attempt. The house is in the upper midwest and was built in 1940.

    My current project is ripping off the old parge coats on the concrete block foundation, adding repair mortar to the joints, adding metal lath and resurfacing with bonding cement. Unfortunately the old parge coats are about 2” thick and they used metal lath in the last coat so the original coat is crumbling behind it. I love the work you did on your foundation and although it’s different you seem to have the know how to repair anything!

    I had googled parge coat around windows and found an image that led me to your page. I’m about to rip off the cracking parge coat around the windows (they are recessed a bit and not flush with the wall). I don’t know what I’m going to discover but am assuming I’ll need some sort of membrane around the windows if there is any wood work. Hoping there’s not and I can just add the bonding cement around it, but what would you recommend in case there is?

    I should mention I’m not excavating down to the slab, just parging above grade up to the existing siding. I’m going to have to take the bottom row off to access the top few inches of parge coat. If you can recommend any other membrane or flashing please share your knowledge 😊.

    Also if you have tips on removing existing metal lath embedded in the old parge coat or prepping exposed rusted rebar that would be much appreciated too. I put a rust neutralizer over it but think it should be sealed before adding new mortar.

    Anyways my apologies as this post is all over the place. I just discovered your page this morning and really look forward to reading through your blog. Thanks for thoroughly sharing your knowledge!

    • Hi Sara – well, I’ll give you credit, you’ve got a lot going on there. As to removal of the old parging, it’s just a lot of labor, I’m afraid. A good tool is an electric hammer drill with a wide chisel bit. I have a dewalt unit that works well and it not too big to handle at that awkward angle. An electric jackhammer would be useful, but heavy, unless you made some sort of carriage that could keep it in place while you move it along the wall. As to the window, once you get the buck exposed you can determine it it’s metal framing or wood. If it’s recessed and wood, I would put a rubberized or asphalt coating on the exposed wood and then extend the jambs out using a composite PVC material. You’ll see that is all I used on my exterior trims. On the rebar, a rust preventative coating will help. Also on the reapplication of the metal lath – is that necessary? I used natural limestone with mortar directly to the old brick veneer with no issues. There may be newer acrylic based parging systems that would eliminate the need for the lath support.

      • Thanks for the quick response Curt! Turns out the windows have wood bucks with about 1-2” of broken concrete around them. I’ll definitely be picking up the products you mentioned. I didn’t think about extending the jambs, that’s a great idea.

        Do you recall what mixture/ratio you used when you did your brick? I’m repairing holes and mortar with a repair mortar product first, then screwing in galv lath with tapcons, and then adding surface bonding cement that has reinforced fibers in it. It dries a dark gray and would like the “top coat” to be just a generic parge coat but am not sure what products to use/mix.

        I never want to do this project again so the metal lath is more peace of mind – I love DIYs but this just feels like torture 😅. The wall is in rough shape on the inside too with deteriorated mortar, a bowing wall, and effervescence in spots. This project started because I was wire brushing a crack to fill and the parge coat just crumbled off. Thankful it happened because there were huge holes in blocks and mortar. At the time I didn’t have a rotary hammer and used a chisel to break off the broken parge coat. There was a 4” strip of the old parge coat at the top I couldn’t get off so I used metal lath to try and even out the new with old. Now that I have the hammer it’s all coming off. Once I got to the corner, I saw they used lath on the adjacent wall but it’s mostly rusted out – looks like they didn’t use the right fasteners as they are rusted along with the rebar.

        Anyways last question! When I pulled the bottom row of siding, I looked underneath and noticed the “butt” ends of lumber under the tyvek. Not sure if it’s old siding or just the material they used to fasten the vinyl siding, but I’d like to seal cracks and gaps from bugs and mice. I tried some expanding foam but trying to go upside down created a huge mess. What would you do here?

        Thanks again for your help,
        Sara

      • Hi Sara – We mixed the mortar on site, was an S mortar if I remember correctly. Because if the small area and brick texture, no lath was required. I’m still not certain you need to go to the trouble of the lath, as it’s main function is to add a mechanical element to heavy shear walls, like my limestone. I fairly confident that the parging will be fine without the mechanical element of lath. And it will rust over time, just like rebar.
        I understand ‘project creep’ – one thing leads to another, that’s for sure.
        The but ends are the floor joists I assume. Many homes, mine included didn’t have rim band joists, and that was the issue for me in adding the egress window. I think I would get some aluminum coil stock and make a continuous flashing in this area. I could be sealed with some elastomeric caulk to seal. If you wanted to add some spray foam in this area, drill some small holes large enough to insert the spray foam tube and apply. It will keep the spray foam mess to a minimum. Been there done that. If I can help, but let me know.

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