About a month ago, we started to make forward progress on that other built-in for the family room. The pieces had been sitting in our bedroom since last October or November, just waiting on one last coat of poly. We finally got that taken care of, and then spent some time drilling the holes for the shelves. This was not very complicated for the smaller bottom units that will have doors, but for the top units that are bookshelves, it was a little more complicated. It was more complicated because I didn’t want adjustable shelves; my symmetry-loving mind wanted all of the shelves to be the same all the way across. This took some finagling (and math!) but we got it taken care of.
After that, we assembled each individual unit (3 upper, 6 lower). That took us a day or two.
Last Sunday, we assembled the larger units (2 lower with 1 upper), and then installed them all. Getting everything level and even and so forth took a lot of time, but it was definitely worth it. Now, these pictures might not look like much, but we really are very excited about them.
View as you enter the family room. The unit is flush with the wall that the door closes onto, so while it seems a bit claustrophobic right now because we’re used to the empty space, we didn’t actually lose any space overall compared to the original layout (link below).
History: when we first moved in, how it looked for a long time, and what it looked like for the last year. Also, the first unit as it was when we moved in, assembly, installation, framing, and in use. Can you tell I’m proud of the work we’ve done?
The bookshelf tops have a beadboard backing, which we will also use for the center panel of the doors on the bottom (and the whole other built-in will have doors that will match).
Doesn’t that just look like a ton of space for books? The top shelf is just 8″ tall, which should fit all of our serial paperbacks. The next one is 10″, and the bottom two are 12″. There are enough holes in the bottom units for one or two shelves at avariety of vertical locations, to fit all of our stuff.
Next up? The face frame. Then we can install the trim in the whole room! I’ve been waiting for that for quite some time (more than a year, actually, since I painted all of the trim last July while the state was closed down). Then we might switch our focus to the basement bathroom for a while, which really is a great indoor/winter project.
Looking at these pictures reminds me that I need to keep looking for replacement side tables on Craigslist – the ones we originally got match, but are a little too big and not terribly practical (I’d really prefer ones with a lower shelf or a door, more nightstand-like). While I wait for other people to respond to my emails, I might just do that.
Last week, I shared that we recently purchased a new patio set and were waiting on a rug to be delivered. They’ve both been delivered and are set up. I’m calling this a mini revamp because 1) I didn’t order the umbrella yet, 2) everything will get put away / wrapped up for winter this coming weekend, and 3) the deck itself needs some love. But, I’m pretty pleased with how things are looking so far.
The new patio set and rug.
Close-up of the patio set. The color is a little off in this picture, but color-correcting it didn’t work. The lighter color is kind of “greige,” and the bottom is medium-dark brown. The “greige” is kind of the color of untreated weathered wood.
We’ve got potted plants and whatever else we could find helping to un-crimp that far end that was at the center of the rolled-up rug.
So the blue of the rug is slightly off from the blue on the house, but I don’t care. The umbrella I picked out is, theoretically, the same orangy color that’s in the rug. We could have gone any number of ways with the whole set up – I wanted something kind of bright that wasn’t blue, and this is what I settled on. Prince Charming went along with it, perhaps proof that he was coming down with something, because he always has opinions about things like that.
While the sun wasn’t brightly shining, it was as sunny as it was going to get, so I took some pictures of the paint job on the outside of the house and some exterior projects we worked on this summer. I’ll save that post for tomorrow. In fact, I uploaded enough pictures to Flickr that I might blog every day this week. Try not to have a heart attack over that.
[Editor's Note: My apologies for not blogging sooner. I was having trouble with WordPress and only got it fixed today. And now I seem to have forgotten all of the things I wanted to tell you. Sorry!]
We have a lot of projects going on, and it seems like some of them will never be complete. The house painting is complete, but I haven’t taken official “after” photos yet, you I’m only going to show you bits and pieces of that, as well as pictures of what else is happening in and around my house.
A house finch built a nest in one of our oak trees this year, and had four babies (two boys, two girls). They learned to fly by taking short trips from the tree to the house, the house to the garage, the garage to the fence, etc. They were quite playful once they got their confidence. It was a lot of fun to watch them. Of course, now that they know how to fly, they’re never here.
We had to install a fence around all of our vegetable gardens because some very hungry bunnies made meals out of all of our sprouted plants. We ended up re-planting mid-July, so our gardens are very far behind (except for the squash, which the bunnies didn’t touch). Some of the climbing plants are doing really well with the fence, and it has me dreaming up where to plant things next year to take advantage of it.
Don’t do what we did. Don’t install one of the fence supports right through the pipe for the irrigation system. You will get a sink hole, and you will waste lots of water until you figure out what’s going on. In our defense, the pipe shouldn’t have been there (it had bowed significantly from the straight line we thought we had put it in). Prince Charming did a great job of fixing this and our irrigation system is really working well for us.
This picture was taken about two weeks ago, so you can imagine that this buttercup squash is about three times bigger and has turned darker green. We have maybe five or six more squash growing in at least two varieties (a big rainstorm washed away part of that planting area, and I’m not sure what survived and what didn’t, so the harvest has been a bit of a surprise).
Prince Charming really wanted to grow watermelon this year, and so we did. It decided to travel outside of where we wanted it to be. The sedum seems to be tolerating this overgrowth, but there aren’t any fruit growing yet, so we’ll see how they do when that happens. We’ve only had a few flowers, so we’re not sure if this will actually produce anything this year.
As part of prepping the house to be painted, we removed the mail slot. It had been painted over the last time they painted the house, and it looked awful. I got most of the paint stripped off, but there’s still a lot of elbow grease needed to get it to the point where I can put it back on the house. It’s going to look awesome and shiny by the time I’m done with it. (Those awesome hinges? They relate to a picture further down.)
The house got painted, and the company we hired did an awesome job! The trim is so crisp and the lines are perfect and our house looks absolutely gorgeous! I’m glad I went with the super white color for the trim – it really helps the house look cleaner, more taken care of. And the blue is such a wonderful shade. I was a bit nervous that it would be too bright, but it’s perfect, and will hopefully retain enough of that color as it fades.
When we took the old lights off of the house, I threw them away because they were in that bad of shape. Didn’t even put them on Craigslist for free. They were also small and cheap and ridiculous. These are the new ones. We picked them out quite a while ago, and I was hoping to find them on sale, but we ended up getting them full price at Menards while they were having their 11% rebate days. The bottoms are open, so it will be easy to replace the lightbulbs (unlike their predecessors, which had to be taken apart). We also put light sensors in between the bulb and the socket, so they turn on at dusk and off at dawn. That is super awesome.
We picked out a chandelier for our dining room quite a while ago (at least a year), but didn’t buy it. Again, I was waiting for a sale. Thanks to This Old House and eBay, we got this open box one for less than 50% the original cost. It’s exactly the one we picked out. I went a little light crazy that week and also bought lights for the basement bathroom remodel, again on eBay, for mega savings. No pictures of those though – they won’t be installed for a while. That room needs help.
I finally settled on a color to paint my bathroom (white, which I then totally revised thanks to This Old House, but that’s beside the point), so I took off the frame and door for this cubbie that’s in my bathroom. They were painted white, but were pretty beat up. Those hinges in the bag with the mail slot? They were holding the door to the frame. I know this picture doesn’t look very pretty, but I got most of the paint removed from the door and frame and they’re looking great.
Of course, I can’t just be working on one bathroom remodel. I’m working on the basement one too. This room is in need of some serious help. See all that patching there? There had been water damage at one time, and the tape at the seam in the ceiling and also at two of the inside corners had to be completely removed. I did that inside corner all by myself, I’ll have you know. Prince Charming helped with the ceiling one – that was trickier. What this picture doesn’t show you is the huge pile of paint that I scraped off of the walls, which I still haven’t cleaned up. So much work to do in this room before I can paint. At least the colors are picked out for that. This room is going to look awesome when it’s done. Unless you’ve seen it already, you don’t even know how bad it is. It’s something you have to experience to fully grasp.
And, because I couldn’t leave you with the previous picture as the last one, I’ll share this one of a manicure from a week or two ago. I still hate removing confetti/glitter, but it was a really fun manicure.
Hopefully I’ll get better at posting now that I’ve fixed WordPress. Keep your fingers crossed!
Not really. I don’t know how you spent your holiday weekend (assuming you’re in America), but we wrapped up the digging portion of that front yard project we started last week. We were probably halfway done by the time the weekend started, so we had plenty of time for other things, too, like watching TV while it poured rain, and going to Home Depot for the tool we built (pics at the end of the post).
If you don’t remember what it looked like when we started, go back and check out last week’s post (apparently I’ve become a one-post-a-week person post-student teaching). I’ll wait.
Well, this is what it looks like now. Actually just after we took these pictures, we pulled up all that black plastic too. The hated, dreadful black plastic.
Maybe this picture gives you a better sense of size. The depth varied between maybe 4 inches and 8 inches, and deeper in some parts, like where we had to dig up at least 3 (maybe 4) stumps of bushes. Didn't even know those were there. We're not the only one who has killed a few bushes on this property.
See that large pile of rock? That's next. It's going away (thank you, free section on Craigslist), but first we have to sift out all of the dirt (we need it to fill the area back in) and non-rock stuff.
Cue the other weekend project, the rock sifter:
Some 2x4s, screen, and a Craigslist saw (and some other stuff too), and you have this beauty.
Prince Charming designed it to match the dimensions of our handy wheelbarrow. The rocks fall off the top to the side, while the dirt sifts through into the wheelbarrow.
Don’t get it? You can watch a video of it in action here. There are plenty of similar creations by people who want to do the same thing.
So, we’ll start working on that tonight. Maybe we’ll remove that stupid plastic edging, too. I will be so happy when we remove the last piece of that stuff from this property. That and the black plastic and rocks. Hate them all. Didn’t even know I had such passionate feelings until we moved into this house. At any rate, give us a few years, some time to get the rest of the irrigation system installed and the landscaping figured out, and you’ll never know that our whole house had been surrounded by rock beds.
As a side note, the vegetable gardening project continues, with some pretty good success. Some of the plantings have died, and some having sprouted yet, but that’s OK. We’ve already learned a lot, thanks to life (torrential rain storms erode a certain garden area – who knew?) and library books (don’t mulch right away – whoops). I’m going to start my herb garden indoors this week, and I might start a few replacement plants for those that have died. I won’t keep them inside so long that they get leggy like the first batch, though. Just want to give them a little bit of an edge.
Funny thing – we thought we’d killed our rhubarb plant last year in the midst of all the damage done with our irrigation system project. Um, nope. It moved. About five feet away, to the middle of one of the squash patches. Ripped that baby out (it was interfering with the watermelons). Not as much wandering as the lamb’s ear had done (that migrated easily 30 feet around a corner), but surprising nonetheless.
Lastly, my public service announcement for the week: apparently Friday is National Donut Day. If you have a Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ Donuts nearby, you obviously don’t life in Minnesota, but here are some coupons anyway. Wouldn’t want you to miss out on that. Last Friday was National Wine Day, which required a trip to the store to purchase something to celebrate with (there was, oddly, only red wine in the house, which I don’t drink, and one bottle of port that was too expensive for me to crack open with no plan). Anyway, I don’t want you to miss out on Donut Day. That would truly be a sad day.
So, and I started on yet another “little” house project yesterday. Some background first.
There's this odd-shaped garden off of our odd-shaped driveway. When we first moved in, it was mostly empty, save for one hosta, a shrub, and a giant mound of mulch.
I think this garden made much more sense before the fence, because it's a continuation of the garden along the side of the garage. Alas, with the fence there, some of that continuity is lost. Also, it leaves a very awkward, small space to mow.
Prince Charming's grandma helped us out with some ground cover plants that worked well in full shade. I worked at leveling off the awkward pile of mulch.
That was the first summer. Then just… extrapolate 3-ish years’ worth of growth, because all I did past that was weed. Apparently I didn’t even take any pictures. At the end of last season, I’d pretty much decided that what I had going on wasn’t good, so I ripped everything out except for the hostas and the bush.
Which meant we were down to this.... Not exactly a show-stopper front yard.
It did take me quite a while to come to a conclusion about what we should do and then commit to it. But, eventually, the decision was made to turn the area back to grass. The hostas would be saved and replanted elsewhere, but that was it.
So last night, we started working on it. By this time, almost all of the mulch has turned to dirt, so there’s a pile of dirt mounded up on top of the requisite 6″ of rocks and then the dreaded black plastic. did the digging and removing of dirt/rocks (all the way down to the black plastic, which will also be removed), while I worked on weeding and moving plants. Most of the hostas were pulled up last night and temporarily planted in pots, because they will be planted elsewhere in the garden but that area needs some work, and I thought it would be best if they didn’t have to deal with the trauma of being transplanted too often. The other plants all went in the yard waste bin.
Our neighbors across the street were out gardening / preparing dinner (the grilling guy is out grilling again, after a hiatus), andstruck up a conversation about this next project of ours. They thought we were just moving hostas around or something, but explained that we were returning the area to grass. They seemed slightly horrified by this idea, but assumed we would be keeping that bush. You know, the less than pretty thing that is awkwardly placed kind of near a corner. We explained that we weren’t, which horrified them more. We offered the bush to them, and they thought for sure we would just move it somewhere else on the property. Clearly they don’t realize how many bushes I have removed / killed on our land (I can count at least ten, and there are still at least 6 that will die one day). To make this story shorter, since the wife has the week off of work, today while we are away, she is over at our house removing the bush and taking it to its new home.
How awesome is that? Free bush removal! I’m also amused at how horrified they were that we would just kill a bush. Um… it’s just a plant. I promise there will be no ill effects on the world (a slightly smaller amount of oxygen is being added to the atmosphere, but I think we’ll survive). There are so many reasons to turn that area back to grass that I have no regrets about this decision. Also, I kind of hate bushes, especially evergreens (they make me itch). The larger grassy area will be so much easier to mow than what we’ve got going on now. And it’s not like there isn’t plenty of other areas that are landscaped. Plus, the area is mosty shaded by a large oak tree that drops all of its leaves onto the garden every fall. That makes it very difficult to maintain and it’s really hard to rake in a garden. All in all, this is definitely better, even if our neighbors don’t think so.
No updated pictures of progress, because we have lots more work to do before there’s anything worth showing. But I thought the story was worth telling anyway. Tonight I’ll remove the remaining two hostas and pot them like the rest, pull up the rest of the plants, and keep on weeding (it loosens up the soil which is fairly well packed, making ‘s job easier). Might have a picture by next week, and hopefully we’ll have grass before the end of the summer. The large area in front of our house that died over the winter has taken to reseeding well, so we’re doing something right.
While unemployed, I felt this driving need to be productive, hence the large number of completed sewing projects and the many hours spent painting trim.
One of my projects (self-imposed) was to clean up this area of our back yard. Our bedroom window looks out on it, and it was getting embarrassing. (However, we’ve had a rash of robberies in our neighborhood recently, so we’ve started closing the gates on the fence, which means that this part is no longer visible from the street, so it’s not as embarrassing anymore. It would help if there weren’t so many foreclosures / homes for sale in close by. I haven’t heard about any new incidents in the last week or two, so we’re probably safe, but there’s nothing wrong about compulsively checking to make sure all the doors are deadbolted.)
Prepare yourself – I discovered that I don’t like to do weeding unless I have homework to avoid doing. So, basically we haven’t done any weeding this year. On the bright side, we have very fertile soil.
The back walkway was... no longer passable. Those tall guys - I don't know what they are, but they scared the crap out of me. At any point, I thought they might get up and start attacking me for killing their brethren.
On the left is our air conditioner, and next to it is a shrub that I tackled back into submission earlier this summer. There's a large egress window behind it (for the family room). Prior to our neighbor removing a tree next to our shared fence, this was all shade, all the time. Now it's all sun, all the time. I have plans to plant vegetables and flowers here. Someday. After I remove all those rocks.
I had already pruned back the bushes significantly in preparation for painting our house (which we still haven't done). One of them was dying out a bit, so they're looking particularly scraggly. The large pile in between them was from that tree branch that feel in November. This was not our permanent solution, but it had been several months since we'd done anything with the pile.
First up? I tried working in the shade as much as possible, or at least alternating the time I spent in the sun with time spent in the shade. It worked as far as preventing sunburn, but it was still ridiculously hot outside, and the shade could only mitigate that so much.
I finally won the war with this bush! Mom and I pruned it down to the dead trunk two years ago, and every once in a while I'd wiggle it and wrestle with it to see if it was ready to give up its firm grasp on life. It finally gave in, and I felt quite victorious. (It's amazing how many dead bushes there were when we bought this house. Or, rather, nearly dead, which might be worse.)
After several long, hot days, drinking lots of water, and walking through the sprinkler whenever possible (the grass gets watered every day at 2, which was probably the hottest part of the day, but the cold water helped a great deal), this was the end result.
Safe passage! I realize it's not the prettiest sight, but it sure looks pretty to my eyes.
Branches moved (to the deck next to the fireplace, where they can be burnt).
My summer respite. Hammock, candle lantern.... I could use a little table and some mosquito netting, but this will do just fine.
I was glad to learn that the rodent damage to my hammock was minimal and will not affect usability. This is potentially a dangerous spot to have the hammock – you have to remember to disembark towards the yard, or else you will fall into the egress window, which would be unpleasant.
Normally, my hammock would go under my favorite tree, but that area is currently under construction in our much-ignored irrigation system project, so I needed a temporary place to put it. The only problem with this spot is that it is in full sun for much of the day, but it should be fine in the evening.
I think that when I finally get this area ready for planting, I’d like to replace the “fence” around the air conditioner with taller (6′?) lattice that can be used for viney plants like green beans. Wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe just on two of the sides – it does still need to be accessible after all. Ideally, those bushes will decide to die all on their own, but I fear the one on the right has been invigorated by the harsh pruning I gave it – it seems to be thriving, even though reduced in size by half. Those ones on the right are kind of sickly (not sickly enough, but not terribly healthy either), and their days might be numbered.
What is it that I have against bushes? Aside from their general unruliness and the need to constantly prune them to keep them from taking over the world, the evergreen varieties make me itch. That should be reason enough, right? I mean, I’ve eliminated so many other things from my life that make me itch. I gave up caffeine, regular soap and lotion, fabric softener, switched laundry detergent…. Surely we can add evergreen bushes to that list.
Though I haven’t had the opportunity to fully revel in the glory of my respite, I have sat in my hammock for a bit and read, which was lovely. There’s so much to do that I really don’t get the time I’d like to to just chill here, but at least it’s set up for that random moment when I have the time to relax. Plus, I felt like a conqueror for getting all that work done in the 90*+ heat. Also, no sunburn.
We kind of blitzed our yard on Tuesday night in an attempt to make it look like we do more than sleep at our home. The “For Sale” sign next door was starting to make me feel bad about our curb appeal.
Anyway, after mowing and weeding and sweeping the driveway (it’s acorn time again), wanted to cut the pieces for the pocket door trim for the family room. While he set up the saw and measured things, I took the time to snap a few photos of pretty things (that were suddenly visible after weeding and picking up all the fallen branches).
These first two pictures are for . I looked at what we’ve got going on in our front garden, and these are the two I thought you might want to commandeer. These were the “tamest” of the bunch – everything else looked wilder and quite… rustic. Probably not what you were going for.
Catmint, which has grown a lot, and has these cute purple flowers.
I don't know what this fern-like plant is, but it does have yellow flowers that appear mid-summer (you can kind of see them at the top of the picture).
I had some fun using the macro mode to capture the beautiful blooming Stargazer Lily plant that gave me.
How close can we get?
She added these leafy plants at the bottom of the pot, and they have such pretty coloring!
I also took “final” pictures of the yard project I worked on while I was laid off. I’ll share those tomorrow. It’s a good thing I took them Tuesday, because it’s been cloudy ever since. Not good picture-taking weather.
Early last week, we finally put the last of the insulation in. This is where the last built-in goes. All of the pieces are now cut out for that.
Perhaps not very photogenic, but definitely utilitarian.
Later, we dry-fit the new cabinets and bookshelves together in the space, to make sure that all of our measurements were correct.
We did a fantastic job! (Pretend there's a center post in the middle of the other two top bookshelves.) The backings fit too, though we didn't photograph that part.
Since everything fit, we started priming.
Lots and lots of trim (see more on top of the piano).
And pieces of the cabinets and bookshelves.
Before we could buy trim, we had to figure out what we were going to do where the built-ins met up with the baseboard. Our solution was to use plinths. Unfortunately, we didn’t like anything they had at Home Depot.
So we made our own! Kind of. We bought pre-made ones, and then we'll cut off that curvy part - it's way too fancy for that room. Prince Charming added the bit of detail around the rectangular part. I think it will look great!
The priming is all done now. Once sands down the trim, I can start painting that – I can do it during the day while he’s at work. The cabinet pieces will have to wait until the weekend, since it requires two of us to keep everything straight. Two coats of paint, four of polyurethane, and then we can assemble/install. It’s all coming together. You probably won’t see any more pictures of the family room for a while – not until we get the built-in assembled or the trim installed. But I do have another home project to share… I’ve got maybe another week of work on that before I can share it. In the meantime, things might be quiet, unless you really want to hear me talk about the more boring aspects of unemployment. And really, I don’t want to dwell on those things, so that’s unlikely to happen.
Well, this post is about a week overdue. The thing is, I don’t really use my home computer for anything other than watching TV and doing homework. But, since it seems as though they are only making negative progress on the budget and I may be out of work for a while, perhaps I should get better at posting from home.
Anyway, I wanted to show you all our furniture.
Ta-da! (Also, note the immaculate carpeting - the cleaner we had come out did such a good job removing all of the stains, even the black spray paint. If you ever need a recommendation in the Twin Cities area, let me know.)
It’s all from Craigslist (four different sellers), and we got it for a steal! Everything is nearly new in condition. The coffee table is Room & Board, and though it’s about 10 years old and lived in a family’s basement for a while, is unmarred. There are three drawers in the opposite side that are perfect for holding remotes and video game controllers. I need to find some baskets for the bottom shelf. There’s a table behind the sofa that we bought specifically for to sit on. I need to make up a little cover for it so that it is soft (and washable).
The entertainment system is all set up.
On the left there is all of the "stuff" for the entertainment center. One day we'll have a door on it, but we're not at the door-building stage yet.
So, if you remember, I had said that there was a story about the furniture that would excuse me from taking timely pictures. You will not believe what we had to do to get that couch into the basement. The old sofa was a two-seater, and quite bulky. We had to remove the stair railing and some doors to get it into the basement. Well, that was nothing compared to what we had to do last week. The sectional is in two pieces, a two-seater and a three-seater. The two-seater fit down fine. The three-seater, however, just would not fit. We had house guests over, and the boys tried everything they could, switching angles and rotating things and what have you… and nothing worked. We removed the stair railing again, and a piece of trim from the doorway, but it just wasn’t enough. Then, we got a crazy idea. We weren’t sure if it would work, but it wouldn’t hurt to try.
First, we had to empty out the pantry. Completely empty out. Removed the shelves too, and the doors.
For reference, this is one big sectional.
Bet you didn't expect that. We didn't either. It seems it was added at a later date (probably by the previous owner, not the first owners, since the tile goes all the way underneath), and was really just wedged in that space (and secured with a few screws). The trim was actually attached to the pantry, not the ceiling, and the whole thing was sitting on a base. Fancy!
Removing the pantry meant we could get the sofa down the stairs, but even then there were complications. We had to remove a light fixture at the bottom of the stairs, and it was a tight fit overall.
Thankfully, the sofa is incredibly comfy, and perfect for the space. I’m not sure our house guests who helped out think it was worth all the effort, but we do. We’ll have to cut it into pieces to remove it some day, but now we know a few things. 1) The pantry is removable. 2) Our next sectional (when this one wears out / once is no longer with us to scratch up our furniture) needs to be in three pieces – two love seats and a corner unit.
Just one more picture for you:
It looks like a functional room now! And it is! We've used it every day since getting the furniture down there. The living room is put back in order too, and things seem to be returning to normal.
I do have more pictures and updates to share, but I figure I should spread them out a bit.
This weekend, we installed the ceiling in the family room. If you remember, I really wanted this part of the project completed. It helped that we had all of the supplies except for the actual tiles – we’d bought the framework ages ago, shortly after installing the ceiling in ‘s office (which is the same). Once we decided we liked it, the system went on sale and we bought everything (except the tiles) for buy one, get one free. We saved a bundle.
The last pictures of the family room I posted had the window boxes installed, but no ceiling. Thursday night, we figured out what to do with the pocket door (which needed to be dealt with before getting to the ceiling), and Friday night we executed our plan.
It looks like drywall, right? (The piece above the door opening.)
We're just going to pretend it's drywall.
I also primed the window boxes, which is why in these photos they actually look worse than before.
We had gotten everything ready Friday night, so by Saturday morning, we were ready to go. By lunch, we had installed the border and most of the framework. After lunch, we finished the framework and and after dinner figured out the tiles with lights.
A good day's work.
By noon Sunday, we had the first two rows of tiles installed.
This included a tricky outside corner (for which the company had *no* instructions whatsoever, so we made it up ourselves)...
...and these two tiles, the smallest in the whole room. (For reference, the rest of the tiles are 2' x 2'.) The light is reflecting oddly in this picture - there's no white splotch up there at the ceiling. Weird.
Here's where we quit Sunday afternoon, as Prince Charming went to a movie with his dad to celebrate Father's Day.
This is all we had left at that point (while the installation isn't hard, it is dirty, and I had no interest in having to take yet another shower Sunday night, so we saved the rest of the work for Monday).
If you look this way, you can see what a huge difference the ceiling makes! It does make the room feel more enclosed ("claustrophobic" would be an exaggeration), but it also brightens it up, as the white reflects much more light than the wooden joists.
Monday night, Prince Charming finished up the last two rows while I put a coat of paint on the window boxes (they're not photo-worthy yet, but they're getting there).
Which means the ceiling is done!
There's one tiny little tile we need to fix in this picture, but you can't tell, and I'm not going to point it out, and we'll fix it before anyone will ever see it. But I'm calling it done anyway.
All things considered, while it took a lot of time, hanging the ceiling was not that hard. True, did most of the work (he cut the tiles), but he agreed that it was an easy project. And such a difference!
Next up? Hanging the speakers and getting the entertainment system ready. I also need to move the books out of the “library” and into the cupboards in here, so that company can come and use that bathroom. It seems as though it might rain all week, but hopefully it will clear up by the weekend so we can use the power tools outdoors.
Warning: none of the pictures contained herein are pretty.
When I said I had no plans for the weekend, I guess that was misleading.
What I really meant was: there are tons of things to do, but none of them are scheduled. If I had said there was yard work to do, it would have inevitably rained. If I had said we were going to work on the family room, well, who knows what tragedy might have befallen us to get in our way. I wasn’t trying to be coy, just… protecting myself from Murphy’s Law.
At any rate, we did make some good progress on the family room this weekend. wrapped up the finishing on the face frame for the built-in, so on Saturday, we installed it.
Voila! The nail holes are even filled with putty. So, while technically we still need to make doors and shelves, and trim it out, this is basically it. And doors and shelves aren't urgently needed (since this storage is basically new, bonus storage).
I feel the need to add that we have the pieces for the other built-in mostly cut to size. Hopefully, since those are a little more standard in size (instead of very wide, very deep, and have the largest unit on top rather than on the bottom), they will go together faster. There are 6 base cabinets and three top shelving units, with a center support beam in there (the only part of the plan we’re unsure about). They’re quite narrow (only 12″ deep), and the shelves will be permanent instead of adjustable.
I have gotten it into my head that we need to install the ceiling, or at least as much of it as we can. I think it will make the room feel much more finished. In order to do that, however, we needed to frame in the windows. We got two out of the three of them done this weekend.
Have you ever tried to take pictures of windows? Terrible situation. I could not get the colors adjusted right in these pictures. My apologies.
Why yes, they are identical. They’ll look much nicer once everything is painted white. They’re virtually identical to the one in office, except that the trim will be different.
- They’re, like, real windows again! Good thing to know: they totally work. They don’t have screens on them, and the view isn’t pretty, but they work. I did find one screen in the garage that might fit, which could give us some nice cross-breeze (since the third window works perfectly).
They took us two days and two trips to Home Depot, but they’re done. And we’re that much closer to being able to install the ceiling.
The one we didn’t get to?
The egress window. It took us forever just to remove the old frame. Apparently, whoever installed it planned on it never being removed. It was adhered with this silicone stuff that was still gooey, so every time you tried to pull it up, it would just glue itself back together. Blech.
And, though we didn’t do any work on this wall at all, I think it looks good, so I took a picture while I was down there.
This is where the TV will be mounted. The shelf below is for one of the speakers. You can see the connectors for the front corner speakers too, and our numerous, beautiful outlets for power, internet, and sound.
Apparently, I’ve shared a nearly identical picture before, but the old one didn’t have the shelf in it, just the brackets. We’ve cleaned up a lot, too, though you can’t really tell in this picture. The tarp that was covering the entire floor is gone now, replaced with some drop cloths that can be easily washed and stowed when not in use. We’re ready to have the carpets cleaned, finally, and then we can move the new couch out of our bedroom and into its permanent home, and start setting our house back to normal. We have house guests in July, and would like to have this project mostly wrapped up before their arrival (not including doors for the built-ins, and maybe some other details I’m not remembering right now).
Since it rained all weekend long (3″ in 3 days), we didn’t get any yard work done (but the grass seed we put down the week before sure is happy, and the rain prevented the birds from eating it all, at least temporarily). Instead, we put our efforts into some very minor home improvement projects.
This is what was left after replacing all of the interior door knobs that were original to the house. Not more than 2 were alike. And they were all hideous shades of gold, except for the basement bathroom, which had one side in a gold-and-black design and the other in shiny silver, I kid you not.
Unfortunately, since all of the doorknobs we were replacing were original to the house and were therefore installed 50+ years ago, there were some complications.
Of the 10 doorknobs we replaced, 9 doors had to be removed so we could re-bore the hole. They were all approximately 1/8" too small. Our kitchen looked like this for a good part of the weekend.
Also, we couldn’t figure out how to remove the pins from the hinges, so we had to remove the hinges from the frame instead.
Now, none of the interior doors have inappropriate handles. (There was a closet that locked from the inside, and several bedrooms with keyed locks.)
Also, they are no longer hideous. Granted, they're nothing special, but compared to what they were, they're gorgeous.
Sunday we fixed the last exterior door (from the garage to the patio). If you’re keeping track, that’s 5 exterior doors that we have, all visible if you’re standing in the kitchen. Seriously. The garage-to-patio one had a really old doorknob that was a pain to lock and unlock, and there was no deadbolt. We fixed that. Feeling quite secure, all things considered.
Also, the face frame for the built-in is now painted and has been drying for 48 hours, so we can probably start putting poly on tonight. Four coats of that – I am not looking forward to it. Then we did all the math and calculations required to plan out the other built-in. Considering all the scrap we have left from the first built-in, we only have to buy 1 piece of plywood and two sheets of beadboard to complete the whole thing. (Well, not including shelves and doors, which we’re not doing just yet.)
And, if that wasn’t enough, we finally finished up this project, a year and a half after starting it.
This is where we started in November 2009 (mostly - there was trim on the inside originally, I just forgot to get a picture before we ripped it off). I should mention that this door was in no way airtight. Also, I hate red doors. I don't need my house to be all feng shui.
This is what it has looked like for the last 18 months. Isn't this door pretty? I just love it!
It took us until this weekend to finally do what needed to be done to wrap this one up – patch the plaster and re-attach the trim on the inside. It didn’t take us all that long, so we’re not really sure why we didn’t get it done before now. I realize that I should have a picture of it actually completed, but I don’t have one of those. It looks… exactly like you’d expect it to look, with the exception of some spots that need to be painted. But, that room needs to be painted anyway, and it’s not really that bad. We’re currently … discussing color options.
This is my top choice. I found 5 nice pale yellows, but this one is the one I liked best. Two of them were too close to the trim color.
doesn’t like it. He thinks it’s too bright, or light, or something. His argument is that the room gets a lot of sun. And he’s right. But, he’s also the one who said that the living room (the room in question) and the dining room have to be painted the same color, along with the hallway that’s there. And the hallway and dining room are dark, dark, dark.
You’d think I’d suggested this:
Yowza! That would be bright! And wrong.
Perhaps it would be helpful to note that his previous house seemed to be decorated in this color scheme:
An approximation, of course. But there was a lot of grey. A blue grey, a green grey... Darling, I love you, but grey is not a color that I want to surround myself with.
[Evidence here: living room / dining room / kitchen, loft, master bedroom, spare bedroom when I moved in, spare bedroom after painting, bathroom with color scheme I helped with, and the exterior which apparently used to be blue. He chose to paint his office at our current house blue too.]
I’m sure we’ll find something eventually, though I’m not sure how. There aren’t any “darker” or “duller” shades of yellow that are anything close to acceptable. And the color currently is a boring, blah, let’s-paint-it-neutral-to-sell-it tan (and they did a crappy job). The bedroom is rust, so that rules out orange. Anything in the red/pink family would be vetoed by either (no pink) or myself (no red). The exterior of the house will be painted blue, so that’s out. Purple probably wouldn’t be appreciated. And the kitchen will eventually be green. That leaves a very small selection of colors, and I really don’t want a boring neutral.
I also picked out some other paint chips while we were at Home Depot.
For the kitchen... after we refinish all the cabinets, of course. And I can't finalize my color choice until that's done, since they may change in color slightly.
OK, I didn't pick the top two - I just saw them on Glidden's site and thought the basement bathroom could be cute in one of those colors. The bottom one, Tropical Surf, is what I want to paint my office.
If the government shuts down, I could have some time on my hands in July. I could get a lot of painting done, depending on how long we’re not working. I’m trying to see the silver lining in the uncertainty of being a state worker. How am I doing? I definitely could get my office repainted, since it’s small and I’ve already repainted it once, and it only needs a bit of prep. The basement bathroom is small, but needs a lot of prep work due to peeling paint. My bathroom is really small, and could easily be repainted, but I was thinking I’d do it the same yellow as the living room, dining room and hallway, so we need to find some consensus there. That only leaves the kitchen (which has to wait on that cabinet refinishing project), and the basement hallway and spare bedroom (these are on schedule for a remodel to remove the hideous wood paneling). Oh, and the exterior of the house. And the fence needs to be restained. Details, details.
Murphy’s Law implies that if I pick out all my paint colors and get all set to paint the first week of July, the legislature will end up passing a budget and I won’t have to deal with a shut down.
I was supposed to post this yesterday, but didn’t get it finished in time. I should have something later today about sewing, though I don’t have pictures yet.
You know, the digging for the irrigation system we did on Sunday? (I had a headache from noon to about 9 pm that day, and two doses of Advil barely put a dent in it… I was crabby.)
Since I was getting caught up on photo taking yesterday, I decided to get some shots of all the work we did.
This is where we ended up before the snow fell last fall. did some more digging a week or two ago, but I didn’t get a shot of that. (Basically he connected that little trench I had dug to the larger hole near the deck that he had dug, and then continued a ways into the yard.
Through the yard...
Trenches out to where the sprinkler heads will be. (Some day, that spot on the right will be a strawberry patch, with maybe a raspberry bush for fun. That part on the left, well, there aren't any official plans, but those bushes are likely to be ripped out for more vegetable gardening. But not this year.)
Around the corner.... (On the right, where that pile of dirt is, is where we're placing an outdoor spigot. There's another trench to be dug on the left, going into the far corner - a decision I began to regret once I started digging it and realized exactly how far that was.)
Prince Charming made it almost to the fence! (I only did those two side-trenches and started on the diagonal corner one. He worked a little faster/harder than I did.)
To be fair, part of my time was spent doing a bit of pruning. Pardon the old picture, but it’s the only one I had of these trees.
Two years ago, shortly after we moved in. Most of that green in the background is weeds, but don't focus on that. See those weird spindly trees? They continued to sprout new trunks from the ground, and they looked even weirder after two years of neglect. (I wasn't sure what to do with them... they were so strange, and it was a very low priority.)
Well, all those extra trunks were in my way, so it was time for them to go. If I was going to crawl around, digging through the rocks and black plastic, I wasn’t going to tolerate getting branches stuck in my hair every time I moved.
I should have taken a proper “before” picture, but I didn’t. I did get this “after” one, though.
I swear, I only cut off the bottom branches that were truly extraneous, and the dead stuff. They look even worse than they did before (though no weirder).
Look closer at that one in the back. This is all that's left after I trimmed off the dead stuff. This might be the saddest tree I've ever seen. Worse than Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.
I wasn’t too careful when digging in that area, and may or may not have cut through several tree roots. Let’s be honest, these trees aren’t doing any good here, and if they were to die of their own free will and fall over, they won’t hurt anything. They can’t weigh much. And I’m all about getting rid of the ugly plants, even if they were purposefully planted. (Cases in point: multiple rose bushes, multiple dying shrubs.)
I’m not sure when we’ll get more work done. went to a movie last night, and when he came home we spent the rest of the evening (2 hours!) replacing the rest of the exterior door locks. Part of that involved removing a door from the frame and using a drill press on it. Should have gotten a picture of that. The big thing is that we are now properly locked, and I have a new key on my key chain (bringing me to a grand total of 2 keys). It’s almost like we own this house or something.
At any rate, I have plans tonight, and again on Thursday, so I’m not sure when we’ll pull out the shovels again. We have more side-trenches to dig, and then we can start laying the tubing and assembling. We did all the testing on Sunday to see which shapes were appropriate and exactly where to put the sprinkler heads. Throughout this process, I have to keep reminding myself that we are saving a ton of money doing it ourselves, because this is really not a very fun project. But think of all the vegetables we can grow next year!
now has shelves in his office! He’s been working hard on these for the past… two weeks. Very successful (and non-injurious) use of the biscuit joiner was involved.
Shelf 1. There's a television monitor that goes underneath it (the black mount and the white electrical outlet), and that cabinet on the right is the gas meter, for reference.
shelf 2 - under the window, which is the temporary resting spot for his new clock (his first Etsy purchase!).
You can see the detail work here, and the excellent job he did at finishing. Our favorite brand of stain, General Finishes, just upgraded to a "new formula," and he said it is even better than it used to be. Very exciting (if you can get excited about stain).
We figure that finishing the ceiling (the last of the wires have been placed) will take about an hour. He also has to make shelves for the closet, though the frame is already purchased (Connections from the Container Store), and then it really is done! And the stuff in the hallway will have a home again, and he can use it as he intended, and… we’ll have completed a project! I can hardly contain myself.
[Editor's note: I didn't take any of these pictures, and the only assistance I provided on the creation of the shelves was a bit of stabilizing during the biscuit cutting and an extra hand during the gluing/clamping process. He did everything else.]
Saturday afternoon, after my class, we assembled the one cabinet that we’d completed (there’s a second, smaller cabinet that is all cut out, but not yet painted). By completed, I mean that we’d painted the appropriate parts and protected them with several coats of polyurethane and lots of sanding.
The media cabinet!
This baby is 53″ tall, and is actually the TOP cabinet. The smaller cabinet, 24″ tall, sits underneath it, and will have one shelf in it. It’s 20″ wide, and the black rails in there are what the shelves hook in to that hold all of the media stuff (DVD player, video game consoles, receiver, computer, etc). There are cut-outs for an electrical outlet, a cable to transmit information to the TV, and more wires to come in from the top (the internet). What we lost by painting first was that nice seal when you paint seams, but if I can improve my caulking skills, it won’t be noticeable at all. What we gained, by the way, is a perfectly smooth surface – it looks almost like it’s MDF or melamine or whatever.
We drove down to the far-away Menards (because our local one doesn’t have a lumber yard, sadly) and bought two pieces of their plywood which was on sale, hoping that the quality would be sufficient enough to save us some money.
So, Sunday we cut into the new plywood, had great success, and then went back and bought several more sheets. The rest of the cabinets for that built-in (not the bookshelves built-in) are now all cut out and dado-ed (except for the back panels, which will do sometime this week while I’m doing homework).
8 tops and bottoms for 4 cabinets, and 4 sides for the 2 short cabinets
4 sides for the tall cabinets (Please ignore the evidence of my failure to vacuum for... several weeks now - it's so hard to be motivated with all the construction dust/debris constantly messing it up again.)
Our dado blade didn’t do as nice of a job cutting this time, and there were some other imperfections, so there’s some stuff to do before painting. Wood filler to the rescue! And, we’ll sand first this time, before painting, and then get a big set-up to do all of them at once, preferably somewhere with less sawdust than the basement, and where I don’t have to crawl around on the ground to paint. Hopefully we’ll be able to show you some more assembled cabinets in a week, give or take a few days. (I do have homework, you know, so we can’t exactly power through this like we could while I was on break.) We think we have enough scrap to get most of the bookshelves built too, though we’re not starting that just yet. One project at a time. Then we can think about doors, and handles, and floor trim….