I hate this part.  You know – the moral quandaries that are an inherent part of any renovation project.  This post will cover two recent dilemmas – one involving a built-in and one involving basement windows.

Dilemma 1:

The former living/dining area was originally equipped with a gas heater ensconced in a concrete block niche which was built as the foundation for a future upstairs fireplace (which was never built).   A few years after this part of the house was finished, the niche was converted to a built-in china cabinet.  It was the sole element of any real distinction in the place and stated “1960’s” rather plainly.  However, it stuck out from the wall face by about 4 inches and was ugly.

Do I stay true to my convictions or do I stay true to my preference for something not so cheesy in that space?  Hmmmmmm.

The cabinet was not of particularly good design, was not historic, and kind of dominated the space.  That’s it – it’s going.  Removal was a bit more difficult than expected as the unit had been built in advance and literally crammed into the niche.  Both cabinet and concrete block wall had been “shaved” down in order to get the cabinet to slide in.  It was stuck fast!  Now I know why the thing projected 4″ beyond the surrounding wall.  I’m salvaging all materials for re-use in a different form elsewhere.  First, the “before”…


The china cabinet.

The china cabinet.


I like the newly-gained square footage!

After its removal.  I like the empty concrete block niche much better.  The room had been painted twice (pink first, then off-white) prior to the installation of the china cabinet.


This is where the installer had to chop away at the concrete block to get the thing in. It kind of reminds me of the chisel marks in the granite of some portions of the Great Pyramid... I think I will leave this part unpainted.

This is where the installer had to chop away at the concrete block to get the thing in.  I think I will leave this part unpainted.


Dilemma 2:

The basement renovation is dragging along more slowly than I would like.  Winter will be here soon, and the decrepit aluminum windows (supplemented over the years by previous residents with an astonishing array of weather-proofing products) are going to have to go.  Yes; I know that they are original to the house, but this time I’m remodeling instead of preserving.  And I HATE aluminum windows in general and sliding aluminum windows in particular.  They’re going.  What will I replace them with?  Wood would naturally be my first choice, but it is kind of pricey and I may want to enlarge these windows at some point in the future.  Vinyl would be a lot more budget-friendly, but is ugly and my friends would never let me live it down if I were to purchase any vinyl product.  Hmmmmm.

Do I stay true to my convictions or do I stay true to my budget?  Hmmmmm.

When I recently posted about Vinyl Siding, I noted that my problem with vinyl mostly pertained to how siding products frequently compromise the architectural integrity of historic houses.  My new project has no architectural integrity and is not historic.  I’ll take the ribbing; I’m going for vinyl.  Moral dilemma solved!  (Why do I still feel guilty?)

With just a few mouse clicks I ordered windows online and the UPS guy brought them to my door.


Ready to start the installation!

Ready to start the installation!


Installation completed!

Installation completed!


So far I’m really happy with them; they fit perfectly and have a good, tight, seal.  I just wish I had gotten a color other than white as this will make painting them more difficult down the road.  But they will be better than what was there and will allow me to work on the space in relative comfort this winter.  I will be blogging from this space when it is completed so I am anxious to finish.  There is LOTS to do before that can happen!

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