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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Bedroom Remodel Weekend 1

Last weekend I started on the back bedroom/hallway project. The plan is:

  • Gut down to the studs
  • Frame in the door to the outside
  • Add a window to that wall
  • Take out the existing closet wall and move the doorway back to the bathroom wall
  • Add a real closet and a reading nook
  • Rewire properly
  • Add attic stairs to the hallway ceiling
  • Lay down a plywood floor in the attic for storage
  • New drywall and moldings


Saturday we had a lot of social appointments, so I only had time to pull down all the trim and moldings.

Casings down

Window casings too

Sunday I got out the big prybar and framing hammer and took down all the tongue and groove boards on the walls. I’ve pulled all the nails out and I’m hoping to be able to get something for them on Craigslist.

The hallway

The closet

Outside walls

Kitchen wall

Interestingly, the shared wall to the kitchen shows two framed-in doorways, one narrow and one normal size. I suspect that originally the hallway ended in a linen closet and the access to the back bedroom was through the kitchen approximately where the wall ovens are now. Supporting this theory is the fact that the vertical framing around the current bedroom doorway is kinda rough-sawn and that the stud on the kitchen wall opposite the end of the bathroom wall has lots of nail holes in it.

Oh, and also, apparently nobody who ever worked on this house ever heard of a header over windows and doors. The existing doorway is non-load bearing and so doesn’t need one, but the existing window, outside door, and framed-in doors on the kitchen wall are all on exterior or load-bearing walls. None of them have any more than the top plate 2×4. It’s a wonder this house isn’t sagging more than it already is.

Sometime this week I’ll take an hour and pull down and bag up all the blown-in insulation in the walls. Then next Saturday I knock down the closet wall and pull down the ceilings. That means a huge pile of rockwool insulation on the floor so that might be all I can get done in a day.

Pulling nails amid the pile of junk lumber

I also need to get my permit renewed so I can be all proper and legal.

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Visible If Expensive Progress

Half the tax return went to making the rubbish pile go away. The treehouse six or eight months ago was the beginning of it, and then there was huge amounts of demo from the basement. See, the previous owners finished half the basement, but they did it wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. So I had to take out all the non-pressure treated wood in direct contact with concrete, all the badly nailed-up drywall, and all the slightly mildewy insulation.

And wow I can’t wait until I can replace all the electrical nightmares I uncovered. If Mike Holmes’ electrician were to come see my basement, he’d have conniptions — hidden junctions, wires hanging loose, unprotected tie-ins, etc. I’ll be salvaging all the romex wiring and using it to rig up temporary lights, switches, and sockets, and getting rid of all the old conduit. This will also get me one step further toward retiring the old electrical panel.

Anyway, here’s the photos of the rubbish pile. I forgot to take a “before” picture, so I have a “halfway” and an “after” picture:

Halfway gone -- notice the 19 cu. yd. truck full of stuff

All gone! That's the second (full) truck in the opposite driveway

(There’s actually a little bit of rubbish left behind the pergola, but that’s stuff left over from the previous owners that was covered by morning glory.)

Next on the list is remodding the back room and hallway. It’s almost all cleaned out — all the furniture is moved to the library — and so next weekend I can do the demo, and then in the second half of the month when we have more money I can start putting it back together. I’m sure it’ll be easier than the bathroom. 🙂

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I have real grown up sized fridge!!!

Spending money I shouldn’t have.. But we replaced the lilliputian fridgelette that we have been dealing with since buying the house. It was fine for the year and a half that we were broke as broke. But now that I can actually afford fresh veggies it’s been a failing game of Tetris for a while now.. well I hit the breaking point and dragged Bryan out to just ‘look at what our options were’. Two hours and 25.6 cubic freaking feet later.. (woo haw)
My checking account is lighter than it was but by not what you would have expected for what we got.


The universe must have must heard my screams of hatred. I hated that fridge so much I can’t even tell you.



And now it goes to live in the basement like it should.

Not Asbestos!

The weird corky-foamy boards between the ceiling joists completely hidden by the rockwool insulation are not asbestos! Hooray!

That means I can really get going with renovating the upstairs without having to worry anymore. Next on the list: the back bedroom and hall.

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Department of Acorns Not Falling Far From The Tree

Thekla peruses her first This Old House magazine…