Here's an official welcome to any new readers who've made it over this way from Brooklyn Limestone! And for those that don't know, Wendy and I were invited to guest blog at Brooklyn Limestone, one of our favorite blogs, for a Conquered Closet series. To say we're giddy with excitement is an understatement! 


We've been working hard behind the scenes here at Old Town Home to tackle this project, and our big conquered closet clutter reveal will be featured on February 9. We encourage you to pop on over to Brooklyn Limestone today as Mrs. Limestone is offering a sneak peek of all projects. Can anyone guess which one is ours?

In the more immediate future, we have a situation this weekend that needs some attention. Have you ever reached a point in a project where you either don't know what to do next or just can't get yourself motivated? Hopefully you said "yes" and I'm not alone (I'll just assume you did). In that case, have you ever reached a point in several projects that are going on at the same time where you just don't know what to do next, so you just sit around watching TV and wonder why you aren't actually working on something? Yeah, that's happening to me.

So I would like your help this weekend. I need you to tell me what to do. I know, I could just let Wendy tell me what to do, but I do that every other day of the week, so this weekend it's your chance. Don't worry, I'm sure she won't mind. 

Here's a quick little poll so you can offer your two cents. Just select from one of three of our ongoing projects and the one that gets the most votes by tomorrow morning when I start working is the one that I'll work on for the rest of the weekend.

Poll Results
What Do You Think I Should Work On This Weekend?
Clean Basement
Storm Windows
Misc Paint Stripping
Total Votes: 52

If you need some more information on any of these options to help you make a better decision, here's where I currently stand.

Basement Cleaning

If you're a regular around here, you know I have a bit of a hoarding issue when it comes to wood and tools. But if you're new to the site, you might want to check out Wendy's public shaming of me and my basement mess. Yep, it's that bad.

I've been hard at work on operation basement cleanup, but there's still quite a bit left to do. Let's put it this way, I'm no longer falling over stuff in the basement, now I'm just gently tripping on it. Anyhow, if you're interested in me working on our cleanup resolutions that we've been hammering away on, vote for "Clean Basement" in the poll.

Storm Window Construction

This goes back to December and my declaration to complete the DIY construction of wood storm windows on five of our original windows. 

I've been working on this project, but not as much as I should have been. It doesn't look like I'll meet the January 31 deadline I set for myself, which is bumming me out a little bit. On the other hand, we've been making strides in other areas, so I'm not feeling too guilty. So if you'd like to see me work on our storm windows this weekend, vote for "Storm Windows" in the poll.

Miscellaneous Paint Stripping

This is a little out of left field, but we have a bunch of window casings and sash stops that have needed the paint stripped off of them for quite a long time. 

Once these pieces of wood are paint free I can begin the process of repainting and reinstalling them where they need to go, the first steps in restoring our old windows to their previous glory. This isn't a critical item, or a particularly exciting item, but it's an item that still needs to get accomplished. If you want me to spend the weekend with my paint stripper, dental tools, and a respirator, vote for "Misc Paint Stripping."

Friends and readers of Old Town Home, the decision is yours. I leave the productivity fate of the weekend in your hands. Do me proud, and if you feel particularly passionate about any one project, leave a comment and let me know your justification for why you think I should do the thing you vote for. A sincerely compelling argument could help be a good tie breaker.

The Results Are In

Well, it looks like more than half of you think I should clean the basement this weekend, and I must oblige. Thanks for weighing in, I hope I can do you all proud and get to a point where we can say the basement is clean. Well, at least "clean" enough to really get some storm window work done next week. :-)

Comments 24


Matthew Ronk
1/27/2012 at 10:20 AM
I have a couple projects here if Wendy & Alex would like to travel to South Texas this weekend!! :)
Will work for prickly pear margaritas!
1/27/2012 at 1:03 PM
You promised your lady new storm windows before the 31st; I think that's the highest priority. (As for the other options, stripping paint sucks and the basement looks fine to me! ;-) )

We have a closet re-do planned this weekend, ourselves. Rip out what little is in there (a rod and a shelf), paint, and install the nice new Elfa system stuff we bought last week on their annual sale. Definitely gonna do a before/after photo of that!
Hahaha. Thanks for reminding him Thad!

Good luck with your closet project. The Elfa system is so nice!
1/27/2012 at 1:47 PM
i vote storm windows b/c i don't want you to miss than jan 31st goal by too much :)
Thanks Gretchen! I'm thinking that even with work this weekend, that deadline is shot. I guess I'm used to it. ;-)
1/27/2012 at 2:01 PM
I would have voted for staying on the couch and watching TV, because sometimes that is exactly what you need to do!

Also, would you imagine that you would have two people named Thad reading and commenting on your blog?

We might have to squeeze in a little TV time as well. It's been a hectic week!

Strangely enough, we also had a next door neighbor named Thad! :-)
1/27/2012 at 6:18 PM
Either the Thads are taking over, or... maybe it's more like Highlander: in the end, there can be only ONE!

1/27/2012 at 3:02 PM
Seems like cleaning up the basement might take a couple of days so a weekend is the perfect time to knock it out. It would also give you a place to work on the storm windows!!!
This is quite an excellent point. A clean basement would make the whole project much easier.
1/27/2012 at 4:42 PM
Hey Alex, I voted for "Clean the Basement" for a few different reasons. The first reason is that it will make your wonderful wife very happy, and the second is that (at least for me) a clean basement with lots of nice open workspace will get you in a better mood to do woodworking and other projects. I know that when I go into my very messy garage, I don't really feel that much like working since there's so much junk all over the place and in the way.
I'm gonna have to say you are correct on all points.
1/27/2012 at 5:54 PM
I voted for cleaning the basement. Seems like the other two jobs might be better suited for when it's warmer and you can work outside. Also, if you clean the basement, you will know precisely what you have down there. Could be a money saver too...won't buy something you already have.
1/28/2012 at 2:11 PM
I voted for clean the basement, but I forgot about the Jan 31st deadline for the storm windows!! Since progress on either one will likely please Wendy, and by other indications the deadline will be shot anyway... cleaning the basement WILL be conducive to making other items easier to check off....
1/28/2012 at 2:22 PM
Oh! I'm also gonna guess that on the cluttered closets article main photo, yours is the bottom middle image. I'm not sure why, but I'll put it down to the others don't seem your style. Unless Wendy is a shoe hoarder, in which case I say bottom right :)
Since you're guessing, I'll give you a hint. Neither of the photos you mentioned are ours...though Wendy does have a small shoe obsession. We'll have to fill you in on that one later, but our Brooklyn Limestone post doesn't involve shoes, but that's all I'm sayin'.
1/28/2012 at 5:28 PM
I'm too late to vote? Oh well. I would vote to do the storm windows. That project will pay you (or save you) great dividends. It is surprising the heat loss through windows, so that extra air space between the existing windows and the new storm windows will make noticeable difference. Oh? You promised Wendy you would have them done by Jan 31st. That's Tuesday!
Thanks for weighing in Tee. And at last count, Tuesday is only two days away! Looks like someone won't be making is self proclaimed deadline! ;-)
1/29/2012 at 9:32 AM
Cleaning the basement, definitely! I am cleaning mine tomorrow, too! :D
Good call Victoria! There's currently the sound of progress coming from our subterranean lair. :-)
1/29/2012 at 1:57 PM
Will there be before and after photos of the basement project? If so, that might inspire me to get started.
1/29/2012 at 3:21 PM
Here's how to strip all that long thin uninstalled millwork you have. You don't need a respirator, heat gun, dental tools. Most importantly it takes little actual labor time.

The key to the system: Polytubing from Uline ( It's a packing material for rolls of drawings and comes in several thicknesses, but works great for stripping molding. Purchase it in a width that accommodates the width of your stock without being much bigger. Buy a roll long enough for your linear feet of molding. It comes in rolls from 750' to 1500'; more than plenty. Hint: you get to reuse it several times so no need to buy too much.

The product: the best paint stripper I've found for this is Soy Gel from Franmar ( It's best here because it's non-toxic, reusable and pourable and most importantly: actually strips paint.

Process: Choose a piece without nails or splintering edges; measure its length. Measure out a length of polytubing about a foot longer than the stock. Tie off one end. Insert stock into tube making sure you have enough slack at the open end to tie it off. At the open end, pour in soy gel to fill. A funnel helps (duh). Tie off and put aside to rest overnight to 48 hours. Make sure all surfaces of the stock are in contact with stripper.

Process the Second: After the stripper has dwelled long enough to be effective, remove stock from polytube. Open one end. Squeeze your holding hand firmly around both the polytube and stock while you pull out the stock with your other hand. Hold with enough pressure to keep the stripper inside the polytube (this is where it's important you did not select a piece with splintering edges; you need to hold tight and you're going to get a nasty beefy splinter if you were not careful about the stock you selected). Set aside the polytube full of stripper for reuse. On the removed stock, remove any leftover stripper or paint. Most paint will wipe off the stock with a rag. You can also use a Stortz pull paint scraper for stubborn spots. Use a coarse stripping pad to remove any lingering wet stuff. This should get you down to bare wood. If not, repeat, but I've never had to do a piece more than twice. Rinse with mineral spirits. Set aside and allow to dry completely; one week is good.

Process the third: Reuse used soy gel and polytube. Go ahead, it still has alot of bite and should still have good flow characteristics. Leave it in the tube. Insert new stock into the polytube, but slowly. Don't puncture sleeve or force. Check for coverage. Top off, tie off and let dwell overnight or up to 48 hours. After about 3 or 4 uses, the soy gel will not work and be filled with long strips of paint debris. Dispose.

If done right, there will be little mess and little hands-on time. You should be left with quality, old-growth millwork ready for reinstallation and painting; probably 20-30 rings per inch vs. the 4-8 rings per inch you’d be lucky to buy today. Smart man.
That's AWESOME! I will give it a go and let you know the end result. This will save so much pain in the butt effort and probably leave me with a better end result. Thank you!
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