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Story #24

The 24th story about our renovation appears in today’s Times-Picayune.

Saturday, September 15, 2007
By Stephanie Bruno
Contributing writer

NOTE: Bart Everson and Christy Paxson waited a long time for their contractor, Mike Kaplan, to return to their Mid-City home to resume work. Now that he has, the project is on a roll.

“Mike’s back.”

So read the cell-phone text message that Bart Everson sent out Monday, trumpeting the return of contractor Mike Kaplan to Everson’s North Salcedo Street home.

On Tuesday, the crew returned again, and Everson sent a second text message. He and his wife, Christy Paxson, couldn’t have been happier.

“I was so excited that I sent text messages both days letting people know he was there. Lately, I have been texting him daily to find out when he planned to come, and he texted me back on Monday morning saying he’d be at the house at 8:30,” Everson said.

The crew’s arrival prompted Everson to make a special trip home at lunch time to show them a problem with the whole-house fan.

“Mike’s lead carpenter had done a beautiful job installing it earlier in the summer, but there was just one problem: It blew hot air into the house rather than drew hot air out,” Everson said. “So the guys and I discussed what to do. One of them had what I thought sounded like a brilliant idea. He suggested removing the blade assembly and flipping it over. I was a little mad at myself that I hadn’t thought of that. But then we tried it, and it still blew air the wrong way. So the guys took out the whole fan and reinstalled it.”

The crew didn’t stop there. “They took care of all sorts of electrical odds and ends that had been languishing for six months or more,” Everson said. “For example, the electric heater in the upstairs bath now works, not that we’ll be using it soon. We went all last winter without it, so having it work will be a welcome change this winter.”

The crew also installed a pendant light that Everson had selected for the stairwell leading to the basement.

“It looks really cool, but I do have a question for Mike,” he said. “There are two switches on the wall at the head of the stairs, and one of them turns the light on and off. I’ve tried and tried but I can’t figure out what the other one does. I have to remind myself to ask.”

Elsewhere, switches and outlets were connected. “We are now fully wired,” Everson said and let out a heavy sigh. “The crew also patched the concrete chain wall around the perimeter of the exterior and filled in a flue hole in the chimney downstairs. They patched some places in the tile floor where walls had been previously, and put a sealer of some kind on the exposed bricks on the back of the fireplace. Mike’s guys did a great job, and the house looks great.”

Now Everson has begun mentally ticking off the next steps in the renovation, with an eye toward completing it by the end of the year.

“First and foremost is getting the tile installed in the downstairs bath,” he said. “The order was supposed to come in on Tuesday, but I didn’t get a call telling me that it had. When I know it is in, I have to contact the tile setter and let him know and see when he can get started.”

Everson admitted he hasn’t been in contact with the tile setter for a couple of weeks. “He was all ready to start when he got back from vacation, but we weren’t ready for him.”

After the tile is installed, the plumber will be needed, and Everson plans to rely on Kaplan to get him there.

“The plumber will install all of the bath fixtures and a sink in the area of downstairs we used to call ‘the craft room,’ ” Everson said. “I am also hoping he can plumb a gas line to the downstairs fireplace, so we can install a heater.”

Eventually, a washer and dryer will also be installed. “Front loaders, of course,” Everson said. But first there are a lot of painting decisions to make.

Everson knows what he wants on the walls: ” ‘ABW — Anything But White,’ that’s my slogan,” he said. “Green, blue, orange — those are the colors I have in mind. I never go with white. It’s an anathema to me.”

Decisions about the trim and millwork are a little trickier.

“We stained the doors downstairs a deep red color, so now we have to decide on the color for the trim,” he said “Upstairs, all the woodwork — the doors, trim, baseboards — are all stained a dark brown color, not red. So do we continue the scheme of painted walls and stained millwork in the downstairs, or do we do something different? And what about the stairwell? It connects upstairs and downstairs. But do we make it match the upstairs, match the downstairs, or neither?”

After so many months of minimal or no progress, just two days of having Kaplan’s crew on site has sparked Everson’s enthusiasm for seeing the project through to completion.

And having the whole-house fan functioning and outside temperatures dropping, if only a little, means no more excuses.

“Mark my words,” he proclaimed. “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get some work done.”

Then he thought a little more and came up with a strategy.

“Actually, Mike’s crew has already done one chore I had on my list, and that was scraping globs of Sheetrock mud off the tile floor. So I could tell Christy I was going down to the basement to scrape up the globs of mud, while she lounges upstairs. I might even be able to get her to lend me some moral support by making me a sandwich or something. I could open a beer, watch a football game, then take credit for what Mike’s guys have already done, and Christy would be none the wiser.”

Unless, of course, she reads this article.

. . . . . . .

Stephanie Bruno can be reached at

Footnote: Since the interview, I’ve learned that the second switch in the stairwell doesn’t actually do anything. According to Mike, it’s a “dummy switch.” I’ve always wanted a dummy switch.

Published inLife with XyNews & MediaOur House

One Comment

  1. matter matter

    2 switches: sounds like someone messed up and installed a double gang box where there should have been a single. Either wire something else to it or get rid of it!

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