The great house switcheroo! (wife post)

We are a home that likes to entertain. We have a monthly tea. We host the holidays. We like having playdates. One of the things that I had really missed from our old place was hosting movie nights. We have a tight little area where we had our television. The two times we have hosted others to see a movie it was really cramped and uncomfortable. So I was looking at our different options and suggested something to Bryan and I honestly thought that he would never go for.. switching our media area and library from one side of the house to the other. I thought he would call me crazy and just shoot it down. We have eleven bookshelves full of books. My movie shelves came from a blockbuster that was closing out.. and we still have an overflow. But he thought about it for about a day and agreed that while the work involved would be huge, it was a great idea. So we went from:

The chaos!!

To the result of 4 days hard work

Bryan is more comfortable stretching tasks so that you are doing a reasonable amount at a time. I don’t have that sense, once a project is started, my crazy goes into high gear till it’s done. And once I start on one room it usually tears through the whole house till everything shines.

But now the house is really feeling like somewhere we can entertain with ease.

Now it’s really done,

Yes, Bryan is the man when it comes to building, drywall, electrical.. you know.. the hard stuff. I am the queen of decorating and the bits and bobs portions of finishing a room. Though I had wanted to keep the room fairly gender neutral, when my daughter was given choices it led to more and more pink everything.

What you are about to see is what happens when you let three year old girls have a voice in room decoration.

It’s the room of pink fluffy cupcake eating sparkly unicorns of doom,

and then some.

You may want sunglasses.

I blame Pinkie Pie.. She’s Thekla’s current hero.

Upcoming Projects

Here’s a list of smaller projects we’re contemplating for the near future. No particular order.

  • Finish work on hallway
  • Clean and organize basement
  • Build pergola roof
  • Seal up south shed windows and doors, run electricity to it, set it up as workshop
  • Wall in north shed rotted-out garage doors, replace rotted-out and falling-off person door
  • Run temporary lights and sockets to basement
  • Waterproof leaky parts of basement
  • Till and seed south raised area

Larger projects:

  • Replace the roof (we already have a contractor and estimate, just need to pull the trigger on it)
  • Build porch and re-route front entrance to existing closet (turning it back into a foyer/mudroom again)
  • Turn addition into master suite (this can be done in stages with the bathroom coming last)
  • Bump out back wall and enclose basement stairs into building envelope
  • Smart wire the house and create tech hub
  • Gut and refinish the library and living room
  • Retile the fireplace

“Someday” projects:

  • Finish basement, create laundry/plumbing room
  • Redo all the supply plumbing with PEX and a manifold system
  • Knock down the existing sheds, extend the foundations, and rebuild as garage & cottage
  • Replace forced air heating with radiant
  • Add a second story to the addition
  • Build a better patio
  • Redo the kitchen

Not that I’m going to be starting any of these right away, except maybe cleaning and organizing the basement. I really need a break.

Jen adds Yard Projects:

  • Clean out top bed and ready it for arborvitae planting
  • Continue building up the raised beds
  • Set the initial plans and start building my perennial garden
  • WEED! Oh goodness I need to weed. My beds are horrifically overgrown
  • Cut down strange bush/tree covering the library window

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Stick a fork in it…

The @#$%@# bedroom is done. Well, almost done.

   

(The toxic pink curtains were my daughter’s idea — Jen showed her five different colors at the store and she picked that one. Also, the last photo shows the plexiglas protector to prevent the annoying orange cat in photo #3 from scratching holes in the corner again.)

Next on the agenda

  • Apply border
  • Wall plates for the plugs
  • Install door jamb and bifold doors for the closet
  • Install prehung bedroom door
  • Install window jambs and sills
  • Install casings 
  • Patch floor where old wall floor plates used to be
  • Fill and paint nail holes
  • Touch up painting
  • Install plexiglas corner protector
  • Clean old linoleum mastic off the floor
  • Move my daughter and all her stuff in
  • Cut hole and install heat vent

I’m not sure what I was doing wrong with the baseboards, in that there’s lots of gapping between the baseboard and the drywall. Is that something I should just caulk and call it good, or is there a better technique? Coping the corners wasn’t too hard, since I had a very simple profile, but I should buy an actual coping saw for the next time I do it.

I do know that I almost certainly won’t be using MDF for casings in the future. Yes, it comes pre-primed, but the primer doesn’t do all that great a job of holding the final coat of paint. Also, the edges aren’t square, it’s hard to plane, it doesn’t really hold screws very well, and it tends to bulge up around the finish nails (where wood doesn’t).

Now all I need to do is buy an inexpensive jigsaw so I can cut a hole in the floor above the existing heat duct for a vent grille. Which I should do soon, but which isn’t really necessary before I move my daughter into the room.

 

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Casings!

… and sills and jambs and doors and floor patches (oh my).

Lots of progress since the last post.

Two weeks ago I got the prehung door in, which was a bitch and a half to do solo. I plumbed it up and the door wouldn’t close. It’s a solid MDF core semi-custom Jeldwen door, so it’s pretty heavy. I had to do lots of adjusting and re-shimming to get the door to swing shut, and I didn’t realize until just yesterday when I was putting the casings on that it was actually seriously out of plumb, because the door was sagging in the frame on the top hinge. Once I did the thing with the long screw into the framing, it squared right up and I was able to re-adjust the frame so it was plumb. A little loosening of the screw adjusted the door so the latch would go into the strike plate. It’s a little tough to close, but completely within acceptable limits.

The closet door jamb was easy by comparison, and hanging the bifold doors was a snap. Unfortunately, they’re basic unfinished slab doors which suck down the paint, so I’m going to have to give it a third coat (at least) so as not to see dark wood grain through the white.

I also built the window jambs and sills. This proved to be difficult. I’m using MDF, so it doesn’t plane very well, so I had to resaw the boards to narrower and narrower widths on the table saw to get them to fit property. And for some reason I couldn’t get them tight to the window, so there’s about a 3/32″ gap that I’ll need to fill in with caulk.

Last weekend I built all the lintels. I knew I wanted to do a keystone design, but the problem was how to get a three-piece lintel to have nice tight joints and all be on the same level plane. I’ve been planning on getting a pocket hole kit for eventually doing built-ins and cabinets, so I went ahead and ordered this one and used it to mate up the lintel pieces with the keystone. I made a jig to make it a repeatable process, which I’ll keep around to make more in the future.

Yesterday I got the nailgun back out and put up all the door and window casings in the bedroom (I still have to do the simple casing on the inside of the closet).

The door and window casings in the hall will have to wait until I can saw or plane off a quarter inch of the existing jambs. They were built to be even with the old 3/4″ tongue-and-groove planks, so now that there’s 1/2″ drywall there’s too much jamb. Planing seems like it would take forever, but I’m not sure how to get a controlled saw cut. Maybe I need to buy a jigsaw.

Next week I clean up enough sawdust around the edges to put on the baseboards. I’ll be using 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ MDF boards, but I’m thinking that a square edge on top will be boring and tend to collect lots of dust, so I think I’m going to cut the top at a 45° angle. Yay tablesaw!

Also, back when the room was still open framing, one of our cats liked to use the closet corner as a scratching post. Unfortunately, the mere existence of drywall and paint on that corner didn’t discourage him, and he scratched a hole in the paint. I sanded it, patched with patching compound (I also patched the socket cuts where the hole was too big for the plate), and primed. When I do touchup painting, I’ll paint them, and then screw 4″ of plexiglas on each side up from the baseboard to higher than he can reach. Damn cat.

Jen’s had some luck in using mineral spirits and Murphy’s Oil Soap to get the mastic off the floor, starting in the hall. But nothing else we’ve tried so far has worked as well as the time I unknowingly spilled a bottle of air compressor oil on my way out of the room and left it there overnight. So maybe we’ll just get a big bottle of light oil, mop it onto the floor and clean it off the next day. Seems plausible. Right?

 

Next on the agenda

  • Apply border
  • Wall plates for the plugs
  • Install door jamb and bifold doors for the closet
  • Install prehung bedroom door
  • Install window jambs and sills
  • Install casings (mostly)
  • Patch floor where old wall floor plates used to be
  • Fill and paint nail holes
  • Touch up painting
  • Install plexiglas corner protector
  • Clean old linoleum mastic off the floor
  • Move my daughter and all her stuff in

P.S. Our friend Erin came over and painted clouds on the blue-sky ceiling. And they look gorgeous.

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Second Bedroom Gets Closer to Done

Five weeks ago it looked like this:

    

Four weeks ago it looked like this:

    

The white stripe is where the boundary masking tape went. It’ll be covered up by a self-stick flowers-and-garlands border we got from Amazon.

Two weeks ago it looked like this:

Look! Lights and plugs!

The upstairs storage area is lighted as well.

Next on the agenda

  • Apply border
  • Wall plates for the plugs
  • Install door jamb and bifold doors for the closet
  • Install prehung bedroom door
  • Install window jambs and sills
  • Install casings
  • Patch floor where old wall floor plates used to be
  • Clean old linoleum mastic off the floor
  • Move my daughter and all her stuff in

Lessons Learned

If you have a 10′ wall, don’t try to cut down a single piece of 12′ drywall. There’s no way to get a tight fit and maneuver it into place, and plus you’ll crunch all the corners. Instead, just accept that you’ll have butt joints to mud and feather with the tradeoff that you won’t have big gaps at the edges to fill.

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Mike says ‘Make It Right’

We are big fans of Holmes on Homes and Mike Holmes himself. The state of our house helped make us a fan. There are many times that Bryan and I have complained ‘What in the hell were the previous owners thinking!!’ I kept complaining I needed a Mike says ‘Make it right!’ cross stitch for the house and our friend Amy volunteered to make it happen.

It hangs with pride next to the pictures of our house that the county had taken in previous years.

Raised beds

So I discovered a process where you can make your own raised beds with bags of concrete. You lay them out in whatever pattern you wish, water them or let them get rained on till they set. Rip off the paper, lay the next row. They form to the row beneath, creating stability. I don’t know specifically how high I would go with them, but I plan on going about three high. We are putting in a bed in front of another raised bed because whoever put it in just didn’t seem to care what it looked like. Half of the bed has the barest attempt to match the other side and then they seemingly tossed plans to the wind. Mainly I just want to distract from the ugliness of the facade behind it. Who cares how crappy the wall behind the bed looks while you are busy shoveling strawberries in your mouth, not me!

We are also putting in two raised beds for a veggie garden next year. I thought about larger or more beds, but honestly that just leads down the path to crazytown. I am not a diligent enough gardener to give myself too much room to play in. One bed will be all greens and salad makings, the other will be.. well all the rest of stuff you put in a garden: Potatoes, onions, carrots, that sort.

It’s been a slow process, and we are only half done. But it is the winter project. Cause you know, we just needed a little something to keep us busy while we finished the kid’s room remodel, and raised said kid, and all the other crazy stuff you do.

Good times 😉

Scratch One Rhododendron

When we moved in, there was essentially a rhododendron tree in the corner of the front yard. We had it trimmed back to bush size, but Jen has always hated it. So I finally decided that I needed to get over my fear of chainsaws and get rid of the damn thing.

After pruning with the shears

Post chainsaw

 

After cleanup

Now to fill in the bare zone with grass seed (I’m overseeding the whole lawn this week sometime). Maybe I can even get out the sawzall and cut the stump down even further.

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Still Here

Right. The earth did not open up and swallow us whole along with our house.

The back bedroom project is still underway, though. After gutting it back in March and April, we pretty much ran out of time and money. In May I was able to get all the framing done: I filled in the existing exterior door, framed two windows, added a real closet, and created a rough door opening where the end of the hallway once was. In June or thereabouts I was able to buy a roll of wire and run the almost all the electrical. And there I stopped for a couple of months.

Luckily, Jen had some stock options from her job that became sellable in August, so we finally had the money to get all the remaining stuff. Last week I took advantage of some time off work and finished the rough electrical and had it inspected (passed except for one minor issue with the closet light fixture placement). I also installed the folding attic stairs (I was able to do it entirely myself with the assistance of our drywall lift — thanks Jen!)

This morning, I went to Home Depot and ordered all the plywood, drywall, joint compound, doors, tar paper, light fixtures, switches, receptacles, etc. that I’ll need to complete (almost) everything. It gets delivered on Tuesday, so I get to spend this weekend doing everything that I can get done short of having the materials on hand: clean up the room, fill in all the floor/ceiling holes with firestop foam, pull the vinyl siding off the relevant sections of wall, flash the rough window openings, etc.

No pictures for this post, but I’ll take plenty as I work on everything next week.

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